Code Vein is More Than 'Anime Dark Souls'

Code Vein is More Than 'Anime Dark Souls'
From IGN - September 6, 2017
By Lucy O'Brien

Although its become trite to compare video games to Dark Souls - theres even a Twitter account dedicated to reductive Dark Souls comparisons - Bandai Namcos Code Vein has modelled itself so closely and purposefully on From Softwares series theres no avoiding it. Dark Souls beats strongly in Code Veins chest, but from what Ive seen there are more than enough new twists on the formula to elevate it beyond a copy into what promises to be a new and refreshingly bizarre anime-kissed action-RPG.

Code Veins set-up is a little more transparent than one you might find in a Souls game. In the very near future, mysterious Thorns of Judgement have spiked through the world, causing mass destruction. In order to survive, the dwindling members of the human raceincluding your custom player characterhave turned themselves into youthful vampires, feeding on blood in order to survive. A wall keeps the vampires enclosed, enveloping the ruined architecture from our century, crushed skyscrapers, broken cars, battered jukeboxes.

Its all very obviously influenced by anime, but shaken up and blended with the real world. The goal for character design in Code Vein was to not make it too cartoony, says character design lead Kurumi Kobayashi, but still removed from reality. Vibrant, idealized characters wield giant swords and wear swooping Victorian jackets (known as Blood Veils; more on that later) occupy grand landscapes that would look at home in any modern-day post-apocalyptic action game. We wanted to hit the middle ground, explains Kobayashi.

A little different from the grim medieval aesthetic of the Souls games, then, but theres no mistaking the immediate influence behind Code Veins basic mechanics. All the greatest Souls hits are played: when your player character is defeated, the experience youve gained will be lost, though you can get it back at the site of your death (we ca not reveal it just yet, but we are planning another method of collecting that experience, unique to our game says director Hiroshi Yoshimura). Short-cuts through the world must be hunted down in order to deal with the scarcity of checkpoints, and large, shambling enemies can cut you down to half health with one swipe.

These monsters are known as The Lost, creatures who used to be vampires but grew blood-starved and insane. Some monsters look like humans whereas others look like completely different creatures, says Yoshimura. The monsters could also have a varying number of limbs, limbs growing from unusual places, or even wings. Just like Dark Souls, big brawling bosses will serve as gatekeepers to new areas, and each area will have a different theme.

The man behind the God Eater series, Yoshimura is well-versed in tough and stylish games, and saw Souls as a palette on which he could experiment further. I have been working on the God Eater series for a long time. It pits you against powerful enemies and obstacles that you have to overcome with multiple people. For my next project, I wanted to see how I could express the challenging aspects of Dark Souls in my own way and try to take it to the next level.

That next level becomes more apparent in the intricacies of combat and character building. As a vampire, your personally-customized avatar must drain the blood of enemies in order to use special skills. There are three different types of drain attacks: one is a relatively simple charge, another lifts the enemy off the ground with an uppercut, and the third relies on a maxed out concentration barwhich builds up when youre low on healthto unlock a flashy kill animation.

These drain attacks are performative, designed with bloody excess in mind. The charge attack gets a twist depending on what garment youre wearing; in Code Vein these unique coats and masks are called Blood Veils. There are initially three types: Ogre, Hound, and Stinger. The Hounds charge sees the shoulders of your coat transform into two rabid dogs, the Stinger briefly equips you with a scorpion-like tail, while the Ogre fits you with a huge smashing claw. Each form will have different speeds and range, and you can swap your Blood Veil at any time through the menu screen.

But drain attacks arent going to be your go-to offence in Code Vein. Theyre difficult to execute, and the player needs to control the fight to create a one-on-one situation in order to set one up, difficult when youre swarmed. If you are surrounded by enemies, says Yoshimura, you will most likely not be able to land one. In that sense, you will need to carefully navigate through the dungeon and manage your resources. Mostly, youll be using a combination of heavy and light melee attacks, blocks, parries, a roll and sprint, all while watching your stamina bar. Yknow, Dark Souls.


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