Code Vein

Code Vein

We've had a lot of fun with Project Vein's bloodcurdling souls-like action RPG experience Code Vein.

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Back in 2011, From Software's Dark Souls was released, and the game quickly earned a reputation for being brutally hard. It also proved very popular. Since then many other studios have wanted to do their own Souls-like game, usually by adding some twist of their own. Bandai Namco's Code Vein keeps the basic formula intact but adds a new theme and a layer of anime art style on top. And this time you also get a real tutorial and a bunch of other useful tips and hints to get you started.

The story of Code Vein is something you don't necessarily want to spend that much time on. The end of the world has come, and everything has gone bad. The player is a revenant risen from the dead, and there are many others. You don't really need to know more than that, and it's enough to push you forward to explore this post-apocalyptic anime world either alone or with a friend.

Code Vein starts with an extensive character creation screen. There are plenty of options, and in the end, you will have your own pretty anime boy or girl. It is advisable to spend a good amount of time creating your own character because that's what you are looking at for quite some time during Code Vein. If you have regrets, you can partly make changes to your character at your main base.

The basic structure of the world has been taken from Dark Souls III. In other words, after the tutorial section, you will arrive at your main base, and from there you will teleport to other parts of the world. The game world expands as you explore and open new teleport spots known as mistles in Code Vein instead of Dark Souls classic bonfires. There is plenty of room for exploration, but don't expect a huge twisting interconnected world as the first Dark Souls had. There is even a separate bulletin board in your main base to show you where you are expected to go next in order to progress the story. Everyone who spent hours wondering around Dark Souls feeling lost will appreciate this bulletin board in Code Vein.

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Code Vein

The core gameplay is, as we stated earlier, taken straight from Dark Souls. This is a good thing because veterans of the genre will feel right at home when jumping into Code Vein. Basically, the only new thing to learn is the terminology. Enemies in Code vein drop haze instead of souls, for example. And unlike Dark Souls, Code Vein actually tells you what to do and how to play. The tutorial tells you the basic mechanics, and you can play it as many times as you want after completing it once. There is also a very useful "read hint" section, which tells you basically everything there is to know about the game. In other words, there is no need to rely on google for help, because the "read hint" section probably already has the answer you are looking for.

Character progression is clear, once you get the hang of it. Character classes are called Blood Codes, and you get more of them as the game progresses. These Blood Codes boost your some of your abilities while weakening others. In other words, they provide a framework in which you develop your character. This means that it's important to choose a Blood Code that enhances your character for your personal playstyle. You can easily change between different Blood Codes, so experimentation is recommended.

With gathered haze currency you can level up your character, but you can't choose which stats are boosted: the game does that for you. This means that it is important to pay attention to upgrading your weapons and equipment. They change significantly with the way you play, so choosing and upgrading your weapons and gear is a very important part of Code Vein.

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One way to make progress in a Souls-like game is to just grind your experience level high enough to finally beat that difficult boss. You can do that in Code Vein as well but there is a more fun way to do so that we have to mention. There are a bunch of short dungeons to complete, and these challenges are called Depths. In here you can practice the basic mechanics, try different weapons and abilities and gather resources to develop your character even further at the same time. Depths don't seem to have a crucial part in Code Vein's story, but in terms of gameplay, it does make grinding a lot more enjoyable experience.

Code Vein

Code Vein is mostly a single-player game, but you can always choose to have an AI companion with you. Aside from giving hints and story bits while playing, the AI partner is also a valuable asset in combat. This, of course, brings down the difficulty of Code Vein quite a bit, but you can choose to play alone as well. If the difficulty gets too tough, you can get one human player to help you and your AI buddy. Logic is again the same as it is in Dark Souls, but instead of writing runes on the ground, you just choose to send a distress signal from a menu. Playing co-op with a real person is fun, but it also takes away all the challenge of Code Vein and you can't drop your own items and equipment for your friend. The guest player can't open chests or doors, start a boss fight or pick up things in the game world. The guest does, however, get to keep all the gathered haze points and items dropped by fallen enemies.

The digital download of Code Vein takes about 30 GB, which is not that much by today's standards. The graphics are colourful and detailed enough to keep you interested. It also separates Code Vein from other Souls-like games. Just make sure that you are not irritated by anime style and everything that comes with it (like huge boobs and pretty boys). The music is a mix of loud orchestral themes and more modern dance music, and it works just fine. Same goes for voice acting and dialogue, which is done either in Japanese or in English. It's just a matter of personal taste, which language you want to listen to while playing.

Does Code Vein suffer from some issues? Yes, sure, but luckily not that many. Loading times while teleporting are just a little too long, at least while playing on a regular PS4. The frame rate takes a noticeable hit during hectic battles, but luckily it doesn't happen that often. The camera has a few options, but still, it occasionally gets in the way and makes a fight more difficult than it should be. And for some reason in most of the dialogue sections the characters' mouths stay completely still and unmoving. We didn't notice any bugs or glitches, but a co-op buddy noticed a handful of them, and during one co-op session, his game even crashed. Technical problems don't ruin the experience, but they are noticeable in a game like this.

If you have never played a Souls-like game, Code Vein might be a good place to start. The story is not that interesting or important, but it is now easier than ever to learn the basic mechanics by using the tutorial and read hint section. To us, the most important thing in a Souls-like game is that the game offers multiple ways to make progress in difficult sections. It can be calling another human player for help, grinding your character's experience level, upgrading your weapons and equipment, learning the attack patterns of your enemies or maybe even running past them entirely. Code Vein manages to give the player all of these different options, and for that reason, we recommend it.

Code Vein
Code Vein
09 Gamereactor UK
9 / 10
Colourful anime visuals, lots of depth to ease the grind, useful read hint section, multiple ways to progress.
A handful of technical problems, story isn't that important, playing with a friend removes much of the challenge.
overall score
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REVIEW. Written by Markus Hirsilä

"We've had a lot of fun with Project Vein's bloodcurdling souls-like action RPG experience Code Vein."

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