Code Vein is a new upcoming IP from Bandai Namco, and in it, just for a change, we find the end of the world as we know it. Revenants have torn the world apart, and the worst of all is a hidden society known only as Vein.

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Now, in Code Vein, Revenants are basically vampires, and have to tread a tightrope between embracing their powers as vampires, and falling prey to their bloodlust. If their desire for blood overwhelms their remaining humanity, they become one of the Lost; monsters and ghouls who have lost anything that remained of their Humanity, wandering aimlessly in search of blood until someone puts an end to them. The Lost also seem to have the ability to mutate, becoming bigger, stronger and nastier until they eventually become screen filling bosses. We play as Revenants, trying to bring an end to Silva’s reign, and as luck would have, we are a unique kind – our blood is broken!

The network test that has just passed as I write this was put in place to test the servers for the connected online multiplayer part of the game. Code Vein itself plays out as a series of dungeons, linked by a social hub in Louis’s house. Here there are the usual merchants that you can trade with and more importantly upgrade your kit, be it your chosen weapon or equipment. There are a plethora of weapon types to choose from, depending on which Blood Code you choose. See, these Blood Codes give you certain powers, and range from a Brawler type – all brute force and blunt weapons – to a Mage archetype, that is substantially squishier than the fighter, but can utilise powerful blood magic to bring the pain from a distance. Weapons include swords, hammers, bayonets and more, and each type has a certain strength rating that is required to use it effectively. From the short burst of the game that we have so far been allowed to see, the customisation of the character, both in terms of physical appearance and in combat style looks very impressive, with more choices than you can shake a stick at.

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Graphically Code Vein is very much on the Manga/Anime end of the scale, but for an early stage beta the graphics are very impressive. Draw distances are good, it runs smoothly and the design is very imaginative. Think Armageddon, all smashed buildings and twisted creatures lurking in the shadows, smoothly animated and looking great. Soundwise Code Vein is more than decent too; crunching impacts, swooshing swords and cries from the enemies. Further to that, the voice acting is on point, with characters seeming to have a real personality and backstory hinted at.

Combat is very much the focus though, and with a hint of Dark Souls thrown in the difficulty seems to be pitched just about right. Dodging, parrying, and unleashing learned combos, mixing it up between the standard slow, heavy attacks and fast, lighter slashes feel good. Resting at a “Bonfire” resets your your healing charges, but also resets all the enemies in the area, just like FromSoftware’s obvious title, and is also used to level up your character. The various gifts all have attributes as well, and these can also be levelled up to master them. Choosing the right loadout to deal with the enemies in an area looks to be very important from the snippet I played, particularly so in The Depths. You see, The Depths is an area that can be opened when you find maps and bring them back to the Hub, and allows you to travel deeper into higher areas. The only map open in this Network Test was a recommended level 40 map, so going down there with my Level 30 character proved to be a humbling experience. Playing with friends though, I can imagine this to be a fascinating addition to the story of the game. These maps seem to have missions tied to them as the available one required us to slay three powerful Lost, acquire their keys and open a door. Sadly, I failed and ended up as an interesting stain on the dungeon floor. Grinding levels then does appear to be the order of the day if you want to be competitive.

All in all then and Code Vein is shaping up to be right up my street. A powerful story is hinted at, deep customisation and varied combat are all present and correct, and being able to take on the Lost as a team is an intriguing prospect. I’m very excited to play more, and with the Dark Souls twist to the combat I can’t wait to get back into the world of Code Vein.

The release of Code Vein on Xbox One, PS4 and PC is “Coming Soon” according to Bandai Namco. Here’s hoping the wait isn’t too long!

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