It is hard to argue how successful the games who have managed to master the Souls formula are these days. They easily gain a following thanks to the massive success of the From Software developed Souls series. However, even if many clones are being made these days, not all of them have come close to achieving the same success or even offering the same quality.
Code Vein hangs somewhere in the middle between a quality game and a mediocre action RPG. It has some great elements like a deep customization system that lets the player tweak their character abilities based on the various assigned classes. It doesn’t keep the player locked to a single class and encourages them to mix and match depending on what they want with the combat system.
Code Vein tries to create an elaborate plot to explain the mechanics of resurrection after death. The theme of resurrection is tied to revenants who are beings that satisfy their hunger with blood–or in other words, essentially immortal vampires. The world has gone to ruins after a calamity struck it leaving most of the humanity scarce and revenants becoming a valuable tool to fight and survive in the world. The player has a custom character that is injected into the story as the main protagonist who is also a revenant.
The character creation in Code Vein deserves a proper mention. It is fairly robust even if it is not one of the deepest customization systems. There are many choices given to tweak the appearance of your character including customization to their apparel. This extends to the playstyle with a deep dive into the abilities of the character.
Blood codes are the class system that lets you learn abilities. Once you have them equipped, you can then try to learn new abilities and create a custom loadout that better suits your style. These blood codes can be easily swapped at any point and there are more than a dozen of them available, which makes the experience satisfying. Since there is no limit here, it will be hard to get stuck with a specific blood code and you can always try to exploit the weakness of enemies or bosses with your loadout.
Code Vein completes the whole cinematic experience by offering a countless amount of dialogue and story cutscenes to advance the plot. This would be a good way to enjoy a game ideally however in this case, the story is not that exciting but it does carry a sense of mystery that makes you continue playing the game. The story feels depressing and has a very dark tone but it is not all bad, you will also discover some entertaining moments that will lighten the tone.
Some of the side characters get their special moments and place in the story with slow exposition events. During this time, you will get to know more about their background. It is a very slow gameplay segment that can feel frustrating because the game limits your walking speed giving you a view of various static images. These images synchronize and play together with audio logs to further explain the story. Now, this can be a two-edged sword, it can either make you like these characters better or hate them even more.
The combat system has a stamina meter so you have to keep an eye out on the number of attacks or dodges that can be performed. This is not a big problem though because if you have played similar games, this one feels like a cakewalk. Most of the enemies can easily be killed without any major penalty. If you do end up dying by falling from ledges or getting slaughtered, you can return to the same place to retrieve your experience points. This is used for things like leveling up characters or getting new abilities.
It can’t be helped that there is a certain clunkiness in the combat. The attacks and flow of the battles are not as smooth. The enemies can easily outnumber you but this is where the game allows AI partners which can be quite helpful. You can also opt for an online multiplayer experience with a friend but it feels cumbersome due to the use of passwords. It is not like the game is hard so you likely won’t have to rely on a friend to pass through most of the game’s story.
There is a decent chunk of gameplay and story content here. The main campaign doesn’t overstay its welcome but there is additional side content available to attempt if you prefer to complete everything. All of this adds up to the replay value which has some potential due to the customization that is offered for characters. It can take between 20 to 30 hours to enjoy most of Code Vein. It is a bit of shame that the world design is not appealing and it often feels like you are fighting in the same environment for a long time. The lack of diversity is somewhat mitigated by the character design which I thought looked great.
Code Vein feels like a game that has interesting ideas to tackle but it ends up taking the shortcut for most of them. The story aspects of the game are weak and the gameplay lacks excitement. Since this is the first attempt by the developers, there is room for improvement in a potential sequel later down the line.
Code Vein Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: In the face of certain death, we rise. Team up and embark on a journey to the ends of hell to unlock your past and escape your living nightmare in CODE VEIN.
Final Score - 7.5/10
It can be termed as Anime Souls but Code Vein is far from it. This feels like more of an attempt to bring the same gameplay experience but without the polish and detail that From Software is known for in their games. As a result, Code Vein is a decent albeit flawed action RPG that doesn't bring anything exciting to the genre.