Bandai Namco returns with another title heavily influenced by the hugely successful Dark Souls formula: the dark and gritty Code Vein. Offering a more direct narrative, a post-apocalyptic dystopian world, and a story heavily influenced by vampiric lore, does it stand up to the high expectations of the genre?
Code Vein Review
The game takes place in a secluded land called Vein. Following a great calamity, vampire-like survivors called Revenants fight over the continuously diminishing supplies of blood, with the ever increasing risk of losing control and entering a mindless, savage-like state known as The Lost. Losing all memories, Revenants often resort to harvesting blood from the last remaining surviving humans. However, a small pocket of resistance hopes to restore balance to this bleak and dark existence.
The game wears its Souls-like inspiration on its sleeve, with almost identical mechanics and features standing proud. However, that’s not to say it doesn’t make moves to improve on this tried and tested formula. If there’s one particular area where Code Vein stands alone in the Souls-like space, it’s the dominating stance the game takes on telling its narrative.
Code Vein tackles the challenge of directing an intriguing tale on two main fronts. Traditional cutscenes and lengthy dialogue progresses an overarching story, while small memory sequences allow for greater depth and understanding of the protagonist and their allies. Much of the story is hidden behind collectibles and limited events, each offering an opportunity to dive into a web of intricate design. It plunges players into a dark story of death, loss, and despair, with the protagonists the only beam of light in an otherwise blackened sky.
It does suffer from some pacing problems from time to time, with 10-15 minute cutscenes and dialogue breaking up an otherwise action-packed experience. If it wasn’t for the quality and dark-natured design of the story, it would have been a challenge to not skip the majority of the cutscenes just to get back into the meat of the game.
Before we dive into the meat of the game, it’s fitting to first take a moment to appreciate the incredible character creation on tap. In a genre that traditionally offers very little character choice at the beginning of the experience, Code Vein explodes out of the gates with a hugely in-depth character customization suite, allowing players to change and manipulate practically every area of a character’s being. While it’s not quite as deep as some of the more popular MMORPGs of today, it’s clearly paving the way for new heights in the Souls-like genre.
Continuing its efforts to reinvent some of the genres more stagnating elements, Code Vein features a full-flavored banquet of character progression and customization with a class system that quickly became my favorite in recent memory. Blood Codes, the name given to an individual class, represent a characters list of available abilities and potential stat use and growth. Switching this up is as simple as navigating a menu and making a new selection, but it’s the combination of unlocking these Blood Codes and the nature of the progression coming together that makes it such a feast.
Each Blood Code has a group of abilities, some that favor specific weapons or builds, others more generic, each …