Code Vein is finally upon us. While the game didn’t have an insane amount of hype behind it, it definitely kept us waiting. Especially because the initial reveal was made at a time when the type of genre became very popular. You know what type I’m talking about (yes, souls like). The slashing RPG style with interconnected maps, checkpoints and learning through failure. Code Vein utilizes that very same formula but also expands upon it in some interesting ways.
To start off the review, Code Vein setting is post-apocalyptic. That’s become a recurring theme in this genre by now but I’m not complaining honestly. Why? Because it works really damn well honestly. How exactly does Code Vein represent its world?
The best way I can sum it up is by describing it as Mad Max but with Ghouls. You wake up as a revenant with no clue of how you ended up where you are. All you know is how hostile the upcoming horrors of the world are and how resources are scarce.
As sentient life like humanity is in very short supply, you’re forced to feed off more hostile territory. I do quite literally mean feed since Code Vein has you play as a Ghoul/Vampire esque character that feeds off the blood of their enemies.
The game is very anime, any fans of Japanese animated media should have a fun time with this game. I say this in the form of both art style as well as general vibes and manner of writing. Playing it in the Japanese dub with subtitles makes it feel like it’s straight out of a show. With infinitely better pacing I might add, since you’re actually fucking fighting instead of telling the audience your life story.
Anyways, the game is set in a fucked up fight to survive type world. One who’s mysteries are left to be figured out by you. Now the story isn’t that interpretive as most of this genre’s games tend to be. Code Vein does a pretty good job of laying the story out for you to analyse and really take in.
This is done in the form of cutscenes that basically follow the main story line. There aren’t huge dumps of revelation info like Resident Evil does, however. The info about the world in Code Vein sort of slowly dawns onto you. It’s gradually filled in your head at a nicely comfortable pace. One that allows you to really take everything in and understand through the journey rather than getting everything at the end.
One other major part of Code Vein is the ally system. This is like the companion system of any RPG, one where you come across colorful characters with their own stories and backgrounds that help you along your journey. The way the companion stories are given to you is a little tricky to explain.
If I had to put it into words, it’s like walking through a drive-by theater, with how the surroundings project still images along with a commentary. These companions all come with their own classes and abilities that you’re encouraged to either adapt to or use in the right situation.
The overall base gameplay of Code Vein is just like any other game in its Genre. The genre that has From Software games most prominently. Code Vein operates on an interconnected level design basis. You know the drill, you enter an area with one starting point. That point branches out into shortcuts and alternate pathways through an area to make navigation easier and more convenient. Enemy mobs are placed in select locations, varying in strength and numbers.
The gameplay itself is your typical strategic hack and slash. Conserving your energy, attacking between openings and dodging when need be. While Code Vein does keep the pacing pretty fast, one problem I had with the game was the lack of weight behind attacks. Bloodborne remains the best in this genre with capturing the feel of landing a powerful attack. Code Vein was a reminder to me of Dark Souls 2, one where it felt like you were tickling your enemies with your weapon.
Code Vein’s stats and playstyles operated on a class system called the Blood Code. The thing I loved about the Blood Code is how flexibly you could respek it. By this, I mean change and switch up your entire code. Normally in these RPGs, once you stick to a playstyle, you’re bound to it.
While this is good for making players commit, it’s also fucking annoying when you find an enemy or boss that completely counters that style. Especially since you can’t change it. Code Vein is similar to Monster Hunter World in that regard as it makes it very easy to just switch up when need be. You’ll actually want to switch up your Blood Code a lot if you want to breeze through this game.
One major thing that sets Code Vein apart from the mould of its genre is the AI companion system. These characters aren’t just plot points, they’re actual helpers. Ones that fight with you in combat, create distractions and tank hits for your ass.
The thing is, the companions were heavily RNG based. This RNG translated into every encounter which you involve your allies in.
Sometimes, they’ll be astounding with how they avoid and decimate enemies, sometimes even bosses. Other times they’ll be so brain dead that you end up babysitting the whole time. I feel like the AI also conditions a lot of players to grow soft and be unable to progress without the buddy.
This is why I recommend variation between taking a companion and going solo. Just to make sure you actually remain competent is all.
The main advice I can give for using companions is to think of them as a part of your blood code loadout. After all, companions are meant to serve as a sidekick of sort in these games. Therefore, treat them like one. Pick a close range ally if you’re going long range. Pick a tanky ally if you plan on being a glass cannon. The list goes on.
Besides the AI companions, Code Vein has a small hint of multiplayer in the form of very scarce support in certain areas. It’s not manual matchmade support, however. It’s a lot like the cameo system in Devil May Cry 5 actually. Just with a bit more direct interaction. There’s no way to play this game with your friends just yet, sadly.
Still, with all that I’ve talked about in the Code Vein review, I’d definitely recommend that you give Code Vein a go. Admittedly, the delay in its release may have killed the hype, but it’s still better not to miss out honestly.