Oh hey guys! It's CG here with another Souls-like game for you guys today. And I just wanna let you know how hard this week has been for me. I mean two hard Souls-like games in the same week. I wanna just rip my hair out.
Today's game is the long awaited Anime Souls, aka Code Vein, a game about anime vampires killing mindless ghouls, abominations, and sports bras.
So the first thing on the agenda with this impression post, is that this game isn't really like a souls game. I mean...okay...look yes the are bonfires, souls as currency, everything comes back when you die and you have to go pick up your lost souls or lose it forever, the maps curl back on top of each other, and the combat thrives on whiff-punishment. It's basically Souls then right? Well except the combat itself is more combo driven sort of, in a way that makes it feel more like Nioh than a Souls game.
Like Nioh the Souls framework is certainly there, but Code Vein does a lot right out of the gate in order to make itself stand out from what you typically see from Souls-wannabe games. The attack buttons are maps to the X and Y button on the controller (or Square and Triangle depending) not the shoulder buttons. These attacks do what you'd expect, light and heavy attacks respectively, however the should buttons activate what are calls gifts which act like action abilities and magic attacks. The shoulder buttons act like a modifiers to your face buttons for example R2+X will do an ability instead of a basic attack.
These gift spells/attacks/buffs, can be used in conjunction with regular attacks to form combos and lock down enemies or just melt away their health. It's a unique system that is highly customizable as you can hotkey in up to 8 gifts at a time.
The trick is of course managing your stamina and your Ichor (aka MP). Stamina is used for the same stuff you'd expect and your gift attacks use up Ichor. Each bonfire reset gives you a certain number of Ichor that is hard to recover without resetting at a bonfire again. Some attacks and items can restore a limited amount of ichor but it's essentially a very limited resource to use as you explore a map. Early game you are not going to use Gift abilities much because you don't have the build load out available to do so.
Additionally to all of that combat stuff is character classes. These act like jobs would in a typical JRPG ala Bravely Default, Final Fantasy 3,5,12,13, and Guild Wars. You start the game with being able to pick between three jobs, Warrior, gunner, caster, and each job changes your stats on the fly. You get more jobs from what appears to be killing bosses, however i've only killed and gotten one boss and one extra job (Bezerker) so far so there might be other ways to get more. Each job has it's own set of Gift powers, and weapons that they can use. So combat and character builds seem to have a SHITLOAD of options. I'm sure there are going to be crazy build guides for this game soon enough.
Code Vein also does something that no other Souls-like game has done to date (that I know of), and tells a pretty detailed story. Like playing through an Uncharted or Devil May Cry game, there are lots of cuts scenes, voice acting, characters, and a lot of plot just given to you in much the way a normal action game would give it to you. Which makes it more like Nioh in that way.
Despite the depths of the combat system on offer here, I regret to inform you that the combat isn't very good. That's mostly due to how slow and stupid the AI seems to be. Almost every enemy will roar at you before they start to do anything and you can just walk right around them and one-shot them with a backstab. Or if the backstab doesn't get them in one, just walk around them and backstab them again because the first thing they do when they get up is roar at you again. It's totally idiotic.
Oh and top that off with you almost ALWAYS having an AI companion to help you out in a level, they can distract the bad guys so you can walk up and backstab them. It's a backstab festival. Even the first boss couldn't do anything because between me and my AI buddy just beat the daylight out of him. Which is an issue further compounded by the fact that you can play this entire game co-op and hopefully your friend is smarter than the dumbass AI.
Which means that I've never needed to look at the complex character build system because I just backstab everyone that gives me a funny look.
The maps are very hallway based too. They do wind around and double back to bonfires and have a couple of shortcuts here and there, but they all just boil down to winding hallways. The areas themselves are drab, the post apocalyptic setting had potential when you consider the vampire theme but it's just ruined samey city, or cave tunnels.
Frankly if you were looking forward to a Souls-game with an anime theme, this really isn't gonna cut it for you. There are better anime games, and there are better souls games. Like The Surge 2, go check that out because that's fun as hell.
Code Vein should NOT be bought at full price. 50% on sale, then you can probably get your money's worth from it.