Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ Review

A Classic Otome with a Heck of a lot of Story

General Info

Release Date(s):
Switch Version NA: February 06, 2020
NA Vita: October 20, 2015
Japan Vita: November 27, 2014
Rating: Teen
Developer(s): Otomate and Design Factory Co.
Publisher(s): NA: Aksys // JP: Idea Factory
Platform I Played On: Switch
Platform(s) Available On: Switch, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4

Synopsis

Taken from the Aksys official site
Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ | Official Site | Just another Aksys Games Network site

Venture into a reimagined steampunk version of 19th century London. Follow the tale of the poison-skinned maiden Cardia and the men trying to help her. Experience an adventure brimming with literary and historical characters including Victor Frankenstein and Abraham van Helsing.

Will Cardia find love, or destroy those she cares for? Her story is in your hands.

Why You Should Play: the Shortened Version

>> Fun enjoyable story; no need to take it ultra-seriously

>> All the characters are endearing and are enjoyable stories

>> Cardia is a great heroine! Her personality is appropriate to her upbringing

>> Not too dark or mature; drama but not dark; simple enjoyment

First Impressions

Beware there may be minor spoilers below depending on one’s qualification of a spoiler. Read at your own risk. However, in my opinion, this review should not spoil any new player’s experience with the game~

Disclaimer: This is my HOBBY blog with my own opinions, please take that into consideration~

A Brief Thought: Why so long to play this?? Funny thing is I actually remember when this was being localized with the PSVita but at that point in time I was transitioning from casual games to “real games” haha. So in the end I never played it during the initial release date.

I have somehow managed to avoid minimal spoilers throughout all these years as well so there were quite a few surprises during my playthroughs which was welcomed. I honestly didn’t know anything else of the game other than it was steampunk-esque and all the characters were blatantly named after historical or literary figures (ngl that was one of the reasons I was initially put off by the series).

Prologue

LONG // Multiple Situations // A LOT OF STORY

This game begins with a common route that you can make minor choices that eventually leads one towards the route of choice (or on accident if you do not make the obvious choices for whichever route you want to play). At first I was curious as to how long the beginning was because I was waiting for the routes to branch off. Each chapter contains a lengthy story that makes one think “surely this must be it for the general route”, I sure thought that and was surprised that it was eight chapters in before the individual routes came into fruition. I am not sure if I liked the “prologue” this long because it was a PAIN to have to go through near the exact same story for eight chapters to play every single route.

As you progress through these eight chapters the story continues to get progressively fantastical due to the sheer amount of scenarios and story points being introduced to the reader. Each chapter I kept on thinking that this is a lot of story for one game and we haven’t even gotten into a specific route. Granted none of the topics being introduced are hard to understand it simply just feels like there is too much going on. This is turn I think makes the story more convoluted and lessens the overall impact of some of the topics as they get brushed to the side instead of being explored further in the story.

The Routes

A Brief Thought: As I mentioned before the game itself is quite fantastical in terms of storytelling. Most of the routes continue to add everything but the kitchen sink for each route’s remaining five chapters. Yes the actual route only contains chapters 9 through 13. So yes unfortunately the routes do seem to run fairly quickly once you get through the long introduction.

A Brief Thought 2: So the game is rated Teen so there are some moments in almost all the routes where you have to simply accept that it is not rated Mature so some dialogue choices can seem somewhat simplistic or very innocent and may conflict with the characters supposed age. Honestly what tripped me up in almost all the routes was the fact that it jumped from simply being companions to full out proclamations of LOVE~ I really wasn’t expecting some classical literature tropes in that we go from casually talking to one another to automatically being soulmate material 😂 So keep that in mind that that chapters 1 through 8 are supposed to be the reasons why Cardia falls in love with the romantic interest. I honestly do think the Teen rating somewhat contributes to this simplistic nature Cardia and her love interest’s romantic progression alongside with the bulk of the story being told in a non-route specific way. But that’s just my two cents there.

A Brief Thought 3: Some of the routes feel imbalanced in regard to the ending. I was actually kind of shocked that some things were not universally resolved in all the routes. Some endings get pretty much the ultimate happiness scenario while others seem to leave the story somewhat unresolved implying that there are still some things that need to occur before Cardia and the love interest can be happy. While I do applaud not all the endings being the same it definitely made me want just a smidgen more of story in certain routes compared to others.

