Republished on Wednesday, 1st March, 2023: We're bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of March 2023's PS Plus line up. The original text follows.
For the first few hours of Code Vein, you don’t really play anything at all. No, instead you create your character. With one of the most robust character creators we’ve seen since City of Heroes was a thing, Code Vein lures your inner weeb into a chocolate factory of choice and customisation. Marry this with its anime gothic horror aesthetic and Code Vein positively exudes style. No wonder the developers strategically placed perching spots at Home Base where your character poses for the camera.
The formula for this game has been well covered prior to launch, but, forgive us for saying so, it’s a bit like Dark Souls and Bloodborne. We just needed to get that out of the way. This means you have a similar interlocking level design, resurrection and penalty system, and, to some extent, difficulty. However, Code Vein brings along some unique combat elements and increased focus on narrative and character design, and generally speaking, is a touch more accessible.
The character creator is indicative of intent. Code Vein is all about choice: how you look, how you play, what you wield. With all of these points, you’re not tied down to what you choose at the outset – your character’s body stays the same as it does at “birth”, but you can create as many outfits as you like, or even change their hair and accessories and alter between them at will. You can switch your combat role on a whim, and you’re able to transition between weapon types without the pitfalls of lacking the required experience.
This is a key differentiator to some of Code Vein’s forebears. Your character is able to switch blood codes at any time, and their stats and gifts (skills) alter accordingly. For instance, the Fighter blood code is a good strong and dexterous all-rounder, while the Caster is less hardy but benefits from a high ichor count which aids the use of gifts. Your character can become proficient with gifts the more they use them, and when they do, they can be used at any time regardless of your chosen blood code. This encourages you to switch regularly between them and experiment. There are countless blood codes, many of which are shared by your comrades and acquaintances, with more of their gifts unlocking the more you get to know them. So, this means there’s an element of Persona in here, too, where the more you get to know your friends, the more options you have in combat.
The combat therefore has a lot of potential and freedom. However, this system has its weaknesses. The game has to accommodate for your experimentation which means you don’t encounter the same level of balance and difficulty you might expect in other titles of its ilk. Aside from the occasional enemy, we didn’t find Code Vein overly difficult in general exploration, but some of the boss fights can repeatedly punish you if you enter the fray without consideration. The thing is, we found this challenge can often be caused by your preparation and choice of blood code rather than your level of skill, which means we spent a great deal of time dying, resurrecting, switching blood codes, and then trying again. In later bosses, the stat differences between each role is significant enough that using the wrong one can be enough to make you fail, no matter how good you’ve gotten at the game. We also think the feedback in combat is slightly soft; it’s just a little bit too floaty to feel like your well-timed dodge was effective.
There’s a finely poised balance to be met here between customisation and skill, but Code Vein potentially just misses the mark. Overcoming the difficulty is one of the most rewarding elements of a game such as this, but when you succeed here, it’s watered down – as though it wasn’t your skill that really made the difference. It’s worth noting, however, that many players will be happier with this setup, especially those who bounced off the difficulty of something like Nioh or Bloodborne. But don’t think this makes the game easy, there’s still a challenge here.
Other elements also make Code Vein a more welcoming experience. You almost always have a companion by your side. Each of your comrades at Home Base have their own styles, strengths, weaknesses, and extra powerful communal gifts. Simply having someone by your side makes the game more approachable, especially if you let them tank enemies while you keep your distance. Should you die, you drop all your haze – this game’s primary currency, which is used for levelling up, learning new gifts, and buying just about anything. As is now the custom, you can get it all back if you return to where you died in one piece. Only here we have another option: head to the communal hot spring and you can recover half of your haze in exchange for permanently losing the other half.
All in all, it makes for a more approachable title. It does this, however, in exchange for the sense of accomplishment you might otherwise have attained. In Code Vein, you never truly feel alone, with your teammates shouting out repeated lines like Donald Trump’s “fake news” isn’t going out of fashion any time soon. And you can teleport back to Home Base at any time from any mistle (this game’s version of bonfires or lanterns). This takes a load off. Home Base is littered with cute characters, record players, shops, and a bar. Struggling with a boss? No problem, we’ll just go and take a bath first.
