We must recognize the success of Kimetsu No Yaiba. The quality of the anime and the charisma of its characters have made the story of Tanjiro Kamado one of the most important animated series in recent years. His success was even greater with the premiere of a movie, and it seems that the streak will continue with the arrival of the second season. All of this made it clear that a game based on Kimetsu No Yaiba And, as in other cases, it was logical that it was adapted to the genre most exploited by this theme: the arena fighter.
An initial problem is that the first season and the movie only develop a few characters and, although we met the mainstays, those who have not read the manga are unaware of their abilities. This did not stop CyberConnect2 from developing a game that builds on the success of anime with an already proven formula. Will the experience of the Japanese developer be enough to deliver a decent game? Here I share my impressions.
If you know the series and have followed it from beginning to end, you should know what will happen in the 8 chapters of the game. Everything starts after Nezuko’s transformation and just when Tanjiro Kamado’s training ends. The first step will be to pass the final test on Fujikasane Mountain to become a demon hunter and finish with the events that occurred in the film. This means that you will be able to relive great battles with the servants of Muzan Kibutsuji and you will meet Inosuke Hashibira and Zenitsu Agatsuma, very particular swordsmen who join the cause of Tanjiro and Nezuko.
This is where the problems begin, as the story mode feels like a pretext for the game to last longer than necessary. The first thing I noticed is that there is a strong narrative load presented with images. You will see a faithful reinterpretation of the anime, with real-time graphics, special cutscenes and some still images to tell you the original plot. All this in a kind of adventure mode with free exploration on a map divided into sections.
On paper it sounds good, but when you start playing notes you only have to reach the mark on the map to advance. The alternative is to explore for Kimetsu points, souvenirs, and meet some secondary objectives to get 100% of each area. Everything happens in very small spaces that you have to follow practically in a straight line with no other option. You should limit yourself to walking, talking to some NPCs and avoiding obstacles only when the game tells you to. This means that you cannot jump, run or be free; you just have to keep walking nonstop and fight some generic demons occasionally.
This is very sad, since really the only motivation to continue in this mode is to follow the story, face bosses and unlock characters. And speaking of bosses, you will run into the demons of the anime, each well represented and with unique attacks. The truth is that these fights are enjoyed and they feel like something different, almost like an action game or an RPG; you must even learn their attack patterns and recognize their vulnerable moments.
After finishing these fights you will be left with the feeling that maybe they chose the wrong genre, since the battles of this style work very well, but there are very few. As I was saying, most of the time you will just walk from one point to another while enjoying the story. In some cases you will be able to control other characters like Zenitsu and this adds a lot of value to the tour. It’s still the same, but at least it’s hilarious to watch the erratic movements and expressions as you die of fear. You will also find the typical quick time events, although here they are shorter and only add points to get some memories at the end of the battle.
If you decide to skip history and jump right into the blows, I have bad news. You will necessarily have to advance in the main mode to unlock characters, and there are not just a few; You will literally have to unlock them all to be able to use them in any mode. In addition, you will get costumes, settings, images, avatars and music; all through a scheme of panels and that will open when certain conditions are met. If patience is not your thing, you can use your Kimetsu points that you will find in some places on the map to open them instantly.
In the story mode you will see some special missions and you can complete additional missions, but they are only resources of the developers to add hours of play and keep you entertained a little more. This can get boring after a while because, in addition to some confrontations, you will only have to find characters marked on the map and a few items called Memory Fragments. By obtaining them you will see important moments of the series as stories with still images, but the real reward is that some characters will be unlocked. I assure you that you will do this out of obligation if you want more characters.
Now let’s talk about the characters. At first, you will have 4 of the 18 available, which are actually 11 different and 7 alternative versions. The additional fighters are Tanjiro in Hinokami Kagura mode and 6 others in the Kimetsu Academy version.
As I said at the beginning, this suffers a lot after a few games. You will have some outfits that add variety, but options are lacking. This is likely because the game will receive more content as the series releases chapters and introduces its new characters. At the moment, they confirmed that 2 will arrive for free: the demons Rui and Akaza.
Let’s focus now on the game system. If you have played other arena fighters you know how the control works. Movement is free in 3D environments and occurs simply; you can make combos with basic attacks and combine some skill to extend them. There are only 2 special attacks and a charged attack, but you can change your strategy with a grab and the possibility of choosing another character. You can exchange them in the middle of the battle and use them as assists, and, thus, make new routes of combos and put pressure on your opponent.
The control is as simple as pressing a button over and over again, but if you want to go a little further you can invert bars to enter the boost mode and spread to increase the power of your attacks. The most important effect is the possibility of making a definitive technique. Honestly, I was surprised by the spectacular nature of these attacks, and it was clear to me that this is where CyberConnetc2 wanted to demonstrate its mastery in adapting the essence of anime. The camera movements, the facial expressions of the characters and the elemental effects such as fire and water stand out for their quality.
Other options to counter your opponent is a kind of parry that, when completed, you can use to punish your opponent; You can also get out of trouble if you call your partner to take you away from danger when you can’t stand the pressure. They are simple options that you will use more than once to get out alive.
If after a while you want to try something different, there is the training mode (where you will have to fulfill special missions) and the battle mode (where you can play with a friend, the computer or online). The rules are simple: win 3 rounds to win. If you prefer to face other players in the world there are ranked or casual games. When playing online I had no major problem; everything worked perfectly.
If something gives value to Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles is the technical section. Visually it is impeccable, and it is probably one of the games that is best suited to cel shading, as it almost perfectly replicates what we saw in the anime. The performance is very good and it flows smoothly, so you will really enjoy everything that happens on the screen. Something that surprised me was the story mode settings. An example is Asakusa, a colorful city full of life. It’s strange, but at times it feels like playing an RPG-style Ni No Kuni. Hopefully they decide to give another genre a chance.
On the audio, I’ll say that it just doesn’t disappoint. Original music helps you immerse yourself in what is happening on screen while listening to opponents name their stances and techniques. The dubbing work is very good, and you will be able to listen to it in English and Japanese.
I must be frank with you: if you are a fan of Kimetsu No YaibaYou will love this game and the quality of the technical section will surprise you because it is a visual delight. Now, if you are looking for a game with a lot of content that will keep you busy for a long time, it is likely that this option will not convince you at all, because at the end of the story mode it will only be to play the challenge quietly with your friends or online. This can change if there will be more content constantly, but you also have to think that unlocking the rest of the characters can keep you busy for a long time and then you may get annoyed and stop it.
Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles is a game with a lot of background work and high quality standards that anime fans will enjoy, but feels rushed to release. Perhaps the strategy is to favor the second season of the series, but it is a risky move because it suggests that the title is incomplete. Definitely, everything can improve if the game receives support soon.