They are listed in the order I played them however below are my personal ranking of the routes.

Saint-Germain >>>> Victor > Van Helsing > Lupin > Impey

Saint-Germain

Mysterious // Drama // Less Chaotic Plot

Saint-Germain was the first route I chose and is my favorite route. He is a mysterious count with a seemingly aloof personality and finds the antics of “Lupin’s Gang” amusing. The mysterious allure and personality got me intrigued right from the get-go. In that sense this route did not disappoint and I think is in actuality the best route to start out with because it felt more grounded in the development of the story than some of the other routes. The reason why I think this is the best route to start off with is that it introduces some fairly major story points that are maybe heavily implied in the latter routes. Also within the latter parts of the “prologue” there are some key parts concerning Saint-Germain that I think should be first experienced and followed up by Saint-Germain’s route.

So why is this my favorite route? I do have to say that this route might take some people some time to warm up to it due to the latter half of chapter eight and basically the entirety of chapter nine. From the get-go, this route takes a bit more of a mature angle in comparison to the other routes which I think is in line with Saint-Germain’s personality and story backdrop. While when I initially played this route I thought the romantic progression seemed rather quick. When I continued with the other routes I soon realized that the Cardia and Saint-Germain’s route felt the most organic and appropriate given the circumstances in the story. The overall route with Saint-Germain is quite dramatic and it really felt almost opera-like in the sense that there was a lot of emotion and passion for the sake of LOVE AND HAPPINESS~ Now usually in otome games I don’t go for the overtly dramatic routes but in comparison to the other routes all the drama points were contained and helped the story progression move along. Saint-Germain’s story really drew me in compared to other routes because my curiosity for the general plot and Saint-Germain himself never waned.

Abraham Van Helsing

Standoff Guy // Story Fairly Contained // Life is Tough

So in my next readthrough I wanted to play either Victor and Van Helsing route. Van Helsing has a title of the “human weapon” and has a gruff and direct personality. He is the last character introduced to the “Lupin Gang”. Honestly to me Victor had more presence in the “prologue” so I chose the complete opposite to see what’s the deal about Van Helsing. This route is probably wins second place for the plot being fairly contained and not feeling ultra-random. Overall I can say the plot wasn’t bad but it was also not my favorite. The core subject matter didn’t intrigue me as much and is an example of one of those instances from the “prologue” that was yet another added fantastical element to the overall story.

While almost in every single route the love interest is dealing with some personal problems I think that Van Helsing’s route almost gets overshadowed by his traumatic past and all the truth bombs that occur in his route. I didn’t feel like the connection between the two was that deep while reading it and was really surprised that there really was not much romantic progression at all. Though considering the backdrop of his story I honestly can’t blame the dude for not showing a lot of direct interest in Cardia because man… let’s just say that life is tough for our guy and we want him to lead a fulfilling life in his future.

Victor Frankenstein

Kind // Chaotic Plot // The Decent Guy

Victor is our gentle natured doctor love interest with reasons for tagging along to “Lupins Gang”. Victor’s route has me torn. On the one hand I really liked Victor as a character while on the other his route felt generally all over the place in terms of the progression of the story. I would honestly say that this route did almost too much in story progression that while reading it just felt like it tacked on even more sub-plots that weren’t even addressed in our 8-chapter “prologue”. To be honest I really wasn’t impressed with the villain’s motives in this story at all. I was half expecting Victor’s route to be more of a science-based story and let’s just say we got science in the morality sense but it was ultimately more political and foreign relations focused. If the overall plot wasn’t so far fetched I may have enjoyed it a bit more but overall I simply had to read this story with more of a grain of salt than the others.

Even though I have my issues with the plot I think that Victor’s romantic progression is a bit more subtle and is less random in comparison to other routes. The actual romantic progression is what puts Victor as my second favorite route. I usually don’t really go for the ultra-nice characters because its almost too sacrosanct or it turns real creepy real fast 😶 I am happy to report that Victor’s route did not go down these two potential paths and character wise Victor is a standup guy and is kindhearted but never naïve. I think the reason why I enjoyed Victor’s route is due to the individual characters and the overall dynamic between Victor and Cardia. The amount of care and consideration Victor has for Cardia presented in the prologue is only amplified in his route. I will say the end resolution is one of the most hopeful and happy endings out of all the routes which I think is well deserved 😊.

