*Code of Princess EX recently released on steam, and I had written a review for the Switch version that I never used. So here it is!*
When it comes to the “Hack and Slash” genre, there is a very thin line between having replay value and becoming too repetitive. That may be unfair, but it’s a legitimate concern that tends to leave players on one side or the other. Code of Princess EX walked this tight rope carefully, and thankfully found its safety net on the positive side of things for the most part.
I was surprisingly charmed by what Code of Princess EX had to offer. As someone who didn’t play the original 3DS version, I wasn’t really sure what I was in for. Right from the beginning, a deep story starts to shape itself, with engaging characters and a lighthearted style. Gameplay didn’t take much time to sink in either, with simple combos flowing at a satisfying 60fps. As a side-scrolling hack and slash game, there are a couple of gameplay hooks to keep it interesting. First, there are three separate lanes to jump between, which can help you avoid enemy hits and form battle strategies. Next are the targeting and burst systems. Individually targeting an enemy allows you to deal double damage, while the burst system allows you to do more powerful moves at the cost of your MP bar. Both of these systems stack, and while bursts are limited, you’ll learn when and how to use them at the right time quickly.
+ Code of Princess EX is legitimately amusing and funny. The character interactions were enough to push through some of the longer levels just to see the next scene.
+ While the combat can be simple, it is surprisingly satisfying and smooth. Combos link together effortlessly, and the animations keep it engaging. Even in moments where I resorted to button mashing, it was still enjoyable.
+ Outfitting your character before each level becomes it’s own form of strategy the longer you play. There are a ton of different options for gear, and finding the right balance for your play style is rewarding. Want more HP and attack power? Or do you want to be a bit more defensive? How about a balanced approach? All are viable. Weapons also provide a boost for burst mode, from refilling health to making your attacks unblockable. You have to choose wisely as levels progress.
+ Bonus quests are a nice addition, and I played a majority of them long after I had finished the main game.
– Difficulty spikes. These can be absolutely brutal and come from out of nowhere. You can go a few levels without ever blocking, then be sent into a boss fight that feels like the end game. It brings progression to a grinding halt a couple times throughout the story.
– Co-op feels much more difficult than the solo game. Having played through the middle half in local co-op, some levels seemed almost unfair. Repetition did kick in here, as it made some levels much longer than they needed to be.
– While it looks good in handheld mode, the same can’t be said for a TV. It really shows its origins as a 3DS title in this regard.
Code of Princess EX isn’t the deepest game, but whatever it lacks from a gameplay perspective is made up for by the charming style, and a good sense of humor. Combat remains satisfying throughout, although it wouldn’t have hurt to have a few more combos to spice things up. Most of the game is a blast to play regardless, only slowed down by difficulty spikes that lead to frustration. Even with these shortcomings, they’re not enough to hamper what is otherwise a pleasant experience from beginning to end. It doesn’t break the mold, but it stands out enough on its own to be recommended.
Score – 6.5/10
*Reviewer spent 6-8 hours playing through the story mode and a large portion of the bonus quests.