Now that I have absolutely milked everything this game has to offer, it's time to make a proper review. This is the first game I bought on Steam, so it holds a special place in my heart. However, for a review, my feelings matter less and I have to look at the game in an unbiased view. I haven't played Dark Souls (yet), so I won't be comparing Code Vein to Dark Souls. Instead, I view this title on it's own. New players to Dark Souls in general or to Code Vein, this review is for you.
Easily Overlooked Title
Code Vein seems to fall victim to the assumption that it nothing more than a Dark Souls clone with anime waifu characters. Although the game takes inspiration from Dark Souls, there is enough that it does differently, and in some areas, much better to really stand out as its own game giving players an experience worth checking out.
Character Creation System
This is one of the best character creators I have ever seen, it's like Skyrim with all those anime mods you are too shameful to admit using. It has a ton of accessories and whatever ones you pick, you can place them anywhere on your character, with options to reposition and resize it. See the glasses on my avatar? I can edit them on my hair just like how I would in real life. You can now engineer your own catgirl/catboy or waifu/husbando.
World Building Lacking in Depth
The world design is linear, and I don't feel like everything is interconnected. You move from one area to another to progress, only needing to return to a previous area to do side quests or unlock the door to move to to a different area. Some zones don't even make sense as to how they are connected in the world: Home base is totally separated from everything despite being in the same city of Vein.
Cathedral of The Sacred Blood - Aloof in a hollow land, the labyrinthine halls of this holy place calls out to lost lambs who end up wandering them forever.
Most areas have the same theme - everything is rusty, old, and falling apart. Only after the fifth area (my favorite area in the game), will everything look better. It's a bummer that the game takes place in a big city that you can barely explore.
Your actions don't have as much impact as I'd like them. There's a quest involving you taking a map to an NPC to help them make a shelter. After completion they just reward you and stand there for the rest of the game instead of going to that taking, or even letting you go there. Overall, world building is superficial, instead of a being deeper.
Companions Are Your Life Saver
One of the best companion AIs I've ever played with. They react and perform even better than some players I met. They aren't a liability and can actually carry you. Going with one will make the game a lot easier, so I suggest going solo if you want a real challenge.
Your partner will heal you back to life to make up for your deadly mistake, but do be careful, their Gifts also have a cooldown so don't make the same error twice ❗
Combat is Fun and Fast-paced
Code Vein takes inspiration from Dark Souls in these aspects: Stamina-based action, lock-on target camera, parry and back-stab leave you invincible.
What differentiates Code Vein from Dark Souls is its own class and skills system called Blood Code and Gifts, these are what defines your character build. Blood Code is basically a class, with its own attribute distribution and gifts. The latter are skills, they can be passive, weapon-based or active, with the latter ones requiring Ichor (the equivalent of mana) each time they're performed.
This is what defines Code Vein's rapid and flashy combat style. You can change your Blood Code and Gifts instantly, making combat flexible and adaptable. One moment you could be a DPS Halberd glass cannon, the next moment a tank build, blocking 100% of the damage from almost anything comes to you.
Teleportation Gifts, they aren't just for the Lost, as your companions can do so as well ✔️
A successful parry with a Hounds-type Blood Veil, followed up by Louis's Phantom Assault - vanish like mist, then do a jump slash, and his Fire Storm. Your companions will perform teleportation attack gifts to catch up with the Lost, or after backing off from their attacks, this make them a worthy partner, not just a distraction target or a liability.
Weapons Look Cool But Not That Interesting
There are five weapon categories in the game, each categories has more than ten varieties. However, there is not much difference between them.
For example, the companions' weapons are just a re-color of the regular weapons, there's no unique model that makes them stand out from the rest, some weapons' movesets are just mix and match of the normal ones. There's only one companion's weapon that has a Gift activation when using charged attacks.
Some of the weapons dropped from bosses look unique but still have the same moveset as normal ones. There is only one truly unique weapon, in a sense that its own model, exclusive moveset, in just one category, which i think is disappointing, considering there is a total of 74 weapons in the game.
Blood Veil is Your Armor and Fashion Style
Blood Veil isn't' separated pieces like in other RPG games, instead there's only one piece of armor equipped on your character. There are four categories, each has its own charged drain attacks that gain Ichor, parry and back-stab animation. Armors have dyed variants so pick one that suits your clothing, otherwise you can recolor your clothing to suit the Blood Veil. It would be best to have the option to recolor the Blood Veil in future sequels.
Ivy-type Blood Veils parry ⚔️
Even though Ivy-type Blood Veils have a longer build-up time, they are perfect for fast attack like this, as you can precisely plan your parry. Each Blood Veil type has its own animation and timing, so choose the correct one for your style.
Enemies and Bosses: Not Enough There
The lack of enemy diversification is one of Code Vein's downsides. The ones you see in the second area are also in the last before the final boss. Most enemies react slowly, so you can walk behind them and chain back-stab with ease, which is something you can do even with the mini bosses. The only enemy in the game that really intrigues me is the Recently Converted Lost, both in design and attack pattern. They genuinely look and sound like revenants who are turning into the Lost and fight like so. They are the same size as you but hit hard and wildly, can detect you while cloaking, do range attack, perform a charged attack much faster and parry you. It's a shame there aren't more enemies like this.
Except for the story-related bosses, neither the bosses in the game don't have any backstory about their origin, and how they came to be. They have an introduction cutscene, but after defeating them, you continue the story like if they were just another regular enemy in the world, nothing more special, just beefier or prettier. Their designs are either tough big looking monster-guys or tall big sexy monster-ladies. There are only two bosses that I really like because their models aren't either of those, one of them is in the fifth area, the other one is the final boss.
Multiplayer Somewhat Active
There's only Co-op, no PvP, which is a downside. Surprisingly, there are still few people who play in Co-op mode. During my latest playthrough, I received helps from five different players in just one area, which is unexpected from this game. Not only that, I met some new friends thanks to the Co-op, and had a blast with them. Really recommend playing with friends or finding some strangers to befriend.
Dramatic and emotional, especially in important cutscenes; however, the musical score lacks variety. The bosses' theme is the same, even though it is good, hearing the same track again and again can be boring. Main Menu and Code Vein's theme (Memory of the Lost) are 10/10.
Overall really bad for their prices. DLCs are just three extra dungeons with a single side story that isn't relevant, you can skip it and it won't make any impact. New Blood Codes are very powerful in late game. Weapons and Blood Veils added are just recolors, no unique models, some are good, many are indolent. Main bosses' designs are distinctive and outstanding. Only buy DLCs including in Deluxe Edition ON SALE, which is much cheaper and justified considering what they add to the game.
Final ratings: 7/10 - A solid game but it could have been much better
I bought the game on Steam Summer Sale with 75% discount and it's totally worth it. Go grab the Deluxe Edition when it's on sale, you will not regret it.
Here's a gameplay video of what to expect before jumping into Code Vein.
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In-game screenshots using Photo mode