What do you get when you combine anime-style characters with an in-depth emotional story and the gameplay of a SoulsBorne game? The answer is Code Vein. Released in 2019 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Code Vein flew under the radar. Developed and published by Bandai Namco, Code Vein surprised me in quite a few ways. We’re drinking blood in this Code Vein review!
Code Vein Plot:
Starting my Code Vein review I was awoken by a busty girl in the middle of city ruins in some futuristic world. Humans are now few and far in-between. They are there but most people are now Revenants. Revenants are humans who have died but are resurrected by tiny micro organisms in their bodies that need a fresh supply of blood to survive. Think of blood as food as most need it daily. If these revenants don’t get the blood they will turn into the “Lost” which are monster forms who attack anything in sight.
The player is a revenant and teams up with others who are trying to put the pieces together after Operation Queenslayer, a horrible experiment that was a colossal mess for humanity. It’s revealed that blood beads are drying up which helps revenants stay “alive”. The player has the ability to revive blood bead trees and absorb memories of others to help put together the clues of what happened. Apparently, and I’m just using my giving the bare minimum of story, but there was a girl who was sick and they kept experimenting on her to save her. She was saved but the cure frenzied her (the micro organisms) and turned her into a monster that slaughtered others turning them into the Lost and other revenants.
She was killed but scattered parts of her called relics into huge monsters called “successors”. The player hunts down these successors restoring them into their human forms while collecting their memories and learning more of the story. The main goal of Code Vein is to restore the Blood Spring and defeat the successors while collecting all the memories.
There are three different endings. In my Code Vein review, I made it about 90 percent through the game until I simply could not defeat a boss. In the best ending, the players collect all memories and restore every successor to their human form. If this occurs, one of your team members named Io (the girl who you woke up next to) absorbs all the relics and transforms into a new Bloodspring which allows the player and his team to venture outside of the ruined cities for a new life. There are also two other endings. One has the player absorbing the relics with Io by their side as they are stuck for eternity in that area but still save the others. The bad ending occurs when you don’t rescue anyone and when you try and absorb the relics, you transform into a frenzied lost while your team kills you.
I kind of slaughtered the plot as there’s a lot that goes into it but like some Japanese games, the story is very heavy and would take much more in-depth details to fully explain it. That’s the gist of it at least for this Code Vein review.
Code Vein Gameplay:
Before I could even start my Code Vein review I was completely blown away by the opening video. It had me rock hard and got me stoked to play it. While the opening video was sick, the gameplay that followed wasn’t always enjoyable. One feature that always frustrates me and I just don’t understand why this is implemented into games like this but Code Vein does not come with a pause button. I understand the aspect of making a game difficult but there are valid times when pausing would be welcomed. The doorbell rings, your phone goes off, emergency nature calls. These are reasons for a pause button.
While environments are beautiful particularly the white cathedral area that was built from gorgeous ivory structures, one small but noticeable flaw always remained. Whatever weapon I carried throughout my Code Vein review would go through the walls or environments. Now, I understand it can’t be perfect but the weapon would disappear completely if I walked against a wall. I wish there was some type of detection.
I know I’m complaining a lot but there are some valid criticism points. The autosave function was garbage. Code Vein does not save after very long cut scenes so if you watched one that took 15 minutes and then didn’t rest at the saves bush then your game didn’t get saved. I learned this after fighting a boss, watching the cutscene, heading back to the home base, watching another cutscene, and then shutting the game off to head to bed. Nothing was saved. It’d be great if you got a checkpoint at least after huge cutscenes or boss fights.
Let’s finish up the complaints in my Code Vein review before moving on to the good stuff. There are some lag issues when approaching some enemies. It looked bad and unimpressive, thankfully it only happened a few times throughout my Code Vein review. The last complaint I have is the AI. For the most part, it’s pretty good and even impressive at times but there was one boss fight where my partner just kept rolling around. I think they mimic your style and I was dodging constantly by rolling and the boss had just taken a ton of damage and became vulnerable but instead of finishing him off, my partner was rolling around him for 10 seconds and letting the boss back up before he killed us both.
Despite all of my complaints, I actually enjoyed my Code Vein review. The character design was so refreshing to see. Bandai Namco wasn’t afraid to make their characters sexy and busty. It sounds ridiculous to write that but after the insane amount of toning down female characters in video games, Code Vein went back to the style of the early 2000s and kept all their characters sexy.
Boss fights were exciting and every time I reached one I knew I was in for a treat. They were all very unique and I was able to beat most of them on my first or second try. There were a couple that took many times to defeat but it felt gratifying to beat them. I might as well admit it right now but Code Vein got the best of me. I could not defeat the duo of Blade Bearer and Hand Canonner. It was a combination of fire and ice from them, one quick, one slow but no matter what I couldn’t defeat them. I was highly leveled up but here’s the quicker. Code Vein has a somewhat in-depth weapon and talent skill implementation. I was quite confused when trying to figure out how to activate the skills. There were some explanations in how to create advanced skillsets but I simply was too lazy and hack and slashed my way to victory most times. In the end, it bit me in the butt as I didn’t master the skills I needed to defeat them. While it sucked, that duo is about 90 percent done with the game so I essentially didn’t reach the end boss but played throughout the entire game. The combat was adequate. Nothing special, but it was enough to keep me playing. Blocking was somewhat useless, so my main strategy to avoid damage was rolling all over the place.
What had me cracking up at the end of my Code Vein review was the Disney-type song that was at the end of the game. I watched it on YouTube and couldn’t believe how silly it was. I loved it but it was silly. Code Vein can be broken down into some very simple gameplay. You’ll want to clear out all enemies in an area earning experience. You can take that experience and level up improving health, weapons, and stats. If you die before you reach a save spot, you’ll drop all that experience but you’ll be able to pick it up after being revived if you make it back to that area. The goal besides clearing out all enemies is to find the boss and defeat them to advance the story. Areas do require some exploring and there are sections that are very well hidden. I had to look at a guide a few times to figure out where to go next as Code Vein isn’t linear.
You can collect some important items along the way, the most important being parts to memories that you can relive. When you collect all the memories you’ll earn the best ending and there are three different endings. The more memories you collect, the better the ending you’ll have.
I had seen Code Vein a few times in stores, and the cover always interested me, but I knew nothing about the game. It wasn’t until I went to one of my favorite video game store chains in downtown Milwaukee that I decided to snag it. Code Vein was I think $12, and I figured I wouldn’t see it again at that price so I bought it. It took a few months for me to play it but once I did I remember being blown away by the opening video and quite confused that it wasn’t a JRPG. Instead, I had purchased a SoulsBorne game!
While playing it I always blasted from my phone a band I had recently discovered. They’re called “Knocked Loose”, and I love them. They shred so hard with their filthy metal and screaming, and it was the perfect soundtrack to play for Code Vein as I hacked away at enemies.
Code Vein Review Score:
Code Vein is an underrated game filled with refreshing character designs, average combat, great boss fights, and a heavy story. It comes together for an enjoyable experience for any SoulsBorne fans but it’s not perfect. There are lag issues and small defects that spoil an environment that could be immersive. If you love anime-style characters and SoulsBorne action, you’ll want to play this.
Code Vein scores a 7.9 out of 10.
What would you write in your Code Vein review? What did you think of the character designs? Which boss was the hardest in the game? What other SoulsBorne games are out there? What ending did you get? Let me know your thoughts and comments on Code Vein, I’d love to read them.