Due to a poison in her body that can melt anything upon contact, Cardia has lived her life alone and secluded in a mansion. She dares not to go outside and meet people, for the people fear her and call her a monster who can wilt and melt anything that touches her skin. That is, until one day, a man who calls himself the gentleman thief Arsene Lupin, rescues and takes her away. Soon, she also meets Impey Barbicane, Victor Frankenstein, Saint-Germain, and Abraham Van Helsing, and together with them, Cardia tries to uncover the mysteries of her past.
Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~
Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ (website)
Company: Otomate (Licensed by Aksys Games)
Age Rating: Teen
Date of Release: 20th October 2015
Voice Cast: Maeno Tomoaki, Suwabe Junichi, Kakihara Tetsuya, Hirakawa Daisuke, Morikubo Shoutaro
The game has a long common route with eight chapters. Depending on the choices you make, the story will branch starting from the middle part of the eighth chapter. There are five character routes, and each guy has their own unique charm.
First is Arsene Lupin, (CV. Maeno Tomoaki) the infamous gentleman thief from Paris but he came to London to investigate and try to stop a certain terror attack plan. He ranked first in the character popularity poll, and it’s no wonder considering how he lives up to his description as a “gentleman.” He is bursting with confidence, he can crack jokes at the right timing, and he is very reliable… how can a lady not love someone like him? Keep in mind, though, that his route can only be unlocked after finishing the true ends of the four other guys. Which is a good idea, by the way, since this is the route where everything comes together, and before you know it, you’ll find yourself praising the writers whenever a piece of info fits into another.
Abraham Van Helsing (CV. Suwabe Junichi) is known as the hero from the war with the vampires, after which he earned his title as the "human weapon". Being a skilled warrior, he’s usually the one fighting off the bad guys that the group encounters. On the exterior, he’s a serious megane who only has eyes set on his goal, but, like any other guy of this type, he is actually a kind person who uses rock salts as bullets so he won’t kill anyone. Be prepared to see Van turn into a punching bag in his route.
Victor Frankenstein (CV. Kakihara Tetsuya) is the cutie doctor-alchemist who is on the run from the government after being wrongly accused as a terrorist. Like his character, Fran’s route, a.k.a. the race against time route, is filled with lots of cuteness. One will surely find oneself being mesmerized by Fran’s kind and gentle character and won’t help but finish reading his route in one sitting. Kakki’s gentle voice is perfect for Fran’s kind demeanor. He is best boy, by the way.
Saint-Germain (CV. Hirakawa Daisuke) is a count from France who seems to have taken an interest in Lupin and the gang’s adventures so he offered to help them by allowing them to stay at his mansion. He’s just a quiet guy who smiles at any given situation, but like any other mysterious character, there’s more to him than it meets the eye…… [Caution]: Prepare your tissues when playing his route.
Last but not the least (although still last in the character popularity poll), is Impey Barbicane (CV. Morikubo Shoutaro), the group’s genius engineer who is an expert when it comes to machines, automobiles, and steam engines. His character provides most of the comic relief in the game, and his route followed suit, being the funniest among the five. Unfortunately, the comedy didn’t make his route any better, as it still ended up being the dullest in terms of story. In any case, Impey had a fair share of romantic scenes to make up for it.
The bachelors aside, the heroine Cardia (name can be changed, but it is suggested to keep it in default because the other characters will call her by her name if left as is), is definitely one of the best characters in the game. She’s another excellent example to show Western otome game fans that not every otome game heroine lacks personality or whatnot. At first, Cardia is a passive and emotionless doll, but as the story progresses, her character develops into a very likeable girl who can stand by herself. To describe her best, she’s BADASS. She can pick locks, handle any machine, and knock enemies off. Otome game heroines are all damsels in distress? Let Cardia’s awesomeness answer that.
Although the characters are all very likable, what really makes Code: Realize a good game is the story. The plot itself is enough to draw the player in, and the unfolding of the mysteries will have you reading nonstop. Every piece of information is important to the story’s main idea, and as they come together in Lupin’s route, the only word that you can say is, “WOW.”
The game is set in Victorian London with loads of steampunk inspiration, and there’s probably no other setting as perfect as that to hold the adventures of the characters. Moreover, the number of cool action scenes adds intensity to the story, and the fact that the characters are inspired by fictional or historical personalities is a good bonus.
