Code Vein: Stress Free!

What impression did you get when you saw Code Vein for the first time a few years ago? At the beginning of the development process, at least from the image that emerged from the gameplay side, there was a strong impression that the latest Bandai Namco game was indeed going to offer a thick Souls-like taste, but with visualization and stories that were more directed to the anime. During the development process, which was also followed by several news delays, the impression has not shifted at all. After a long wait, the chance to try out the final version finally arrived! Code Vein is finally available on the market.

Plot

Human life indeed never reaches peace, in any game. In the world of Code Vein, humans have just been beaten with a mysterious phenomenon that has made many monsters born into the world and destroyed everything. Not doing anything to overcome it, even urged humanity must inevitably have to take the “unethical” path, namely by developing a parasite that not only resurrects those killed, but also makes them born as more perfect humans with extraordinary strength. Something called Revenant.

Revenant itself has the nature like Vampire. That beyond all their special abilities that can be used against these creatures, they need blood to avoid the Frenzy condition – a type of insanity that would actually turn them into monsters called “The Lost”. This dynamic makes the Revenant colonize ordinary people to get a constant supply of blood for food and struggle to find an item called “Blood Beads” that grow on unique white-colored trees around the now destroyed world. The Revenants can also get out of their current zone because of a red mist that surrounds, ready to destroy anyone who tries to pass through it.

As can be predicted, you also play the role of a Revenant who forgets his memory and wakes up with a mysterious woman who later bears the name as “Io”. As you try to find the Blood Beads, you find that you are no ordinary Revenant. You are special, with the ability to not only adopt the power of other Revenants as long as you can “taste” their blood, but also have the ability to activate so much Mistle that clears the red mist around it. The ability that makes you and your comrades in arms, now slowly but surely, begin to be able to explore the corner of the city that was once locked.

Slowly but surely, the mystery related to human struggles in the past, the existence of the Revenant, and what must be done now to ensure a better future for those who survive began to unfold. The struggle that initially only strengthened the motivation of exploration, now thickens and complicates along with the arrival of new Revenants who decide to join the team until a new enemy is far more dangerous than what was previously imagined.

So, what really happened to the world in Code Vein? What mystery has been kept neatly in it? What is the background story and drama of the companions who accompany you? Can you save all of them? You certainly have to play Code Vein to get answers to these questions.

Waifu Souls

At first glance, it seems that it is not difficult to conclude what is the main theme of Code Vein’s presentation. Admitting the steps they have built since the beginning, it certainly feels like a Souls-like series that focuses on offering a thicker Japanese anime flavor on each side you look at. We’re talking about visualization techniques, character designs, to stories of struggle filled with friendship, romance, and a variety of dramatic cut-scenes that will feel familiar to those of you who are fond of Japanese creative products. To the extent that the word we chose above – “Waifu Souls”, is not an exaggeration.

The good news? Audio presentations, especially accompaniment music, also deserve a thumbs up. With choir dominating, the process of dramatizing every fight or journey you go through does seem to amplify the importance of your role as a “Messiah” in this messy world. Although it must be admitted, that some song loops are created, it is even stronger leaving the impression of Velvet Room in Persona 5 than a story about the battle against giant monsters.

If there is one thing we like about this presentation, then it will be rooted in the design of the various visual effects that emerge, both when you swing so many variants of the weapons available, the bursts of blood that occur when your blow injures the enemy, to just an animated attack from skills that you can trigger. It leaves a strong impression that the world in which you are living is indeed so obsessed with blood and how important it is in life. The design of the Revenants, the short cut-scenes when you execute attacks, the designs of the monsters and bosses you meet, contribute to strengthening the atmosphere and theme of the existing Code Vein world.

Many of you might come up with the same question about Code Vein – what makes it different from Dark Souls or other Souls-like series? Outside of the presentation that we talked about earlier, almost all gameplay mechanics that are carried by Code Vein are indeed present with their own uniqueness. All of them are centered on the theme that positions the Revenant who appears like Vampire with blood as food, focus, and life itself.

But of all the Blood systems offered by Code Vein, Blood Code is the most important and essential for forming the identity of this game. Fulfilling the narrative that your main character can absorb the blood of other characters and adopt their abilities, Blood Code does look like a Jobs system in most RPG games. You can replace the Blood Code at will, each of which will offer a different status addition, focus on specific types of attacks, and a series of unique Blood Gifts that you can execute later. You will find some Blood Codes from the story, but not a few that ask you to go through the exploration process first before it can be used.

Haze remains the highest risk factor if you are faced with death. Haze will fall at the last location you died and must be taken back if you want it all to return. But if you die again before reaching the Haze, then he will disappear permanently. The good news? Code Vein also provides a new mechanism which, fortunately, minimizes this risk, namely hot water baths. That’s right, in addition to the fan-service, soaking in this bath will allow you to collect the fallen Haze in any location. But in exchange, you will lose half of the total Haze permanently. The option is certainly more rational to take if he does fall in the arena of boss battles or locations that are indeed difficult to subdue.

So like the Souls series, the story’s progress will also move from one boss fight to another boss fight, until you fight the king at the end. But Code Vein also embeds a variety of side missions that you can take through the NPCs scattered in areas that you have “cleared” before. These NPCs will come with special requests, from finding items to cleaning specific areas. Reward items and materials become motivation, but the most important thing is that it comes from an item called “MAP”, aka map. This reward item named “Map” will open access to a special challenge level called Depths, which becomes a material storehouse and Haze if you want to execute. Some of these NPCs will require quite a number of tasks before you can harvest “MAP” from them and open access to existing Depths.

