Ahhh, Code Vein, the game many have touted as the “Anime Dark Souls” has finally been released for PS4, Xbox ONE, and PC (via Steam). But is it really Anime Dark Souls? We got our hands on the game and found out for ourselves.
Edgy characters with outlandish personas
First off, the game does have that really “edgy chuunibyou” feel you get from many manga and anime these days. For those who don’t know, Chuunibyou is what many in Japan call “8th grader syndrome,” where Japanese teens have their imaginations run wild and create outlandish personas for themselves. This is best exemplified in Kyoto Animation’s “Love, Chuunibyou, and Other Delusions” anime, and aesthetically, the game really feels like that. With cool and edgy designs, the characters and monsters really set themselves apart.
Player Customisation: Create your Edgelord… or just the girl next door
Like many games, you start out in character creation, and this feature is very special, offering tons of options to make your character unique and suited to your tastes. Want an edgy male character you’d expect from those edgy series like Tokyo Ghoul? You can! Want a plain-looking female character who won’t stand out much? You can too!
Gameplay is fairly what you would expect from a “Dark Souls-like” (or “Souls-like”) with hitting your opponents and dodging their attacks being important. And like most Souls-like games, there is a save point where you can heal, learn gifts, and teleport. These are Mistles, and their locations are spread throughout the game. You also have a partner through your journey, with Louis, Yakumo, and Mia Karnstein being the most prominent. However, how you progress through a game depends on the reliability of your A.I. partner. Often times, I would find it frustrating that my partner, be it any of the three mentioned above, would just stand around doing nothing… in a boss fight. However, when they decide to actually be of help, breezing through tough bosses is possible, but the A.I. for them is often hit or miss. It’s quite frustrating at times as the deciding factor in beating a boss in single player would often come down to your partner’s A.I. deciding to actually becoming helpful.
Character classes and boss fights
As for what sets it apart from Dark Souls is the game’s class system, known as Blood Codes. They grant you different skills called Gifts, and each Gift will be available based on the Blood Code/Class you chose. And yes, you can change Blood Codes any time during the game, and even learn Gifts from other Blood Codes. Now, choosing your Blood Code is essential to taking down certain bosses, or even getting through most levels. There are 25 Blood Codes to choose from, though they all don’t feel quite unique, as Blood Codes like Fighter, Berserker, and Atlas often feel the same as each other. However, they do differ greatly from classes like Ranger, Artemis, Caster, and so on. To sum it all up, changing up your classes based on your opponents does seem to be a matter of life and death in the game.
And then… there are the bosses. There are some bosses that are difficult to deal with, and do have that “Dark Souls-level of difficulty”. However, there are also those who are a bit easier, though somewhat still being a bit tricky to deal with, none the less. But bosses are where your choices of Blood Code and partner come into play. This is what makes it fun, as you mix and match your class with your partner. Facing off against a slow-yet-powerful boss like the Argent Wolf Berserker? Go for the Atlas Blood Code and bring Mia as your partner so that you can tank hits while she snipes from afar. Your opponent is the Butterfly of Delirium? Use a ranged-focused Blood Code like Ranger or Hunter to avoid its AOE poison attacks while having a tanky partner like Yakumo hit it up close. But remember that the A.I. for your partner is mostly inconsistent in their performances.
Aesthetically, the game itself is beautiful. The bosses and monsters look edgy, as you would expect from an “anime Dark Souls with Chuunibyou influences” game. The characters look cool, with Mia and Io being clear standouts in the character design department. Io already has a figure on the way from Kotobukiya, and we can expect Mia and other characters to get their own figures and merchandise as well.
All in all, Code Vein is a very challenging game with beautiful aesthetics and unique features. It can still be considered a Dark Souls clone, but it has risen above that to be its own game. It can be fun at times, but it can be a bit frustrating too. But in the end, we had fun, and that is all that matters.
We rate it 8/10. VERY GOOD.
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