A girl, a thief, an engineer, a scientist, a warrior, and an aristocrat make the unlikeliest of teams as they hunt down the inventor who has changed all their lives. Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ is an otome visual novel full of mystery and heroic men, and even as a guy I’ll admit; I swooned a little.
But before we get to my opinion, we should probably get the lay of the game – and for those who haven’t read one of my reviews before, (as usual) I promise I won’t spoil anything for you. 😉
Code: Realize begins with a memory – one of a father telling his daughter that he loves her. That might sound like a nice gesture, but it’s followed up with that same father telling her that she’s a monster who must never be able to feel love. These harsh words (from a man who’s supposed to love her) dig into the girl’s soul and move to define her life – setting the stage for a series of events that would play with the destiny of mankind.
The girl, who we’ll call Cardia (as the voice over will continue to do even if you choose another name), is tracked down by a mysterious organization that knows her simply as a monster. Found alone in her home and kidnapped away with no explanation, she’s pulled into a world she was never meant to live in. Thankfully, two men then move in to save her – and it’s from here that her adventure for the truth about being a monster kicks off.
You’ll meet many unique characters along your journey, but none as important to your destination as the five men you’ll be able to get close to (all of which were pulled from historic literature in some sort of way). It’s these five men that will guide you on your journey, and it’s also these five men that you’ll have a chance to help as well – ’cause it’s not just you that changes from your interaction, it’s them too.
The game is structured such that it has a very clear beginning, middle, and end. These bits are presented as a prologue which introduces a few of the characters without giving you any choices, an eight chapter inclusive bit where you aren’t completely locked into an end route, and a five chapter ending featuring the character you got the closest to during those eight previous chapters. There are multiple dead ends in the game, and only five true endings (one for each of the characters); so you’ll definitely have to make your choices carefully and pay attention to the details of the story to reach the true endings for each character.
In the beginning, there are four character end routes available; Saint-Germain, Impey, Victor, and Abraham. To reach the final ending of the game, you must clear the true ending of each of these routes – unlocking Lupin’s route which leads to the final conclusion. The good news is that once you’ve completed a single character route fully you can then use the Path of Genesis from the main menu to jump right into the other available end routes – skipping the middle bit and getting right to the meat of it. I wouldn’t recommend this method if you truly enjoy the story or are going for the platinum however, as you’ll probably miss some interesting information and/or glossary terms at the least. Just because the middle bit isn’t tied directly to one specific end, doesn’t mean it’s not important; it branches too.
Looking to the art in the game, it’s superb – and I’d even go as far as to say that I’d hang some of it on my wall if I could. It’s all very crisp, colourful, and detailed; more so than most visual novels for sure. It definitely helps that they’ve chosen such a classical period in time to focus on (and twisted it to their own history) as well, as it gives them more opportunity to be creative and extravagant in design. Things like Victor’s headphones seem so familiar and yet so foreign at the same time due to this twist of history.
As for the audio, it’s also pretty top notch – though it’s worth noting right off the bat that the game is voiced in Japanese only, and is only voiced during the speaking bits. The only real oddity I can point out aside from the lack of a narration is the one I mentioned at the start of the review – whatever name you pick for your female protagonist, it still says “Cardia” in the story’s voiced bits. This may or may not be an annoyance depending on if you’ve got the voices on (you can shut them off), and whether you’re actually listening to/understanding the Japanese spoken. My Japanese is poor, but I could still pick out her name very clearly every time it was said – and it was said a lot.
Seeing as how the game is voiced in Japanese, it of course has English subtitles – and for the most part they’re pretty decent. There are a few spelling errors (mostly later in the routes), however for the most part the grammar, spelling, and word choice are quite spot on.
Looking back over what I played on the road to that final ending, I can’t help but reminisce fondly about my time with each of the very different characters you’re grouped up with. Lupin is so very dashing with his thief’s code and top hat, Impey’s the natural funny guy and wins you over with his what-you-see-is-what-you-get demeanor, Victor is the kind soul with a brain who sticks up for his friends, Abraham’s the warrior who tries to bury his feelings, and Saint-Germain is the mysterious one with motives of his own. They all have their own unique personalities and motives, but the one thing that’s certain is you’re important to them – and you can really feel it when you submerge yourself in their stories.
Because of this, Code: Realize comes out with more depth than you’d expect – and ends up being an experience I’ll never likely forget. Otome or not, this is a great visual novel whose stories are woven together with great care. It’s a worthwhile journey, and one I’d gladly take again… even with the platinum under my belt.
Do you like literary figures? Are you interested in great stories? Do you like a little bit of romance with your adventure? Go grab yourself a copy of Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ and enjoy yourself – if you’re anything like me it’ll be hard not to!