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Hands-On: Code Vein

Out of all the games Bandai Namco had for us to play this week, Code Vein was the one that caught most of my attention. It’s an action-RPG with a pretty twisted anime art-style and gameplay that is hard not to compare to Dark Souls.

“Ugh, yet another game journalist needlessly comparing a game to Dark Souls,” you mutter under your breath. Trust me, I know. However, these comparisons are more than warranted, as Code Vein does take direct inspiration from Dark Souls, also published by Bandai Namco. I will try to avoid making any comparisons to Dark Souls from now on, but if you’re a fan of that series, you might want to keep an eye on Code Vein.

Set in a post-apocalyptic world full of vampires and other demonic beings, you must hack and slash your way through monsters and difficult bosses, collecting an element called Haze to level up your stats.  Each enemy you defeat will reward you with Haze that you can use to level up your character at a checkpoint. What I appreciated most about the level up system was that it didn’t make you choose a single stat to increase like health, stamina, or right-arm strength. Rather, it would generously improve all of them at once.

There were two different areas in the demo: one was a bossfight and the other was a dungeon with foes and special items. Enemies in Code Vein are called Lost, ghouls that used to be vampires who were unable to find any more blood to sustain themselves. You play as a custom vampire along with a partner of your choosing, who was Mia in the build that I played. She specialized in long-range attacks with her gun, picking off Lost from a distance. Sometimes she would heal me when my health ran out.

While she was a good companion, this didn’t stop the demo from being hard, something you come to expect from this kind of game. Most of the Lost I encountered were low-tier, beginner enemies, but that won’t stop them from depleting a large chunk of health in one hit. Code Vein is all about strategy and carefulness. I could have just stuck to my blade and longsword, but I had to use my special powers called Gifts to really make progress.

Take the boss for example, which I sincerely doubt anyone else playing the demo was able to beat. Knowing that her weakness was electricity, I activated by electrical buff to inflict even greater damage. I attempted to beat her twice, once at Level 3 and another at Level 7. I could have defeated her the second time had the limit on the demo not ran out! No doubt you’ll have to do some grinding in this game to get better at it.

As an experienced Dark Souls player, Code Vein sort of clicked with me in that regard. So far, it looks like it takes the fluid and responsive gameplay from that series and gives it a more unique setting with a bigger emphasis on story, which I didn’t get to see in this demo. I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes on this game when it comes out this year for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.