Last year, the otome game gods blessed us with not only one, but THREE otome game localizations for us to enjoy and support. It was a real good year for otome game fans! ✨ This time, we’ll be talking about Aksys Games‘ localization of Code: Realize ~Guardians of Rebirth~, and why it’s a game that deserves attention.
The story centers around Cardia, who lives isolated from society in an abandoned mansion on the outskirts of London due to a promise that she made with her father, Isaac Beckford. Because her body carries a deadly poison that causes everything she touches to melt or rot away, people who know of her existence call her a “monster.” Dealing with the harsh treatment from people, and having her beloved father’s command to stay out of sight and never fall in love, she feels compelled to obey her father and live alone until he finally comes back for her. But one day, her life of silence is disrupted when the Royal Guards break into the mansion under the orders to capture her. Intercepting that capture is Arsène Lupin, a chivalrous thief who helps her escape. Cardia soon finds herself on a journey to find answers with Lupin several other people who are all tied to her father’s research. Will Cardia find a cure for her poison and find out what’s keeping her father from coming back to her?
Code: Realize is a really unique otome game due various factors. The steampunk-ish setting filled with 19th century industrial steam-powered machines is pretty refreshing. I’m not that familiar with steampunk, but I can really get behind the gorgeous Gothic-Victorian dresses! 👗 Steampunk motifs aside, this game has literary and historical figures, some which you can romance! Go on an adventure with Arsène Lupin, Abraham Van Helsing, Victor Frankenstein, Impey Barbicane, and Count Saint-Germain, all whom are well-known European literary figures.
One of the best features of the game is definitely how well the characters are written. Each character has a very distinct personality from one another that makes them memorable, which make their interactions with one another leave you wanting MORE! The characters’ relationships with one another starts out of need of another’s skill, knowledge, or if they have similar objectives; they all don’t immediately start out as friends. In fact, some of the characters come close to killing one another before they can come to terms with each other and what they want to accomplish as a team. Throughout the game, you’ll see everyone’s relationship build upon what sort of situation they’re in, to then become a tight-knit team that will have each other’s back no matter what. And that’s what makes these characters so unforgettable: they all have differing personalities that might seem like they may not mesh well together, but the character development as the game goes on is truly genuine and beautiful. As you play Code: Realize, I’m sure you’ll be inclined to agree as you fall in love with these characters! 💖
Speaking of characters, let’s talk about our heroine, Cardia.
Cardia is pretty much the best MC I’ve ever seen in an otome game. Why is that? She starts out in isolation, not wanting to do anything but just sleep due to her emotional pain with being called a “monster” while she lies in wait for her father, but once Lupin “steals” her away from the Royal Guards, she begins her quest to discover what she truly is, what her father’s plans are, and what might life offer to someone like her. She begins as a tabula rasa, but she yearns for knowledge to try and put together the pieces of her existence. Unlike other otome game MCs, Cardia takes a lot more action in order to try and gain answers. Every predicament she was in, she always tried to find a possible solution, like for instance, if she’s locked in a room, she’ll try to melt or pick the door’s lock. Or if someone tries to capture her, she’ll either run away or try to knock them out in one hit to then run away. If you’ve ever been so FRUSTRATED at an otome game MC because of their lack of action, you won’t be disappointed as you get to know Cardia and what she’s capable of. Simply put: Cardia is AWESOME! 👍
Throughout the game, you’ll see the word “monster” a lot. What makes someone a “monster?” This becomes one of the themes in this game, as various characters have different definitions as to what makes someone a “monster.” Interestingly enough, the concept of what makes someone human makes an appearance as well. These two topics gives the game a bit more depth, as they’re both intriguing topics to think and talk about. I’ll probably say more on this in a future entry, since it’ll be a lengthy set of topics to write on.
Another wonderful thing about this game is the gorgeous art! ✨ The artist (known as “Miko”) does a marvelous job, not only with the very beautiful CGs, but with each of the characters sprites. Everything from the characters, their costume design and their accessories are quite a sight to behold! I had to stop for a few minutes to fully absorb the art. I feel that this is definitely a game whose art books I need to get! I’ve actually acquired one of the books, the B’sLog Collection Code: Realize Fan Book. Here’s a preview of that book:
Along with Miko’s beautiful character art, the game boasts some amazingly intricate background illustrations. They help set the mood for the particular scene you’re playing through, ranging from the isolated mansion that Cardia starts out in, to the majestic haunting castle that the main cast visits, to the creepy sewers that some are forced to go through.
