Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a city of steam-powered machines, to live in a world that relies on science and magic in equal measure and which houses ‘monsters’ alongside vampires, immortals and humans? Well look no further, my quirky friend, for I have found what you have been searching for! Allow me to introduce you to Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~!
Code: Realize is a visual novel developed by Idea Factory and published by Aksys Games. Aksys Games localised and released the PS Vita game for Western and EU audiences this October, with the NA having access to a digital and retail version since the 20th, 2015, and the EU having a digital only version available since the 21st, 2015. Code: Realize was initially released in Japan on November 27th, 2014. The game received a popular response, so much so that a fandisc was announced at Otomate’s Party 2015. The fandisc is expected to be released sometime next year. An anime adaption was also revealed to be in the works. Indeed, Code: Realize is a unique gem that I am very happy to review! If you’re sitting on the fence about whether or not you should buy this game, then I invite you to read this article which, as usual, will be free of any major spoilers. Enjoy!
Code: Realize follows the story of a young woman named Cardia and her plight at being labelled a ‘monster’. Deadly poison courses through her veins, meaning the slightest touch to her skin causes her ignorant victim’s flesh to immediately burn. The lonely Cardia was left abandoned in a mansion in the woods, her memories prior to the last two years completely lost to her. A note was left by her father, telling her that she must stay in the mansion and await his return. Above all else, Cardia must isolate herself and never know love. She is unable to keep this promise however, as one day the mansion is attacked by soldiers who have been ordered to capture her. Enter Arsene Lupin, the gentlemanly thief who has come to steal her away from all this chaos and introduce her to a life of risks, friendship, adventure, and even the tabooed topic of love!
Code: Realize is an otome game, meaning it is a game that features a female heroine whose gaol is to fall in love with one of the available bachelors. These games are aimed at women, however you would be wrong to think that men can’t enjoy this genre too. This is especially relevant in Code: Realize’s case, as it prioritises plot with depth over unneeded fan service. Mystery and action are two of Code: Realize’s primary themes. I assure you, being chased by Jack the Ripper and coming face-to-face with the barrel of Van Helsing’s gun is more than enough to get your heart beating rapidly! Of course, Code: Realize does contain romance for those who are seeking it, and I am happy to say that these scenes are done tastefully with some truly blush-worthy lines! That said, if you are looking for scenes that go beyond the PG-13 rating then I suggest you look elsewhere. This game features romance, not smut!
Code: Realize has everything from airship races to fights against secret organisations! The scope of topics this game takes on is truly admirable, and indeed it comments on some very serious topics, two of which include war and religion. I’ll admit, Code: Realize has caused me to tear up on a few occasions, although I hardly think this is a bad thing. A visual novel that is able to truly make you feel something is a positive reflection on how deep the storyline actually is. It’s not all doom and gloom of course. The banter between characters can be highly entertaining, with the engineer Impey being a reliable source of smiles and chuckles.
Cardia (name changeable at beginning of game) is as beautiful as a porcelain doll, with an aloof and slightly timid personality to match. A strange jewel is embedded in her chest, which makes her skin toxic to touch. Cardia has no urge to leave the mansion she lives in, resigning herself to loneliness and isolation. She believes herself to be dangerous, and so she stays away from the local village as to not hurt anyone. Things take a dramatic turn however, once she is introduced to Lupin and his companions. Suddenly Cardia is granted hope; hope that she may one day touch another human being and find the father who abandoned her. Surely he will be able to explain the strange gem in her chest? Perhaps he can also explain why she was left alone and her unexplainable amnesia?
I’m very fond of Cardia. Unlike some otome heroines, Cardia is able to make rational decisions. She won’t run into danger blindly, and after some useful training from the bachelors, she is also capable of defending herself against petty attackers. Although she is naïve, she is also very intelligent and kind. She explains how she is feeling, and is not scared to be blunt with people who may get the wrong idea. She is definitely an admirable heroine.
Arsene Lupin is the ‘gentlemanly thief’ from Paris. He is Code: Realize’s version of Sailor Moon’s Tuxedo Mask, brandishing a cape, top hat, smart waistcoat and black cane. He is a thief with morals, only ever stealing from those who are corrupt. He gives his bounties to the poor, and pulls off his heists with magician-like trickery. When Lupin comes up with a plan, there is ‘zero chance’ of it failing. He also has a rivalry with the famous
Sherlock Holmes Herlock Shlomes! I know I said I wouldn’t reveal any spoilers, but come on, that anagram was shockingly obvious…
Indeed every bachelor is based on a character from historical fiction. You can only play Lupin’s route after completing all other bachelor routes first. Lupin’s story ties all previous routes together to form the most climatic ending. All of Code: Realize’s mysteries are put to rest and we also get to learn about Lupin’s backstory. How did Lupin know where Cardia was? Why did he rescue her? You’ll have to play the game to find out!
Impey Barbicane is a genius engineer and a big dreamer. His favourite activity is tinkering, and one of his favourite machines is his steam-powered automobile. He is constantly after Cardia’s attention, and although he can come out with some pretty ridiculous lines, he is always serious when it comes to keeping his friends safe. He’s a very sweet character, and at the beginning of the game it is revealed that he rescued an injured dog which he named Sisi.
