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Code Vein Impressions

The upcoming Code Vein title features Soulslike gameplay. Developed by the team behind Bandai Namco’s God Eater series, this newest IP covers gameplay based in the roots of difficult boss battles, exploration, refining weapons, and timing parries. Our Code Vein Impressions will include bits of the story, gameplay, and a few of the boss battles.

The story behind the tagline comes from the initial previews of this game. Dubbed “Anime Souls,” it’s like Dark Souls but with anime-styled visuals. You don’t have a dark fantasy story, but a post-apocalyptic setting with spiky-haired characters.

In this particular case, I nicknamed this game Tokyo Souls after the anime series, Tokyo Ghoul. Similarly, the characters, or Ghouls, must feed off humans or other ghouls. In Code Vein, you must feed off blood or you will  become a Lost. Not to mention both stories feature bonding with other, similar outcasts in order to survive.

Note the similarities to Dark Souls. People need Souls before they go Hollow. Souls and Blood, Hollow and Lost. Different terminology, same element. Initially, the story previews lost my attention as it felt like a cliched storyline appealing to the anime crowd for people intimidated by Dark Souls in the past. While my initial impression was just a lighter Souls title, I slowly became accustomed to the strong combat featured in the game.

Gameplay Impressions.

I started off spending five minutes customizing my character. Shortly after, I’m in a tutorial learning combat before “waking” in the real world. I’m greeted by a mysterious girl, taken away, and forced into labor. After the initial dungeon, I’m saved and taken to a home base. I can buy items, upgrade weapons, and even tackle two more dungeons.

Code Vein
Meet Io, the obligatory waifu.

The first dungeon, the Depths, featured several winding paths, but it was easy to button mash to win against them. Enemies drop guard quickly and I was always accompanied by an A.I. unit. The game didn’t become difficult until I fought the bosses.

Boss battles forced me to memorize attack patterns. Fortunately, I learned new skills, such as a 3-hit combo, to deal extreme damage quickly. I could also heal my partners with my own health, buff my attack, and create an AoE defensive buff as well. These came with cooldown time rather than a limited number of uses.

Code Vein

Afterwards, you could also tackle the Town of Sacrifice. Right off the bat, the game warns you it’s recommended for Level 40 players. This means you will spend a large amount of time grinding in the Depths until you can access its safely. Fortunately, you can partner up with a teammate online and all your progress will save with each save point you access. You’ll build levels, upgrade weapons, and continue farming items as needed.

A Few Flaws.

Some elements lacked a clear explanation. I didn’t know what Drain was exactly draining. Was it life or Ichor? Neither seemed to increase when I used it. I also wasn’t aware I could enable Multiplayer after the first dungeon. But that was only after I left back to the main menu and discovered it. This would have saved me a ton of grief against the Queen’s Knight. I wouldn’t have had to deal with those useless A.I. partners.

Code Vein

I feel Code Vein is about as visually appealing as a Tales game. The environments are not as rich as Souls games and the sound effects aren’t quite as satisfying. Both feel like a step back from the high-level quality I’m accustomed to. Bandai Namco is capable of more than this.

They’ve produced some of the most gorgeous environments ever featured in Eternal Sonata (PS3). Not to mention the high level of attention to character detail is featured in games like Tekken. It’s not bad, but it feels bland. I also noticed several hard frameskips, such as when I came back from the save point in the main base.

Also, I could not freely map my controls. You attack with Square and Triangle, not the shoulder triggers. As a longtime Souls fan, this completely threw me off. While you can map weak attack to R1, you cannot map strong attack to R2. Either way, there’s no way to emulate Souls controls. I found myself hitting the wrong command many times over the course of the demo. I really hope they patch the game allowing free control input mapping.

Astral Chain Review for Nintendo Switch.

Code Vein Impressions Conclusion.

My initial impressions was that this would be a weak attempt to convey Souls gameplay to a wider audience. While Bandai Namco published the three Souls games, they did not develop them. Code Vein will be their first game of this type.

The overuse of blood felt like it was just to be edgy and cliched, like in Tokyo Ghoul. However, I thought the post-apocalyptic setting presented a nice take. Everything around you is ruined and you and your small group is trying to survive in dire times while horrors plague the surroundings I think the home base was a nice touch. It looks pretty compared to the dungeons and you even have a comfy bed to sleep in.

Code Vein

The combat was the strongest point overall. I enjoyed the boss fights, which forced you to memorize attack patterns. I felt blessed knowing I had a co-op partner with me at all times, even if they ended up being real stupid and not reviving me when it was all said and done. Thankfully, you can access multiplayer.

Code Vein

While I’m not really in-tune with the story, I enjoyed the gameplay. I have mixed feelings, but they’re closer to good than bad. If Soulslike gameplay and difficult boss battles interest you, this game certainly delivered in the demo. Also, for those wondering, you can carry over your character into the full game.

Code Vein
The player-created protagonist in “Code Vein” wakes up next to a girl in white. Both have amnesia and have to survive a postapocalyptic world. (Bandai Namco)

Code Vein releases on September 27, 2019 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. We hope you liked our Code Vein impressions. What are looking most forward to? Let us know in the comments below!

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