Here’s a neat touch in this game: whatever time of the day you choose to play, the title screen changes. So if you choose to play the game at 8:00 p.m., the title screen will display the view of London at night time! It took me awhile to see this, since I mostly played in the evenings. It’s small details like these that make games stand out a bit more.
Let’s talk about the various menus in the title screen.
Selecting the New Game option prompts you with the name screen, where you can enter the name for the heroine or choose to leave it as it is. If you choose to leave the name as “Cardia,” the characters will vocally say her name.
The Continue option goes directly to all the save files you have of the game. Depending on the size of your memory card, you can have a HUGE amount of saves, making it easy to get each ending of every character.
Selecting the Settings option allows you to change various things in the game, such as the text speed, whether you want Cardia’s character icon to appear or not, the autoplay and skip mode settings, the volume of the BGM, SE, and voices, and whether you want to mute a particular character. It also has the option to change the control scheme.
The Memory Trunk option has various menus to look at for plenty of goodies! The Event menu has all the CGs you’ve unlocked in the game for your viewing pleasure. The BGM menu allows you to listen to tracks that you’ve already heard in the game. In the Movie menu, you can view the opening movie and each of the characters’ ending movies. And in the Extras menu, you can play the extra chapter for each of the guys upon completing their route. The amount of detail in each of these menus are appreciated! I really love the characters’ portraits displayed on the newspaper clippings in the Event menu, and the record player along with all the different records in the BGM menu!
In the Path of Genesis option, you can choose to start from any particular chapter and select to either start fresh or be locked into any of the characters’ route. You can also choose a particular chapter from a select character starting from chapter 9 onward. Note that selecting any of the characters’ chapters starts you off at a maximum favor, which helps guarantee the true ending for the chosen character.
Remember the Encyclopedia in Hakuoki? It makes its return in another Otomate game, but named as Glossary instead. As you play the game, select terms will be highlighted in red, to which you can find out more info regarding that topic. There is a trophy for collecting all the glossary terms, so make sure to get all of them!
There are 5 total routes in Code: Realize to complete. However, in order to unlock Lupin’s route, you must play the other 4 routes. Like Ukyo’s route in Amnesia: Memories, this means that Lupin’s route is the “true” route and the “true” ending of the game. I found all of the routes were enjoyable to play; I was never bored throughout any of them.
As great of an otome game that Code: Realize is, there are a few minuses that did bother me a little bit.
The above screenshot illustrates two annoyances. The first one is the two lines of copyright info on the bottom right, which I think could have been placed side-by-side rather than one on top of the other. As you can see, by having them one on top of the other, it blocks part of the game text, making the last bits of text harder to read. The second annoyance are the spelling errors that you can find throughout the game. It’s most apparent in Lupin’s route, which is the last route you’re able to play in the game.
This makes it feel like the game was likely rushed to meet deadlines in order to be released in time. It also feels like they didn’t have enough people to look over the text to make sure that there weren’t text errors. It doesn’t make the game unplayable, but at some points, it did ruin the tension or the emotion behind some of the scenes.
There were also instances where you would run into text formatting errors, where you could see the name of the person who would be speaking the next set of lines at the bottom of the screen. Another text formatting error occurred when part of the game text would show up in the box that was meant for the speaker’s name to appear. Some of these are glaring errors that could have been picked up by the QA team, but it seems to have gotten ignored, which is a shame.
Another weird thing is how a certain name was chosen to appear in the English text. Yes, I’m talking about Victor Frankenstein. In the game’s audio he says to just call him “Fran,” but the in-game text says “Call me Victor.” You can hear the name “Fran” throughout the game, but the text keeps reading “Victor.” It was weird hearing and seeing two different names! 😣
Those minuses aside, it doesn’t detract from how good of an otome game Code: Realize is. The characters and their interactions easily makes this a game not to be missed. Basically: if you have a Vita and you want to get into otome games, this game is definitely one you must play! I consider it to be one of the best games I played last year due to how much I enjoyed it.
Here’s where you can purchase Code: Realize ~Guardians of Rebirth~:
Until next time, happy gaming!