When Code Vein was revealed my immediate thought was “hey, an anime dark souls.”. After having played Code Vein this week with Bandai Namco I can confirm that while these comparisons aren’t unfounded, Code Vein is definitely a beast of its own.
Code Vein’s world is a shattered, brooding one filled with gothic themes and filled with vampires. All of this is presented with a light anime vibe.
Combat is largely similar to the Souls game. There are a various melee weapons of both the oversized and the realistic variety. There are presumably ranged weapons as well, as our companion (more on this later) was using a musket-type rifle. Players can lock-on to enemies, perform back-stabs, light attacks and heavy attacks, as well as block and dodge. The biggest differences are in the gifts, Code Vein’s version of magic and spells, and the ability to charge heavy attacks and a special vampiric attack mapped to the PS4’s X button. Code Vein’s gift system is pretty fleshed out, with one set of moves being special abilities like attack or support abilities, and another set being straight buffs to defense, damage, attack speed or movement speed. More subtly, Code Vein is slightly faster paced than Dark Souls. This increase in speed is not on the same level as Bloodborne, but I found myself less bogged down by the enemies sprinkled around the map as they were relatively easier to kill and much less punishing to be attacked by.
As I mentioned before the companion system in Code Vein plays a large role. From my short time with the game, my companion was a nearly permanent addition to my toolset, regardless of whether I was just wandering the map or facing a boss. My companion, Mia, was equipped with a Bayonet Rifle and was a massive help. If she wasn’t attracting enemies and dealing damage she was resurrecting me, allowing me to return with half health. Admittedly, I was a bit worried at how easy the overworld was with Mia covering my back, but these worries subsided as soon as I faced off against one of Code Vein’s many bosses.
In the hands-on demo I faced off against The Queen’s Knight, a large and powerful boss that I’ve yet to defeat. Terrifyingly, the massive Queen’s Knight is both a brute powerhouse and a teleporting trickster that was incredibly hard to damage and difficult to avoid. Like many bosses in video games, The Queen’s Knight had a very specific moveset for players to learn and various windows of opportunity for players to damage it. Unlike many other bosses in other games, The Queen’s Knight seemed to be much less easily predictable and avoidable. If the common enemies in Code Vein are easier than those of Dark Souls then it’s bosses are easily more difficult. After multiple attempts I realized that I had to buff my character up. After leveling up several times by collecting haze from enemies and pickups (just like souls) and buffing myself at the beginning of the boss fight via gifts I came close, but that victory still eludes me.
I’ll admit that I was a bit turned off by what seemed to be an anime copycat of Dark Souls at first. However, with an enjoyable overworld, nail-biting boss fights and a stylish red and black vampiric Dystopia, Code Vein has earned its spot on my radar of games to look forward to.