In case you haven’t heard of Code Vein, it’s the anime Dark Souls, so much so in fact that the demo basically starts you off looking at some anime boobs.
Is it classy? No.
Is it anime? Yes.
Having spent a couple of hours with the game in its most recent form (not even its final form) I have some thoughts that I simply can’t keep to myself. So, the game has you as a Revenant. These are vampire-like beings that feast on blood in order to gain inhuman strength and magical abilities.
These abilities are called Gifts, and while most of the Revenants can only have one, would you believe that you have the ability to acquire more than one and switch between them? This is the skill system in Code Vein. Honestly, it is pretty damn good so far. You can master abilities and then have access to them while using a different class. It means that you can build a character completely to your own tastes.
The kind of skills on display here are things like the ability to shoot fire from your hands or teleport in close to an enemy and strike them. It’s over-the-top anime nonsense, the kind that looks good, and more importantly, feels good too.
I got to try out around six different classes, each with its own gifts. You start with three to choose from: a warrior, a rogue, and a mage. These are interpretations rather than the proper names for them, but they fit nicely into the classic archetypes, so it makes sense to view them as such. Each one had different stats, different weapons that they excelled with, and a very clear different playstyle.
By the end of my time with the game, I’d acquired the others, whether through boss fights or NPC interactions. This is where things got far more complex, because instead of having a clear-cut idea of what these were for they felt far less rigid. It is one of the most exciting things about this game. The idea of spending time grinding out experience in order to craft your own perfect build is part of what makes the Dark Souls games so enjoyable. It seems as though Code Vein is aware of this, and it is ready to bring that joy with it.
One of the things that makes Code Vein differ from its inspiration is the AI co-op partner. You get to choose from different ones as you make your way through the game, each of them with different strengths and weaknesses. One might be a great healer, but a terrible fighter, another may be strong as hell, but slow. You can go without them if you prefer to make your way through the game solo, though even in the two hours I spent with the game they did help. There were two separate instances of facing off against two bosses at the same time, so the game feels built with the partner in mind. In fact, there’s meant to be human co-op too, though there’s still no concrete details on how this will work yet.
The final thing to note is the combat itself. It being a Soulslike, the combat is a very big part of the experience, so how does it hold up?
Well, it’s a lot slower than something like Bloodborne, Dark Souls 3, or Sekiro. At least, it certainly felt like it was much more like the original Dark Souls that the plethora of games that have come since. This isn’t a bad thing, it just feels very different coming off the back of the intensely fast Sekiro.
You have the usual defensive options to block, dodge or parry, but the parrying is where the game felt weakest. The timing seemed impenetrable despite it being a necessary part of some fights. This is still an in development build, so hopefully it gets fixed, but it wasn’t reliable at all in the demo. The block and dodge felt good though, so that’s nice.
The attacks where good. On top of your basic weapon, you also have your cloak which can become a long stabby tail or a barrier of spikes among other things. It also allowed you to stock up on the blood that effectively serves as mana. While I didn’t get to try many of these out in my time with it, the few I did use felt varied and interesting.
There is a vast array of weapons to play around with too. From gigantic swords and axes to guns and daggers, there was a lot of choice. Each weapon fit a different class best, and each one will no doubt suit a player best too. The customisation is where the game was at its strongest, both visually and in terms of gameplay, so it left me feeling very hopeful.
Overall my time with Code Vein left me hungry for more. Once I got home, I found myself a little irked that I couldn’t play it, which is always a good sign. The ridiculous weeaboo storyline and character design will fit the tastes of plenty of people, so it’s all about the game itself at this point. Hopefully, we get to hear more about the game – especially the co-op aspects – soon, but in the meantime, you’ll just have to hope this little preview satiates your hunger.