Wednesday, May 08, 2019
Vampires are cool. Code Vein's vampires are also cool, although strictly speaking, they're not vampires; they're Revenants. In Code Vein, you play as one such Revenant – a custom-made character tailored to your own demands. From the way they look to their fighting style, there's a massive array of options to play with while creating your very own blood-lusting protagonist. And this being a Souls-like, Code Vein is also a remarkably tough game (you probably already knew that), albeit one where you have plenty of differing approaches and methods when it comes to tackling enemies.
Weapons are but the tip of the iceberg in Code Vein, and of course, there are a variety of oversized broadswords, two-handed hammers, axes, and halberds, as well as more agile blades, and other polearms to choose from, but there's a lot more to take into consideration. Blood Codes are your character's classes, and they're also highly customisable. These range from basic archetypes like the Fighter, a good all-rounder easy for beginners to get to grips with; the mage-like Caster with a selection of spells; or the Ranger, a class that enables you to keep enemies at bay with attacks that can be launched from a distance.
As you progress, you'll acquire other Blood Codes each with their own attributes and advantages, and with every new Blood Code comes a new suite of abilities called 'Gifts' to discover and unlock. Master one of these skills and you can mix and match them to any of Code Vein's classes, so if you want to be the Prometheus class and equip abilities cherry-picked from the Caster, Ranger, Fighter, or whichever class you like, then you can. Using Haze (Code Vein's souls, essentially) harvested from vanquished enemies, you can level up at Mistles (the game's bonfire-style checkpoints) or purchase new Gifts.
Eventually, you'll come to hone your own bespoke character build, and you can repeat sections to grind out a bit of extra Haze if you have the inclination to do so. Code Vein doesn't really pull any of its punches, meaning you'll need to leverage all of the tools at your disposal. Light and heavy attacks are complemented by a block and parry, while sneaking up on a foe gives you a chance to get the jump on them with a Blood Veil attack or execution. Blood Veils are yet another one of Code Vein's wrinkles that with correct timing can drain an enemy of its life force and reward you with a brutal kill animation.
Blood Veils are displayed on your person, hanging off your character's shoulders as a stylish jacket, but hold the A button, and you'll manifest a scorpion tale or some other metallic appendage from the veil, ready to strike and draw blood from one of Code Vein's deadly denizens. Already, we have a personal favourite in the Blue Hounds Blood Veil, a pair of canine heads that rear up menacingly on either side of your character, waiting for the time to pounce (when you let go of the button). Time it right, and the hounds will tear your target asunder. Lovely stuff.
When you're not exploring Code Vein's dark and foreboding depths – navigating its meandering paths and confronting the formidable bosses that patiently wait in walled-off arenas, eager to tear you a new one – there's a neat hub area too. Here, you can buy items from Coco the merchant, purchase and upgrade your arsenal with weapons vendor Rin Murasame, edit your character at the mirror, or talk and interact with other characters. It's a welcome place for respite after the unrelenting hack and slash madness against unforgiving enemies.
Should you find yourself struggling, Code Vein has been designed to support co-op, so you can bring along a friend for the ride. When you're not dragging a buddy along with you, an AI companion will accompany you during your journey, each of whom have their own skills to bring to the party. There's Mia with her rifle, Louis with his sword, or Yakumo who's always handy in a frantic skirmish with his mighty broadsword. Whichever ally you opt for – and you can change them at any Mistle – you'll always have someone who will pitch in during battle, or revive you when you fall. There are limits to their usefulness, and you can't rely on a companion to fight endlessly, or revive you again and again. This is another of Code Vein’s unique touches.
Boasting deep, extensive character customisation (apparently one of the reasons for the game's delay), challenging combat mechanics, and enough interesting ideas of its own to set it apart from the other Soulsborne games out there, Code Vein is certainly an interesting prospect. Especially so if you're craving another taxing experience in the same mould as Dark Souls, Bloodborne, or Sekiro. That Code Vein has its own identity and tells its own story makes it all the more enticing.
Code Vein is coming to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC in 2019.
Wednesday, May 08, 2019 @ 09:55 PM