Looking nowadays at the widespread popularity and unparalleled global success of the Japanese anime franchise Kimetsu no Yaiba , it was not very surprising that it would receive its own video game adaption in the form of a battle arena fighting game that highlights the splendor of the original story scenes and their outstanding impact on the animation industry.
To be honest, the story of this series is not the main attraction, it wasn’t anything revolutionary or unique, and it was very similar to many of its predecessors in concept. It was the execution of its setting and the visual techniques (breathing styles) used in battles that remained engraved in the minds of many viewers for long periods of time.
When we had the opportunity to try this game for ourselves, we were very impressed with the developer’s ability -as always- to meticulously convey the grandeur of Japanese sword fighting styles and creative drawing/animation techniques to their outmost detail, all while impressively building upon these cornerstones in new ways to make the best competitive 3D arena fighter we ever got in a long time.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles is now available on PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S (Tested), PC.
Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Hinokami Chronicles Review
Kimetsu no Yaiba as an anime arena fighter has all the stables you might expect. An attack button that enables you to execute consecutive attacks, followed by a down or upward slash through tilting the analogue stick, and various special techniques (3 of them for each playable characters) with different characteristics for each one and a devastating super/ultimate attack inspired from the anime.
The game takes a page from the recent anime arena fighter My Hero One’s Justice and allows two characters to fight side by side in a tag team, which opens up an assortment of aids, options and shared opportunities on the battlefield through working with the assistant character, or maybe because they share the same health gauge you can treat it as if you are playing with one character with double the techniques available.
Mirror Flower, Water Moon
“Mirror Flower, Water Moon” or is an East Asian proverb meaning something that can be seen but not touched, like a flower reflected in a mirror or the moon reflected on the water’s surface; something that is beautiful but unattainable such as dreams or a mirage, and in our opinion its the most fitting reference to the fluid fleeting combat of Kimetsu no Yaiba.
There are many free style approaches to how can you react to the opponent’s attacks and specials. For example you can block your opponent but also push them while blocking or initiate a timed parry all while being able to dash and jump and use your assistant character at universally any point between all these complex movements. There is an equal amount of depth and accessibility for both beginners and competitive players to explore.
Mastering a character in this game is not the easiest thing to do as each character has their own attack and defense animations, grabbing methods and hidden parameters that makes them vulnerable to certain strikes or effects. There are also three types of combos depending on their length and the starting combo attack. Initiating any of them gives you varying opportunities to cancel your techniques into more punishing ones or make perfect parries easier.
All characters also have this heightened energetic state called “Boost Mode” in which they are allowed to execute whatever specials they want for free and connect attacks without being interrupted, so its very useful if you want to be aggressive in late game. All these options made us very confident about what the game has to offer in each character despite having only 12 of them (with 6 alternative skins) in base roaster.
Owing to the various degrees of maneuverability, its very hard to expect where the hit will come, even if you see the hand of your opponent clearly, you can’t quite image how he will behave and complete his objective. Moreover, despite using boost mode, every move can have as a suitable counter, this is not by any means an unfair game, but unless you visualize how to connect each reversal in proper manner, you will never be able to touch the opponent, or keep up with their flowing movements only achievable in this game’s engine.
The Art of Attention in Kimetsu no Yaiba
Adapting “Kimetsu no Yaiba” into another medium is not an easy job by all means, as the events take place in the Taisho period of Japan’s history, in which there was a large contrast between different levels of civilization in the cities and the country side. You need not miss any details that were added to reflect every relevant detail in its full glory, and the developer did everything to achieve just that.
Hinokami Chronicles recaptures the animated parts of the original story in beautiful cel-shaded graphics., which are the first season of the anime and the mega hit movie “Mugen Train“. Every location is recreated perfectly, like the Wisteria flower fields, and the high speed Demon train, not only as a playing field but also repurposed to fit into the game’s narrative style and reflect on the most interesting moments and influences from each respective story arc.
The cutscenes are indistinguishable from the amazing work done by the Animation studio Ufotable in the original anime series. On top of that, the developer Cyber Connect 2 has taken it upon themselves to integrate the most important moments of each episode into the battles themselves, not just before or after initiating the fight. Unlocking these extra touches relies on timing your button pressing when the QTE prompts appear on screen. It’s always stimulating to immerse yourself in a fight while not knowing what could happen at any moment, unlike other regular fighting games.
It’s inevitable to finish playing the story as it is the main key to unlock everything else in the game such as fighting characters, concept arts, famous quotations from the anime and musical pieces. There are also many exclusive moments, locations and single player battles that can only be experienced in the story mode, and some of them use official songs from the original anime and cannot be played outside of them like for example Dragon Ball FighterZ.
After completing the story, the developer opens up a chance to revisit some places and implement new choices through adding some never before seen techniques to multiple demon enemies, like a demon who never had any resemblance of poison attacks in the original story narrative, among other things. The story only takes about 10 hours to complete and there is not much incentive to replay, so you will be spending the rest of your time in training modes and offline/online battles with other friends.
The Enemy of Improvement
“Tighten the string of the kabuto/helmet after winning the war.” is a famous Japanese proverb that signifies the end of one’s battle, and that it does not end when you win, it only ends with you get lazy and lost your sense of commitment, and many fighting gamers know the philosophy of needing to constantly train and continue being vigilant despite being finished with the original content in game.
The training mode in itself does not contain many incentives to train, just recurring battles with the same characters using different assigned techniques, and is not even related to any reward systems so it could be ignored, but competitive players will need this mode to hone their skills and study each characters to its full extent, and there is a lot to figure out about every character even if not probably instructed by the training regiment.
Sadly the delay based netcode does not work favorably for those interested in getting their skills up to the next level, since it caused us many input delays and increased frames in casual and ranked online matches. There are also many absent customization options like the number of rounds in private matches, or any kind of arrangements to be made for tournaments, and you can’t recognize your opponent’s type of connection “Wired/Wi-fi” so you need to play this game with close friends in the same country to make the most of it.
As a last note, do not rely on the existence of any cross play options or any other accessibility settings to ease the experience. Not everyone in the industry is Arc System Works but from the eye view of a dedicated fan the developer has done an amazing job with the breathtaking art, the colorful particle effects and the amazing audio direction, in addition to the few original songs they added which captures even more of the anime vibes masterfully.
- Attention to detail and original inspiration sources
- Enough depth and many distinctive qualities between each playable character
- Upcoming extra playable characters will be added free of charge
- Free post game update that adds 60FPS performance mode to Xbox Series X and S
- Delay Based Net Code is not a favorable choice for a fighting game in 2021
- Online play is missing many customization options
- Not adding cross play makes it harder to find opponents