Code: Veronica X (hereinafter referred to as Code Veronica) is one of the best titles in the entire Resident Evil franchise. I’m just going to come out and say that first because this game is a masterpiece. There are a few issues but they’re almost completely drowned out by all that Code Veronica does well. If you’ve been a fan of the series since its early days then you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about and if you began playing the games at Resident Evil 4 and on then you will likely experience the issues it has the most. If you can get past these issues and press on, I know you’ll enjoy a beacon of fear in the survival horror genre.
Code Veronica begins a few months after the events of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis with Claire Redfield looking for her brother Chris Redfield at an Umbrella Corporation facility. She ends up getting captured and held captive at a facility/prision on an island … and that’s where the terror truly begins. I want to start by disclosing that you do not need to have played through all of the games before it to fully enjoy it. That will obviously increase your enjoyment but I have regrettably still not played Resident Evil 2 or Nemesis yet and still thoroughly enjoyed my time with this game. After being let out of your cell by a guard and being told there’s been a T-Virus outbreak, the game begins and with it the horror ahead. I won’t be going into much detail on the story because, despite getting somewhat convoluted over the years, this is still a great story and part of the magic comes from experiencing it first hand. The story is great though and the gameplay blended through it is why this series has endured so well over the years.
The gameplay is based on exploration, environmental puzzles, and staying alive despite possessing limited resources and being dropped in the middle of a zombie outbreak. You’ll find yourself looking for key items across the island to progress while fighting off waves of zombies – or a lone zombie in a quiet corridor when you’ve only got three bullets and are low on health. The encounters mostly feel meaningful and the weight and tension will affect you and pull you into this world. You’re also much more limited on how many items you can hold compared to later titles and more modern games. This can hep add to the tension as well because there may be times you have to make a decision and drop an item. That may even mean coming back to grab that Green Herb later because you needed to take that typewriter ribbon or a key item. Being unable to save without typewriter ribbons REALLY adds to the tension and can be very unnerving. You’ll find yourself tip toeing through areas because sometimes a death could mean having to re-do earlier sections. The tension is very real here and the creepiness of this title permeates through every facet of this experience.
If this sounds terrible then go ahead and slowly and dramatically see yourself to the door, but if this sounds great then grab your gun and limited ammo and let’s go! I won’t lie. Code Veronica is creepy and not for more casual survival horror fans. That isn’t mean to sound insulting but rather just convey the dedication this title requires. Realistically if this sounds like too much but you still want to experience then I’d just recommend living vicariously through a Youtuber and still experiencing what this game has to offer. One of the best or worst parts of the design of Code Veronica (depending on who you ask) is that there will be many times where it might not be 100% clear for what you’re supposed to do or where you’re supposed to go. You’re tasked with surviving in this game and that includes finding exits, escapes, and progressing through this island. You may not be told exactly what to do but you’re given just enough information to able to come to a conclusion on your own without the help of a guide. This may require some exploring, backtracking, and frustrating deaths along the way mind you, but you will be able to succeed if you keep at it. I won’t lie – I’m a busy adult and have less patience than some of you so there were a few times I consulted a guide to find a specific item or just figure out where to go. There were times I knew I could spend twenty minutes or so figuring it out but hey, my time is valuable and I want to get to the next spooky encounter and progress in the interesting and unfolding story.
Fans who have been with this series since its beginning will feel right at home with solving these puzzles and finding their way but newer fans may be more comfortable with later games making things more clear to the player. I’m here to say that there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to endure unnecessary frustration. In fact I would argue the only crime would be to skip this experience entirely. If fumbling around a bit and feeling lost doesn’t sound fun to you then I’d recommend jumping onto GameFAQs and finding a nice Spoiler-Free guide for your journey. Something that may bother newer players that a guide is absolutely not going to fix are the controls though. Tank controls can be a pain but after a few hours I got acclimated with them and was able to control the game seamlessly. In fact when I finished and went back to playing Dead Space 2 things felt a little weird! I would like to suggest that you use a D-Pad if you’re playing an HD re-release on a modern console as the controls work so much better. The joystick may seem like your friend but it will only make things more difficult when attempting to control your character.
Graphically this game looks really nice still in my opinion. There are some rough spots especially with some textures and graphical effects but overall this has held up really well. It was originally a Dreamcast game before being put on PS2, Gamecube, and well, everything else and I think the graphics have aged really well. I don’t think you’ll be stopping to admire the polygons but the game looks good enough and almost possess the same charm as a pixelated 16-Bit game from your childhood … or my childhood because I’m getting old. Backgrounds are detailed and not pre-rendered this time around which didn’t hurt anything on older games, it does look nicer with the action happening on screen and not as jarring.
The sounds of Code Veronica are about the same as the sights in that they’re not going to blow you away but for an earlier 3D game it’s aged well and all the effects get the job gone. Gunshots sound as satisfying as they feel and the sounds zombies make will scare you in spite of how old they may sound. The atmosphere is creepy and eerie and it greatly benefits from the sound design here. I’d love to see a full on remake of this game someday, like an actual REmake, because the vision of the developer is only constrained by the hardware.
Like any gem there are a few rough spots where, if you’re not careful, you can cut yourself on an edge. Code Veronica should still be experienced though if you love the series or survival horror. You’ll need to get used to the controls and also make sure you’ve got a few hours to spare so you can not only enjoy the experience more but also so you’re not running through ink ribbons quickly from short playing sessions. Remember – those are a limited and consumable item! All things considered though, this is a great game and a must play. Tank controls and the difficulty curve may frustrate you a bit but with some patience and a spoiler-free guide, you’ll have a great time with this game. Code Veronica is available on a lot of platforms from the Dreamcast to Xbox 360. I would recommend picking it up on PS3 or 360 as it’s been optimized for HD. You’re getting the best this game has to offer and at a very affordable price. Code Veronica is a great game and absolutely worth your time – if you don’t mind wearing the edge of a couch out from the suspense, tension, and scares this experience will constantly provide!
I had a great time with Code Veronica and will likely be replaying it soon but I do first plan on playing through Resident Evil 2 and 3 as this game has gotten me in the mood for some more traditional horror that only early Resident Evil can offer! To see what I think of these games and many others, make sure to follow me on Twitter @Mrjoshnichols. I also post about my other content on Bagogames! To see more Retro Reviews and lots of other great content, make sure to keep it right here on Bagogames!
Resident Evil - Code: Veronica
- The peak of early survival horror
- Eerie and creepy atmosphere
- Graphics still look pretty good
- Tightly designed gameplay
- Engaging story with twists and turns
- Controls have not aged well
- Some players may need a guide as the next step isn't always clear