Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles review – A must-play for anime fans

. 9 months ago
demon slayer hinokami chronicles review dexerto
Sega / CyberConnect2

Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles’ gorgeous graphics and thrilling gameplay make it the perfect entry point into the series for new fans while also offering something special for those already established with the anime. Even if you’ve read the manga and watched the show to death, the game will still be an unforgettable experience.

Celebrating the upcoming launch of Demon Slayer season two, Sega, Aniplex, and CyberConnect2 have come together to create the perfect game for lovers of the dark fantasy anime. It’s pretty much the first season’s story in playable form, allowing players to take on Tanjiro Kamado’s struggles firsthand as he struggles with the death of his family and his sister, Nezuko, being turned into a demon, before going on an adventure to transform her back into a human.

It features all of the important plotlines from season one and the Mugen Train arc, and it turns the major boss fights into action-packed, edge-of-your-seat skirmishes that feel as though you’re in the heat of the battle with a demon yourself. Mixing RPG elements with a fighting game style and weaving anime cutscenes in between, Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles is one of the best games of its genre in the last few years and it’s something that both new and returning fans definitely shouldn’t miss out on.

Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles – Key details

  • Price: $59.99
  • Developer: CyberConnect2
  • Release date: October 15, 2021
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S

Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles – Trailer

Action-packed gameplay makes you feel like you’re slaying

If you’ve seen the anime, you’ll know just how immersive the fight scenes can be. Straight away, this is something that The Hinokami Chronicles nails right from the prologue. Playing as Tanjiro, you’re thrust into combat, armed with his Demon Slayer Arts, hacking and slashing with combo after combo. Not only is it visually impressive, but the sheer range of his attacks makes it feel as though you are actually him, controlling his every move to overcome your enemy.

It’s not just regular moves, though – you use Ultimate Arts too, using the character’s full strength to launch an attack that even the most powerful demons are afraid of. As you fight, your Special gauge fills up and can be stored up to three times for maximum damage. It is easy to think “I’ll get my bars to three to unleash the most powerful move” but what’s special is that sometimes, you really need to weigh up whether it’s worth saving or using right now because one wrong decision can spell a devastating setback. The game doesn’t hold your hand, and it allows you to make those decisions for full control.

The absolute best thing about a battle is the ending. After all that fighting, you’re rewarded with an epic finisher sequence that uses quick time events (QTEs) to down the foe for good. The fast-paced nature of this really does give a sense of urgency; get it wrong and it can have disastrous consequences. Tanjiro isn’t the only playable character, either. You play as Nezuko, Zenitsu, Inosuke, and more in their own fights in Story Mode, and you can also call them in as support too when the story allows. They all have their own unique moves and no two fighters feel the same.

demon slayer hinokami chronicles tanjiro fight scene
CyberConnect2 / Sega
Battles are fun and fluid – nothing slow-paced here.

So-so exploration

While much of the story focuses on tense fights and anime cutscenes, The Hinokami Chronicles breaks things up with RPG-style exploration elements. To progress to the next story segment, you’ll need to interact with certain objects or people to move things along. The sections are very linear, though, and you’re walled in, so don’t expect to spend a lot of time exploring the world. That said, it’s not exactly unexpected either for a game that’s main focus is on fighting.

Throughout the map, there are collectibles to find: Reward Missions, Memory Fragments, and Kimetsu Points – I’ll touch on that last one later. Despite the name, though, Reward Missions aren’t side quests with gameplay boons at the end – instead, they offer a few lines of dialogue, and that’s it.

Memory Fragments are worth finding, though. They unlock cutscenes that give extra context to certain story elements so if you care about the franchise’s lore, you’re going to want to find these. Every collectible is marked on your mini-map so it’s easy to find them, and unpredictable demon appearances can keep players on their toes throughout their hunting.

demon slayer hinokami chronicles exploration
CyberConnect2 / Sega
The exploration segments are very streamlined, but they do offer a break from all the cutscenes.

Extra content provides a deep dive into Demon Slayer lore

It’s easy to imagine The Hinokami Chronicles as a “cliffs notes” version of the series, and while that can feel true at times in the story mode, there’s plenty to unlock to supplement that. This additional content is far from mandatory, but fans of the franchise will want to find all they can in amongst the fast-paced fighting action.

The aforementioned Kimetsu Points are found throughout the map and are used to unlock art stills from cutscenes which provide more context to story elements. You can also win points from Training, a mode that teams you up with an instructor for fights in a practice mode filled with objectives.

Then there are Archives: a place where you can listen to music and read quotes from the game, and look at unlocked art and attire. It doesn’t add much, but it’s a nice way to relax after a tense round of fighting, and fans of the anime will no doubt enjoy spending time here.

VS. Mode perfect for fighting game veterans

Any fighting game wouldn’t be complete without a PVP mode, and Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles handily provides. Imagine Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot but with a faster pace and Demon Slayer characters. There are several fighters to choose from, and you can either play online against other players or against AI, which is perfect for those who want to get some practice in before facing off against real people.

While it has Demon Slayer Arts, gorgeous graphics, and costumes, the brawls are pretty much the same as those in the story mode, so don’t expect anything new. Still, it’s a fantastic bonus for those who love their classic fighters; I’m just not sure how much use casual fans and those who want to relive the series’ greatest moments will get out of it.

demon slayer hinokami chronicles review vs mode
CyberConnect2 / Sega
You can play online or against the computer.

True-to-source visuals are a delight

If there’s one thing I loved the most about my time with Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles, it’s the game’s visuals. Playing the PS4 version on a PlayStation 5, every single second of my experience was accompanied by gorgeous visuals that meant I couldn’t look away. Anime cutscenes are recreated perfectly, with characters bursting with color as the game captures the stunning art style that made the show a hit in the first place.

Where the game looks best, though, is in its battles. While many of its locations are dark and dreary, Demon Slayer Arts pop out of the screen with such contrast that it’s a sight to behold. Even in the prologue, using Tanjiro’s Water Wheel for the first time is something really special, and perhaps the highest praise I can give Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles is how its visuals managed to surprise and delight in equal measure throughout my time with it.

Verdict: 8/10

Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles is a perfect way to relive the Kamado siblings’ adventure, despite knowing what’s around every corner. And for new fans, it is a great chance to experience the series from the get-go. While its VS mode may not be for everyone, the main story itself is enough to feed anyone’s appetite, and its gorgeous visuals make it a feast for the eyes.

Reviewed on PlayStation 5

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