Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba has become one of the most popular Shonen franchises the world over, so it's no surprise to see that it is getting its first video game from the creators at Cyber Connect, who were responsible for the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm games. With this new entry into the world of Tanjiro and the Demon Slayer Corps, the publishers are able to create a jaw-dropping experience in some respects, while fumbling the ball when it comes to some of the nitty-gritty aspects of the gameplay itself.
To start this review, I would be remiss if I didn't extrapolate on the best part of the Hinokami Chronicles: the graphics. Cyber Connect put in a lot of work in creating the Naruto series that looked torn straight from the anime series, and the publisher not only does so with Demon Slayer, but does so with such gusto that there were legitimately a number of times where I felt it was impossible to discern the difference between what I was seeing in the game and what I saw from the animation studio of Ufotable. The graphics are simply gorgeous, whether we're talking the cutscenes, in-game battles, or exploration sequences around small villages and mountainous terrain, my jaw was on the floor when it came to seeing how accurately the producers were able to create a game that looked exactly like its source material.
It simply cannot be overstated enough how gorgeous this game is when it comes to its presentation, but unfortunately, there are more than a few drawbacks when it comes to the gameplay. If you've played Cyber Connect's previous games, you might have a good idea of what you're stepping into, with a fighting game system that is able to be picked up easily but can take some time in order to master. The game itself has 18 playable characters, and while this number seems appropriate when it comes to translating the first season of the anime into a video game, the lack of diversity when it comes to some of the play styles of different characters definitely stood out. For example, Tanjiro's water style is also held by his master Sakonji Urokodaki, as well as the fallen hunter in Sabito, making it feel as if you're playing the same character with different skins.
Much like the Ultimate Storm series, The Hinokami Chronicles are able to capture the intensity and energy of its characters via "Ultimate Arts," which create some dazzling cut scenes for the biggest attack of each fighter. In a way, the game almost feels hampered by the lack of characters that were introduced in the first season of the anime overall, despite the lush graphics on display.
Another aspect of the game that will fall short to many is within its Story Mode, wherein players will get the opportunity to walk through the events of Tanjiro, Nezuko, and their friends' lives during the earlier days of Demon Slayer. While taking in the graphical achievements again is worthwhile, Cyber Connect doesn't give players that much to do in between each of the big battles of the series, mostly relegating you to finding five villagers and hitting "X" for each one in order to warn them of a coming demon attack or navigating an untaken path to pick up "Kimetsu Points" along the way. It feels tedious and that's really a shame because these sections could offer a lot more for fans of the series when it comes to fully exploring some of the environments that were introduced in the series.
The game does offer fans plenty of quotes, profile pictures, and other knick-knacks to collect throughout its playtime, along with a number of play modes such as Versus and Training Modes to help sharpen your skills, but it feels as if something is missing from the experience that could elevate the first video game outing for Demon Slayer from good to great. If you're a fan of the series, or just want to see some eye-popping visuals with some fast and frantic gameplay, definitely check this one out, especially if you can overlook some of the game's faults along the way.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba - The Hinokami Chronicles was reviewed on a Playstation 5 with a review code provided by the publisher.