Zombies, werewolves, and vampires, oh my! I am the last person to complain about the bevy of monster video games released in recent years. Vampires and werewolves are my favorite fantasy/horror creatures. I love The Walking Dead just as much as the next person, and I'm super psyched for the upcoming zombie game Days Gone. (It seems like a mash up of TWD and Sons of Anarchy.) Seriously, what is not to like? Horror used to be such a marginalized genre in film, television, and (to a lesser degree) video games. The past few years have marked a veritable paroxysm of horror. And I love it.
Even I, in my dread-loving state, can admit when a button may have been pushed one too many times. You know those kids in Target whose parents are clearly just glad to have them busy and out of their hair for five minutes? The ones who press every single button in the animatronic toys aisle? Yeah, the monster video games are starting to get to be like that.
I mean, take zombies for instance. Either recently released, announced, or soon to be released are: The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series, Dead Rising 4, Days Gone, Killing Floor 2, Dead Island: Riptide, How to Survive 2, State of Decay 2, Resident Evil 7, Overkill's The Walking Dead, Dead Island 2, Dying Light 2, and Left 4 Dead 3, among others. That is an insane amount of zombie games. There has been a surge of other monster games as well. Vampyr, Vampire: The Masquerade, Akiba's Trip, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim's Dawnguard all brought vampires to the forefront.
The most recently announced vampire video game is Code Vein from Bandai Namco Entertainment. The one has vampires frantically searching for blood in a post-apocalyptic world. If they don't get blood, they lose their humanity and transform into even worse monsters called the “Lost.” Sure, there is a bunch more to the game than just vampires, but they are the main characters. Their vampirism is the focus of the game. They need blood, they need victims to take said blood from, and they want to know why they became vampires. So there's blood, there's fangs, and there's angsty memory loss. Sounds perfect for a vampire game. (Hashtag sarcasm.)
There have been many great monster games in recent years, but Code Vein might just be a little late to the party. I've seen many a person say, “Oh, it's just another vampire game /yawn.” The fact is true that there have been so many in recent years that it's incredibly difficult to stand out. In my opinion, Days Gone stands out in the zombie realm because it introduces something new. The main character is a biker. We don't see that much in video games in general, let alone in zombie games. At this point, vampire games need a new hook like that too.
Code Vein is made by the creators of God Eater, so it's got the anime thing going for it. But there been tons of JRPGs and anime games in recent years as well. So that's not really new. Fans may cry, "It's post-apocalyptic!" But oh wait, that's been done over and over again. I doubt I need to say how (coughFalloutcough), but the fact still remains: There's not much new in Code Vein. Vampires and a post-apocalyptic setting aren't enough to carry a game when there are so many other options that already exist.
It's always possible that Code Vein might turn out to be a killer game. It might have some currently unannounced hook that will get me to change my mind. It might have some crazy new gameplay mechanics that make me think, “Hey, I want to give that a try.” The character designs might be enough to drag me in, because I personally can't resist a cute little vampire girl or a brooding vampire guy. However, that's all Code Vein has going for me right now. Here's hoping Bandai Namco can change my mind.