The romance, on the other hand, isn’t as grand if you think, “otome games = romance games.” It’s not saying that there wasn’t enough romance, but more like, the story didn’t focus on it. The romance development wasn’t very clear (except maybe, Impey’s), nevertheless, that doesn’t make the game any less good.
As usual of Otomate, the cast is composed of the more well-known seiyuus. Maeno Tomoaki is perfect as Lupin, while Kakihara Tetsuya’s gentle voice fits Fran. Still, all of them don’t stand a chance against Kaji Yuuki (Finis), who nailed it with his “NEEEESAAAAAAN!!!”
If the story and the cast still don’t convince you, then one look at the art will probably make one play the game at once (like me). Because if we judge books by their covers, then otome games can be judged based on their art. Miko’s art is as beautiful as ever, and it really did bring the characters to life. The backgrounds, on the other hand, are equally as gorgeous. Each background is very detailed and there’s no helping but stare at them even if you’re in the middle of playing.
Now, let’s talk about the Western localization. The overall translation by Aksys was alright, but there’s one thing that almost everyone who plays otome games in Japanese was disappointed with: the change in names.
The change that had most to raise their eyebrows was Fran’s name being changed to “Victor.” Of course, there are reasons for this change, perhaps to make adaptation smoother, especially for those with no background in Japanese. However, I believe that “Fran” can still be used, if you take advantage of one of his lines when Cardia first met him. Cardia calls Fran as “Mr. Frankenstein,” but Fran tells her “フランでいいよ” (Just call me Fran), which clearly means that “Fran” is fine if she calls him by his nickname. Had they used “Fran,” I don’t think that there would have been any problems later since “Fran” can be considered to be a nickname. If anything, this change actually caused one problem: when Impey called Queen Victoria as “Victoria-chan,” this was also translated to “Vicky.” Because Impey’s “Fran-chan” was translated as “Vicky”, as well, this caused a doubling of the nickname "Vicky." (If “Fran” was used, “Fran-chan could have been been “Franny”). Also, “Fran” is a really cute nickname which really goes well with his cute personality, and I think some of this charm was lost in the translation. For people who don’t pay attention to the Japanese dialogue being spoken, reading “Victor” shouldn’t be a problem. However, for those who listen, it’s really weird to read “Victor” when the characters are clearly saying “Fran.”
To a lesser extent, Van being called as “Van Helsing” also caused a negative reaction. Van’s character is definitely not as cute as Fran’s, so having the characters call him by his full last name “Van Helsing” is at least more forgivable than “Victor.” Moreover, calling him as “Van Helsing” actually adds to the toughness of his character. The problem, however, arises when it’s between the Lupin gang, because having them address Van with the full last name “Van Helsing” feels like there’s no camaraderie between them and Van. If it’s like this, then they could have just done the same as with Fran’s and called Van as “Abraham,” like how Aleister calls Van in the translation (to show that the two have a close bond).
As for San/Saint, I had no problem with him being called as “Saint-Germain,” since calling a person as “Saint” is definitely weird to English speakers. Impey’s “San-chan” being translated to “Saint-G” was also pretty cool, in my opinion.
The change in names and a couple of typographical errors aside (I counted 17, 13 of which are in Lupin’s route), there really isn’t any problem with the translation. If anything, the trickiest parts were translated rather smoothly, like a conversation between Cardia and Van in chapter 3. In the original Japanese text, Van mentions 奇襲 (“kishuu”/surprise attack) but Cardia mishears it asキッシュ (“kisshu”/quiche). Of course, “surprise attack” and “quiche” don’t sound alike at all, so in the translation, they used “in extremis” and had Cardia mishear it as “tiramisu”, which is also a pastry like quiche.
Lastly, the chapter titles which had weird English were finally corrected (thank you very much), like “Nobody Understand Truth” to “Nobody Understands the Truth.” Some were even changed entirely, like Chapter 7's “Illegal Race” to “The Bouyant and Bellicose.”9.5 Code:Realize is undoubtedly one of the best otome games released in 2014. It’s a complete package of everything one wants in an otome game: good story, beautiful art, and well-known cast. Thanks to Aksys Games localizing the game, the west can now play one of the best otome games in English. The change in the names disappointed some fans of the original Japanese game, but overall, it was a neat translation. As a note for full disclosure, Otome Jikan received a review copy of this game from Aksys Games.