Demon Slayer Test: The Hinokami Chronicles – Not Breathtaking

Greatly popularized thanks to the flagship series of Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm, I study them CyberConnect 2 was among the favorites to fit any fashionable shonen. Wishes were multiplying, some wishing for a game Bleach, else a game One Piece, but it is finally Demon Slayer, a real cultural phenomenon of recent years (especially in Japan), which is the studio’s new playground. A logical choice given the popularity of the manga, but which poses some adaptation problems given that the studio has often relied on the anime, more than on the work on paper, while the series does not have for the moment of a season and a film. And if the studio could have circumvented these problems by modulating its formula, unfortunately it is not.

Test condition: We played the title for about ten hours on PlayStation 5, mainly solo in local versus mode, the time to unlock all the characters and complete the story and most of the side objectives.

An anime that changed everything

You probably could not have missed the phenomenon Demon Slayer, and if you’re here reading this review, you probably know what Koyoharu Gotouge’s manga is about. But for those who need a little remedial lesson, we will only summarize the history of the series by recalling that we follow Kamada Tanjiro, a young demon hunter who is accompanied by his sister, transformed into demon but still gifted with conscience, who both set off in search of the demon who decimated their family.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles picks up the overall plot narrated in the first season of the anime and film The Infinity Train made by the Ufotable studio. It is mainly thanks to these adaptations that the manga is today a work known all over the world, and CyberConnect 2 then appeared as one of the only studios that could ensure a level of visual quality so close to the anime (good , we do not forget Arc System Works eh).

The pillars of the Naruto formula

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Having cut his teeth on games Naruto, the studio proves here once again its ability to offer an insane staging, which fits that of the anime to guarantee a show that does not disappoint. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles is a constant treat when it illustrates the cult moments of the plot, with ever more impressive cutscenes and sumptuous special moves that will have the gift of raising the hair of the biggest fans.

So of course, we must not be allergic to QTE, since the title takes up the Ultimate Ninja Storm formula, with a certain score to achieve to unlock bonuses at the end of these phases. It remains a way like any other to immerse ourselves even more in the action.

We almost believe that Tanjiro and his companions come out of the adaptation of Ufotable as the visual result is specific to the screen. However, we would like everything around them to be at the same level. We can not say that the title is so dazzling when we focus on the sets, relatively empty, with a level of finish that is clearly not at the level of that of the 3D models of characters.

An Adventure mode that is sorely lacking in content

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Ultimately, this is something that you hardly notice when you are immersed in the middle of a fight. We’re on familiar ground after all, since CyberConnect 2 has served us this soup before with Naruto, but you can’t help but see it when playing the game’s Adventure mode.

Forget the large open areas of Dragon Ball Z Kakarot. Forget even exploring from area to area (more or less freely) of Naruto. Because of the structure of the manga, Adventure mode is a headlong rush that does not bother to show us the places we cross, and thus does not offer real detours. If we can take control of Tanjiro and others to wander a little from time to time, everything is done in corridors and in grid areas, which only allow one or two detours to go. look for the various collectibles.

Collectibles which are certainly numerous, but not very varied. One of them is none other than the in-game currency (Kimetsu points) used to buy costumes, music, pictures and other bonuses (or unlock characters ahead), while the other is in fragments of memories, which will make us relive some scenes of the anime in a slideshow style. A nice bonus to remember a few important moments annexed to the plot, even if we would have liked them to be presented in a less summary way. There are also a few NPCs that we can talk to, again to get bonuses, but the interest is minimal. Suffice to say that apart from absolute fans of the work and collectors at heart, these detours will not be very useful.

This skimpy Adventure mode suffers greatly from the pace of these sequences. If we sometimes meet one or two minor demons on the choice to stretch our legs, we quickly see the limits that the studio had to face to adapt the beginnings of Demon Slayer. We realize this even more when he must somehow adapt quieter arcs, requiring no combat. The title then serves us a mini-game like a rhythm game that we will cross twice, before putting it away in the cupboard. We will say that it is better than nothing.

