Developer, CyberConnect 2 has built a name for themselves among most anime fans. With their .hack titles and the long-running Naruto: Ultimate Ninja series, their cell shaded visuals are some of the best in the industry, making many fans wish their favorite anime or manga would eventually receive the ‘CC2 treatment’ and be turned into a visually stunning game. So, when CC2 announced back in March 2020 that their next big project would be tackling a Demon Slayer game, excitement and expectations from fan were naturally through the roof.

But now that the game is finally here, many are wonder if it can manage to live up those high expectations. The transition to Unreal Engine 4, along with the workload of being a cross-gen title is never an easy task, but nonetheless, their team is willing to take on the challenge.

Upon initially booting the game, you’re immediately thrown into the game’s adventure mode. The game it’s off with a stylish tutorial, recreating the first manager hurdle for our protagonist, Tanjiro Kamado, so it’s only fitting that we address this mode first. The game’s story split across eight different chapters. Each chapter utilizes a series of cutscenes, battles, and areas for exploration that outline the major events from the source material.

However, while the game attempts to retell the anime’s first season and film, determining if it’s actually worth your time is a complicated question. The developers have clearly poured a lot of time and effort into faithfully narrating Demon Slayer in video game form, but as you work your way through the 10-15 hour adventure, the lack of any real deviation becomes apparent.

CyberConnnect 2 is no stranger when it comes to introducing game-original characters or content in the form of side-quests that keep players coming back long after the credits rolls. So it was a bit of a shame that none of their ambitious takes are present here.

Kimetsu Points and Memory Fragments are scattered around the map whenever you’re given the opportunity to explore. They serve as the game’s collectables and allow you to unlock additional content, but the slow running speed and lack of a dedicated jump button doesn’t make this task very enjoyable.

Though there are a few areas of the adventure mode with a spark of excitement. As you progress through the chapters, you’ll eventually arrive at the Butterfly Mansion, and it’s the where you’ll encounter two minigames. You essentially playthrough a rhythm game style button sequence as you try to cleat the object with a high score. These sorts of unexpected events make you want to revisit them, and it’s a shame there aren’t more unique game elements like that.

Though, the biggest highlight of the games adventure mode would have to the boss battles. This is one area where CyberConnect 2 never fails to disappoint. A combination of changing attack patterns, iconic music and dialogue, and quick time events always makes these moments feel intense when paired with the stunning anime-like visuals. These key battles objectively made playing through the entirety of the story worthwhile.

The Hinokami Chronicles isn’t just about a single player experience, once you clear the story you’ll likely find yourself honing your skill in the VS mode. Demon Slayer’s versus mode take shape in the form of an arena fighter, which is a classic for most anime fighting games. You get to perform damaging combos with a few button presses, along the ability to switch between two characters of your choice on a custom team.

But balancing a fighting game while creating something that’s accessible to newcomers is always a difficult task. You ideally want a game the can picked up and understood immediately, while containing enough depth so that dedicated players feel like its worth sticking around for.

Luckily it seems that the developer has attempted to address this through various defensive options. Most attacks can be executed easily by pushing the “X” button, but guarding along with push blocking makes it so your opponent can’t mash until they beat you. Proper meter management and knowing when to grab, quick step, and use tilt attack are crucial tools to learn to for one-upping your opponent and making sure you can evade their Ultimate Arts.

One area of criticism for this mode is less on the combat and more with the roster. The game initially features 18 characters which is unfortunately filled with a large amount of water breathing users. This results in a lot of similar moves making the roster feel even less diverse. This is a bit disappointing as the longevity of the multiplayer will ultimately depend on how enjoyable each of the playable characters can be. The team has announced more characters in the form of free DLC, so we’ll have to wait and see how that manages to shake things up.

Overall, Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles feels like the first steps to the start of a great new series. While the story mode left a lot to be desired, the boss battles were a visual treat worthy of revisiting to acquire the best ranking. Versus mode gives players access to various tools, while striking a decent balance of accessibility and depth as well. It’ll be interesting watching just how this title evolves through the addition of new DLC characters.

Great Boss Battles
Fun Minigames
Versus Mechanics
Small Starting Roster
Story Exploration

Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: CyberConnect2
Release: 2021 Oct, 15

Review copy provided by the publisher.
Reviewed on: PC(Steam)

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