Impey Barbicane

The Funny One // Sweet and Innocent // Another Chaotic Plot

So as usual, the comedic character is the one I put off until the very end. Idk in the older otome games they really tried a bit too hard to have one comedic character which usually to me just seems almost shoe-horned into the story (though it does seem in line with Japanese humor as a comedic character trope). Impey is our comedic and lovelorn engineer who from the get-go definitely has a crush on Cardia and is not afraid to voice this. That being said I think Impey’s actual route is not as comedic as I would have expected it to be which was appreciated. I would describe Impey’s route in some ways the most innocent route in that both he and Cardia play off one another and are generally happy in each other’s company. Overall it’s just sweet but with a slight lightheartedness due to Impey’s overall character.

The actual plot seems to be a bit far-fetched in comparison to other routes. We got a lot a lot of crazy story in this route, which one would think I’d not be surprised after reading the other three routes. NOPE we got a whole other crazy plot which somehow fit Impey’s character but it was another turn that I was not entirely expecting. The sub-plots keep the focus on science and engineering which I did appreciate because it proved to us that Impey really isn’t stupid and that he is on equal footing with the rest of the gang. I also like how Impey allowed Cardia to be a part of his passion for engineering and Cardia seemed to enjoy it as well. As said before while I am not a fan of overtly comedic characterizations Impey’s route is not cringeworthy as I expected and in the end made for a pleasant read.

Arsène Lupin

Gentlemen Thief // Definitely Canon Route // Everything but the Kitchen Sink

Lupin’s route is the only locked route in which one has to complete all of the other four routes. Lupin is our gentleman thief (much like the description from his literary inspiration) who also is instrumental in how Cardia ends up with “Lupin’s gang”. This route is also most definitely the canon route because it utilizes knowledge from the other routes. The story is many senses is the most complete route down to the end resolution. This route really contains everything but the kitchen sink. This route was ultimately an okay route but I liked others’ routes a  bit better.

While reading this route I think it relies a bit too much on Lupin being the first person to help Cardia see the world and rather how her views of Lupin evolve with the story. I think this is a bit of a downfall in terms of the story progression because it felt like Cardia was more indebted to Lupin opposed to a natural romantic progression (as much as this particular game can execute this due to falling in love quick syndrome). Another reason why I think this route is not higher for me is we really don’t get to see Lupin evolve that much and it makes it hard to get invested in the story line. If I were to describe Lupin he is an aloof, confidence, and chipper guy and he kind of stays that way throughout the story. I do think that Lupin’s dedication for Cardia is a strong point in that he is there for her when she gets many a truth bombs about various situations and is there to lift her up when she’s down. All in all Lupin’s route is a sweet route and comes with in many people’s eyes the best resolution and implications for Cardia and everyone else’s lives.

Our Heroine: Cardia Beckford

Curious // Character Growth // Fast Learner

Cardia is simply a great main character. She is smart and gets along with all of her compatriots and they all respect (and all adore) Cardia. As the synopsis suggests she is a poison-skinned maiden so it does make for an interesting story and is unusual in comparison to problems or curses other otome heroines have. From the get-go I really was curious about Cardia herself and why she was the way she was.

Now like many otome heroine’s she’s had a fairly secluded and sheltered upbringing, but in a very literal sense. You can see her progressively gain more confidence and desire to understand the world which gave her a really lovely character progression. The amount of growth really is apparent in all the routes. She is also smart and catches on quick to skills and all the people respect her and acknowledge that she’s no stupid but still discovering the world.

As I have said in my route reviews, Cardia practically jumps from “I don’t know what love is” to “I love you and will do anything for you”. This was blatantly apparent in all routes. As I said before I think this in part has to do with the teen rating. I think it also is in part story wise with Cardia being so secluded in her upbringing which makes her overall a lot more innocent in general about her emotions (not limited to romantic interest interactions). While I find her innocent and naïve it really isn’t a negative in my opinion. I think it is because she isn’t perpetually naïve or stupid throughout the entirety of the game, as I said before she really does have personal growth in all the routes.

