Creating a new style of the souls-like genre isn’t always easy to do, but to do it in a way that also keeps everything balanced for the players can be even harder. The good news is that Code Vein takes on this challenge and gave us a game that is more entertaining than it is at all frustrating. While skills and patience are both things you will need to get through this adventure, the addition of unique player builds when it comes to using abilities and power-ups can be the difference in just how well they manage the fight.
In a city trapped within the gaol of the red mist, many revenants have lost their memories. On top of this, the lack of blood sourced within the confides has created a new problem with revenants turning into the Lost. Once they have become the Lost, there is no turning back making the only choice those left have is to destroy them.
Shortly after you wake up and realize that you have no memories of your own, you meet Louis who brings you into his team. With them, you will begin your search for the source of the blood trees, which provide the blood beads revenants need to survive. As your mission progresses and the truth is revealed, you come to realize what caused everything to begin and just how deep the story truly goes.
Starting out with just a flimsy pipe, the first thing you will focus on is finding a better weapon. Luckily, this game has tons of weapons around the game for you to find. There are chests that can be opened in different places of each map, each hiding a new weapon or blood veil (body armor in the form of a jacket) for you to find. There really is a wide range of weapons and veils, each with their own boosts and problems, so while you will want to use whatever is strongest at first, you will want to find the weapon that fits your style best.
All of the weapons and veils can be upgraded by one of the characters at the home base. She requires haze, which is used when unlocking gifts, leveling up your character, or purchasing from shops, and usually a Queen Metal to do an upgrade. It starts out at iron before moving up to steel and then titanium. This is the same for all weapons and veils. You can also get the weapons or veils set up with one of the different chromes that you can find, which will basically give it a boost to a specific element or stat while having a negative effect elsewhere on the item.
Gifts are a key element to the game though. These are the different abilities that you will have when it comes to fighting and can range from offensive to defensive to a temporary power-up. This is when your ichor comes into play because it costs ichor to use these different gifts. As the only revenant that has the ability to use gifts from all blood codes, once you have unlocked the gift and bought it with haze, you can then max it out. Once a gift is maxed out it can be used with any blood code. Also note that these gifts can either be an actual ability or a power-up that can be equipped, maxing at four power-ups and eight abilities.
The reason you need to max out gifts is because of all the different blood codes you can choose from. Each one affects your stats different and will be the base of your characters build. Everybody is different here, but I started out with Prometheus blood code and then moved up to the Queenslayer once I had that. Thanks to maxing out the different gifts that I used, it was as easy as shifting and resetting up.
Now that you are all geared up, set up with your blood code, and equipped all the different gifts and power-ups you want, you are ready for battle. Combat in this game is much like you would expect from a souls-like game. You will need to understand your enemy and how to avoid their attacks with well-timed dodge rolls and attacks. You have a stamina bar that affects both of those aspects, so be sure to monitor that as well. Enemies can be staggered with certain hits, so once you have become used to using a specific weapon you will know which hit will stagger the enemy. This is the best moment to hit a combo that will finish them off. Keep in mind that when using abilities against enemies, it will deplete your ichor, but doing standard attacks against them will refill that ichor. So, your stamina isn’t the only meter to keep track of.
Enemies are all around the map and can typically be seen from a distance so you know they are coming up. There are certain raid spots of the map that will trigger once you reach that point in which you will have to defeat a certain number of enemies for the raid to end. The maps have various pathways but tend to always send you toward enemies. Don’t worry, there were enemies any other way you wanted to go anyways. Good thing is, once an enemy is defeated they stay dead - at least until you use a mistle to refresh yourself.
Mistles can be found every so often and serve as checkpoints. When you die, you will spawn at the last mistle you interacted with When you rest at a mistle, it refills your health, ichor, and healers. It is also where you go to level up your character, unlock gifts, teleport to different areas, and save the game.
Last thing to mention is the items in the game. The main one you will use is the refresher which heals you and can be recharged at the mistle. You will unlock a higher max and stronger heal with various refresh chargers you find throughout the game. You will also have the ability to use ichor chargers, speed boosts, resistance boosts, antidotes, and so much more. The items you know you will use the most can be put on a quick-use bar which can simply be shifted through and activated mid-fight. Your refresher will be there, of course, but the rest is adjustable. Also, items can be purchased from the other shopkeep in the home base and when you are full up in your inventory it will immediately go to storage - which they are then automatically pulled from when you refresh at a mistle when your inventory has space and you refresh or die.
Graphics and Sounds
When they said that they took the anime-style and put it into this RPG, that was very literal. There were times that I caught myself thinking “I would totally watch this as an anime” only to realize that certain cutscenes were pretty much just that. While there are a few graphical errors and plenty of clothing or hair clipping through each other, the game itself flowed well and never presented any lag.
Another note about the graphics is the character customization screen. This is the first thing you do on your save file and the options are incredibly diverse. You can make your character look pretty much however you want. While there are limitations on clothing (which end up being covered by your blood veil anyways) the rest is free-range! Hairstyle, color, accessories, face structure, tattoos, scars, and so much more are all available to you.
As for the musical score of the game, it could have used a wider variety. It seemed like they kept using variations of the one song they have for the game and while it is a pretty good one, it would have been good to hear more options. However, the variations of the song were all well done to fight the mood of each scene.
You can always go back to search every section of every area, as they list a percentage of mistles you have activated. Then there are the depths that you can clear each different map of. Going through every memory via the cleansed vistages is another aspect that will provide more story elements than you had before.
While the story itself may be the same every time you make your way through, it is always interesting to try different builds and improve your overall skill. It gives you a few reasons to play through the game again, especially if you are a completionist and want to get that 100% trophy, and even provides a few different endings for you to unlock.
What Could Be Better
MULTIPLAYER! Oh, how the multiplayer could be improved so much. While I understand that they don’t want the game to be too easy due to the party size increase from you and an AI to you, a friend and the AI, they make this option so limited. Getting kicked every time I died, the host died, or a boss is defeated just simply doesn’t make sense. Not to mention that two players can’t progress through the same area at the same time meaning that even if I help someone beat the boss I am stuck on while they are the host, it will kick me back to my game after its defeat and I’ll still be at the same part before that boss to have to defeat it myself. This just doesn’t make sense. - Players should be able to progress through the entire game together, remove the AI partner if need be to keep the difficulty (seeing how you already adjust the players level to be fitting to the area of the host), and let us use mistles to refresh even if it is only the host that can activate it.
Code Vein is a ton of fun! I found myself constantly pushing forward and looking forward to the next battle. The story is pretty interesting and having a unique build to progress through it made for a game catered to me. It is definitely player-friendly and the perfect game for those just getting into the souls-like genre. Pretty difficult, but defeatable.