Demon Slayer – Game Review

Demon Slayer – Kimestu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles

(available on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X and S, Xbox One and PC)
(PC version used for Elliot’s review)
(Playstation 5 version used for Reece’s review)

First up Elliot’s review

(“Two reviews in a single week? Goddamn Elliot, you really are spoiling us”… nah it’s more likely to be “Oh god, and I thought we’d get some peace from this guy.”)

When it first came out, I don’t think anyone was expecting Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba to blow up as much as it did. Ever since its anime adaptation came out in 2019, the series has been blowing up in popularity. Its 2020 movie has become the highest grossing anime film of all time, overthrowing Spirited Away, the manga sold over 82 billion copies in 2020, selling almost ten times the amount of any other manga series in that year, and has even out-sold the Batman comic series. So of course, it’s practically inevitable that the series would eventually get a video game based on it, which is exactly what we got with Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles (which I am just gonna shorten to The Hinokami Chronicles, thanks for making my job harder guys), which was first announced in March 2020, and released on 15th October 2021. 

The Hinokami Chronicles tells an abridged version of the manga’s story; up until the end of the Mugen Train arc. Tanjiro Kamado lives in the mountains with the rest of his family, his mother and five younger siblings. One day he leaves his home to sell some charcoal, only to return to see that his family has been slaughtered by a Demon, the sole survivor being his sister Nezuko who has been transformed into a Demon that, for some reason, lacks the urge to consume human flesh like the rest of her kind. After spending two years training under Sakonji Urodaki, Tanjiro joins the Demon Slayer Corps and sets off with Nezuko on a quest to find a way to make his sister human again and to find and kill the Demon that murdered his family, Muzan Kibutsuji. The game does a decent job at retelling the story, we at least get the most important parts of it, and the parts that aren’t shown we can see by collecting items called Memory Fragments. Although, the story isn’t exactly accessible for people who aren’t already familiar with the anime or manga, so newcomers to the series will have a lot of details missing which may lead to confusion. 

The game actually looks pretty good. It does a good job at recreating the sets and environments that we see in the anime and manga. The animation during the fights and in some of the cutscenes do a very good job at capturing the fighting style of the characters and on mimicking the scenes we saw from the anime, though at other times the animation can be a little stilted, almost like they’re having the characters move as little as they can, I understand that it’s not the same as the animation that we get in anime so I can’t complain much, but seeing how well they can animate at other times, I can’t help but be a little annoyed. The cast of the anime reprise their roles for the game and they, once again, do a fantastic job at playing their roles. The soundtrack, just like the voice acting, is taken straight from the anime and includes songs that I wasn’t expecting them to add in, like the song played at the end of the fight in episode 19 (I just made a lot of anime fans really happy by mentioning that episode). 

The Hinokami Chronicles is a 3D fighting game very much like the Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm series, where players fight on a 3D plane to try and defeat their opponent in one on one combat. Just like every fighting game, you’re able to play as a variety of different characters, each with their own move set for you to master. And thus leads to our first problem, a good number of the fighters don’t make much sense. While you do get the absolute must-haves of the series, like Tanjiro, Nezuko, Zenitsu and Inosuke, a small number of the characters are people who either don’t fight in the anime, or only have a small role. For example, Sabito… who, yes, helped to train Tanjiro, we don’t really see them do much outside of that, or how about Makomo… who’s very much in the same camp of Sabito, only we don’t even see her wield a sword, and everyone’s favourite character Murata, come on, who doesn’t know and love Murata… aside from everyone. For some reason we’re only able to play as Demon Slayers (aside from Nezuko), and it feels like, to make up for that, they had to add in characters that contribute little to the overall story. Especially when they could have let us play as some of the Demon characters as well, I would have loved the option to play as characters like Rui and Akaza, instead it just makes the character selection feel a little more hollow. Don’t get me wrong though, the characters are still very fun to play, and each has very unique move-sets (if you ignore the fact that every character that uses water breathing techniques also uses the Water Wheel attack). In the end, my main ended up being Inosuke, as I really liked his move-set the best and being able to use two swords was a nice bonus. 

