Anime artwork couldn?t quite ruin this one.
As a complete sucker for anything and everything vaguely related to Dark Souls, I picked up Code Vein last Friday. The game was pitched to me as a Souls-type (I believe the language used was ?Souls-like? but that sounds completely absurd to me, come at me marketers) title infused with Anime artwork and story.
Normally, ?Anime artwork and story infused? makes me ponder slamming my penis in a car door, but I had just finished getting the platinum trophy for Borderlands 3, so I had some time on my hands. I don?t watch game reviews on Youtube, I don?t give two shits what some failed-journalist-turned-game-reviewer writes (full disclosure, I am a failed-software-tester-turned-unemployed-hack-writer) and I specifically avoid hype-trains like E3 and other stages granting shelter to lying producers. I know these people and they are shameless, I even met Peter Molyneux and Denis Dyack back when I was doing real things rather than writing. So I was blind going into Code Vein.
The short and stubby is it isn?t bad, gameplay-wise. I?ll get the irritants out of the way first, since most reviewers tend to save those for the end. I assume this is because they are paid to review things and people buying games is good for their industry. Well I am a rebel and unemployed, so I have no skin in that game, friends.
First and foremost, the story and music is garbage, due to the infusion of Anime artwork and story, as aforementioned. The music is strange J-Metal or some similar chore, the type only a strung out heroin junky could nod along to, with insanely stupid lyrics slouching from a labored throat towards Tokyo to be born. The story is your standard anime fare, complete with a gaggle of visually-distinct-but-not-visually-distinct characters I assume we?re supposed to feel something about. I could be incorrect, but I believe the writers were attempting to foster a sense of camaraderie between the player and these tools who never quite shut up. As a fan of Dark Souls, where there is very little dialogue, I felt I was constantly blasted with pointless and trite exposition regarding what was going on. I never once cared about what was going on. Mercifully, one can skip most this trash.
The artwork I will mention, if only in passing. As expected, due to the anime-style of the thing, one is presented with Jiggle-Physics. This bordered on the absurd at rest and on occasion leapt straight into the wolf?s jaws in others. As an example, in a particularly windy area I noticed the nice touch of a scarf blowing heavily in the wind. I was impressed by the detail, until I noticed a character?s tits were also blowing in the wind. Each one of this character?s breasts had to weigh more than I did and yet, I only blow in the wind if I am hanged, much like Ren Hoek.
The wind is strong enough to blow the 80 pound tits of a 90 pound woman around.
Speaking of the artwork, quite a bit of time must have gone into making those titties all sparkly and their blouse-buttons all bursty, because the environments the player runs through aren?t sparkly at all. One experiences mostly ruins and rubble, boxes and crates, pretty standard stuff leftover from a civilization which presumably did well right up until it fell over. There?s the required desert area, the swamp area, the fire place, the ice place, etc, and it all more or less has to do with buildings made in the modern architectural style; which is to say grey concrete. The eyes get tired staring at it, which might be why the tits jiggle in the wind, as well. Oh boys.
In terms of character creation, the options are pretty vast. You can create more or less whatever you like, it will all sparkle in typical Anime-style, and the character looks as good as it can within that style. They look far better than any character created in Dark Souls and its cousins, which explains where all that dev-time which could have been devoted to the environments went, I suppose. You can customize the clothing your character wears and you can do this after having created your character, so if the skimpy pleated skirt you initially chose has you feeling uncomfortable after a while, you can swap over to some other skimpy option.
Speaking of skimpy, the game has one of those pervy anime game cameras at times. There is a hot springs you can go into, the purpose of which is simply to rub one out to cartoon characters, I think. You can zoom in and out and rotate the camera while your character lounges and stretches and purrs and whatever else goes on in there. Supposedly, you can use the hot springs to retrieve lost souls, er ?haze?, but I only went in there once. Felt weird. Strange vibe. Also, there was no wind. Instead, I enjoyed a few of the stylized backstab animations, which are pretty neat.
Backstabs get a stylish makeover, resembling Devil May Souls-Type.
What Code Vein does right is a longer list, mostly because the list was lifted directly from the Souls franchise with some minor tweaks. The multiplayer is interesting, though irritating at times. The lock-on Z targeting game play is there, with dashing left/right and forward/back, with a stamina gauge to make sure you can?t spaz ad infinitum (that?s Latin for eight pots of coffee) and just roll your way to absolute domination. There are bonfires, which are called ?mistles? instead of bonfires, and you can teleport around by using them. Resting at one respawns enemies, yada, yada, you get it. Also, giant comically oversized swords.
A slight departure from Souls happens when the player becomes stronger by collecting ?haze? which is just a stand in for collecting souls. They then invest in increasing their level (granular increases of each stat like Dex, etc, is not present) or in acquiring ?gifts? which are active abilities or passive bonuses. Different ?gifts? are available for purchase from character classes, called ?blood codes? and gods damn I get sick of typing out all these idiotic names for things. Once the player learns a ?gift? from a ?blood code? they can then use that ?gift? with any other ?blood code? which allows for a decent chunk of optimization and configuration for any player. It honestly, despite the idiotic naming conventions, is quite good as a player progression system.
The trophies/achievements are dumb shittery, I won?t waste anyone?s time with them. Just know you better learn to love multiplayer and you?ll have to play through the game three times minimum to get them all.
One specific note, the game is quite easy. It could be the constant company of a constantly chattering companion NPC which makes it easy, but at times it is laughably non-challenging. This changes very suddenly about halfway through, with the introduction of a cathedral area, which is probably about eight times the size of any environment before it. This is likely where around 50% of Code Vein buyers will experience remorse and simply not load it up again. For some reason, after this one area, the environments become smaller again, and easier to navigate and stomp through. The pacing is really weird.
It is customary to give these games a rating, on a scale of 1 to 100 or 1 to 10, or an A or an F, or a certain number of rubber duckies and/or chickens. So I won?t do any of that shit. The long and veiny of it is if you?re not quite sure about anime, but you enjoy Souls-type gameplay, it is a win. If you enjoy both those things, I assume it is a bigger win. I presume, because I can?t stand anime and don?t know how anyone can, so I won?t present an opinion on whether anime-loving weebos would love this game or not. No one?s sister slaps and screams at them while they sweat in this game, but maybe they?ll enjoy it anyway.