It’s been two years since Demon Slayer took the world by storm in 2019 with its first season of anime adapted from the popular manga penned by Koyoharu Gotouge. With the second season having just kicked off, it only seems fitting that CyberConnect2 helms a game adaptation. Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles is a retelling of the first season of the anime, alongside the Mugen Train arc that came out in theatres earlier this year. Much like CyberConnect2’s other work, The Hinokami Chronicles doesn’t do anything extraordinary or step outside of its comfort zone, but it’s bound to please Demon Slayer fans and newcomers alike.
While this isn’t a one-to-one recount of the events of Demon Slayer’s excellent first season, it gets pretty damn close without resorting to just playing clips from the show. Much like Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, The Hinokami Chronicles has an Adventure Mode that’s split into the most important arcs, opting to explore the pivotal beats of Tanjiro’s journey as opposed to fleshing out the characters and world building. For the uninitiated, Demon Slayer follows Tanjiro Kamado, whose family has been slaughtered by Muzan Kibutsuji, king of the demons. His only surviving sibling, Nezuko, is turned into a demon, and Tanjiro takes it upon himself to avenge his family and revert his sister back to her human form.
It’s a simple premise that’s as typical as a shonen can get, but it’s the characters and moments of major development that shine through here alongside the excellent animation work. All the hallmark moments are treated with great respect, most of which either receive gorgeously animated cutscenes or the eye-catching quick time events that CyberConnect2 executes so well. There are also optional vignettes you can unlock throughout the levels that further flesh out the story, which work as a great way to catch up newcomers on the characters and world events that don’t get explored in as much detail. The Mount Nagumo and Mugen Train arcs in particular are handled brilliantly, and fans will no doubt enjoy reliving these moments again. It’s definitely not the definitive way to experience the first major leg of Tanjiro’s and Nezuko’s journey, but it’s all killer, no filler, and I’m positive that’s what most players will want.
If you’ve played any of CyberConnect2’s previous titles, The Hinokami Chronicles will feel very familiar. You have a standard combo which is performed by mashing light attack and can be further changed with a directional input. These can lead to air combos or hard knockdowns, and are your primary means of squeezing out damage. Each character also has three unique special attacks that have a myriad of uses. As you take and deal damage, you build meter for Ultimate Techniques, and a Burst mode. You can also call in your partner for offensive and defensive assist actions or to tag out and play as them.
It’s an extremely simple combat system that gets a little deeper with the inclusion of a high risk, high reward parry mechanic, but it’s by no means the new gold standard for fighting games. What stands out the most is the flashy animations and particle effects that really deliver an experience that looks and feels the way you would want a Demon Slayer game to present itself. It really provides the power fantasy and player experience of what it would be like to be a demon slayer, and playing your favourite characters only empowers this further.
A fighter is nothing without a good base cast of characters, and the Hinokami Chronicles is mostly great in this regard. Besides the distinct lack of any playable demons at launch, every character you could want is here. From staples like Tanjiro, Inosuke, and Zenitsu, to smaller picks like Sabito and Urodaki. There’s a little bit of something here for everyone, and while each character fundamentally plays the same, they’re visually unique enough to feel like you’re playing a different fighter. A special mention should go out to the Ultimate Techniques, which are universally stunning to look at and brilliantly recreate the moments they’re inspired by.
Most of the story mode is played by moving through small open spaces from the series. Each area is largely linear and there isn’t much room for exploration, leaving it feeling extremely surface level and lacking any real purpose. There are some collectibles scattered about for extra unlockable content, but the areas mostly serve as a means to fight demons and progress the story. Each playable chapter takes place in these zones, as you progress, you’ll almost always fight demons and eventually partake in a boss fight. There are quite a few regular demons to fight in each chapter, and while it never gets truly stale, some repetition does set in before you get to the boss. The boss fights are easily the highlight of each chapter, each one providing a new challenge and experience different from the last. They’re more complex than just the simple hacking and slashing you get used to against regular demons and provide a refreshing change of pace. They typically end in flashy quick time events, and while I’m not usually a fan, I can’t deny that these are excellently animated and satisfying to pull off.
If there’s one thing that CyberConnect2 always nails, it’s translating the aesthetic of anime to a video game world. The Hinokami Chronicles is given the same treatment, with beautiful 3D character models, environments and cutscenes that stand alongside the quality of the anime instead of trying to live up to it. The end result is a game that’s always a treat to look at, with vivid colours and that trademark Demon Slayer flair that drew so many in to begin with. Performance is also rock solid here, and I encountered nothing in the way of bugs, making for a polished experience with great production values.
THE PS5 VERSION OF THIS GAME WAS PLAYED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. A DIGITAL COPY OF THE GAME WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles is a loving recreation of the first leg of Tanjiro and Nezuko's journey. It might not push the envelope in any meaningful way, but I can guarantee that this will satiate Demon Slayer fans and maybe even provide some entertainment for newcomers. It delivers on exactly what's promised, and I think that is what most people will want out of The Hinokami Chronicles.
A faithful retelling of Demon Slayer's pivotal story beats
Stylish and empowering combat
Boss fights keep Adventure Mode fresh
Strong base roster of playable characters
Effortlessly captures the visual flair of Demon Slayer