We head into the postapocalypse and realize the value of friendship
Look, we’re just going to get this out of our system. Dark Souls! Whew, that’s better. It seems almost impossible not to reference From software’s immensely popular and punishing title every time we talk about Code Vein. It sounds unfair, but the developers aren’t shying away from this comparison—in fact, they’ve embraced it, and created something with a unique style and intriguing narrative. This month, we popped over to Bandai Namco to check out the game first-hand and to see if this bloodsucking bruiser can hold a flame to its brutal genre brethren.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world consumed by a corruptive force known as the Thorns of Judgement, you play as a Revenant, one of the few survivors in a secret society called Vein. Equipped with special abilities, known as ‘Gifts’ (which have unfortunately robbed you of your memory and left you with a thirst for blood), it’s your job to regain your past and save this dying world from the ghoulish Lost, who plague the land.
But there’s no need to go it alone in this dark and dreary world; you can have an AI pal to keep you company. Not compulsory, of course, but there are a few of these bloodsucking buddies, and during our playthrough we met Mia, a somewhat sassy compadre, whose witty one-liners put us in our place when we mistook an enormous gangly ghoul wielding a huge sword for a gentle giant looking for a friend. Your trusty companion will do more than just brighten up the place, as they will also help you by attacking and more importantly distracting enemies. And that’s not all—quite a few times when we lost all of our health, Mia used one of her ‘Gifts’, which drained her health and replenished our own. Don’t rely on this too much (like we did), though, because if Mia dies you’ll only have your combat cunning to keep yourself alive. Luckily, there are checkpoints called Mistles, which act in exactly the same way as the bonfires from Dark
Souls, and after we dust ourselves off a bit, we’re soon back in action.
As you might expect, it’s easy to become overwhelmed during combat, and those familiar with the
Souls series will have an easier time adjusting. However, to counter this,
Code Vein offers an expanded range of abilities in the form of a customizable ‘Gift Palette’, which allows you to switch up your tactics during battle. Abilities that increase your defense and attack power, or fire projectiles at your foes and wrap your weapon in lightning, are easily accessible with the tap of a button.
We fought our way to the Queen’s Knight, the boss of this area, who was a tough little cookie. Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t defeat him. Our first attempt was the most successful, the others spent trying out new tactics and identifying the enemy’s different attacks. Well, at least that’s what we were telling ourselves as we died again, and again, and again. Unless you’re very lucky, these confrontations will be of the trial and error variety—yes, like Souls. Once our time was up, we wanted to go back and try again, which is the hook with games of this ilk. The level of challenge is high, and the sense of reward and achievement you get from defeating enemies is far too great not to chase. We can see ourselves sinking many hours into
Code Vein when it arrives this year.
“There’s no need to go it alone; you can have an AI pal to keep you company”