You probably know if you follow us, we are extremely fond of anime and manga. As soon as there is an ad adaptation of one of them in a video game, we start to follow it and dream of a software retracing an original work with great ideas, but above all to be again immersed for hours in these stories that we appreciate so much. So yes, there have been ups and downs, too high expectations, disappointments or even “trials” before more convincing consequences. Today, we invite you to discover our impressions of the video game adaptation of the phenomenon Kimetsu no Yaiba aka Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles.
A real big success in Japan, Kimetsu no Yaiba was first pre-published in Shueisha’s Weekly Shônen Jump magazine in 2016, thanks to the pen of Koyoharu Gotōge (Koyoharu Gotouge). This manga with 150 million copies sold, has already ended in the Land of the Rising Sun with the twenty-third volume; for our part, we Europeans must still wait before knowing the end of the story, volume 19 has just been released.
Like many other manga before him, Kimetsu no Yaiba was later adapted into an anime by ufotable studio, a well-known studio in the adaptation industry, under the name Demon Slayer – Kimetsu no Yaiba. The first season of the anime “DS” also includes twenty-six episodes to cover the part of “The evolution of Kamada Tanjirô”, season 2, it should start this month.
Aside from the manga and the anime, Demon Slayer has also benefited from an animated film “The Infinity Train”. This animated feature film has also become the best success of the Japanese box office and aroused great interest in France. Without retracing everything that revolves around Kimetsu no Yaiba, we do not hide from you that we are waiting for the rest of the anime with a certain impatience and that we were looking forward to having this video game in our hands, already sold to more one million copies in parentheses.
Usual fashions for the genre
Before talking about its history retracing some memorable moments in the series ranging from the Tanjiro Kamado Unwavering Resolve arc to the Infinity Train, let’s briefly introduce the different game modes contained in The Hinokami Chronicles.
We thus find the traditional “Tutorial” mode to learn the commands, a “Training” mode for the achievement of challenges facing several mentors, challenges which once successful allow the acquisition of “Kimetsu points”.
Once collected, as in Story mode, these Kimetsu points are then used to unlock “artworks”, quotes, costumes,… and even the different characters of the game in “Rewards” and “Archives” modes. It is thus possible to unlock protagonists before reaching the required conditions in story mode, or to avoid performing challenges that we find too complicated.
In addition, the menu also consists of ‘VS mode. »Or Versus for matches against the AI, locally and of course online. Finally the last game mode is none other than the “History” mode to which we logically devote a larger part for this test.
A story mode alternating between phases of exploration, combat, and of course narration
As we said earlier, this video game adaptation only covers the Tanjiro Kamado Unwavering Resolve arcs to the Infinity Train. A choice that may seem curious when we know that the manga is finished in Japan, but more understandable for us Europeans, because not only the second season of the anime will begin shortly in our territory but also because we do not. are only volume 19 of the twenty-three manga.
This limitation will undoubtedly make it possible to bring back Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer) in video games, in a sequel or in a more complete full version, with a more developed formula and why not surprises. In any case, there is something to do and we have already seen it in the adaptations of anime / manga in video games like Naruto for example, which often bring more consistency. We will therefore see this in due course, but we await this with a certain undisguised curiosity.
For those who do not yet know this Kimetsu no Yaiba phenomenon, it is a Shônen with strong themes with everything that makes the salt of a good series: a very moving story, a gripping plot, endearing characters , difficult themes or spectacular fights.
A moving story
We are in Taisho-era Japan. Tanjiro Kamado is a boy who lives in poverty, just like his family, and therefore experiences difficult times. However, this young boy enjoys this life with his family, and helps them as best he can by selling charcoal. This is how this family manages to survive a little longer every day. Unfortunately, one day, on his way home, Tanjiro discovers his family slaughtered by a demon.
But it gets worse, Tanjiro discovers that his younger sister Nezuko has managed to stay alive, unfortunately she has been transformed into a demon. Devastated by this cruelty and sadness, Tanjiro decides to become a demon slayer (Demon Slayer) to eliminate him but also to help his sister become human again. The story of this very close duo, intertwined by the fates of demons and humans, begins …
As we expected, this adaptation faithfully respects the original work, this story mode (divided into chapters) alternates between phases of exploration, combat and obviously narration. A good way for novices to discover the work of Koyoharu Gotōge (Koyoharu Gotouge), even if some imperative and important passages are missing.
In this regard, small parenthesis, we would have really liked that the anime sequences findable in game via fragments of memories are directly integrated into the chapters to fluidify the whole. There we find ourselves without certain apparent connections, some sequences even being found very late. Despite this downside, we can not shy away from our pleasure by reliving certain cult passages in the company of very endearing characters.
