When a game adaptation of an anime series appears, there’ll always be a question of how well it tells the tale. Also, odds are it won’t perfectly recreate the experience, due to inherent differences between the two mediums and other constraints. With Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles, we have CyberConnect2 game going through the anime series’ first season and Mugen Train movie’s story. While sacrifices ended up clearly being made, it works in a way. It should never be a first source for the story, but people already familiar with the anime, manga, and movie will see it hit many major points.
While it begins at a point that makes sense, its introduction is one of the major ways Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles fails the source material. While the anime and manga begin with the Kamado family’s tragedy and an introduction to Giyu, the game begins after substantial events. Tanjiro’s already in the middle of a battle against Sabito, which acts as a tutorial. There’s no introduction to anyone. It’s understandable and okay if people know the series already, but isn’t great.
It also sets a pace for Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles’ story and progress compared to the manga and anime. Subtleties tend to be absent. The major beats that can’t be avoided are included. Things like an introduction to Muzan or a moment that helps establish Tanjiro, Inosuke, and Zenitsu as friends. As a whole, the game does pare things back. Do you need to know something to understand Tanjiro’s current mission? It will be there. Is it optional? It will be a Memory Fragment.
These Memory Fragments and important points in the story itself are the moments when the Demon Slayer anime and game intersect. Actual clips from the show appear at these moments. For story specific ones, they’re quite brief and implemented into main campaign missions. As for the Memory Fragments, they’re optional. You don’t have to watch them. However, you do have to do things like find them in campaign missions to see them. In some cases, critical details about characters’ lives are tucked away. It isn’t exactly ideal. Things that matter can appear there rather than in the story proper. I will say that on the plus side, at least they are present. I’d rather see some reference to them, rather than none at all. Plus it means for people who do genuinely care about it, those elements are waiting.
But what works in Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles’ favor is that this trimming eliminates any filler that might appear in the anime. Both the show and movie are fairly good at keeping a steady pace. Which the game does as well. What really helps here is more trivial moments are replaced with players controlling the action. For example, the Tsuzumi Mansion Arc speeds by, because players are controlling Tanjiro, Inosuke, and Zenitsu as the mansion shifts. Also, the pace for a longer arc like the Natagumo Mountain one ends up feeling a bit more different, but still appropriate, due to the adaptation.
Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles attempts to focus on the most important tidbits from the anime and manga’s story. This regrettably means you do miss a bit along the way. To CyberConnect2’s credit, some of this is salvaged. They’re simply tucked away into Memory Fragments. But since things are handled in the way they are, it might not be as comprehensive as people might hope. Ideally, someone already familiar should be coming in for supplemental fun. Or if this is a person’s first encounter, they’re reading or watching one of the original versions alongside the game.
Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles is available for the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC.