Dark Souls is easily one of the most well-known titles for its difficulty curve and challenging boss fights that is borderline frustrating and somewhat chemically rage-inducing. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that there are quite a few developers who would even dare to imitate the franchise. To the point it even becomes a meme at which game reviews would consider something far from the Dark Souls formula, a Dark Souls of “X” genre.
Now, we’ve already seen a lot that borrowed the formula and made it their own. One of which is Remnant: from the Ashes which I was lucky enough to get a review copy last August. This is technically a third-person “shlooter” (looter shooter) but with the heart of Dark Souls. It had not only the way at which activating checkpoints respawns enemies to the world but it had the most difficult of boss fights until you realize how to properly deal with them. However it does things differently when it comes to its character progression, gear, gameplay elements and even its procedurally generated world with semi optional dungeons and bosses. It’s an impressive and addicting experience that I would honestly recommend you try out but not for the faint of heart.
Code Vein on the other hand is initially Anime Dark Souls. Having the God Eater pedigree, it boasts a robust and essentially an exhausting amount of customization options from hairstyles, tattoos, accessories and even to the shape or style of your pupils which on its own could potentially be the full game itself, putting you hours upon hours simply fine tuning your toons. But unlike Remnant and its huge emphasis on gunplay, Code Vein puts you in the front row seat to Rageville, as you take down or get taken down for as long as your patience allows it.
Considering it was made by God Eater developers, the style is very much on highlight, from its visual presentation to even the flashy swordplay and skill-based actions. It does however feel like a bit of a step back from its faster God Eater pacing due to its Souls-like elements. But overall, it still feels more like God Eater over Dark Souls in how it operates. As such, characters will be able to equip up to eight active skills that range from spells based on elements like fire and ice, weapon-based skills or buffs and adding certain status effects to weapons. This however consumes ichor a resource that replenishes itself through attacking enemies with your weapon or draining their life points with your blood veil’s ability.
The game also lets you mix and match character builds without the frustrations of increasing the wrong stats at the wrong time. Characters level up by spending haze a currency you get through defeating monsters and this increases your overall heath, stamina and a slight damage boost. Unlike your typical stat point allocation, Code Vein incorporates that through other means like passive abilities and blood veils that each has their own specialties from a veil that has better status resistances to another that improves gifts (skills).
But the biggest difference Code Vein has to offer is you always have a companion should you wish. Whether it’s an AI companion from the main campaign or a multiplayer buddy you play with. And this is honestly one of the more interesting things that I’ve enjoyed through Remnant, the ability to join a friend in his or her adventure and keeping the chaos level high while your sanity level low from the multiple failed attempts at certain boss battles.
Despite all that, it does come with its own set of issues like the first two boss fights in the depths that never felt like a real challenge and more of a stepping stone for how stale and bland their move sets are. However it did come with a challenging final boss so that’s a plus. Yet my biggest nitpick is the lack of animation cancelling towards item usage like healing. Something that is far too often the worst idea to do when monsters or bosses are up and about.
The trial version of the game does have plans to update it with multiplayer support and a new stage Town of Sacrifice which I am excited to check out. More on that later! Code Vein is set to release on September 27 for Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC.