Code Vein, the review

Who I am
Valery Aloyants
Author and references

Vampires. Fighting on the edge of splatter. Cultural and artistic references to the Baroque and Gothic style everywhere. Let's also add a pinch of soulslike mechanics, which go well with everything. This and much more, contains ours Code Vein review. This and much more has to offer what is in effect Bandai Namco's most ambitious project of 2019. The title has had a troubled management, it's true. In the first versions shown it lacked charisma, the game mechanics didn't have that much to say, and everything seemed technically very little refined. Things have changed for the most part. Code Vein has reincarnated, as the Revenants in their eternal, insatiable struggle against the Taken. We spent hours and hours of gameplay with them. You want to read the final verdict, don't you?

Gameplay: action, soulslike, RPG

Let's not start by talking to you from the narrative this time, but from the gameplay by Code Vein. This is because all the value of the work, the spark that could push you to purchase, lies precisely in the functionality of its game mechanics; vice versa, it is also important to know the limits, to avoid being disappointed by an excess of expectations. Which genre does Code Vein belong to, exactly? It is a third person action RPG, lived for most of the entire main storyline in a minimum party consisting of two members (one controlled by the CPU, or by your online friend).

This clarification is important, because at first glance the game it looks soulslike, something very, very similar to Dark Souls and Bloodborne. Even the first two game maps consolidate this basic idea, as well as the location of the enemies and their incredible strength, which lead to a very cautious and thoughtful approach. But, and the soulslike players have already noticed this for some time in the opinion of the writer, Code Vein is not a soulslike. It has borrowed some insights from the genre, it proceeds in a similar way, at times it is punitive in the same way: but it can also be approached as a simple challenging action. And by empowering its protagonist, above all, it becomes very accessible, if not downright simple.

The most original idea of ​​the production lies in the blood codes. These are pre-packaged and freely interchangeable builds, with which you can customize your protagonist at any time. You start the game with the codes of the Occultist, the Fighter and the Ranger, all amply shown in the tutorial, then you unlock others; many others, almost one for each character present in the narrative. Codes can be obtained either courtesy of the developers, who give away some at some point in the main storyline, or by finding them within the levels, very often in plain sight.

Each of them has different parameters, modify the character stats in a certain way, it allows you to use certain weapons or not, unlocks and denies support for certain special abilities. With the Occultist you can, for example, become a vampire-mage capable of firing energy bullets at long distances; this will be impossible by equipping the code of the Fighter or the Berserker, specialized instead in slashing and close massacres.

Code Vein codes can be released and exchanged at any time. The difference with the main Souls is evident, where individual points are assigned for each statistic as you level up; to modify the statistics and the abilities of the character there it is therefore necessary to start a new game, create a new protagonist. In Code Vein you just need to change the code to change it style of play: a nice advantage. The loss of depth is only apparent, because each code has Gifts, specific abilities that can in turn be upgraded and leveled up, but only if used properly in battle.

To unlock everything and try every combination, therefore, the player is encouraged to experiment. And very often experimentation allows us to overcome some difficult moments to continue. This experimentation in a single aspect of the gameplay finds correspondences in all the other aspects: clothes / armor (the veils of blood), weapons of all kinds (giant hammers, two-handed swords, one-handed swords, bayonets), consumables, collectibles . In fact, it makes Code Vein a deep, long-lived RPG full of secrets. These are all positive aspects of the production.

The game world, the mistletoe

Code Vein is set in a single, vast one post-apocalyptic game world. Few areas are separated from this context, all the others are connected to each other through a central map, the old ruined city. As you progress through the main narrative, you find a way to unlock initially inaccessible areas of the ruined city, which can lead to the strangest and most disturbing environments: sewers overrun by poisonous beings, snowy peaks, a beautiful white city where perhaps once resided the Queen. To move from one area to another it is possible to continue on foot mowing the monsters (not recommended) or rather use the mistletoe, that is the bonfires of Dark Souls of Code Vein, or the lanterns of Bloodborne if you prefer. Each mistletoe allows teleportation to an area already unlocked, or with the main game hub, the base of the heroes on duty (protagonist, Luis, Coco and so on).