The vicissitudes of adaptation

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These limitations are also felt in the casting of the game. Naruto were sometimes disparaged by the lack of depth almost inherent in 3D arena fighting games, they could rely on an extremely rich and well-fed cast. Suffice to say that this is not at all the case here, with in all and for all 18 characters. Well almost. You can already remove 6 since we are entitled to “Academy” versions of Nezuko or Giyu, who are entitled to the same moveset outside of their ultimate power. A little less duplication, we find a second version (well, third suddenly) of Tanjiro which is also playable, with combos which are this time different. In other words, if we dismiss all these happy people, we come down to 11 really unique characters..

This is little. Too little, especially for a game of its kind, which does not have the will to create truly unique gameplay for each character. And inevitably, we arrive at the point that annoys, that of the demons. You probably know it, but no daemon is playable at launch, except Nezuko. If these demons will arrive for free just after launch, with Akaza and Rui opening the ball (and who will be followed by four other characters), it is still very unfortunate to see that a fighting game Demon Slayer does not integrate these famous antagonists from the start.

The frustration is all the greater when you take a look at the cast present. Who really wanted a character like Murata to be added to the game before one of the Pillars? (Sorry for Murata fans, if there are any). Here again, the game comes up against the limits of adaptation by keeping a tight roster that would not encroach on season 2 of the anime, scheduled to be released in a few weeks. What a strange coincidence, moreover.

Accessibility rhymes here with limited

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But we almost forget to talk about the heart of the game, the clashes. No surprise here, we take the layer Ultimate Ninja Storm, and we apply it. The title is played more or less the same way, with three one-touch combos (the famous “square, square, square”, and the possibility of triggering three special techniques to complete these combos using one or two. more keys.

However, Demon Slayer: Kimestu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles wants to be even more accessible than the blond ninja games, which is both laudable and regrettable. The good news is that its easy-to-learn system allows any manga fan to grab the controller and have fun on it, no matter what their background as a gamer. The other side of the coin is that we quickly see the lack of depth.

Each character is played the same way, with roughly the same sequences, all with a less complete system than the studio’s previous games. No ranged attack here and almost no air jousting. We find the system of guard and against which must be mastered to do well online, just like that of the allies. Each fight will require you to choose two fighters. Your ally can then be sent to the front by performing an attack before leaving, or simply to save you from a combo. It is also possible to swap fighters, who share a common life bar.

Continuous assault

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Next to that, CyberConnect 2’s game focuses on the spectacle above all. Thereby, it sets up a combo time system, which allows you to chain attacks for a limited time on condition of being well aware of the effect of our assaults. Thus, it is possible to chain a simple combo, followed by a special attack, before resuming a simple combo, then a new special attack, and so on, as long as a circle visible on the screen is not not come to the end of the countdown.

This makes the gameplay very dynamic, and immediately punishing for those who have not paid attention to their guard. It also requires good management of energy (which is also used to perform cancels and rush on the enemy) in order to have stock to chain special attacks. We also note the typical Awakening mode which offers more powerful blows and a sort of finish for one of the basic combos, as well as an ultimate attack that we have already mentioned above, which ensures the show.

So we go around it very, very quickly. And it is not the various trainings offered that will motivate us to invest more in this gameplay as it leaves too much room for accessibility, more than technicality. It is certainly not this last characteristic that we expect from a 3D arena fighting game, but when we see that the games Naruto were a cut above when they were criticized for this aspect, hard not to highlight.

Adventure mode at least makes the effort to get out of this comfort zone to set up many game-changing boss fights. Apart from the QTEs which we have already mentioned, these clashes are a little more demanding thanks to the large impact zones of boss attacks, which require constant vigilance. Not much to increase the difficulty, but it makes it even more alive, especially since these fights are helped by the original Japanese dubbing, which greatly contributes to the immersion. On this point, fans of the anime can only be delighted, especially since certain music should remind them of memories.

Finally, note that for the moment, the game is limited to a framerate of 30 frames per second, even on PS5 and Xbox Series. A patch will arrive soon to add 60 fps on these platforms.