Fighting in this game isn’t really that complex, even when comparing it to the Ultimate Ninja Storm games, it’s actually really easy to understand. You only really have three types of attacks; light attacks, charge attacks and your skill moves. The light attack is a standard string of attacks that leads into a combo. While these attacks remain the same sequence, you can move the left analog stick to change how the combo ends, tilting up will launch your opponent into the air for example. Your charge attacks are performed by hitting the light attack button and pushing on the left stick at the same time, this will lead into an attack that will deal a decent amount of damage, though the charging can’t be cancelled and you’re vulnerable while you’re doing it, so be careful. Your skill moves are basically how you perform the Breathing Techniques that you see in the anime. You get two skill moves per character, one when you’re tilting the left analog stick and one when your character is standing still. Your character has a skill gauge that determines how many more times you’re able to use these skill moves, once depleted you’ll have to wait until it’s somewhat recharged until you’re able to perform the skills again. Outside of them, you also have a guard that can only last for so many attacks and will stagger you if broken, you’re able to dodge attacks, and by hitting the same button while standing still you’re able to charge towards your opponent, and a parry that you can perform by tilting the left analog stick and pressing the guard button.  

When you go into battle (in VS mode at least) you always go in with two characters instead of one. While one character is out in the field, the other one is essentially back-up. At any point during the battle you’re able to send out your second character to perform their own skill move – again, they’ll use either depending on whether you’re pushing the left analog stick or not – whether you want to deal some extra damage, keep a combo going or whittle down your opponent’s shield. You can also swap out your current character and play as your second character to fight in their places, though the amount of damage you’ve been dealt will remain the same. Though your ally also has their own gauge for you to keep in mind, so you can only use them twice before their meter needs to recharge. 

When you hit your opponent or your opponent hits you, you’ll notice a meter in the bottom left-hand corner fill up. When this is filled up, you’re able to perform your character’s ultimate attack. When you do, you get a small ten second cutscene of your character performing their most powerful breathing technique that deals your opponent with a lot of damage. But beware, as your opponent can block and avoid the attack, make sure you use it at a point when you’re able to hit. 

As said at the beginning, you have a story mode. This essentially acts as your single player mode, that you can run through and it is how you unlock the rest of your characters. In some of the fights in the story mode, when your opponent has a little bit of health left, you get a brief series of quick time events to perform, that focus on speed at and timing and basically show how the fights end in the anime. If you hit the button at the right time or fast enough, you’ll get a brief cutscene of still images that last only for a second. Whilst they are really cool, these quick time events, as far as I’m aware, don’t really have any consequences for you failing them, the cutscene still carries out, and nothing really happens, which is a little disappointing if I’m honest. 

While in the story mode, you get small exploration parts, where you explore the areas shown in the anime and fight a couple of mini battles against Demons. It’s here where you’ll find a number of collectables, like the memory fragments that, as explained before, lets you see the events of the anime and manga that the game missed out. You’re also able to find small bundles of Kimetsu Points, which can also be received by winning fights, these won’t really get you much, they’re meant to be spent on panels that you can find in the menu, and mostly unlock artwork. While I do see why these parts exist, I really don’t like these parts. They’re great for continuing the story and for breaking up the fights, the main problem with them is that you move so damn slow in them. Seriously, the speed that your characters move is unbearable, it’s like you’re playing as a snail after doing nothing but drinking caffeine for the last three days. I get that it’s the same speed that they move in the fights, but considering how big some of these exploration areas are, it gets super tiring. 

Also the story mode is really easy. To the point where I found myself S ranking most of the missions without even trying to. I only really struggled against the last two fights (in all fairness the difficulty spikes with them were insane). I’m not even that good at fighting games, so if I’m finding them easy, you know that something’s gone wrong. 

As for the biggest problem with the game, it’s just kind of boring. I’ve been playing a fair amount of Soulcalibur VI over the last couple of months, and it’s a game that I can play for a pretty long time, and I mostly attribute this to how complex and fun to learn the combat in the game is. This game on the other hand, if I’m not playing the story mode and am just doing the VS matches, I just find myself getting tired of it after only a couple of matches, and this is coming from someone who used to play the Ultimate Ninja Storm games for hours. The simplicity and lack of depth, whilst being more accessible to new players of the format, doesn’t really have anything keeping me in the long run. The other problem is one that I’ve already touched upon, which is that this is clearly a game that’s for fans of the Demon Slayer anime and manga. For anyone new who hasn’t seen the series, they’re probably not going to have as much enjoyment in the game as fans will. I understand that most people who buy this game are going to be Demon Slayer fans already, but it would be nice if there was something here for people who didn’t know about the series as well. 

In the end, I find myself a bit mixed on the game. I did have fun with it and enjoyed testing out each of the characters. It was really cool to go through the Demon Slayer story once again as it is really good. However, I don’t really have any intentions on going back to it. That might just be the gamer that I am, but with how simple it is, and how quickly I get bored of the fights, I just don’t think I’ll be coming back for a second playthrough. I do think that fans of the anime and of Ultimate Ninja Storm will enjoy this, and I do recommend it to them. But for most fighting game fans, I’d probably say give this one a skip.