Il mistletoe it also represents an essential element of the gameplay. By collecting enough haze from monsters in levels you can level up, upgrade your character, inherit new Gifts for their respective blood code (and then equip them for use in combat). Bringing the haze back to the base, the latter is used together with the queen's iron (a material hidden almost everywhere) to upgrade weapons and armor, making them more lethal and resistant. When the player dies, all the collected mist ends up on the ground: in the next run it is necessary to collect it, but if you are eliminated again it is lost forever. Since with each death one is regenerated at the last visited mistletoe, it is important to explore the surrounding area as much as possible; there are not many, however, so it is always advisable to proceed with extreme caution.

PlayStation 4 Trophies

Code Vein has a sparkling Platinum Trophy on PlayStation 4: to get it you will have to dedicate yourself to the collection of various collectibles (memories of the protagonists and objects to upgrade weapons and armor). Again, you'll need to level up your gear, inherit most of the Boons in the game, as well as see all of the different endings.

The enemies, the progression

Code Vein resembles a soulslike in level setting and progression, we said. But it is really much more accessible than any other title of the genre: just equip a new weapon found in the specific new game area, increase the level of the character and let your partner do his work, to continue. THE enemies, monsters and bosses, have very predictable behavior, and are sometimes so stupid that they end up in the cliffs alone. There game difficulty however it is not dosed in an optimal way, not only because by strengthening everything becomes much more accessible, but above all because in certain situations it suddenly rises upwards.

This makes it the same progression fluctuating, now shipped now extremely slow. There are areas where just two enemies dominate open spaces, and others where in a small hole the developers have amassed up to six large enemies, among other lethal ones. Considering also that most of the corridors and paths of the levels are very narrow, it is not possible to say that the level design of Code Vein is too clever, nor that the positioning of the enemies is. And there is also another observation to be made: the bunting it is generous enough, and escape is always a tempting option, especially for newcomers. Although running and avoiding all the monsters to the boss still doesn't seem like the most sensible way to play.

The plot, the strengths and weaknesses

Inaccuracies e defects in Code Vein they are frequent, both in the gameplay and in the technical sector. A few too many interpenetrations, some inexplicable frame rate drops in areas with no enemies in action, character's hair blending into clothing; movement of the hero sometimes slightly woody, actions and skills from the not excellent variety, a not brilliant CPU both in the companions (superpowered) and in the enemies (sometimes dull). But this must not give the false impression that Code Vein is not a valid game, on the contrary: the production is maintained on a more than discrete level, indeed excellent. He could have aspired to higher grades and memorable results, but we must not forget how good there is.

And there are many good things. Starting with a truly significant amount of content, which allows you to customize almost everything and everyone, first of all the protagonist's actual play style. There plot, among other things, it remains at discrete levels all the time, despite an incipit of the narrative that is anything but memorable. Just turn a blind eye to the insistent search for fanservice in female forms. Among other things, the story of the Revenants, in their struggle for survival and for the maintenance of their humanity (physical, but above all moral and mental) provides extremely current food for thought. Once you have physically become monsters, is it still possible to remain human at least in social relationships, to help those who do not trust us? Code Vein constantly raises serious ethical questions, even if sometimes the answers become trivial. Not always, fortunately.


Tested version PlayStation 4 Digital Delivery Steam, PlayStation Store, Xbox Store Price 69,99 €


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At the end of the review we consider Code Vein an ambitious production, as well as very difficult to evaluate. The game excels in many aspects, it sins too much in others, it keeps poised on an identity that is not always clearly defined or definitive. This being always suspended between two extremes ends up limiting a title that could have aspired to even more significant results. As a result, we have the narrative, lasting, pleasant, at times obvious but not devoid of twists; a gameplay that manages to be original in the management of the statistics and abilities of the main character; a full-bodied RPG, full of secrets and collectibles, weapons and gifts to obtain, memories to unlock and relive (thanks to Io, the white-haired girl). The impression remains that to a valid action-RPG we have tried to add (by force) a soulslike component that has never really been fully exploited, also penalized by a combat system that needed more refinements. Perhaps to ensure that, on balance, Code Vein remains a title accessible to the majority of the public. It is. And all in all, maybe that's okay.


  • Very inspired atmosphere, context, art direction
  • The blood codes are an original contribution
  • It satisfies both action RPG and soulslike lovers
  • Difficulty level managed in a fluctuating way
  • The combat system needed finishing, as well as collisions
  • Functional levels, but too basic (almost always simple corridors)

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