Cardia really is a solid character and I enjoyed reading through her stories. I think in even the obvious “no-no” choices in the routes she maintains a considerate and noble reasoning in her choices. She has strong ambitions, noble virtues, high level of awareness (just maybe not in love), and uses her newly acquired skills and smarts in every single route. You really can’t find to much fault in Cardia as the heroine in my opinion.

Game Ambience and Gameplay

Great Ambience // Only one Outfit Complaint // No Real Complaints

The overall artwork, music, voice acting, and character design in my opinion is well-done. There are quite a few backdrops and every chapter has at least one CG. There is an ample amount of music in all the scenarios which supports the backdrop of the story. While I like some voice acting better than others I have to say none of the VA’s voices felt ill-fitting for a particular character. I really liked most of the character designs for the characters. I think my favorite outfits would have to be Saint-Germain and Van Hesling. If I were to complain about one outfit it would be Cardia’s new outfit in game. I really wished all the routes would have given her the opportunity to end with a new pair of clothing. I get that in game they wanted to give her an outfit that would provide maximum mobility but…. That outfit for some reason just kind of bugs me haha she just deserves to at least end on a high note!~

Gameplay was pretty standard for otome games. It has your typical main menu options and does have a section for chapters and extras. You do not need to finish the good ending in order to have all the routes chapters unlocked to play a specific chapter (THANK GOODNESS I struggled with Lupin’s route because I kept getting the tragic ending), thank goodness for the option to start the last chapter with everything high and not have to play the long prologue again! There were maybe a few awkward uses of incorrect conjugation here and there but not enough to be a game breaking experience. All in all, there are no real complaints or confusions about the switch port!

Would I Recommend?

Code Realize: ~Guardian of Rebirth~ is one of those otome classics out there. It’s been released on three different consoles and still gains intrigue by people like myself who didn’t read it the first time ’round. The overall plot strung across the various routes is filled to the brim of various characters, topics, and motivations. While I wasn’t quite sure what to expect at first, I found myself enjoying the stories more and more and was invested in Cardia’s journey.

The love interests are all memorable and all have different motivations and personality. I liked the notion that all of the love interests knew one another before the diverging routes and that there was an established mutual friendship or respect for one another. Cardia’s engagement with all the love interests was never super cringeworthy and you felt like she was always a respected member of the team.

Cardia is a great heroine, but I will say some people may interpret her character as too naïve. While I do think she’s naïve in many ways she never comes off as stupid and always treats her naivete as a steppingstone for curiosity and information seeking. She knows she’s sheltered and actively tries to change that by consistently asking questions and willing to take risks. Overall, I really enjoyed and respected Cardia’s character.

The sheer amount of story is probably the component that I would be most critical about in this game. I think they could have trimmed some of the plot elements down because at some points the story was very hectic and chaotic. The story line to me is one of those moments where you just have to accept all the varying components and go with the flow because that is the only way one can make sense of it. I accepted the absurdity probably after beginning my third route and realized that the chaotic plot elements are a core feature to Code Realize.

The notion of the reimagined history was also kind of strange to me because it’s just sometimes rather off-putting. I didn’t like the idea of most characters being named after literary figures or characters just simply being some version of a historical figure. As the game progressed, I never actively hated this element, but it was one of the reasons that I held off from this game as long as I did. It’s one of those moments where you simply accept the situation and read the story with that frame of reference in mind.

If you don’t like a super long prologue, no subtle romantic progression, or a really chaotic “everything but the kitchen sink” approach in story telling this might not be the otome for you. I will fully admit I was shocked by how long the “prologue” was and around chapter five I started wondering when the routes were going to diverge. I was also initially shocked at how fast Cardia was saying “I love you” and thought it was rather fast and not supported by enough romantic progression. I would say lastly if you don’t like Teen rated otomes and prefer the Mature ones this one is also one you might not want to partake in because it is very apparent why it is rated Teen and not Mature.

If you don’t mind a chaotic story telling (much akin to manga/anime/Japanese story telling styles), varying love interests, and a decent heroine I would recommend this otome. I never actually found any of the love interests super cringe or actively dislike any of the routes (though I still definitely prefer some of the routes to others). Overall, this is an enjoyable read and my criticisms outweigh the overall fun I had reading the various routes. I would recommend any person who enjoys otome. If you haven’t read this otome staple I can assure you that you have been missing out!

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