In all the announcements and trailers, Code Vein looked like the anime Dark Souls , and the demo released in the summer only strengthened this impression: there were too many familiar gameplay elements and few hints about the plot. But on the release, Bandai Namco Studios still managed to show off their personality. There is no technicality and complexity of the cult FromSoftware series in it, but there is a traditional spiritual story for Japanese roles … and heroes for whom it is not a pity to die.
The game begins trivially: a hero or heroine wakes up in ruins in the company of an easily dressed girl. Both suffer from amnesia, but for the local population this is normal: not so long ago, people discovered a parasite that could make their carrier almost invulnerable. While this little bug is alive, the body of its carrier can be scattered to ashes – it will be restored as if nothing had happened. But, of course, there is a nuance: with each “restoration” the immortals lose their memories, and with them, humanity. And they gradually turn into lost – soulless monsters, hungry for blood.
However, the immortals themselves also feed on blood. But here is the problem: a cataclysm destroyed civilization, and every day there are fewer ordinary people, and the ranks of monsters, on the contrary, are growing. Surviving and preserving the mind in such conditions is not easy, but our hero is lucky: he has a rare gift to restore memory and cleanse the world from poisonous miasms. Thanks to this, the scientist Louis takes him to his team. He studies the bloody springs – the mysterious sources of a blood substitute. Our protagonist will actively help him in this, but along the way, of course, remember his past, understand the world order and get to know his newly-acquired comrades more closely.
In terms of filing the plot, Code Vein does not resemble Dark Souls and its clones, but the good old Japanese role-playing or adventure games. There is no need to rummage through the nooks and crannies in search of notes with bits of information – the story is revealed traditionally, in emotional dialogs and pretty videos on the engine. Surprises and revelations are not enough, but the game does not captivate with this: there is a certain elusive and touching charm in it, thanks to which the plot sinks into the soul, and you begin to worry about the characters as relatives. And let the types not shine with originality, you instantly get attached to the characters: they turned out to be painfully bright and alive!
Code Vein is a very Japanese game. There is even a hot spring at the base where you can take a break, remember the plot and restore half of the lost souls. But more often you go there not on business, but simply because it’s cool!
The mythology of the project perfectly sets off the mechanics borrowed from FromSoftware: as a vampire, a hero cannot die in principle. After losing in battle, he, like his opponents, rises from the dust, picks up lost experience and goes on to fight on. The system is painfully familiar, except that instead of bonfires there are flowers, instead of showers there is a bloody haze, and a flask with estus was replaced with regeneration serum.
The arsenal recalls Bloodborne : a huge selection of knives: from short one-handed swords to huge heavy hammers and graceful halberds. The bayonet gun, however, is only one, albeit in different versions, but it also works very well – Ihor is spent on shots, a local analogue of mana. He also goes to the application of various skills, from strengthening attacks to fireballs.
But the character development in Code Vein turned out to be flexible and original. Characteristics do not need to be downloaded, they themselves grow as the level increases. And there are no classes here, they are replaced by “blood codes” – combinations of abilities and limitations, strengths and weaknesses, unique to each vampire. But do we remember that our hero is special? He can take over other people’s codes and freely switch between them – this game reminds God Eater or Monster Hunter . Character abilities depend solely on equipment, and you can radically change your specialization at any time. Unless parting with pumped up weapons and a suit will be a shame: there are few materials for crafting, you won’t improve everything in a row.
However, the game encourages experimentation. If you often use the skill, you can learn it forever and use it with any blood code. Want to play as a magician, but survivable and able to bring down a hail of blows on the enemy? Or for a “heavy” warrior who is not inferior in speed to a brisk killer? This is easy to arrange if you correctly alternate codes, acquire and use the necessary skills. In addition, you can check the next crazy combination of blood codes in just three clicks, and even if it turns out to be unsuccessful, you still won’t turn into a punching bag for your opponents. Let’s be honest: although Bandai Namco are trying to scare players with the “complexity” of Code Vein, she is very far from Dark Souls in this regard.
The battle with strikes of different strengths and ranges, blocks, parries and somersaults, which endurance is spent on, at first glance seems sustained exactly in the spirit of the soulsborne genre. But it does not have the accuracy and inexorability that glorified FromSoftware games. Enemies here can change the direction of attack as they wish, even at the last moment before the strike. And the characters regularly freak out: for example, they ignore the sight of a specific enemy and instead hit directly in front of them … and they can hesitate and miss the team to dodge the blow, although there seems to be enough stamina.
Weapons also sometimes behave strangely. If everything in the same Dark Souls you can string several enemies with a spear, and throw a whole crowd with a two-handed sword, then in Code Vein, no matter how you try, you most often get to only the closest enemy, and do not care about the logic and laws of physics! This does not break the game – the confusion of fights is compensated by speed and entertainment. But you don’t need to shine with skills and count timing to a split second, for inhuman challenge it is better to go to the recent Remnant: From the Ashes or any other soulsborne project.