7.4/10

Elliot Chapman
Anime Amigo and Nerd Consultant

And now Reece’s review

My experience with this game is that I have beaten it 100% and received the Platinum Trophy on the PlayStation 5 version of the game.

Demon Slayer Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles is the latest game from Japanese developer CyberConnect2 who players may recognise as the developer of other famous anime fighting games with the Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Legacy featuring the quadrilogy of Ninja Storm games. Which Demon Slayer takes a lot of influence from as well as the infamous QTE (Quick Time Event) laden Asura’s Wrath.

Demon Slayer PS5 adapts the story of season one of the Anime along with the film Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train also known in the West as Demon Slayer: Infinity Train. With the player mainly playing as the main character Tanjiro Kamado following along the storyline of the Anime.

Pro

Graphic fidelity. This game is truly stunning to watch visually as everything looks like it does from the Anime with the character models and in game special effects for the Skill moves being especially worthy of praise, with the Ultimate Art always being jaw dropping on characters such as Zenitsu and Rengoku.

I would highly recommend players to replay the cutscenes and not focus on the QTEs and just enjoy the expertly crafted cutscenes that look like they are straight out of the Anime. This was highlighted for me in the chapter based on the film as those final cutscenes feel like they were created by Ufotable who created the Anime as the standard is that high, in my opinion.

Framerate. The game is currently locked to 30 FPS but it was a solid 30 FPS and it never dipped for me. The game is also very responsive and the game never felt cheap (Except for one minigame I’ll mention later) because while the game is fast paced it never felt overwhelming and even I who suffers from Dyspraxia was able to get to 100% the game with only 2 bosses giving me difficulty for the S rank.

The game engine used for the game, that being Unreal Engine 4 which was released back in 2014 still holds up incredibly well and feels very well optimised especially on PlayStation 5 as I didn’t experience any crashes throughout my playtime of the game.

So even without switching to the new Unreal Engine 5, I think 4 still does a great job and delivers a great performing game so the developer team did an amazing job with this game for it to perform this well on such an old game engine.

Roster. The default roster (Free DLC is being released in future that will increase the roster size) feels very well balanced with all the expected characters being selectable along with a few surprises.

This is true of 6 bonus unlockable characters that you gain access to when you finish more of the Rewards Page.

All characters do a great job of feeling distinct and barely feel similar due to their each unique mechanics and Skills e.g. Shinobu can poison enemies and Zenitsu uses his “unique” combat style that is iconic from the Anime.

I can’t wait to see what new character they add in future with the free DLC as the only ones we know of for certain are that some of the Demon bosses from Story Mode are being added, which will be great as the Demons are all extremely unique as Nezuko (The only current playable Demon) features a playstyle unique to her as she is the only member of the cast to fight without a weapon and instead uses her claws and feet.

Combat. This ties into the points I mentioned above of the player having a wide variety of moves to use in this fighting game.

There are even mechanics that the game doesn’t teach you that are very useful in Boss Battles and especially in online Multiplayer.

Even the basic 5 hit auto combo that most players use without realising is even more In-Depth as depending on whether the player holds the left thumb stick Up, Neutral or Down results in a different combo that ends with the enemy being launched into the air, thrown back or planted into the ground.

So the combat is a lot more than meets the eye initially and I would recommend players watch some Youtubers play the game who are good at fighting games, as they can pull off some amazing feats. The most I ever got in a match was a 40-hit combo for Instance.

Multiplayer. When the player feels done with the single player sections of the game then they can try their hand at the online multiplayer mode for Demon Slayer.

When going onto online mode then the player can set up their “Slayer ID” which is a unique ID that the player is free to customise with quotes from the Anime that play after every match, images from the Anime to show off and it displays the players online rank along with their amount of matches along with the amount of wins.

The player can then set up their preferred characters and battlefield before customising their rule set where you choose which region you want to play against e.g. NA, EU or Asia, then the match time with a maximum of 99 seconds.

Then you are free to go into Ranked Matches and challenge players from around the world depending on the region you chose in your matchmaking settings.

Voiced cutscenes. A great option the game includes is being able to toggle between English and Japanese audio for the game.

This is a great option for players who prefer one set of voice actors (as the classic debate in the Anime community rages on as to which is superior a Subtitled or Dubbed version of an Anime).

Then while there are no other languages for the audio, the game does feature several languages for the subtitles so players from around the world can hopefully enjoy the game via reading a language they are familiar with. 

This also applies to the User Interface as well and not just the subtitles, and through my gameplay of using English subtitles throughout the game I could not spot any translation errors which is always a plus in Anime based games.

Faithful adaptation of the anime. As someone who has watched all of season one of Demon Slayer and the accompanying film, the game does a great job of trimming the fat of the series and keeping you focused on the main story and the plot as you go from Demon Hunt to Demon Hunt as Tanjiro.

