So when your build is set perfectly to your playstyle, and you’ve got the right armor/jacket and weapon, does Code Vein deliver as a solid title? Well, yes and no. Code Vein maintains a sense of speed more attuned to Bloodborne than Dark Souls, and that speed is portrayed through fast combos, blistering dodges, and a relentless assault from enemies. But where the Soulsborne titles are overwhelmingly praised for their tough but fair difficulty, Code Vein suffers from some inconsistencies.
Since your revenant is accompanied throughout every facet of the campaign each area is designed around the concept of two fighters instead of just one, with areas crammed full of enemies that quickly surround you and your partner. This sounds intimidating until you catch a whiff of just how powerful your partner really is. NPC partners benefit from having a seemingly infinite source of ichor and regeneration (think Estus ala Dark Souls), and can save you from death so long as their revive spell is available and they have enough health to cast said spell. While enemies hit hard and often, having your partner blaze into battle throwing out ichor-heavy combos and regenerating both their own health and yours will have them traversing through each area like a Dynasty Warriors hero would on easy difficulty with yourself following along for the ride. My partner never fell in combat until about 80% through the campaign, a good 30 hours into the journey.
The catch-22 is that trying to remedy the issue by running without your partner makes the game stupidly difficult. The amount of enemies does not lower with the omission of the extra character, so you’ll be constantly bombarded and torn apart as the odds are heavily stacked against you. Luckily the various bosses are pitched perfectly as most move super fast, and hit ridiculously hard, but are perfectly tuned for a two-on-one endeavor. Props to Gilded Knight and Skull King, as those bosses were an absolute thrill to fight.
A hidden enemy that is a constant threat to your revenant is Code Vein’s camera. Locking onto an enemy is commonly the best tactic when moving as freely as you will in game, but since most enemies that roam the world are much taller and bigger than you and your companion, you will commonly get lost in translation when rushing an enemy and getting close for your attacks. This is doubly an issue when enemies go airborne, and when timing is the difference between a successful dodge or losing 40% of your health, having a stubborn camera gives an aura of punishment for playing close-quarters, which is where Code Vein normally defaults your combat. Certain boss battles practically exploit this camera issue with vertical styles of combat to the point where having your camera locked on is a death sentence, and the free camera doesn’t feel snappy enough to hold its own with how frenetic the pace can get to be. The final boss of the game is especially aggravating in this regard, making it much, much harder than it has any need to be.
But is all this tolerable? Absolutely, because the game is still stupidly fun. The amount of bullshit you can pull with the melting pot of buffs/debuffs, string combos, and dodging is hilariously entertaining, and the content is packed to the brim. Building relationships with your companions by gifting various pre-apocalyptic items, collecting vestiges to unlock skills and lore, diving into The Depths for Code Vein’s take on endgame dungeon crawling, and the fan-favorite New Game+ difficulty spike are some of the extra garnishes that make Code Vein such a palatable dish.
While there are plenty of titles in this genre to choose from, and that number seems to be ever-growing by the year, Code Vein does an excellent job in carving its delicious piece of the pie with an absolutely bonkers amalgamation of Devil May Cry and Dark Souls that dashes past its shortcomings with an explosive exhibition of blistering speed and friction that is hard to put down once the blood starts flowing.
Reviewed on Steam.