Code Vein is the Anime Vampire Game of Your Dreams
Bandai Namco’s own take on Dark Souls is very story driven.
By Brendan Graeber
It’s been easy to point out comparisons between Code Vein’s combat and sense of style and that of developer From Software’s action-RPGs since its 2017 reveal. Now that I’ve played through Code Vein’s first hour and seen bits of its story begin to unfold, I’m starting to understand just how much Bandai Namco’s new spin on the genre is deviating from the norm. Rather than obfuscate its own story by hiding nuggets of lore in item descriptions, Code Vein is happy to lay things out in extended cutscenes and conversations. That’s not to say there are no mysteries to uncover – plenty of anime-inspired characters I spoke to kept things pretty vague and left me with a lot more questions than answers at the end of my session. Speaking of which, Code Vein is absolutely bursting with some classic anime tropes you may or may not be thrilled about: your extremely customizable yet silent protagonist is somehow the most unique vampire (which they refer to as Revenants) in a post-apocalyptic world of full of them. All the other Revenants have assigned “Blood Codes” that dictate their abilities, but you can swap between codes freely. These Revenants can’t truly die (unless their heart is destroyed) but they lose some memories upon resurrecting – and your character has the most extreme case of amnesia yet (noticing a trend?). You’ve got an equally amnesiac and subservient girl named Io following you around who looks like what’s left of her clothes might fall apart at any moment.
Check out all the character customization options as I made my perfect anime vampire above. While most of the demo’s gameplay portion retread familiar ground that we saw a few years ago (with the addition of a large minimap that I have mixed feelings about), it was nice to get some better context about the world Code Vein is trying to craft. Blood is in short supply, causing Revenants in a world without normal humans to go crazy, and a strange miasma trapping you in this city hellscape is only making things worse. Your unique ability to swap out Blood Codes also means that both bosses you battle and friendly allies you meet might have new character builds and abilities for you to try out. Still, I wasn’t able to pinpoint any big changes that I noticed since my last hands-on time with Code Vein almost a year ago, prior to its last delay, but I can only hope that time was spent in crafting an engaging story. Most of the combat mechanics still feel similar to what I saw before, and the addition of a map system almost makes it feel more like a dungeon-crawler at times. That may not be a bad thing, but it does feel jarring when coming from Souls games like Sekiro that dare you to explore and chart your own path to secrets. We’ll have to wait for the full game to see exactly how this world’s design plays out, and if Code Vein can keep the theme of a ruined city hellscape going without things getting stale. Brendan Graeber is an Editor at IGN, and doesn’t want to admit that having a map in Code Vein will make guide writing a lot easier. Follow him on Twitter @Ragga_Fragga.