Code Vein it has not had an easy and peaceful development. The very first playable demos showed different problems and defects, to the point that Bandai Namco she was forced to postpone the release of the title ever later in time, up to a year later than the first scheduled publication date. The defeatists have interpreted this gesture as a sign of low initial commitment to this new IP, a game that, given the premises, would not have been able to improve so much compared to its original iteration. However, delaying publication by one year also shows how much Bandai strongly believe in this project, to the point of being subjected to criticisms and prejudices rather than legitimate with the aim of reviving a game from dust and presenting it to the best of its potential, making it able to express itself fully and redeem itself, denying the accusations. The Code Vein that shows us today Bandai Namco it almost completely succeeds in the objective. A solid game, intriguing, long, with a lot of personality despite the many references to Souls by Hidetaka Miyazaki. But above all fun, so much fun and pleasant to play even with some technical defect.
In the world of Code Vein, a planetary catastrophe of unknown origin, baptized as the Great Ruin, threatened to extinguish the human race completely by destroying the environment through the Briars of Judgment, gigantic and unstoppable sharp roots. In an attempt to combat the cataclysm, the remaining humans implanted the BOR parasite into the corpses, which can revitalize the decaying cells. Thus the Revives are born, corpses reborn from death that can die again only if their hearts are destroyed. The Revives are therefore immortal and almost invincible, fully gifted, but in the awakening from death they lose a small part of their memories of the past human life and they need blood to keep the reason because of the BOR Parasite. If the Thirst for Blood takes over, a Revival would become insane and turn into a Corrupted, a monstrous and unclean being also immortal but hostile towards everything and everyone.
Our character wakes up in this devastated world alongside a white-haired woman. He does not remember anything and does not know why he is there, as well as the woman. If initially the main purpose is to discover one's identity, the course of events leads to surprising implications that will have consequences for the destiny of all the Revives. Although initially the story is not very intriguing and seems only a necessary outline to justify our fights, continuing becomes one of the main reasons that pushes to continue the game. A couple of twists are really successful and completely change the perspective of things, giving an unexpected depth to a plot that turns out to be much more complex than expected. The game offers many hours of content not only for the first completion, but also for the presence of the New Game Plus and different endings, which offer further replayability and can lead you to discover different narrative implications. If you are not that kind of player and find just one trip in the world of Code Vein, the duration of a run in which you try to complete as much as possible can easily reach forty hours.
The creation of the character precedes the tutorial and after completing it, following a cutscene in which we wake up and get caught, we immediately go to action. Speaking of the gameplay, let's immediately consider the elephant in the room. Code Vein is it a souls like? Yes and no. Or rather, it would be reductive and unfair to define it only as such. On balance, Code Vein is a third-person action RPG that uses and adapts many elements of the Souls with regards to the design of certain game mechanics, but which at the same time turns them into a new key, changing them into something unique. We therefore see a system of checkpoints based on the mistletoe, a plant that purifies the air from the miasma created by the Briars of Judgment, mapping part of the area and acting as a teleportation point towards all purified mistlets. As for the bonfires of Dark Souls, to mistletoe it is possible to level up by spending the accumulated haze killing the enemies, which reappear whenever you rest near it. The haze also acts as a game currency for almost every obtainable object, and if we are defeated, the accumulated so far remains at the point of our last death. As you can imagine if you know the souls like, if you die again without having recovered the haze, it is lost forever. You can recover half of the lost haze without reaching the point of the previous death by going to the thermal baths, a place present at the central hub that offers lots of fanservice and the opportunity to deepen the topics inherent to the story. With haze and a special metal you can upgrade your weapons and Blood Veils, which I'll talk about shortly, as well as buy items at the Base, the place where our allies reside when they don't help us in eliminating the Corrupted.
To end all the similarities with the souls like, fights take place by hooking an enemy and attacking it until the bar of vigor allows it. You can avoid enemy attacks by parrying or dodging, but if you are hit you must have regenerations ready, refillable with mistletoe once the number is over. Regenerations can be increased and enhanced by finding the appropriate objects. Defeated enemies can leave useful objects to get more haze or to cure state problems caused by specific enemy attacks. Finally, some areas bring to the limit of plagiarism many areas present in Dark Souls, from the flooded dungeons where the water makes it more difficult to move freely until you get to what could easily be called an "Anor Londo moment" when you arrive at the Cathedral of the Holy Blood. The respect shown by the development team to the Hidetaka Miyazaki saga is fully breathed in, which has forever changed a certain way of conceiving games with a great level of challenge. But as I have already said, defining Code Vein a simple souls like would be almost offensive, and now I'll explain why.
