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February 2023

Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: CyberConnect2
Release Date: Oct. 15, 2021


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PS5 Review - 'Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Oct. 13, 2021 @ 9:00 a.m. PDT

Based on the Demon Slayer anime, Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles is a cel-shaded arena-based fighting game.

Buy Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles

For those unfamiliar with the series, Demon Slayer follows the story of a young boy named Tanjiro in ancient Japan. Tanjiro returns home one day to discover that his entire family has been slaughtered by a demon. The demon has also turned his youngest sister, Nezuko, into a demon.

Alone and desperate, Tanjiro and Nezuko are forced to set out to join the Demon Slayers Corps. These elite fighters are the only ones who can stand up to the demons rampaging across the land, and it's the only hope Nezuko has of returning to human form. Along the way, they'll fight in epic battles and meet a wide and wacky cast of heroes and villains. It is an anime, after all.

The game follows the story of the animated series up until the end of the currently animated content, the "Mugen Train" movie. The storyline mode is not particularly exciting. Between fights, you explore a small selection of areas, but none of them are worth exploring. Instead, the majority of your time is spent walking down a linear path until the next cut scene starts. Sometimes, you go off to a branching path, so Tanjiro can talk about how pretty a butterfly is before you return to the main path. At the absolute nadir of these segments, you're given control of Zenitsu and have to slowly cower you way forward while he screams his head off nonstop. This last segment feels more like a punishment than an enjoyable gameplay experience, but at least it is mercifully brief.

The cut scenes are the real star of the show in Demon Slayer. Each is lovingly animated with the immense skill Cyberconnect usually brings to these anime-inspired games. At the best, they are almost indistinguishable from an animated series, and at worst, the minor imperfections give away the game. They do an incredibly impressive job with the fights, body language, and joking movements that you normally don't see well translated in this sort of game. It's probably no huge surprise to those familiar with their Naruto games, but it stands out well.

Combat is tragically bare-bones. It follows the basic arena fighter concept, similar to many the other games by Cyberconnect. You control a member of the cast and can run around fighting one enemy — or more. You have a standard attack and a few special attacks, depending on whether you're standing still, moving forward or holding guard. The moves use spend a breathing meter, which slowly replenishes over time — or more quickly, if you stand back and let your character automatically charge without being attacked. Beyond that, there are the standard block, dodge, and parry mechanics.

Fights also are two-on-two. One character is the currently fighting character, while the other character is a support character. The support character can be summoned by pressing a button for a special attack, as long as you have enough Support Gauge for it. They can also pull you out of a combo if your Gauge is full. You can swap between the two characters, but they share the same health bar, so if one goes down, both go down.

You also have a super bar that fills up as you fight. If you fill it once, you can enter a burst mode where your damage output increases. Do it twice, and you can enter a more powerful mode where your breathing doesn't decrease until it wears out. You can also spend the bar at any time to perform a powerful Ultimate cinematic attack, which grows more powerful with the more bars you spend. Unfortunately, the storyline mode locks these attacks for many fights, so you don't get as much of a chance to play with them as you'd like.

That's basically it. There's not a ton of depth to the combat. A lot of the characters feel very similar, partially due to the fact that many of the demon characters aren't playable. (We're told more will be coming post-launch, though.) The combat isn't bad by any means, but it feels very straightforward and workmanlike. You have everything you need to minimally feel like a playable anime fighter, and unfortunately, there's not a lot to make it feel uniquely Demon Slayer. There are some hints, such as a "thread" mechanic that shows up during storyline that lets Tanjiro decapitate an enemy before their health bar is empty, but it's a minor thing.

Beyond the story mode, the game is similarly rather bare-bones. You have a standard versus mode with online and offline play, and that is about it. There are a large number of collectibles, including profile pictures, costumes, and unlockable characters. You can gain Reward Panels either by completing certain objects in the story or versus modes or by spending Kimetsu Points, which are earned in those modes to force the unlock. There's a lot to keep fans busy if they enjoy collecting items, but unless you enjoy versus play, you'll probably see everything that the main story content has to offer in a relatively short period of time.

Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles is basically a game for the fans. Do you want to pick your favorite character and beat up your other characters? Or do you want to see scenes from the original story re-created in beautiful 3D? However, that is about all it offers. It's beautiful, plays well, accurately captures the source material, and that is the beginning and end. If you're curious about the uber-popular franchise, it's probably best to watch the anime or read the manga before diving in.

Score: 7.5/10

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