Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ Review
As the year rolls on, the slow but steady stream of officially localized visual novels continues on, and many of them are making their way to the seemingly ill-fated Vita. While many may assume the portable system on its last legs, fans of visual novels are rejoicing at the system's growing library of the niche genre. With Amnesia: Memories, a port of the acclaimed Steins;Gate, and a spin-off to the well loved DanganRonpa series all coming out within the last few months, visual novel addicts have had plenty to delve into, and they won't seem to be running out soon. This week brings Vita owners Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~, a tale that takes place in an alternate, steam punk version of London.
Code: Realize puts players in the role of Cardia, a tragic heroine. Cardia has poison running through her veins, and anything that touches her skin melts away. She isolates herself from the world at her father's behest - whom she doesn't remember but from a note he left behind. However, she is forcibly brought into the world went the 'gentleman thief' Lupin steals her away, and begins to uncover the truth about herself and her father.
Code: Realize is an otome title, which flips the script on what the typical visual novel trope; here, the female protagonist has a number of suitable male characters to choose from, and the character paths are tinged with love and romance. Moreover, these dateable characters aren't exactly unfamiliar faces. Every major character (with the exception of Cardia herself) is directly based off of a classical literary character. These characters resemble their equally fictional counterparts in more than just in name, as their personalities and individual storylines also draw inspiration from their source material.
Although this might just be a weird hodgepodge of unrelated stories, Code: Realize weaves a cohesive and singular storyline that puts all of these unlikely characters together in a somewhat believable fashion. Furthermore, all of them have their own secrets and stories to work through. This makes it worth the effort of going through each path, as if one of the character's stories being locked being completing the others wasn't enough of an incentive.
And it's good that the story is strong, as with most visual novels there is no actual gameplay to speak of. There is only text to read, and choices to make. Thankfully, there are a few things that Code: Realize utilizes to make seeing the plot a lot easier. First, players can Rewind the text by pressing up on the Vita analog stick. By doing so, players can move back to any line of the game, and quickly and easily find out the consequences of each choice. Plus, after a successful playthrough, the Path of Genesis unlocks, which is essentially a chapter select with benefits.
Players can also start a new game from any chapter they've already played through, and can choose which of the heroes' happiness to max, automatically placing them on the chosen character's path. It makes it incredibly easy to see everything there is to see, as choosing a new character path and getting into all-new story material takes mere minutes.
But while Code: Realize is a very solid package, and is great in all the parts that matter most, this Vita title isn't perfect. The story falls prey to some pacing issues, with some parts of the plot dragging, and other parts where a bunch of important story bits are dropped on the player all at once. There also seems to be multiple typos in the script, and they tend to become more numerous as the game goes on. It's almost as if Aksys ran out of time for Q&A and proofreading right at the end.
These issues are ultimately small, though, and do little to tarnish what is ultimately an intriguing and interesting story. If the lack of gameplay doesn't bother you and you want to enjoy a good plot, it is worth picking up Code: Realize.