Easily my favorite genre of game in the modern era are the Sous-like games. Starting with the fantastic and soon to be remastered Dark Souls and spun off with fantastic takes like Salt & Sanctuary and Ni-Oh. The base formula is simple, you are dropped into a world that does not hold your hand and tasked with fighting enemies that can often kill you with relative ease.
The back and forth of fighting for your life with the constant threat of losing progression makes the player always feel like there is something on the line. That game play loop has become one of my favorite experiences in video games.
(For the first month of 2018 I want to highlight some of the smaller games that are looking to be fantastic titles. We all know the larger games coming out this year the likes of Red Dead Redemption 2, God of War, The Last of Us 2 (please Neil Druckman make this a real thing) and Far Cry 5.
What always interested me are those smaller games that don’t have a giant marketing budget that are coming out in 2018. Juggernauts like NieR: Automata and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds permeated the conversation last year and arrived with little fanfare. We have already began to get a taste of the small gems this year has to offer and 2018 looks to be as exciting as this last year.)
Naturally when another Souls-like game is announced it immediately grabs my attention. What sort of fun twist will they put on the formula to set it apart from the others racing to cash in on the genre’s popularity? That is where Bandai-Namco and the team behind God Eater have stepped in to inject a huge dose of anime into the usually drab aesthetic and put a focus on the narrative that Souls-like games usually obscure (to often great effect).
Code: Vein lead director Hiroshi Yoshimura describes the game as “Dark Souls-ish, dungeon action RPG. Because I’m the creator of God Eater, there’s a lot of character behind the story and drama behind the story, too. We do have that unique flavor of narrative in there, so we wanted to feature that within the dungeon action RPG genre.” in an interview with vg247.com that can be found here.
The world of Code: Vein is another huge draw into what makes this game look so interesting. You play as a Vampire that you get to customize in the character creator. Of course as a vampire your abilities are tied to blood veils that are used to draw blood from enemies called “The Lost”. The Lost are vampire who have given all of their remaining humanity to quench the thirst for blood. As the human population continues to dwindle due to either being killed by these Lost or turned into vampires from the bite, the future continues to look more and more bleak for vampires.
Given the nature of The Lost we also will get to know our enemies much more personally than usual. As opposed to the enemies scattered about the landscape that are set dressings or dangers to the characters, these are people that you may have interacted with or have real backstories but fell to the hunger. It makes each battle with The Lost that much more interesting considering these are people in the game world you may have interacted with.
Combat in Code: Vein will walk a fine tightrope of being that methodical one on one dance that Dark Souls mastered and the large scale Monster Hunter mechanics that God Eater has mastered over the years. Laying in wait for a weakness to appear or crashing into your opponents to create one, gives Code: Vein a fresh approach to that methodical Souls combat.
Another nod to Dark Souls that Code: Vein takes is it’s buddy system. Similar to summoning in heroes from the world of Dark Souls (looking at you Solaire of Astora, Praise the Sun!) you’ll have a companion that you will rely upon throughout the adventure. This buddy won’t just be a static character that follows your exploits but is a character you will develop throughout the game.
Having another high profile Souls-like game to look forward to in 2018 when the actual Dark Souls franchise is on hiatus is exciting. While I won’t give up hope for another Bloodborne or the eventual return of Dark Souls, knowing Bandai-Namco are giving us experiences like this keeps that appetite satisfied.
Find my other most anticipated games of 2018 below!