One that is unique from Code Vein and is one of the elements that we like is how they handle the existing Companion system. That the companions who accompanied you during the story and fight are not just supporting characters, but also become a “shop” to get the items and weapons that you are after. But don’t buy it using Haze, you have to build a level of closeness by consistently giving them a variety of gifts that you find along the way.

So with all the systems he offered, it was clear that Code Vein ended up being a Souls-like game that still had its own unique identity, especially from the Blood Code system which played a similar role to the Job system in RPG games in general. Joining the challenging level of difficulty, the Haze system which can be the main motivation to avoid death, and also the side mission system and Depths that you can pursue, there are many reasons to keep busy cutting down so many monsters in Code Vein.

Souls Without Stress

One of the highlights of Code Vein, apart from the image that was built from a variety of screenshots and trailers that were released before the release, even alpha and beta demos that had pushed you into one of the Depths, this game did not seem as difficult as imagined. We don’t even hesitate to call it the easiest “Souls-like” game we’ve tasted so far, it’s almost stress free, and instead implies a stronger impression of its own RPG action than the unique Souls sensation. The only hardest challenge we tried was the battle of at least the last 4 bosses, especially the combination of Cannoneer & Blade Bearer which was really annoying. But everything you should be able to pass easily, especially if you go as a veteran Souls series.

One reason why Code Vein is so “friendly” certainly lies in the fact that you will continue to be accompanied by an AI companion, which of course you can choose. Every AI companion usually has their own specialties, like Mia who is more effective in the range and Louis with his super fast one-handed sword. The presence of AI companion that consistently helps you fight is also strengthened by an intelligent AI and deserves thumbs up. They will attack first if possible, issue a variety of skills to finish off the enemy more quickly, produce a status effect, to cut them down every time the opportunity arrives. Each AI Companion acts like a second player who accompanies your actions all the time.

Not only that, the roll system in Code Vein must also be recognized, aka imbalance is not balanced. As one of the mechanics inevitable in Souls-like games, roll usually comes with its own weaknesses: between eroding the stamina bar significantly enough that sometimes you have to sacrifice 1-2 times the chance of attack because of it or because the zero frame damage is relatively short, so timings must always be right. While on Code Vein? Roll like an absolute answer to all your problems. It does not erode much stamina, it comes with a range far enough so that you can always avoid not only variants of attack but also keep your distance, and it offers zero frame damage that is large enough so that your chances of survival are high. Be diligent in doing a roll in a condition of urgency, even in succession, will help you through so many threatening attacks.

Not enough to get there? The level up system at Code Vein also contributed to making this game feel much friendlier and stress free. Why? Because it is like an RPG action game, Code Vein locks the system to increase status by leveling up. This means, there is no chance to strengthen the specific status of your character, remembering everything happens automatically. Systems like this make no character builds in Code Vein that can end “wrong”. The process of power scaling integrates with the level you are achieving, creating a character that is in terms of status, always balanced. This also keeps you from being over-powered if you re-visit the area you cleared before and also always have a status strong enough to deal with new threats in a new place. This system also ended up making us feel that instead of Souls-like, Code Vein was indeed more appropriate to be called an action RPG game.

But that does not mean, you who need a tougher challenge, not facilitated by Code Vein here. One of the most effective solutions is to “throw” your AI companion and fight alone like a series of Souls it should. This option is always available when you visit the main hub, which can be executed by simply “breaking the companionship” with the characters who followed you before. But we must also remind that risky actions that amplify this level of difficulty will not be followed by any reward. Code Vein will not give you anything new or special if you try to solve it without the help of Companion. This is more about challenging yourself in the name of a more obvious masochistic taste.

Another interesting thing offered by Code Vein is multiple endings, which of course also means higher replayability. That you are to be able to see all the available ending – which is divided into three ending: bad, neutral, and good, you do have to play and complete Code Vein at least three times. For those of you who have ambitions to pursue a trophy or are just curious about the content available to him, this should be something to do.

Code Vein also never explicitly explains these three different endings, so the only way to find out is indeed from cyberspace information or when looking at the list of available trophies. This ending, especially for Best Ending, is very easy to miss if you don’t carefully look for the items needed to trigger each indicator needed for it. But the good news? There are at least some progress from the first playthrough that will be taken to NG + and beyond, which of course will make your trip a lot easier.

Conclusion

Code Vein’s overall experience is arguably solid. That our pessimism was successfully reversed with an experience that turned out to be exciting and fun. Not only interesting for anime / manga lovers, the level of difficulty is far more friendly for a game that offers a sense of “Souls-like” whose thickness seems to diminish as the character progresses, making it appear as the most rational gateway for gamers curious who could never finish a single series of Souls so far

Even so, it does not mean this game can be considered perfect. In addition to a reward system for multiplayer co-op on the side of the story that does not feel at all worth it and is better avoided, Code Vein also presents another gameplay system that he mixes to explain the background story of important characters in the hub which they refer to as “Vestige” . Spread out in the world in pieces, you are asked to watch and watch the back of the story of the characters connected to Vestige in the form of a dream, where you have to walk in an empty space, see a piece of static rock that plays an active dialogue behind. Half-hearted presentations like these make us completely uninterested in understanding and understanding the stories of existing companion characters. Why wasn’t he formulated like the cut-scene it was supposed to be? We also do not understand.

But beyond these two shortcomings, Code Vein’s overall experience is arguably solid. That our pessimism was successfully reversed with an experience that turned out to be exciting and fun. Not only interesting for anime / manga lovers, the level of difficulty is far more friendly for a game that offers a sense of “Souls-like” whose thickness seems to diminish as the character progresses, making it appear as the most rational gateway for gamers curious who could never finish a single series of Souls so far.



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