Code Vein producer Iizuka Keita and director Yoshimura Hiroshi discuss the game and its development process in an in interview in the 10th October 2019 issue of Famitsu. Iizuka was previously an assistant producer on God Eater 2: Rage Burst, while Yoshimura is the series director of the God Eater series.
The interview begins with the two being asked about how the Code Vein project started. Yoshimura says that planning began after development of God Eater 2: Rage Burst, alongside the work on DLC for that game. Around this time, the situation surrounding games was also changing around the world: Mobile games were growing more popular in Japan, while the market for home consoles was growing overseas. They thus decided to release God Eater Online for the Japanese market while starting development on Code Vein with overseas markets in mind.
The plan for the game started with them having a grand story of the sort Japanese games are known for, good characters, and an action system which would allow them to use their knowhow. They did their best working on the game, and the decision for it to be delayed came when development was at its final, crucial stages (Code Vein originally had a 27th September 2018 release date, and the game was ultimately released on 27th September 2019).
Iizuka says that the game was almost completely done at that point, but they wanted to give the game more of an identity, and while they felt penitent towards fans who were waiting for the game, they also felt that the delay would allow them to make a game that would make fans feel convinced that it was the right call. Yoshimura adds that while the delay might have raised fans’ expectations, he is sure that Code Vein meets those expectations.
The interviewer next asks what Code Vein’s core concepts are. Iizuka says that the game pits the player against adverse odds, and gives the player a sense of accomplishment like no other from overcoming these odds alongside their buddy. Though the game is difficult, they made it so that players will want to go through it over and over again. Yoshimura says that they also focused on the story, making it dramatic so that players will want to keep playing to see what happens next.
The two next talk about the setting of the game. The game features a lot of exploration, and Yoshimura says that after thinking about what sort of world to have players explore, they decided on having one that would be invoke a sense of sadness, which result in the world being ravaged with thorns piercing through buildings. Thinking about what sort of of people live in such a world, and what sort of drama would be born from them resulted in them coming up with the Revenants, vampire-like beings brought back from the dead, unable to die and forced to live in this ruined world.
Iizuka adds that the decision to use vampires also had to do with the worldwide release, due to how vampires are popular around the world. He says that the protagonists of the God Eater series are people who literally “eat gods”, but that this is something that is hard to explain to people not already familiar with the games. Revenants, however, are easily explained as vampires. Their being undead also allows for a story explanation of the player dying and coming back to life, which fits with the game’s system.
Yoshimura says that despite the setting appearing to be that of a world without hope, the story focuses on the protagonists clinging to hope and making a brighter future.
The interviewees next talk about the gameplay. Yoshimura says that the thing they focused on the most was the player’s sense of accomplishment, and after considering on how to convey this, decided to focus on character building, and the job class-like system of Blood Codes. He says that while clearing a game under the same conditions as other players might also give someone a sense of accomplishment, this is amplified when a player clears a game with their own character, their own build, and their own skills, giving them their own unique experience.
Iizuka brings up the Blood Veils, which usually take on the forms of things like scarves and coats, but transform and drain the blood of enemies, making them armour that also serve as weapons. The interviewer points out how God Eater had a similar system, but that said system relied on the weapons themselves, and asks why the drain attacks use Blood Veils instead of weapons.
Yoshimura says that the first thing they considered was how to make the blood draining attacks, an important element of the game, look good; they settled on using the armour due to it taking up the most space on the player’s character. Additionally, they also considered its effects on character customisation, and how it would make players think about how to combine different weapons and Blood Veils. He also says that they kept equipment simple, with the player only choosing from weapons and Blood Veils, because they wanted to emphasise the importance of Blood Codes; as there is a large variety of Blood Codes, also having other equipment like boots and belts would have made things far too complex. He says that players should be able to easily choose weapons and Blood Veils that they like, and then spend more time exploring Blood Codes.