Although the fights have a lot of souls like behind them, the construction of the fighting style of one's character is where Code Vein it becomes more detached and shines more with its own light. The way a character approaches fights is determined by the Blood Code. This Code is essentially a pre-packaged build in which features and statistics are chosen at the table. Put like that, it may seem like a malus that greatly limits the player's freedom of choice, but in reality it is the greatest merit of Code Vein. Normally a Redivivo has only one Blood Code that distinguishes it, but for reasons of plot initially unknown to us that will be revealed continuing in history, our Revival is a very rare exception that does not have its own Blood Code, so it can use any Code of its own disposition changing it at any time when he / she prefers. Not only that, every Code has at the disposal of the Gifts. These Gifts are physical abilities, passive abilities or spells that contribute to the characterization of the fighting style. Some Gifts present in certain Codes are already available, others must be purchased with haze and others can be unlocked only by obtaining Vestiges, fragments of the memories of the Revivives scattered throughout the game world.
Once equipped a Gift, defeating the enemies increases their familiarity. Once the maximum of the familiarity bar is reached, the Gift is inherited, ie it can be equipped even if you are not using its original Blood Code, provided you respect the equipment requirements. And that's where beauty begins. The most attentive will already have arrived, but if you have not yet understood, Code Vein allows you to create a number of almost unlimited and interchangeable combat styles and subclasses at any time. The potentialities are surprising when we realize how many possibilities we see before us. The biggest advantage is that if one day you want to play with an alabardiere tank but then you want to try a pure magician, then move on to an incredibly fast and fast swordsman in attacks and dodges, you can do it. This incredible level of freedom and hybridization is what elevates Code Vein above the average of the other action RPGs on the market, at least as far as the combat system is concerned.
To use the Gifts it consumes icor, what we could define as the mana. The more powerful the gift, the more it will require to be used. The icor can be recharged with objects or attacking the melee enemies, draining a certain amount with each attack. However, the best way to recover the icon is through the Veil of Blood. This is a special armor that increases its effectiveness depending on the statistics of the equipped Blood Code. The more the Veil of Blood is in tune with the Code, the more powerful it will be, able to absorb damage and reduce the damage done by enemies. The Blood Veil also determines the animation with which one performs the blows to the shoulders, the parry and the critical attacks. The Veils are less versatile than the Codes, but in general it is easy to find one that satisfies both the aesthetic and the offensive side.
The threat of the corrupt requires powerful allies if you want to survive for a long time. To accompany you on the battlefield there are Louis and Yakumo, two Revive endowed with great skill and power who are looking for a definitive solution to the Thirst for Blood. As you advance in the adventure, others with different characteristics are released. However, you can request help from other players online as long as you haven't beaten the boss of the area yet. Unfortunately, the online ally has only three cures available, so it is quite common that he cannot complete an entire area from beginning to end. The difficulty of the game is calibrated taking into account that the player travels with at least one partner, especially in the advanced stages of the game. Although at the beginning the companions are war machines that can greatly simplify the experience, the more you continue the more their contribution is downsized, given the growing power of the enemies. If you wish and try a really challenging challenge, you can choose to travel solo, leaving the two fighters to rest. You can still interact with them through the system of gifts, objects of daily life that you can donate to the characters of the story so that they become attached to you and give you gifts in their turn. Louis and Yakumo could even give you their weapon.
Although there are many praises to be made to Code Vein, the title is not free from defects. As mentioned earlier, Louis and Yakumo at the beginning of the game are too powerful and make the game very simple: only the bosses manage to worry them and create many problems. During the transitions from one area to another, the developers had the foresight to insert very long corridors in order to allow the system to gradually process the new information. However the choice seems to have been useless, since these corridors are the moment in which the framerate collapses most visibly. Even during some fights a similar situation may occur, less obvious but equally annoying. The level design in some areas is really well taken care of, but in most cases it is based on simple corridors that suddenly expand dramatically and then return again as before. And as the fans of souls like will know well, a narrow corridor does not help at all the game camera, managed much better than other similar titles but equally annoying in the most cramped areas. The disposition of the enemies becomes predictable and repetitive already after the second area, and their intelligence does not shine particularly. It is not uncommon for some of them to commit suicide by throwing themselves into the void or unable to see you despite being just ten meters away. Finally, there are many places that have textures in low resolution or otherwise unconvincing. From this point of view, Bandai's work did not improve much.
Code Vein it is certainly one of the biggest and most welcome surprises at the end of the year. A game that has been able to erase most of its defects, while leaving many from a technical point of view. The latter, however, do not seriously affect the experience and are more than balanced by a solid, incredibly varied and more importantly, amusing gameplay. Although the references to souls like are more than evident, Code Vein he also manages to bring out his personality, also thanks to the awareness of his target audience and how to satisfy him. Whether you are a fan of souls like or action, Code Vein is a highly recommended game that will be able to engage you nicely for a long time. If you are also a fan of what revolves around the world of Japanese animation, the purchase becomes mandatory. However, the high rate of punishment and the mechanics a bit more complex than the standards of the other actions, make it a title suitable mainly for experienced players and less for novices, even though it is not an impervious challenge at the same level as other souls like . I would not be surprised if in the future Bandai Namco decided to produce a sequel. A game like Code Vein he deserves it.