Impey’s route is full of affection for Cardia. There are some truly adorable interactions between the two, although Cardia makes sure Impey doesn’t get away with too much! Impey is incredibly strong, but he doesn’t like conflict. The source of this incredible strength, and the reasoning behind Impey’s mechanical genius, is revealed in a unique story of loyalty and understanding.
Victor Frankenstein is an alchemist on the run from the government. He has been marked as a terrorist, and wanted posters featuring his picture litter the streets of London. Victor insists that he is innocent however, and indeed he comes across as a very kind, gentle man. He is polite and caring, often taking on the role of doctor thanks to his expansive medical and chemical knowledge.
Victor offers his help to Cardia immediately after finding out about the jewel in her chest. His route is one of the most informative in terms of Cradia’s poisonous condition, which doesn’t come as a huge surprise when you consider the fictional character he is named after. Although Victor comes across as a little timid, his route is arguably the most daring and shocking of the bachelors. You would be wrong to underestimate this mousey character that secretly roars like a lion!
Abraham Van Helsing is the ‘human weapon’ and hero of the Vampire War that conspired two years ago. His combat skills are so impressive that he is able to dual wield a shotgun and pistol in each hand. His personality is rather cold and stoic, but deep down he is a good man who has a soft spot for the heroine. Don’t let his icy attitude fool you; you’re the key to melting his heart!
It’s not hard to figure out that vampires play a key role in Van Helsing’s past. One vampire in particular, Delacroix II (nicknamed ‘Delly’) bares a strong grudge against him. Van Helsing’s route is full of action and surprising discoveries, as you soon find out that this ‘human weapon’ carries a huge, crushing weight on his shoulders. Will you be able to save Van Helsing from himself, before it’s too late?
Saint-Germain is a helpful aristocrat who allows Lupin and his group to stay in his mansion. This Count has an almost otherworldly air about him, although he claims to be nothing more than an eccentric who likes to be entertained. He is a very capable fighter, his movements on par with that of an expert assassin. He often makes comments about God, and the group’s meals always begin with a prayer from Saint-Germain before eating.
Saint-Germain’s story stands out from other bachelor routes due to its slightly darker subjects. The themes range from questions about morality to questions about God and salvation. The Count quickly becomes fond of Cardia, and although he does make some grave mistakes, he is quick to rectify them once he realises what’s most important to him. Saint-Germain is certainly an enigma, but it will be up to you to decide whether he is mysterious or suspicious!
Visual Novel – Code: Realize plays in the form of a visual novel. This means that the game plays like an interactive storybook. Text choices appear during key points in the game. The player then chooses between these choices to progress the story.
Memory Trunk – The memory trunk contains a wealth of fun extras. From here you can access collected images (CGs), background music, the opening and closing movies, and some entertaining bonus stories featuring the heroine and her chosen bachelor. These stories are short but light-hearted. They also provide an extra CG and some enjoyable eye candy!
Glossary – During gameplay you will come across terms highlighted in red. By pressing the downwards arrow you can collect these terms for your glossary. You can then read a short explanation about all the terms you have collected.
Path of Genesis – This option allows you to replay chapters and restart character routes from later points in the game. It’s very useful if you want to skip the prologue after your first play through.
Code: Realize is set in an alternate version of Victorian London. In this world, London is almost completely powered by steam engines. London is thus ruled by a steampunk aesthetic, with cogs, airships, monocles and pocket watches being a reoccurring theme. The style makes for some stunning backdrops, not to mention some unique-looking machines. When starting up the game you view a longshot of the city which, enjoyably, changes depending on the time of day you decide to play. These little touches make the artwork just that bit more special.
The artist Miko truly gives us a treat for the eyes. The CGs are always very detailed with some beautiful lighting effects. The various angles keep the images interesting, and no one can dispute the fact that the character designs have been drawn to a high quality. Another important point to make is that you are never left staring at the same background for very long, meaning there’s no worry of becoming bored by the same background being shown over and over again. You will not be disappointed with Code: Realize’s artwork.
The music in Code: Realize is dramatic, slightly eerie, and always beautiful. The opening theme Floatable, written by Yoshie Isogai and sung by mao, is a great example of this. The music fits perfectly with the game’s atmosphere of steam, the otherworldly, and Cardia’s ever-growing hope for the future. Fans will also be happy to know that the game is fully voiced in Japanese.
I very much enjoyed Code: Realize. The heroine is a very likable character, with her bluntness, carful thought process and genuine kindness creating many entertaining scenarios. She is not a ‘blank face’ in which the player is supposed to project themselves onto, but a real character who plays an important role. The game certainly wouldn’t be the same without Cardia’s personality and influence. Likewise Lupin, Impey, Victor, Van Helsing and Saint-Germain all have carefully thought out character routes. The game has a very long narrative, but with such interesting characters, you will have no problem replaying parts in order to complete the game.
It’s obvious to see that a lot of effort has been put into Code: Realize, as everything from the title screen to the character design screams attention to detail. I did come across a few rare typos, but nothing that would distract you from the overall quality of the game. If you’re looking for an interesting story with romance and a steampunk twist, then I would definitely recommend buying Code: Realize. Having many hours of gameplay, replay value and lavish graphics, I believe it is absolutely worth the £28.99 price tag.
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