Impressions: Code Vein

There have been a lot games that have tried to walk in the footsteps of From Software’s Dark Souls, with varying degrees of success.

Those that succeed do so by putting their own unique twist on the dark, nihilistic formula, and Bandai Namco Studios bring a massive dose of anime goodness to the genre in a Dark Souls-meets-Tokyo Ghoul action RPG.

Set in the ruins of a fallen civilisation you awaken with no memory of who you are, alongside a mysterious girl who leads you forward into a broken world filled with monsters that used to be human, but are now husks of their former selves.

Sound familiar?

The story is not nothing particularly special, and is filled with very tropy anime characters and story beats (did I mention the girl that finds you when you awaken has disproportionatly large breasts, barely covered by an incredibly ripped up mini-dress?) but there is a real gem of a game hiding behind the tropey awkwardness.

Press Any Button to Start

The first thing you will notice with this game is the in-depth character creation. You get to craft your very own waifu/guyfu, and it is one of the more detailed character creators you will experience in any game. I could spend hours making lots of different characters that are completely unique and is a fun experience in and of itself.

Once you get through the character creation you jump into the game and get to see the beautiful world the Bandai Namco Studios have created; a ruined modern city, where gangs of bio-weapons (read vampires) search for rare fruits called a bloodbeads, which provide sustainence in the absence of a human to feed off.

You will make allies as you progress through this world and explore several environments that will not feel unfamiliar to Dark Souls players.

So what does this game do differently?

What you will discover when you enter the first ‘dungeon’ of the game is the existence of an AI controlled ally that will come with you througout your wanderings. This ally will be able to fight alongside you in combat and heal you if you go down.

This ally mechanic is a welcome variation to the traditional lone explorer, and you will find different allies have difference strengths that will be better suited to some enemies than others. For example I have one ally I use for general exploring who can quickly dispatch surprise enemies and a different ally who can tank in boss fights for me to be a more hit and run attacker.

With the addition of an extra ally, it means that you will be frequently facing larger groups of enemies, that will try to swarm and surround you. Maneuvering becomes a key part of staying alive, and the traditional stamina management mechanics you have in Dark Souls are a key part of combat here.

In addition to the AI ally, Code Vein also provides an incredibly flexible skill/class system. There are 39 base blood codes, which are the classes available. Each blood code has a number of abilites associated with it. As you progress in the game you will unlock more abilities for each bloodcode, and if you master a code, you can transfer particular abilities from one code to another. One code for example will specialise in quick hits with a one-handed sword, whilst another specialises in resisting status effects, and another specialises in draining your opponants lifeforce. By synegising these abilities you can really craft a class that feels unique to you, as well being able to be changed on the fly, as your situation requires.

In keeping with the anime styling of the game, combat is fast paced and fluid. You really feel like an anime protagonist fighting against the odds, dodging, diving, and following up with an awesome feeling attack from an oversized weapon. You can handle more enemies in Code Vein than you would be able to in Dark Souls, and have access to more crowd control abilities, but you still need to dodge and parry and backstab your way to victory.

In terms of difficulty Code Vein is balanced to feel alot easier than other souls-like games. It feels like a familair, casual game to experienced souls-like players, and I think it would make a great entry-level game for players new to the genre.

Conclusions

Code Vein is a fun romp of an action RPG. It has a clunky and awkward story, with too much exposition for exposition sake, which drags on the gameplay experience. If you can see past this failing, you will find a game which has fast paced, fun combat tin a beautifully realised game world, and is worth playing for people who are interested in the souls-like genre. It doesn’t re-invent the wheel, but it adds some nice gameplay elements which lead the game to feel unique in its own way, and the style is a nice vibrant splash of colour in a traditionally bleak and dark genre.

Games We Grew Up With: Tekken 3

‘HIAH!’ – Paul, Tekken 3

I remember the first time I played the original Sony Playstation. It was a Christmas, and my parents had bought the Playstation for my uncle. The Playstation came with a demo disc, which had demos for several games, including a strange physics game where you play as a rubber ball, and a fighting game.

A fighting game named Tekken 3.

Tekken 3

I played that demo endlessly with my younger brothers that Christmas.

There were two playable characters; Eddie Gordo and Ling Xiaoyu. We button mashed the new controllers and fought back to back, never tiring from the lack of character options that were available to us. That didn’t matter to us. We had never experienced anything quite like this before.

 

Eddievling.jpg
I can hear the commentator to this day…

 

At the end of that Christmas our uncle let us bring the Playstation home with us.

That was a wonderful and unexpected gift.

My brothers and I would play Tekken 3 so much our thumbs would end up blistered; this was a game that really brought us together and gave us something we could share in together.

 

controller
Those textured analog sticks would wear down so quickly…

 

I remember when my parents rented the full version of Tekken 3 from Blockbuster (remember that place?!) my brothers were not allowed to play it because they were outside of the ‘age range’ that was on the box, even though they were little pros with the demo.

So I would play it with my parents. We would play the newly unlocked characters. Again endlessly, again with blistered thumbs.

It was fun.

There was one point in time when my brothers tried to sneak into the room in which Tekken 3 was being played, and they got really freaked out by King’s growls. I think it actually gave them nightmares. At the time they learned their lesson until they were old enough.

king
Nightmare fuel for little brothers…

Tekken 3 is the earliest game I remember playing with my whole family, and it was a game that kept on giving.

I remember everyone being blown away when we unlocked our first character for completing the game.

We didn’t know that games could do that!

You play the game and unlock even more content!

Then there were the secret bosses…I remember being with my brothers when we were shocked about discovering the fight against Ogre.

Not only was he a secret boss, but he could also fly and breathe fire! He broke all the rules we knew you could use! He was scary and awesome, and so exciting to fight against. When we beat him we were thrilled! How could this get any better?!

Then we unlocked Gon…

Gon

A tiny farting dinosaur.

What could be better?!

This was my peak gaming experience as a child; playing the serious and sometimes spooky fighting game, and eventually unlocking a tiny dinosaur that could beat enemies by rolling into them and expelling gas.

What more could you want from a game?

Tekken 3 was an amazing personal entry into console gaming, and solidified gaming as something I loved and brought the family together. The game itself had good progression for character unlocks and, for the time, amazing graphics, particularly for someone who had only ever played a Gameboy!

Tekken 3 may be old, but it is forever held my memories it is always one of the greatest video games that has ever been made, and I will die on that hill!

What was the first game you played that you really felt brought you closer to your friends or family?

Leave a comment below and share your story! I will tie some of these experiences into future articles in this series.

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