A pleasant exploration but an overly wise Level Design
Between these narrative scenes, we also have an exploration aspect with the usual collectibles (Kimetsu points, fragments,…), classic side quests, main mission, all interspersed with fights. Finally exploration is a big word, if the rediscovery of the places of DS is not unpleasant, we still feel a big throwback with a structure reminiscent of the first Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm for example. We greatly hope for an evolution if the work comes back to video game format, the potential being there.
Dynamic and accessible confrontations
If we have just used the example of a Naruto – SUNS it is not in an innocent way, on the contrary. With CyberConnect2 in charge and their liabilities (the Naruto SUNS, .Hack // GU Last Recode or the recent Fuga Melodies of Steel, and Dragon Ball Z Kakarot) we expected rather dynamic, punchy, and swarming fights. Spectacular visuals, on these two points, we are not disappointed, especially as the style is very similar to NUNS not to say that it is practically a copy / paste.
In fact, this is perhaps the point at which some may be tickled: the general lack of risk-taking, even if one is dealing with a size in the genre of closed arena sticks. .
As a reminder, if you know the apps from which Demon Slayer borrows its system, you will not be disoriented by these 3D arena battles taking place in real time. We can thus chain weak attacks in order to achieve combos, dodge, parry, dash-like pursuit to rush towards the enemy, or even several techniques, with very colorful visual effects, linked to a special technique gauge. , the latter regenerating over time.
There are also two major features: the Ultimate strike of each protagonist, very well animated by the way, as well as support characters. As already seen in other productions, calling on these supports allows to have a very useful attack support, but we can also switch between our fighters to take control. A concept that works well to give it all a little more salt, as does the much appreciated return of QTEs unlocking beautiful anime scenes.
If, as we have just seen, all these mechanics are similar to other productions, the Kimetsu no Yaiba paw intervenes on three specific features: first the “breath”, a capacity directly taken from the work of Koyoharu Gotōge ( Koyoharu Gotouge), the latter granting a general boost. Second, the enemies’ “fault lines”, the latter being able to be “cut” and put an end to the fighting by the success of QTEs. And finally with a gauge of combos that you can maintain for a certain period of time before throwing your opponent back, the combo then ending.
Thanks to all these mechanics, the clashes are both accessible and hyper dynamic, while not forgetting to put the entire field to contribution in order to avoid certain strikes or to assess the patterns of each opponent. Mention to the bosses and their zone strikes asking us to react well and to position themselves judiciously before chaining a (new) assault. In addition, immersion is at the rendezvous thanks to the original dubbing (Japanese or English).
Finally, let’s talk a bit about the character roster. When the game came out, there were eighteen of them, obviously with Tanjiro, Zen’itsu, Inosuke,… However, out of these eighteen fighters, it turns out that seven of them are duplicates corresponding to aspects alternative protagonists (the Academy). In Day One, it was therefore missing the call of emblematic villains, today this is no longer the case since some have made the trip to two successive waves of free DLCs, at the rate of two antagonists in bursts, a third wave should land soon. Something to please fans of the franchise, even if it happens a little later.
True to the work
From a visual point of view, lovers of Nezuko, Tanjiro and their acolytes will appreciate this very “animated” cel-shading aesthetic rendering with very clean models, superb decorations, or even spectacular effects (fire, water ,…) In combat. Needless to say, the fragments of memories, and the anime sequences also bring a big plus.
Note that during the clashes and during the exploration, we did not experience any drop in framerate. In addition, via a recent update, the New-Gen versions (Xbox Series X and PS5) have a specific Performance mode. The latter logically bringing 60FPS during combat, and during the exploration of the Story mode. On the other hand, the cinematics remain, as for them, in 30FPS.
The sound aspect, meanwhile, is of a very high quality, especially since, we repeat, the original voice actors of the anime (English and Japanese) are present to lend their voices to the characters.
Tested on Xbox Series X
If you’ve played series like Naruto, DBZ Kakarot, or other anime adaptations, this adaptation by CyberConnect2 shouldn’t leave you in uncharted waters. On the other hand, you risk to tick a little on its scripted mode lacking of binder, its absence of risk-taking (gameplay) and a less dense exploration. However, the software is a great first adaptation of Koyoharu Gotouge (Koyoharu Gotouge), we find the familiar Chara-Design of Demon Slayer, its endearing protagonists and its dynamic and accessible fights. In addition to that, we can count on the original VO (English or Japanese), everything is there to (re) discover Kimetsu no Yaiba quite simply in good conditions. One last word, if you are new to the saga, we advise you to complete your knowledge with anime and / or manga. While waiting for season two of the anime and another adaptation, we are redoing a game!