By Steve Baltimore / October 23rd, 2019
|Developer||BANDAI NAMCO Studios|
|Publisher||BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment|
|Release Date||September 26th, 2019|
|Platform||PC, PS4, Xbox One|
|Age Rating||M for Mature|
I’ve never been a huge fan of Souls games. Not necessarily because of the difficulty, but I like games with more of a focus on characters than lore. When BANDAI NAMCO announced Code Vein it got my attention. A Souls type game with a story focus and an anime aesthetic? Sign me up for that! I finally got my hands on it, and it was quite a ride indeed. Let’s see if it was a ride to hell or a joyride.
The story takes place is a post apocalyptic world where some humans have changed into weaponized blood seeking Revenants. This was done in order to defend the world from the “Great Collapse.” Unfortunately, this approach failed. There are some drawbacks to gaining near immorality. When you reincarnate, parts of your memory may be lost. Revenants that don’t consume enough blood will be mutated into creatures called The Lost. There is no way to bring someone back once they are lost. Most of this blood is obtained from a fruit called Blood Beads. These are produced from Bloodspring plants which have began to dry up.
You awaken to find yourself in the city ruins known as Vein. A girl in white that calls herself IO guides you to a dried up Bloodspring Plant which you are able to revive. You soon meet a man named Louis that helps you in a battle with a dangerous Lost. He is in shock when you make contact with a Vestige of a Lost and do not frenzy. This allows you to gain the Lost’s Blood Code. He runs some tests on you and finds you’re a Void type Revenant. This means you are damaged but can take on the Blood Codes of others. You decide to join Louis and the rest of the members of his group to find an answer to the Blood Bead shortage and figure out what exactly happened to this world.
I have to say I found the story here very interesting. I was always excited to find the next Vestige to see whose memories it contained as I pieced together not only my allies’ pasts, but how the world came to be in this state. I really grew to love a lot of the characters, and having seen all of their backstories. Murasame and Yakumo were my favorites here, but I don’t feel like any of them were bad in the least. The game has three different endings depending on if you complete certain tasks during the story. There is nothing convoluted here, so most folks will be able to get any ending they wish easily. The game offers a New Game+ when you complete it with a harder difficulty for those that like the abuse.
Code Vein plays like your typical Souls style game, except you can have an AI partner to help you out. Each partner brings different skills to the table, so you want to experiment with each to see which one compliments your current build. Players will want to match equipment and skills based on their stats in various attributes. Each weapon and Blood Veil (armor) will either hinder or enhance each of these, and players can learn passive skills and buffs to pad these out. These skills are learned by spending Haze acquired from enemies at Mistles. These are checkpoint that work like campfires in Dark Souls. You can unlock skills from any Blood Code you’ve obtained and mix and match them however you wish to create your ultimate class. You will have to spend some awakening items and Haze to unlock these for use outside of the Code they come in. You can just equip that Code and kill enemies while the skill is equipped if you wish.
I personally went with a tank style build that had very high strength scaling and a ton of balance. The more balance you have the less likely it is an enemy can stagger you out of an attack. You can basically buff and just tank through their blows with a huge two handed sword! While this was my favorite, the tools here would allow you to customize a build to any play style you wanted. Magic builds are very powerful in this game with great range, speed builds allow you to gain buffs as you dodge and many other possibilities. The game offers a very in-depth explanation in the hints section, and if you’ve never played a Souls style game I would recommend checking it out.
Once you’ve gathered your gear at home base you’re ready to head out into the wilds of Vein to explore. Most of the maps here are pretty straightforward. You go from point A to B slaying all the baddies in your path. There are some maps that do have a puzzles to solve, switches to find and doors to open. The Cathedral is one of the most confusing stages in the game. There are tons of places where you have to drop down onto hidden paths, lots of dead ends and the level is freaking huge! I didn’t mind this in the least since I wanted to explore every level as much as possible and find all of the goodies contained there. Some maps will have NPCs that will give you quests. Completing these will grant you various rewards including maps for The Depths. These extra levels have some of the best materials for weapon level ups and loot in general. Just be careful exploring these areas, as some of the bosses here can be quite powerful.
Speaking of bosses, what would a Souls game be without bad ass bosses? Well Code Vein certainly has you covered here. Each boss in the game is very unique and you will have to use all of your skills and reflexes to overcome their onslaughts. I didn’t really get hung up too badly on most of them. A few deaths and I could figure out how to dodge or block their attacks pretty well. There are a couple of fights however that had me in fits, but with a little perseverance I was able to get through them. New players that need a little help can always play online and ask for assistance from a kind random soul if they are stuck too badly.
Graphically Code Vein is very impressive. I played the PC version with the framerate locked at 60 FPS and had no issues whatsoever. Even during crazy fights with tons of particle effects flying the game stayed at a steady 60 FPS. The character models look amazing in this game, and the character customization is fantastic. You can customize your character’s look and outfits in an almost infinite number of ways. I do wish there were more body shape options, but hopefully some of those get added down the line. The enemy models looks great as well, especially the bosses. They are highly detailed and give off the feel of sheer terror when you face them. The environments look nice, but they are a bit bland at times. A little more detail in areas wouldn’t have hurt this one bit.
In the audio department Code Vein absolutely excels. This is one of my favorite soundtracks of this year by far. There are tons of epic orchestral tunes that hype you up for combat and add a ton of emotion to the cut scenes. A couple of great metal tracks from the band Vamps are here. Their song “Underworld” plays during one scene making it one of the best fight scenes I’ve experienced in a long time. I played with English audio and the voice actors do a great job of bringing the characters to life. The game is dual audio if you prefer the Japanese cast instead.
I enjoyed Code Vein a lot more than I thought I would going into it. The combat is challenging without being frustrating most of the time, the Code system allows you to mix and match jobs to your liking and the overall look of the game is outstanding. The maps could’ve used a little more detail in certain areas and some variety would’ve been welcomed. That’s honestly a very minor complaint, since of the game looks great. The music is outstanding and with three different endings and New Game+ there is a decent amount of replay value here for the 60 buck price tag. If you are a fan of Souls games, this is a must have title, and folks that wanted try out a Souls game but wanted something with a bit more story and character should definitely pick this up. You will be glad you did!
Game provided by the publisher for review purposes.
Bandai NamcoCode VeinPCSouls Series