The Chronicles of Hinokami
I don’t know how CyberConnect2 is doing. They come up with mostly decent-at-worst brawler adaptations for just about every anime imaginable, and they do it consistently. I mean sure I wish I had another one asura’s fury sprinkled in there. But a decent Demon slayer the game suits me well.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Chronicles of Hinokami (PC, PS4, PS5 [reviewed], Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S)
Released: October 15, 2021
MSRP: $ 59.99
In case you haven’t read or watched Demon slayer media before, the setup is much more acceptable than you might think. The tale follows Tanjiro Kamado, an unlikely hero who embarks on a career as a literal demon slayer to save his demon-turned sister, Nezuko. The twist is that Nezuko is actually a “good demon!” and provides much of the show’s comedic relief, which doesn’t take itself too seriously (until it does and devastates you). The series has developed a lot of traction over the past few years, culminating in a massive film that blew up the doors of the Japanese box office and even performed well internationally.
This particular game covers the start of Tanjiro’s journey, in the events of the movie, so you can see why the new anime “it” would be being adapted. And like many CyberConnect2 projects before it, it’s a brawler with a truncated story mode and limited versus mode. He knows what it is. What is immediately apparent about The Chronicles of Hinokami this is how fantastic it looks, but this is CyberConnect2 for you. Some scenes are taken straight from the anime, especially the finishing animations, and they look amazing when played on a PS5.
Combat is very basic (as Brawlers tend to go), but easy to learn. There are light attacks (which serve as the main combo), dashing, a skill button (this is basically a special attack of Smash which is modified with directional inputs), grabs, guards (with a pushback parry command), boosts (feeding counters like DBZ), a button dedicated to the ultimate pops and an assistance skill button (usually assists or team swaps).
Guarding / parrying and rushing are key parts of the system, and keep it from being a button-heavy affair. While the roster is extremely limited (more details in a moment), the characters in attendance are unique enough to justify their existence and add more diversity to the cast. Coupled with the dynamic visual style, it’s easy to get blown away by all the animation and want to try out new characters to see what they can bring to the table. A reparable fight, in this case, is good.
The story mode, which can be seen as the bulk of the Chronicles of Hinokami (especially if you go solo), is very similar to other CyberConnect2 games with one flaw. The familiar setting still holds true, in that you’ll usually see an intro cutscene, dive down a series of very linear paths littered with little crows, fight a boss, and then watch an outro scene. It’s never excruciatingly unpleasant, as the game looks and sounds fantastic all the time, but I really wish they would open up the hubs a bit or just go from fight to fight without any fanfare.
Demon slayer events are often rushed, to the point where you miss crucial elements of character development or meaty narrative elements. The jokes, flashy action and comedy are always present and shine even in those scattered moments. Cleverly, and it’s like CyberConnect2 knows they can’t fit everything in, a lot of the story is told through flashbacks. We benefit the most when we’re immersed in story mode after Tanjiro has already practiced a bit, rather than getting the rote story processing that has already been told.
The Bosses are the bright spots and deliver the same dramatic anime action twists the series is known for – but you can play them this time around. Bosses often sport multiple phases / forms, coupled with voice acting that dramatically increases battles and makes them more alive. There are also a lot of great character moments, even with the bosses; a stark contrast to the very static and repetitive versus mode.
Where it starts to crumble a bit is the content. So the versus mode (which offers a 2v2 setup), even at best with some unlocks, is very meager. A lot of the characters are actually just alternate costume versions, and in classic brawler / anime fighter fashion there are clones of the hero. At the moment there are no demons to play, but they will be added “post-launch”. It’s a shame they weren’t here now, as that would have made the versus immensely more interesting.
Part of the problem is that the versus is intrinsically tied to the story mode and the Kimetsu point unlock system. Presented as a quasi-Fortnite– season pass, you will unlock points (all in game) and buy rewards. Characters and the like are the big winners (and are suitably expensive), while the little things like banners and icons are cheap. The system isn’t exciting enough to really dig in, and I found myself just wanting the character to unlock ASAP.
Every time I took a break in the countryside to try versus mode, I got a little bored and then came back. The 2v2 concept is fun though, and if you have a training partner you’re going to get a lot more mileage. The Chronicles of Hinokami. But 2v2 also betrays the current lack of roster choices, as there are only a limited number of combos to try out before you get familiar.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Chronicles of Hinokami is another decent brawler adaptation that requires you to already have a bit of background on the source material to really enjoy it. In that sense, it joins a space that’s very crowded with many other anime games before it, and many of you know where you are at.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]