In previous years, the Vita has been a bastion for visual novel and otome game fans. As Sony’s portable because home to a number of niche Japanese games, equally niche publishers started picking up Vita exclusive visual novels to localize. Nowadays, though, the Vita’s lifespan is winding down, and many of these previously exclusive titles are now making the jump to Sony’s home console. Code: Realize ~Bouquet of Rainbows~ is one of these platform jumping titles, and has one of the better representations of the otome genre, is definitely worth the attention of the wider user base of the PS4.
Before getting into the review proper, let me explain how the Code: Realize games work together, as it’s an undoubtedly confusing scenario. Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ was previously released in 2015 for the west. In 2016, Code: Realize ~Future Blessings~, a fandisc for Guardian of Rebirth, was released in Japan only. A fandisc is basically an expansion that offers additional scenes, paths, and gag routes not available in the original game. This review is for ~Bouquet of Rainbows~, a PS4 bundle of these two titles.
Both of the games star Cardia, a young woman that instead of a human heart, has a gem embedded in her chest that keeps her alive. However, this gem emits a deadly poison, and anything she touches burns and melts as if being exposed to acid. While she has resigned herself to an isolated, lonely life, everything changes when she’s stolen away by a gentleman thief. From there on, Cardia lives a normal life with Lupin and his crew--or rather, as normal of a life as you can get when you’re an unusual woman under the tutelage of a famous thief and his eccentric crew.
Guardian of Rebirth is the main game of this package, and the one players will spend the most time with. This will go through the length of Cardia’s tale, and as an otome, give you one of five pretty boys to woo along the way. The men themselves are based off characters from classic literature, and makes each route different enough to worth playing through them all, even if it wasn’t a requirement for what is likely the canonical ending.
The story Guardian of Rebirth sets off to tell ends up being quite good, and worth the hours you’ll spend working toward the final path and ending. It helps a lot that Cardia is a character in her own right--oftentimes the protagonists of visual novels are faceless self inserts, but Cardia having an actual character arc that’s separate from the dateable men makes the general plot that much stronger. Additionally, while the characters of Code: Realize are based off classical novels, their actual in-game personae vary enough from their source material to follow a few surprises on their respective paths.
Also of importance is the localization of the PS4 version of Guardian of Rebirth. The original Vita version of Code: Realize is infamous for its numerous typos, particularly in the final and most important path of the game. For this PS4 release, Aksys has cleaned up the translation significantly, and while it’s not completely perfect, the script is leagues better than it was before. Considering that a visual novel is all about reading text, that makes Bouquet of Rainbows and its updated translation the definitive version of the game, and makes it a lot harder to recommend the Vita version as a result.
Future Blessings, on the other hand, offers a few different extras for those that enjoyed their time with Guardian of Rebirth. There are semi-short After Stories for each of the five main men from Guardian of Rebirth, which gives each character a proper conclusion and happy ending. Then, there is a new side story that introduces some new character. Finally, there are two new character paths to embark on that coincide with Guardian of Rebirth, featuring characters that were present in the first game but not given a proper path to enjoy.
As a fandisc, Future Blessings isn’t really going to be enticing for anyone but fans of the first game. The side story feels like unnecessary fluff, while the After Stories’ quality range greatly from character to character. The two new character paths are the star here, but with Shomles’ path rehashing a bunch of events from one of the original character’s paths, it feels as though only the new path featuring the game’s main villain was worth the readthrough.
Since this is a visual novel, there’s no gameplay to speak of here. If you’re planning to delve into Code: Realize, expect to read a lot. The only thing to do is make decisions, which will eventually decide which character’s path you’re on, and whether you’ll eventually get their good ending. While it’s usually easy enough to see what choices you’ll have to make for each character, you can also run yourself into an immediate bad ending in later chapters. Thankfully it’s quick to see when you’ve made a decision that leads you to a bad ending and frustration is mitigated if you remember to save before every choice when you’re officially on a character’s path, but it can be difficult at times to know what the game wants from you.
Generally, though, it’s easy enough to see everything that Code: Realize has to offer, if you’re willing to put in the time commitment to read through it all. Things get a little messier if you’re a trophy hunter, with some sneaky glossary terms that are easy to miss, but that isn’t going to get in the way of seeing this story’s conclusion.
If you like visual novels Bouquet of Rainbows is undoubtedly worth picking up. Don’t let the fact that this is an otome game and there being dateable men scare you off, as the plot stands well on its own, and the romantic elements are not the main draw here. Granted, if you’re not much of a reader, or prefer some gameplay with your exposition, you’ll not enjoy this tale of the gentleman thief and his gang of misfits. Otherwise, give this otome a shot.
Versions tested: PlayStation 4
Disclaimer: A copy of this game was provided to RPG Site by the publisher.