Code Vein, otherwise known as ‘Anime Souls’ is Bandai Namco’s attempt at a game similar to Dark Souls without From Software. And it mostly succeeds. It’s not as good as any of the Souls games and Hidetaka Miyazaki’s absence is noticeable. It does have some interesting ideas and new takes on the genre and it looks great if you’re an anime fan.
It’s also the most story-heavy Soulslike thus far. Cinematic Souls might be a good way to describe Code Vein. The marrying of anime and hardcore action-RPG isn’t something we’ve seen before and it’s refreshing.
Usually, these games have a buried, obtuse story that is only ever implied and told through minimalistic conversations with NPCs. Code Vein flips that notion on its head with frequent cutscenes, conversations and explorations into the lore.
Code Vein Review
Set in a dystopian future, the world as we know it has been destroyed by the Great Collapse. Monsters, of unknown origin, began to appear around the world, hunting humans and each other alike. To combat this threat, humanity created the Revenants, essentially vampires.
Revenants are dead humans brought back to life when a parasite attaches to the heart. This parasite keeps the Revenant alive unless the heart is destroyed. Thus, when the player dies and is reborn at a
bonfire Mistle, it’s due to the parasite.
Revenants need human blood to sustain themselves and without it can enter a frenzied state, becoming a mutated monster known as the Lost. All of these story beats are detailed at the beginning of the game and the lore comes thick and fast.
There’s a lot to learn in Code Vein, so you need to pay attention. If you’re a fan of anime and the storytelling style implemented in those shows, you’ll understand how Code Vein’s narrative works. Another standard anime trope is used for your playable character, as they awaken without memories.
Without any memories, you set off to find out who you are and to try and survive this harsh, strange world.
For all intents and purposes, Code Vein functions exactly like Dark Souls. Players explore the world and fight hordes of tough enemies in order to collect
Souls Haze to level up and upgrade weapons on armour.
If you die, you’re resurrected at the last Mistle you visited and have to collect the dropped Haze. Die without picking it up and it’s gone for good.
There are numerous weapon types and different pieces of armour to find and equip, each giving your character different stats and fighting styles. If you’ve ever played or even seen Dark Souls, you know what to expect.
Combat includes light and heavy attacks, parrying, blocking and, of course, dodging.
Where Code Vein differs, at least in gameplay terms, is the use of Blood Codes. Blood Codes are essentially classes and can be swapped out at will. Depending on the Blood Code you choose, your choice of weapon and armour may be restricted and each Blood Code comes with its own abilities.
Abilities come in both Passive and Active flavours with Active ones being assigned to hotkeys and Passive ones being equipped to your character. These abilities and perks can also be mastered by having them equipped while you go about murdering your enemies. After mastering an ability or perk, you’re able to equip it with any Blood Code.
In this way, Code Vein really lets you build your character however you like. You won’t be tied down to one class, one weapon or one set of skills which is great. It’s a lot of fun to experiment with different loadouts to find which suits you best.
Abilities are a pretty big point of difference for Code Vein, though they don’t all work. Some, like teleport slash, work well. Others don’t. There’s a lot of trial and error to find what works and doesn’t and it can be annoying to unlock something, only to find out it’s useless.
Abilities cost Ichor to use which is collected when fighting enemies. The idea is that players feed off the enemies and recharge their Ichor meter, but it never really comes together. You can pretty much ignore the Ichor meter and it will still, usually be full.
Code Vein also pairs you with an AI partner (or human player in co-op) on your journey. The AI partner will have a specific Blood Code that can’t be changed. They can perform certain special combo moves which are pretty powerful.
Finding which partner works best with your chosen loadout is a lot of fun and adds another layer of depth to the Soulslike formula.
While I wouldn’t go so far as to call Code Vein easy, it’s a much easier game than any of the Dark Souls titles, The Surge or Bloodborne. While not for everyone, those who’ve struggled with other Soulslike games could find their groove with Code Vein.
If you’re struggling or just need a break from the combat, the hub in Code Vein gives players a chance to rest. There are a number of secondary characters here to chat to, trade items and even take a dip in the hot springs with. Code Vein is ALL about the fan service, so if you like sexy anime characters (male and female) you’ll get a kick out of this game.
The hub also includes The Depths. These extra locations are small areas with a few bosses to kill and items to collect. The Depths doesn’t scale with the player either, so if you head back after levelling up, you’ll be able to tear through.
There’s a lot to like about Code Vein though it’s definitely not the most original game. Not everything works and what does is a lot of what we’ve seen before.
However, if you’re after a Soulslike with an interesting anime story then you’ll definitely get a kick out of Code Vein.
Code Vein was reviewed on PS4 using a digital code provided by the publisher.
Game Title: Code Vein