Upon the initial reveal of Bandai Namco’s Code Vein, I assumed it would be like God Eater, only with vampires. I was completely wrong. The visuals caught my eye from the beginning, and since the reveal, I’ve followed development. I was a bit disappointed when Code Vein was delayed from last September, but one year on, the game is finally making its way to retail. Developed by the same team that worked on God Eater, this is their take on the Souls series, as derivative as that is, it’s still fun to play.
Starting a new game throw you into the expansive character creator – which is always a blast and worth spending time with. From dozens of makeup options, accessories, hairstyles and pretty much anything you can imagine, the anime character of your dreams turns into reality. Moving onto the tutorial, the engaging preamble introduces the gameplay mechanics before moving onto the next section.
After creating your Revenant and learning the basics, you’re dropped into a desolate world and quickly apprehended. In the world of Code Vein, society has fallen; and you’re left to try and restore some normalcy by purifying the world. As you explore, your character needs to find Blood Beads, a fruit-shaped bead full of blood and a form of sustenance for the Revenant. Those who don’t devour Blood Beads become enemies know as The Lost. I was less invested in the narrative than I’d have liked because while the story comes off messy, the characters are certainly interesting.
Moving on, maps are interconnected and offer several ways to explore each area. With that, you’ll find enemies strewn all over the level, hidden treasures to find, and Mistles to purify. In Code Vein, Mistles serve as checkpoints and expand the map, as well as restoring HP and Ichor; You’ll find shortcuts and ways to backtrack if you end up falling to the enemy. Haze serves as the currency and is usable at Mistles to level up, unlock new Gifts (magic), as well as buy better gear and supplies. If this sounds like the Souls formula, then yes, its true; Code Vein openly flourishes its inspiration. Not that it’s a bad thing, Bandai Namco published From Software’s series.
Combat is Souls-esque – so you manage stamina, health and timing dodges in order to tackle enemies and bosses. Thankfully, there are a handful of weapon-types to master and offer their own perks. Weapons are upgradeable through components found around the map as well. While I enjoyed combat, it was a bit clunky, and strikes have no weight when connecting with enemies. It just doesn’t feel like strikes mean anything. In some instance, I’d walk towards an enemy, strike them a few times and then have them react. What I found worked best was backstabs and parries, which are a bit overpowered and offer a large window for punishment against enemies.
One way Code Vein sets itself apart from many Souls titles, is the Blood Code system. Blood Codes are basically classes that unlock throughout the game. Instead of being locked into one single Code, the game freely offers the ability to swap between them on the fly and levelling them up simultaneously. Choosing from 25 different Blood Codes, each one offers its own benefits and stats. One might focus on melee and strength, another on defence and Gifts, another on ranged damage.
Of course, Code Vein offers a challenge for those looking. Bosses are a prime example of this and provide engaging scenarios. Another way this game sets itself apart is the inclusion of a co-op partner and in some instances both an A.I and human-controlled character. A.I is inconsistent though, and each comes with their own Blood Code. Against regular enemies, they are a welcome addition to the fray, but against bosses not so much. During my review, I attempted to call in a human partner but couldn’t find anybody to connect with. During the Network Test, earlier this year and finding someone to play with wasn’t an issue. In fact, while playing with others is a ton of fun, the difficulty dropped when more than one person was engaging the enemy.
Visually, I like the aesthetic of Code Vein, it certainly feels and looks like an anime. Characters dress and act as you’d expect, and female characters are always well-endowed and often scantily-clad. Often this is a massive distraction and not something I particularly enjoy in my video games. Environments look good and offer a variety of locations to explore, but minor visual pop-in occurs throughout the game.
Even with the year-long delay, there are still underlying issues with Code Vein, but for the most part, it is a competent Souls-like title. Being able to change Blood Code on the fly and acclimate to enemies on the fly is a game-changer for the genre and is one of the better mechanics the game offers. That said, the downside is how easy enemies become when calling for help, and the A.I inconsistently assisting in battle. I enjoyed Code Vein for what it was – an anime Souls that scratches an itch and delivers a competent game. All in all, if you’re like me and not sure what games are worth checking out this Fall, if you’re looking for a game to keep you busy – this might be a great place to start.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]