This all ties nicely into its aesthetic, of course, but it does take away some of the tension that its difficult moments create. To some players, this might be a godsend; others might feel it undermines what makes this style of action so good, what makes the standard bearer in the genre so utterly compelling. But let’s look at it on its own merits: this is an interesting take on the genre and it feels like a natural progression for the traditional Japanese RPG. With its story and character, it feels like a darker version of a Tales game, but coupled with a more involved combat system that has a lot of potential. We think JRPG fans will find a lot to like here.
Code Vein is a stylish JRPG with an interesting combat system that just falls short in a few areas. Its inspirations are clearly worn on its sleeve, but it brings enough to the table to stand out on its own. This title has promise, and we think the developer could iron it out into a worthy franchise if it’s given the chance to make future instalments.
Finally here!. How hard is compare to orther games like it? @
Maybe I'm exceedingly crap at the Souls games and managed to get through them via sheer force of will but the con of Not always your skill level that leads to your demise happened to me quite a few times in those games too. Especially with the con being out of context of the review's reasoning 😅
Plus you can always not have a partner character with you and go for it on your own for a more traditional Souls like experience...
Still a good review though! Looking forward to getting it! Dragon's Dogma was one of my favourite games last gen and that got 6-8's so Code Vein's 7 seems pretty good to me
I might get this once it goes on sale.
I'm going to download the demo. If it's more chill than other Souls game, I probably will buy it.
Great game from what i play its a 9 out of 10 from i play code vein.and i love it.a 7 is a good score but its not a 7 .go and play games by yourself.dont relied on reviews to always make your decision.a 7 game could be a 9 out 10.and code vein is a 9 from me.word up son
I'm interested in the reviews (critics and users) of this game, and how much the difficulty of the game will affect those scores.
Quite a few reviews I've seemed to read have listed the lower difficulty as a negative @HungryWolf .
The main part of the demo is easy enough (The menu for stats and the likes is a bit overwhelming at first though). Having the AI partner definitely helps compared the souls games.
The depths dungeons (smaller optional(?) areas) available after you beat the demo's main part are fairly difficult though (They are tagged in the demo as being for higher levelled characters, the one recommending you be lvl 40!).
In the full game you might get those optional dungeons at that level or higher though
About how long is this game ?
@KnightWolf The main story is around 35 hours long.
... and how’s the multiplayer ? that part of the game hasn’t been much mentioned in the review , especially the coop makes this game so intriguing for me! Id Love to hear some impressions and Feedback on it too! Although it’s a day one buy for me anyways since I adore the art style and „soulslike“ gameplay so much ^^
@consolfreak1982 Yes, you can play with another player instead of the AI companion. But we had a hard time testing this for review since there's no matchmaking system and it requires a code to play with someone you know.
Would probably get it if Dragon Quest S wasn't out the same day. I have spent so much money on games this month so it might have be a sale game.
@Jake3103 thanks for the feedback! ^^ I’m curious how stable and fluid everything will work once it’s released ! I’m really looking forward to play this in coop
I liked the demo seems fun but at the same time I only have a tiny amount of time for games.
.. ahhhhh the inevitable 7... predicted this in the recent preview... it's worth more than this... try the demo for yourselves... disappointing review..
@OneManDroid because they gave it 7? Obsessing over the score number is a fools errand.
@OneManDroid and you’ve only played the demo by your own admission. Derp
@Arnna Heyyy, no need to get personal - I didn't mention I've just played the demo - anywhere... I asked people to play the demo for themselves to judge it... it's a day one purchase for me (and that day is today, and it's amazeballs and the sheer variety of skills, etc. gives it SO MUCH replayability) - I'm not obsessing about the score, everybody's mileage will vary, I'm just disappointed that the vast majority of PS's reviews seem to be 7/10 - it always feels a bit of a cop-out.. that's all - hey - I praised the 8/10 Tropico 666 review earlier... everyone's entitled to an opinion, never any need to attack others... peace out... chill your boots... etc. etc.
@OneManDroid my apologies for the snark
Played this on Gamepass a while back. I'd give it a 6/10. Its above average & serviceable. Wasn't crazy about it though.
Great game if you want a more anime-ified version of Souls games. Warning: The DLC bosses are very, very difficult!
I'd probably give it a 7.5 out of 10.
Strange that I never commented on this review...anyways I bought this game a few years ago. Started to play but got distracted and eventually deleted.
I'll give the game another try in the future when it's time.
Yeah I think the character creation was really awesome in this game. I liked how my character looked. I didn't really get into the game tho.
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