Then extra scenes that you don’t see in normal gameplay that were in the Anime that focuses on the other characters can be unlocked by getting high enough ranks in Story Mode. These are called Memory Fragments and some can be unlocked by picking up particular shiny rocks in the walking sections between boss fights.

So if you feel like you are missing out on some details to the story then I would recommend improving your ranks or keeping an eye out for the pickups in the walking sections.

Unlockables. As a reward for getting S ranks in Story Mode you unlock rewards in the Rewards Panel.

These range from voice lines, screenshot of the Anime, music to even great unlockables, like characters and different skins for the characters. The only downside is that most of the skins are the characters without their Haori on in comparison to being fun and unique (That was saved for the 6 unlockable characters on the final Rewards Panel).

But if the player is impatient then you can expedite the unlocking process by using Kimetsu Points that the player picks up either in Story Mode or by fulfilling certain conditions e.g. Complete all lessons for each teacher.

Con:

No restart in story mode boss battles. This is the most annoying problem I had with the game that feels very avoidable.

In comparison to Training Mode or Vs Mode where the player can use the start button and choose to restart the battle, there is no option for the battles in Story Mode and instead the player has to go back to the Storyline and out of the battle completely.

Then when you try to go back into the boss fight to try again for a higher rank you then have to sit through all the cutscenes again, and while the cutscenes all look amazing it is annoying that you can’t restart and go immediately into the battle. 

Even when you finish a boss battle and get a rank that you aren’t happy with e.g. A rank like I had multiple times, then instead of having an option to restart the battle right there in the menu you are forced to go back to the Storyline and go back into the battle manually and get saddled with all the cutscenes again that require multiple presses of the skip button to get back into the action.

Story mode is a walking simulator. In comparison to the fantastic boss battles and 2 areas of the game (That being the Final selection and Spider Mountain areas) all other sections in the 8 chapters mostly feature the player travelling in a straight line to get from point A to point B to trigger the next cutscene.

Even when you try to go off the path, the player is blocked by invisible walls or literal walls. It feels like these sections could have been more expansive giving the player more chances to explore the world and get more lore for the series or towards the upcoming bosses.

Instead these sections mostly feel like nearly straight hallways between boss fights, when they could of been more interesting as even the random NPCs that are walking around don’t offer much engaging dialogue and feel just generic.

QTEs. A carry over from CyberConnect2’s previous work with Asura’s Wrath is the inclusion of QTEs and they mostly appear at the end of boss battles to unlock “Trance Memories” but at that point I lost focus due to finishing the boss battle and forget about the upcoming QTEs.

Then if you fail them then you have to restart the entire boss fight again, which is aggravating as you need to perfect the QTEs to unlock all the Rewards from the Rewards Page which is how you get extra characters and costumes.

Tea Splasher Hard mode. This minigame solely took me several days for the S rank and was the penultimate S rank I need to 100% the game and get the Platinum Trophy.

As a person who suffers from Dyspraxia this minigame was pure torture for me as the 2nd half was near impossible as my reflexes couldn’t keep up when you had to press a button three times in quick succession and then jump to a button on the other side and repeat it.

The Hard Mode should not have been tied into the chapter progression as I didn’t get any enjoyment from the S rank as it felt like a fluke when I pulled it off. It should have been for bragging rights as I actually got hand cramp from several days of repeated and failed attempts leading me to have a soured experience from the game due to how annoying and tedious it was for the S rank.

Training Mode lackluster. While a training mode sounds fun as you study a particular teacher it quickly became repetitive as you have to do 10 lessons under each teacher but most 10 lessons are identical between all teachers, so they didn’t feel unique between all of the teachers.

For example never once does the lesson ask you to perform a grab on the teacher and a particular trophy is to complete 10 teachers, so that’s 100 lessons between them all and not once does it ask for a grab.

This mode just feels very tacked on and that there was little thought put into it and was just there to pad the game out and to make players do a repetitive task in order to get one trophy, as it doesn’t feel like training if you have to do the same lessons for all teachers as the point of different teachers feels redundant if they are not unique.

Conclusion

This game is a great introduction to the series and you can play it and not feel like you are missing out too much from the Anime.

It is also a rock solid 3D arena fighter that has a lot of hidden depth to the combat and has plenty of hidden mechanics to make online multiplayer matches always fun and challenging, that delivers on being a great game and a great adaptation of the Demon Slayer source material.

If you are a fan of the series and of 3D arena fighters like the Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm series, than this game is definitely worth a pick up.

Score: 8.2

Reece Imiolek
Anime Amigo and Nerd Consultant

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