CODE VEIN - Cannoneer & Blade Bearer Boss Trailer | X1, PS4, PC
Who it Caters to
When the first Dark Souls came out back in 2011 it came packaged with monstrous difficulty, intricate level design, enormous depth in its combat, along with lore that’s still revered to this day. Since then we’ve seen a plethora of Souls-like titles hit the market and while many have seen notable success (Nioh, Salt and Sanctuary), others just didn’t quite hit the mark. It’s very hard to replicate something that was designed with the utmost care and attention but we can’t help but tip our hats to those who ventured out into the unknown and tried their hands at creating something unique of their own. That brings us to CODE VEIN, the latest Souls-like title that comes straight from BANDAI NAMCO Studios, the same team who brought us massively popular titles like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the God Eater series, as well as Tekken 7. So one is quick to make the assumption that, if these games were great will CODE VEIN follow the same path? Continue to read our review to find out!
What to Expect
CODE VEIN is an action role-playing game that takes place in a post-apocalyptic dystopian world where vampires roam freely in the streets in search for their next victim. Players come to know the truth about the Thorns of Judgement, that continue to wreak havoc on the world and those who situate in “Vein”, fight for and against one another to survive at all costs. Without the constant consumption of blood these individuals put themselves in danger to be the next victim and so they must use their supernatural abilities to ensure they remain alive just a bit longer. Much like the Dark Souls titles, CODE VEIN is played in a third-person perspective as players run around the world ridding of any threats that stand in their way. Players are granted numerous special abilities that you’re able to unlock through collecting special materials as well as defeating strong enemies, which help to provide an advantage in battle. More on the gameplay aspects later on.
From a visual standpoint CODE VEIN does a great job of creating a world that really feels as if its been bereft of its peace, and all that’s left are the remnants of darkness that now consume the inhabitants of Vein. As you play through the game you’ll notice a lot of similarities with regards to Dark Souls, most notably the save points which take a liking to the Bonfire which allow players to save, upgrade, and acquire gifts. Character designs are perhaps the most intriguing aspect about CODE VEIN because unlike other Souls-like titles, the game focuses more on creating an anime-style aesthetic that deems fitting for the overall premise of the title. You’re able to customize your main character with different options such as Vestige and Gift Types, which helps to create a unique experience for players jumping into the game. While the options aren’t vast in variety, the ability to customize your character to begin with is a big plus and a step in the right direction.
The sound and music in CODE VEIN however is perhaps its most venerated feature because BANDAI NAMCO Studios was able to grab VAMPS, a very popular J-Rock band led by HYDE from L’arc en Ciel, who delivers hard hitting tones to help compliment the action within the game. As a huge fan of the band it was only right to say something about them because for one, the music selection was spot on. The game uses full music tracks from VAMPS’ latest album UNDERWORLD, featuring songs like “IN THIS HELL” and of course “UNDERWORLD” that really bring this new energy to the game and the lyrics themselves are very fitting. Add in the wonderful voice acting in both English and Japanese and you have a title that delivers on all fronts in the auditory category.
However not all is pretty in the world in CODE VEIN as suggested by its cruel and dark undertones, and sadly the gameplay suffers from some cruel dilemmas. As we’re writing this BANDAI NAMCO Studios did promise that there would be a patch update available prior to the official release which will fix some bug issues, however that really isn’t where the problem lies. Back when the CODE VEIN demo was revealed to the public everyone including ourselves were pretty stoked to jump straight into the game and get a taste of what was offered. One noticeable problem however stemmed from the very stiff and clunky gameplay that oftentimes got in the way of the enjoyment. As you run around the map in search for enemies to defeat, the way in which your character runs just felt mechanical and lacking of realism, while engaging in large battles resulted in severe framerate issues. It’s unfortunate to say that this very same problem that plagued the demo can be found in the final version and it felt quite disheartening.
As fans of the Souls genre and strong supporters of the anime culture, CODE VEIN seemed like the perfect fusion that would help to create a title that catered to the hardcore otaku audience. While it certainly pleased us in other areas the gameplay continued to fall short of our expectations the deeper we dived into the game. On the plus side though, we did like the idea of allowing players to create a versatile weapon loadout which gave you crazy possibilities via acquiring gifts, such as taking Hunter abilities and combining it with a Berserker style. Or in other cases using a long ranged weapon like the Bayonetta and combining it with a close ranged ability to balance out your approach. The formula overall is great but when put into practice it just seems to fall short and creates a very annoying experience.
Boss battles are perhaps the most notable in terms of frustration and most of it is due to the very clunky movement of characters when fighting. Things just don’t feel very fluid and for that reason the overall attack patterns just aren’t consistent which leads to you dying more times than you’d like to. Now of course this is a Souls-like game and dying is part of the recipe but the main difference between these titles is in the overall fluidity and CODE VEIN seems to be lacking in that department. We did encounter some weird bugs such as Louis getting stuck in the ground and not being able to move during our mission to enemies being stuck in the air after being hit by a strong attack, but as we said earlier those things are likely to be fixed by the time this review hits the site.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
CODE VEIN has its perks but most of it is marred by its flaws which ultimately hinder the gameplay performance, and create more frustrating moments than satisfying ones. The music and sound overall were a perfect match for the setting, while the visuals did a splendid job of capturing the essence of what a dystopian world looks and feels like. Gameplay options such as being able to customize your character were a nice addition, along with having versatility in your weapon loadouts. However you just aren’t really able to enjoy much of that gameplay experience because enemies just don’t seem that smart at times, often just standing there waiting for you to do something, or the overwhelming amount of enemies around you create so much slow down that you die a slow and painful framerate death. The game also suffers from some pretty slow loading times and that in itself is a problem at times. In the end, CODE VEIN is a good title but not a great one but we’re sure that anime fans will take a liking to the game and find enjoyment in some way or another. Once you do clear the game and get your mind past all of the annoying moments you can safely tuck the game away somewhere and not have to worry about it again.
Level design was well designed to capture the feel of what it’s like to traverse around a post-apocalyptic dystopian world.
VAMPS really helps to bring the game to life with their explosive tracks and HYDE being at the forefront of it all is a huge plus.
The weapon loadout options and customization of your character really helped to create a unique experience.
Looks more like God Eater but certainly is Dark Souls inspired.
The gameplay is marred with issues like instability, framerate issues, and clunky character movement.
While CODE VEIN does a solid job of explaining the story we really don’t get a chance to truly understand just why it all happened the way it did.
Loading times weren’t all too great either.
AI support at times simply didn’t do anything or when they did, it just didn’t feel organic at all. Robotic and stiff.
We would’ve loved if the characters we interacted with had some more depth to them as well.
Honey's Final Verdict:
CODE VEIN in the end, at least to us, sadly didn’t live up to the hype that it initially provided back in the earlier portion of 2019. We were given a great presentation but sadly it just didn’t mesh well and created an imbalance in gameplay. Hopefully this will be a lesson that the BANDAI NAMCO Studios team can perhaps learn from, and create something better down the road. The anime-style Souls aesthetic is definitely something we’d love to see more of but definitely consider making sure that the gameplay compliments everything else within the game to make it shine.
Until next time!
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!