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Code Vein

Posted by GG Goblin On October - 14 - 2019

Yet another take on the SoulsBorne formula.

SoulsBorne games seem to be taking on the Ark method of releasing in twos, and so alongside Deck 13’s The Surge 2, we now have Bandai Namco’s Code Vein, a SoulsBorne action RPG with an anime flavour and a taste for blood. Code Vein, which is obviously inspired by another very popular title, has been developed by the team behind God Eater 3, another game with obvious inspiration. Well, more of a good thing is nothing to complain about I suppose. After a lengthy delay in launching Code Vein, the game is finally out in the wild and players will at last be able to create the vampire anime character of their dreams.


Before we get into how the game plays, it is important to show some respect for Code Vein’s character creation system. Rarely have I come across a game that is so complete when it comes to creating a character. The game has an anime style theme, and so any character will also carry that theme, but damn if the possibilities aren’t endless. Faithfully recreating characters from popular anime shows is certainly an option, but even the least creative player will be able to make something here that will feel totally unique to them.

Getting into the game proper, players may feel a little confused about what is going on. I must admit that Code Vein is not particularly good at explaining the setting and that, but basically at some point in the future, something happens and the world is all but destroyed. Revenants, humans with a thirst for blood, remain and need a constant supply of Blood Beads otherwise they will turn into creatures known as The Lost, which will make up the main enemy in the game. Blood Beads are becoming more and more difficult to find, but the character created by the player may just have the solution to this.


So it takes a little while for the player to get their head around what is actually happening in the game, and while the long term story gets more intricate and interesting, the interesting cast of characters and enjoyable gameplay are far more easy to get to grips with. The game is not without its odd quirks though. For example, early in the game the player will gain access to a central hub where they can do a little risk free exploring, converse with a number of these characters and, should they wish, take a dip in a hot spring. Rarely has this level of character relaxation appeared in a game. It did make me laugh.

When it comes to the actual gameplay, anyone who has spent time with a SoulsBorne game will recognise the formula here. Code Vein is a third-person action game that relies much more on solid, considered combat than flashy multi-button combos. The fighting will rely on timing over everything else, and enemies that the player faces will not need too many openings to bring an end to the player. There are a wide selection of different weapons to use in the game, but the core combat is not as solid or satisfying as other games in the genre, meaning that at times players will be able to get away with frantic button-mashing to get out of a bad situation. Following its inspiration, Code Vein has Mistles which act as the bonfires that the player will resurrect at upon failure. It’s an easy system to understand, if not an easy one to play.

Which brings us down to the difficulty, perhaps the most important aspect in a SoulsBorne game. As someone who has always struggled with these hardcore action RPGs, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Code Vein was far easier than I expected. Even the first boss fight was completed on the first attempt. What this will mean to the player is entirely subjective. Those who relish the challenge of these particularly hard games will likely come away deflated, while those who perhaps struggle will find Code Vein to be a breath of fresh air.


While much of Code Vein follows the familiar formula, there are a few wrinkles that make it stand out. For starters, players are able to take a companion along with them into the dungeons, adding a little support. The AI is not exactly great, often jumping into danger without much thought, but having another character with the player is a novel idea and certainly makes it interesting. Another difference comes in the form of the Blood Code, a job system that not only allows the player to switch between classes on the fly, allowing the player to choose the right skills and abilities for each situation as they go. The player is even able to mix and match traits to make something truly unique.

Visually, Code Vein will likely not win any awards for the setting, which is pretty uninteresting for the most part. I realise there are limitations in place for the post-apocalypse, but all of that similarity would have made it difficult to navigate if it were not for the sturdy map. On the flip side, the characters and enemies all look great and are very well animated. They are highly detailed and have personality, which really takes the pressure off of those lacklustre environments.


Code Vein is a competent SoulsBorne game with an anime style and an interesting, if not very well explained, story. Being able to quickly swap classes to suit the situation and take an AI companion along are good ideas, but it really is the difficulty that will determine how much a player will enjoy the game. The combat is less exacting, and so players who maybe have struggled in other games of this type will find this to be much more fun. Those used to the challenge will breeze through though. All of this aside, Code Vein is a unique entry in the SoulsBorne genre that action RPG fans will likely enjoy.




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