CAN YOU SMEEEEELLLLL WHAT BANDAI IS COOKING!? I do. It’s a pseudo Souls game. This past weekend I got to try Bandai Namco’s Code Vein closed beta on PlayStation 4 and as a fervid fan of Dark Souls and Bloodborne, I have been waiting to sink my teeth into this game ever since it was announced. Being nothing but excited, I entered hermit mode this weekend to fully understand everything I could about Code Vein.
Now, being a fan of these style of games it’s hard to not compare everything in the genre — Code Vein included– to Dark Souls. So with that being said, you’re going to be hearing plenty of comparisons as these games are extremely similar, for better and for worse.
Just like many RPGs or Souls-like games, there are many options for you to choose from while creating your character. The hairstyles, accessories, even the color palettes come in great variations allowing you to create something unique. One of my favorite customizations were these sick masks called “purifier masks” that were available to start in a few different styles. Though, the decisions you choose here at the beginning shouldn’t weigh too much on your conscience because you can change your characters’ appearance in full at any time later in the game.
Code Vein sports detailed visuals and an impressive army of attention grabbing enemies. Personally, I’m a huge fan of the futuristic cyber punk-esque aesthetic applied to video games. There is something very reminiscent of the legendary anime film based on Katsuhiro Otomo’s manga, Akira. Especially with the ruined, dystopian city and how the human anatomy has been enhanced with cybernetic technology. This look has also been transposed onto the weapons. So far, the weapon designs were one of the most enjoyable elements of Code Vein. All of them possessed unique, intriguing qualities that made me want to use everything. My overall favorite of what was available in the beta was the enormous curved buster sword. The pearlescent metal on the blade highlighted the etchings and edges while its energy-like threads coursed throughout the weapon.
In the beta, you traverse through a dungeon-like level that has multiple floors and layers. Although it was an engrossing environment to be in, it was very hard to tell where I was because every floor looked almost identical. Hopefully the lack of variety and clarity of where to go next isn’t as prevalent when Code Vein ships.
Though, where the beta lacked in environmental disparity it made up for it with enemy encounters. Among the basic baddies vying for your neck, there were giants who are kind of like mini-bosses that would try and halt your progress. The finale of the demo is capped off with a boss fight against a blood crazed human wielding a giant mechanical hammer.
If you aren’t familiar with games like Dark Souls, Code Vein shares many of the common gameplay mechanics prevalent in Souls-likes, being a third-person action-RPG featuring an emphasis on parrying and rolling in combat. If you’re a veteran of this type of genre, then instinctually you’ll be prepared for the journey ahead, newcomers may not fair so well in the beginning.
The parrying in this game is one of the most satisfying things you can do in combat– every time you successfully pull it off it just feels so rewarding. You guard with this mechanical tail that has a glowing spear like tip– similar to the tails of Xenomorphs from the Alien series. If you can properly time parrying, you will counter with a barrage of jabs and most of the time almost automatically kill the enemy or at least take quite a chunk of their health. Some enemies almost require mastering parries because they deal too much damage for you to afford.
Similarly to the flasks or blood vials from Dark Souls and Bloodborne, you are equipped with these small green orbs of light that restore some health. They can also be restored at gristle which function like the bonfires from that game I keep referring to. Essentially, you can rest there and level up your character using haze, which are points collected from enemies. Much like the other Souls games, you will lose the haze where you died and you must retrieve it without dying or you lose them forever. Haze is also used to fortify your weapons and your armor as well.
There is also a co-op mode where you can summon your friends, though I don’t think this was available in the demo. However you can recruit a few NPC’s that will fight alongside you, this would mimic the experience of co-op mode for players who may want to enjoy a more solitary experience.
Code Vein was visually stunning, had fluid combat systems, and as far as customization goes I was excited to gear up my character and outfit them in the wide array of choices, but Code Vein did showcase some drawbacks during my time with the demo. I wish that the game was more challenging. The enemies movements and patterns were a bit too easy to anticipate and with the buddy AI that assists you, it becomes no challenge whatsoever. Maybe this was because I am used to Souls-like games. The soundtrack however was rather bland and didn’t seem to mirror the bleak atmosphere that has been so well-built. I would even argue that it takes away from the ambiance and downright ruined the mood. Which brings me to my next point, there is no sense of urgency. With a game like this I want to be scared. I want to be hit with curve-balls and feel threatened at all times, but I wasn’t.
Overall, Code Vein was enjoyable it’s just lacking a bit of soul– see what I did there? Though, this is still only a beta and doesn’t quite fully show the depth and range of the full game, so my opinions on some of this could change over time. If the difficulty is ramped up or if the game offers multiple levels of difficulty and some of the world building is fleshed out throughout the game I could see myself investing some serious time into Code Vein.
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