Geek Preview: Code Vein

Bandai Namco‘s anime-like Dark Souls, Code Vein, has been a curious entity since its announcement back in April 2017.

Originally set to release in September 2018, a further delay put it in 2019, and there was nary a peep from the developers since then.

Five months into 2019, however, and I finally got my hands on the game. Code Vein certainly feels like anime Dark Souls, but with its own trappings and flair.

Story details are hazy at the moment, but what we do know that players assume the role of a Revenant, powerful vampires that wield extraordinary power but at the cost of their human memories.

In a post-apocalyptic world, they fight against the monsters that have risen, as well as the Lost, former Revenants that have given in to the lust for blood.

It is straightforward enough a plot, but I am sure there are much more lore to be found and for fans to dig into in the final release.

Starting off, there are extensive customization options for creating your Revenant, which will certainly make for some creative/horrendous creations when the game is finally released.

In the game proper, Code Vein sets itself apart from its obvious inspirations by introducing swappable classes for your Revenant.

These Blood Codes – Fighter, Ranger, Caster, Berserker, Prometheus, and more – gives you access to Gifts, both passive and active skills that suit a particular playstyle.

The usefulness of the ranged spells of the Caster made it a particular favourite, drawing enemies in and picking them off. These Gifts require Ichor to activate, which you can only obtain from draining your enemies or certain items.

In fact, it feels as though Code Vein will require you to get up close and personal with the beastly foes no matter the Blood Code you choose, and the Focus Gauge will help with that.

Dodging attacks help fill up your Focus Gauge, which then allows you to stagger enemies in awesome anime sequences, dealing huge damage while making you more resistant to stuns. Some passive Gifts will also only activate with focus.

Of course, with a stamina system, you cannot be constantly dodging while attacking. Code Vein also boasts a cinematic parrying system, time it right and you will hurt your foe tremendously while draining Ichor, all while looking cool.

In fact, your parrying style and window changes with your armour, or Blood Veils. This extends to the Blood Codes and Gifts too, which only work with certain weapons, each with their pros and cons.

Going back to a stamina system certainly takes some getting used to after experiencing the masterpiece that was Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

That is not to say the less frenzied combat in Code Vein is any lesser than that of Sekiro, but movement can be a tad slower and more deliberate.

Defeating enemies award you with both loot and the important Haze, the currency used at vendors and at Mistles (Code Vein‘s version of the bonfires) to level up and acquire Gifts.

In our short demo, we faced up to monstrous dogs, reanimated corpses, giant hulks, and skilled swordsmen among others.

They hit hard and fast, they are dangerous, and they fit right into the world Bandai Namco is building for Code Vein in terms of design. A mixture of futuristic and medieval, with a dash of the undead, the game certainly feels familiar while bringing something new.

The addition of AI allies certainly help too, each being able to hold their own while contributing greatly to the cause.

Knowing there is someone watching your back should you fall might make you push more aggressively, but it is entirely up to you if you want to utilize this system or not.

It would not be a Soul-like game without bosses, and while figuring out the attack patterns is easy, countering them requires some strategic thinking on your part. I found that dodging and staggering were extremely efficient, although certain bosses seem to be immune to my attempts.

Code Vein remains a curiosity, perhaps a product of its delay and the contemporaries it will no doubt be compared to, but it is hard to argue that it does not have its own charm.

While there is no set release date yet, the developers have plenty to do to polish up the final product. Code Vein might not be for everyone, but there certainly is an audience for this based on my impressions.