Similar to Monster Hunter, the Soulborne titles have lead to other companies trying to imitate. And, much like Monster Hunter, these titles are pale imitations of the genuine product. With Bandai Namco seeing the mixed results in their attempts with the God Eater franchise, they want to try their luck with Soulsborne with Code Vein. With anime-style visuals, plenty of difficulties and an overwhelming sense of dread, does it capture what From Software did or is it just the Dark Souls version of God Eater? Here’s our Code Vein Review.
One of the aspects that make Code Vein standout is the post-apocalyptic sci-fi story that whenever you play the game, it feels like you are watching an anime. Unlike the way Soulsborne tells the story where it’s vague and somewhat cryptic, Code Vein is deep in the narrative aspect of the game. The story has a deep plot that starts off with your customized character that awakens in a ruined-city along with a mysterious girl with no memory. With you being a Revenant, an undead who feeds on blood, your mission is to keep feeding yourself with “blood beads”. Failing to satisfy a Revenant with blood beads will transform into a creature called The Lost. Luckily, there are blood beads that spring on plants throughout the world but sadly, these plants are becoming rare. In an attempt to spare the humans with their blood, Revenants, including yourself will have to find the source of these blood beads. That’s pretty much the premise of the story but a is shocking and of course interesting.
In terms of combat, it’s very similar to how the Soulsborne series is set up. It’s an action RPG that relies on several classes called Blood Code. The game starts off with the basic blood codes which are Caster, Ranger, and Fighter. More blood codes get unlocked as you progress through the game. With so many Revenants that you get to meet in the game, each of them has a specific blood code. Luckily, you are special where you can equip yourself with more than one Blood Code. Whenever a Revenant you meet in the game perishes, they leave behind a Vestige that contains their Blood Code.
Each blood code has specific abilities that are called Gifts. These gifts are unique to each blood code and can be both passive and active abilities. As you get more Blood Codes and Gifts, you can mix and match them on your hotkey but there’s a catch you need to master a specific gift in order to use them on different blood codes. What makes the combat in Code Vein stand out compared to the Soulsborne are the flashy moves that you get to unleash on enemies.
Getting into character progression, the enemies that you take down leave behind Haze, which is like the Souls in the Soulsborne series. These Haze points that you accumulate can be used to level your character or learn Gifts. The more Haze you get, the stronger your character can get. Luckily, Haze points can easily be grinded. Unfortunately, the game isn’t that hard compared to the level of challenge in the Soulsborne games. The Haze can be farmed pretty easily. In addition, they have made leveling your character simple. There’s no way to customize what stats you want to increase. It will level up the parameters depending on what blood code you equip.
The Soulsborne games are indeed challenging but what it lacks are satisfying combos. In Code Vein, it’s the other way around. The game sure has stylish combos as you can mix match the gift and melee combos but when it comes to the challenge, it’s easy. Not to mention there’s also an AI partner that accompanies you that even further makes the game easier. As someone who has played all Soulsborne games, and even Sekiro, the challenge that you come to expect in Code Vein is nothing. The AI of the way the monsters move is predictable. Sure, the monsters and bosses are big and bad-ass but they have very limited moves that it gets very predictable.
The world of Code Vein is massive and will give you something to explore. Each of the levels that you get to explore is well designed, making you really explore it as there are a decent amount of secret paths that you get to take. At the end of that secret path lies a rare treasure or a rare boss that you can takedown. With expansive levels that you get to explore, there’s Mistle that acts like a Bonfire in the game. Expect that there are several checkpoints in each level that helps make exploration a lot easier.
When it comes to performance, Code Vein on the Xbox One X plays somewhat smoothly. There are very occasional times that the frame-rate drops but for the most part, it’s smooth in a dynamic 4K resolution. One gripe that I have in the performance aspect of Code Vein is the pop-ins. With the game so massive in terms of levels, expect textures to be popping in late at times, but then – it’s not really a deal-breaker.
Code Vein is an interesting game that falls short of what it is trying to be. The intriguing storyline can’t overcome the bland combat and lack of challenge. To buy into the idea of Code Vein, you really need a love of anime and an understanding it just isn’t as challenging or fascinating as those games. But, if you can come to that understanding, it manages to shine in its own ways.
[Editor’s Note: Code Vein was reviewed on the Xbox One X platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]