“In The Face of Certain Death, We Rise.” This is the tagline from Bandai’s 2019 RPG, Code Vein. It has been given the name of “anime Dark Souls” by fans due to its similarities to the series in themes and play style. However, there are several features that make Code Vein different.
Code Vein is set in a vampiric apocalyptic future, where resources are scarce. Those that survive are known as Revenants, that acquire their abilities in exchange for their memories – and for a growing bloodlust. Those that succumb to the bloodlust are known as Lost, becoming monstrous beasts that roam in search of blood. You play as the protagonist that fights to survive and to reclaim the memories they have lost. The game also includes multiple endings the player can achieve.
One of Code Vein’s features is character creation. Players can really go into detail on how they want their character to look through hair, clothing, and eye options. Additionally, appearance can be changed by the player at any point if they want to try something new. Players of Code Vein have taken it upon themselves to create a wide range of pre-existing characters through customization – through Ruby Rose from RWBY, or even Squidward from Spongebob.
Players can also change and customize their starting clothing, removing parts of the outfit and changing the colors. Accessories can also alter the outfit, facial wear, headwear, and even add additional parts to the hairstyle. Players can really make their character unique. For players that aren’t so bothered about customization, there are several premade characters to choose from instead.
Playstyle and Controls
Another way Code Vein has been compared to Dark Souls is the combat system. The combat is arguably slow like Dark Souls and has more emphasis on the player been methodical with their attacks and abilities.
Code Vein’s magic system uses something called ichor. Ichor is what allows players to perform abilities called gifts, acting similar to magic casters and mana in most games. Replenishing ichor can be done in many ways, such as striking enemies with melee attacks or consumables. It means that there is always a steady flow of ichor, and allows the players to do heavy damage through Gifts.
Gifts are effective skills and magic in the world of Code Vein. They are things such as attacks or active abilities that help during combat, like health regeneration or attack boosts. The wide selection of abilities allows players to pick up what suits their playstyle and make a build that suits them.
If the player dies, they don’t have to worry about losing all progress. Where the player died, they can collect the haze they dropped. Haze is used to buy abilities and level up. It is virtually identical to the use of souls in Dark Souls.
At the base, there are NPCs that the player can interact with. These companions can come with you and explore the ruins of civilization. While only one can be used at a time, players can recruit many onto their team and choose which ones they want on their team – or explore entirely solo. Every companion has its own abilities and style of fighting, so players can choose one to suit their playstyle. Companions can be found at the base of operations, where players can go to take a break from the ruins of civilization outside.
There is also the option to play with other people using online mode. While the game can be played entirely offline, it gives players the option to invite one friend to play with. An NPC can also accompany players, even with an online friend for exploration.
However, that is something where Dark Souls and Code Vein differ. Currently, only two people can play with one another, while Dark Souls allowed three players to go together. Many players have complained, with some even having made a petition to get this implemented in the game.
While Code Vein is often compared to Dark Souls, it isn’t an exact clone. They are similar in many ways, but people looking for an exact replica will be disappointed. Code Vein has a similar playstyle but is filled with cutscenes – with mixed reviews on whether the story is well done or not.
The anime comparison for a reason. Players who aren’t a fan of anime themes (e.g. friendship) might struggle to get into the game’s plot. The cutscenes are very character-centric, focusing on their backstories. Some people love cutscenes, myself included. However, the placement of cutscenes can disrupt the flow of the game. To go from hacking and slashing to a sentimental slow moment in seconds can be like whiplash. This isn’t constant, but it is noticeable in some instances.
Something else players bring up is the DLC. Many people recommend you don’t try it, with it having mostly negative reviews. Many say that the cost of the DLC is too much for what players are given. While I haven’t personally tried any of it myself, the reviews aren’t promising and have put me off.
After several hours, my personal opinion is that this is a game worth getting. I had some issues getting used to the controls at first, but that was likely because I haven’t played a game like this in a while. After getting through the first level, I got the hang of it, and enjoyed the playstyle, story and aesthetic of the game. It likely isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a fan of Dark Souls and anime, give it a shot!
Code Vein is available on PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One. Check out the trailer here: