“This is a sad story— a story about a man who came to be consumed by fate.”
“You will lead the people from God’s cradle to the expanse of world knowledge.”
“God is going to consume me.”
[Please note that this review will be spoiler-free until a specified point (character route commentary), at which time I will offer the option of skipping to spoiler-free content via jump link.]
Cardia is a girl without a past. Suffering absentee memories and skin excreting an unknown but deadly poison, she awaits the return of a man she fleetingly recalls to be “Father.” The man she would later know as Mr. Issac Bedford left very specific—if half-remembered—instructions: she must not leave the mansion, and she must never know love. Regarding the first, she has yet to understand (or attempt to grasp) his greater machinations, and regarding the latter…well…
She is, as the surrounding villagers will attest, a monster.
At least, that’s what she believes until a surprise home invasion at the hands of British solders quite literally sweeps her into the arms of Arsène Lupin, renowned “Gentleman Thief.”
So begins the adventure Cardia never knew she needed, and a chance to fully experience the life in which she heretofore placed such little value. Again and again, she learns the true meaning of love and what exactly it means to be human.
The story of a man who loved God but didn’t believe that God loved him back, Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth—though it may not look it at first—is a tale of war. How far will man go in his pursuit of divinity, and to what end? What defines humanity? What is the nature of a soul? Of Creation? Damnation? Redemption? Code: Realize considers all of these questions and more, while focusing upon the misunderstood* but frequently publicized war between God and man (or science).
In honest truth, it bears consideration. What is science supposed to be? What is its end, and what is left for God? In a game that oft stands against what’s long been considered “the church’s judgement” but still warns against the evil of “deus ex machina,” it is the audience who’re left to decide.
When a game further throws in questions such as “when is sacrifice justified for the greater good?” and “why is knowledge necessity?” and parallels original sin in the plight of it’s main protagonist**, the considerations prove stunning. Praise can be heaped upon Code: Realize for many reasons, the greatest of them being that it makes one think.
The game’s artwork is slightly more cartoon-y at inception than other otomes I’ve played, but its particular style is at least fleetingly unique and for its uniqueness none less beautiful. In addition (and as briefly touched upon in my commentary on Saint-Germain’s route), the voice acting was superb. Though Victor’s route saw more translation errors than expected, they were by no means a distraction from the gameplay, and the writing itself throughout the title was believable, amusing, and intelligent.
And now, on to practical concerns…
Collar x Malice has only one common route chapter and thus, very little repetition; I was thoroughly impressed. Hakuouki: Kyoto Winds has around four chapters of mainly common-route-but-also-character-route-because-weird-two-part-game-release format, but the oddity there leaves it difficult to compare with other otome titles. Because the standard common route in Code: Realize is so long and so repetitive (8 chapters!!), once I finished a route and decided to play another, I had to spend a good two or three hours fast-forwarding through the common material again with little development other than a few, brief side-occurrences. Once one enters the unique content, things are fabulous, but getting to that point is truly a chore.
The game lacks a proper progress bar/feature, and it boasts no in-game notification to let you know of your progress with each man (or even in getting their route!). Thus, without using an online walk though, one is completely at a loss knowing how their choices are going to impact the route they will earn or the ending they will achieve. Granted, some necessary selections are obvious when you’re gunning for a specific bachelor in the common route, but man alive, could they make a little easier to see the immediate impact your actions will have? Maybe?
Character Route Commentary:
-written immediately after each playthrough with some occasional speculation beginning routes-
To skip the sections containing spoilers, please click here.
If Lupin’s route is the ultimate direction in which the story pushes you and that which explains the whole narrative, then Saint Germain’s route forsakes the “why” of Claudia’s circumstance completely in favor of a mythical alternate of epic proportions. I once read that Sainty-G was the intended route for those who liked their men a little crazy… and now I can see why. But, if he ended up being my very favorite, what does that say about me? I called “it” (“it” being the count’s highly generalized circumstances) from the very first time I saw him. Yes, truthfully, I knew from that very first GC.
At first he was simply endearing and a bit (read: very) odd (while also being low-key brutal), but just before launching into his route, when they discovered the underground lab and I was finally allowed to see his lovely blue eyes fully open for the first time since the initial GC, that’s when things started to get intense. Masking his pain behind his off-kilter smiles, hiding his true expressions from view (presumably hence the reason that until this point, his eyes were mostly hidden)…
The VA portrayed Saint-Germain with such emotion, and I found myself crying without reserve as I neared the route’s end. There was a lot of shaking my head at the heroine, wondering why she stayed with the man and what she was thinking, but ultimately, I fully understand the power that love holds over a person—especially someone as emotionally reactive as me—to halt their logic in its tracks. In the end, I’m so glad she stayed, and I love them together so. After all, he’s the only one (as neither Lupin, nor Impey, nor Victor are able, as he likes to point out), that can do this.
The more you know about Sainty-G, the more you realize that he is deeply in love with her in every route, seeing as he refuses to act on Omnibus’ orders in all of these alternate fates. Just as Lupin holds feelings for her in Saint-Germain’s route (as evidenced by his almost-confession in the graveyard and his “no one would blame you for running” speech on the train), Saint-Germain shows his love for Cardia in Impey’s route through, of all things, inaction. (It does make you wonder what he’s doing over in France at the end of Impey’s route.) Speaking of Impey…
Considering that Saint-Germain’s route was the first route that I played, can you blame me if I wanted Impey to be the one to confront the horrors of Cardia’s true origins with her? You know, in the laboratory? Can you blame me for wanting him to be the one who faces Finis with her that final time? That is what I thought I would be writing as we entered the scene, but Impey surprised me. And then Saint Germain surprised me again when he was still the one to run Finnis through. I guess it went in line with my prediction for the route; “Impey’s route will impress me more than I initially thought,” I felt, “but Saint-Germain will have already stolen the show, so the route will prove lackluster.” I was wrong.
Impey is so~ goofy and, honestly, so determined to win Claudia’s love that, at times, I wondered if I was the only one considering his totally unreturned and sometimes overtly sexual advances to be harassment. (Or maybe I’m just in that mindset from something that happened to me the other day, but it still felt unwarranted.) Impey, with that in mind, isn’t really my type, but when we actually launched into his route, I could see that beneath his frankly… um… bold… exterior sits a little boy whose lofty goal of going to the moon is permitted by nostalgia and a singular form of love. What I mean to say is, vampiric Impey is so innocent beneath it all. Maybe he’s just been borrowing too many of Mineo’s romance novels.
Wherein Saint-Germain’s route the hero and heroine are bound together by their unnatural bonds (doll/monster, ghost/angel, both carrying the weight of massive regret), in Impey’s route, Cardia’s lack of humanity is considered as an awe-inspiring thing. It’s a matter of acceptance (Sainty-G) versus embrace. Instead of justifying it as “if you are a monster, I am also,” Impey basically says to Cardia that she is not a monster, because science has created something beautiful. “Lacking a soul?,” he seems to ask, “I don’t know about that, but I can say…
Abraham Van Helsing
The most horrifying of the routes: a man is manipulated to committing genicide or risk losing the lives of those he holds dear. He lives in agony over his actions and the brutal, horrific loss loved ones. The man, further manipulated to hate and to kill, is betrayed by one he called friend and mentor. This poor man, hopeless but changed, is watching the torment of a tortured and maddened child, a child reliving the moment he discovered that this /same man/ betrayed and murdered the child’s own parents…
This child, begging him for the release of death from the bottom of a broken heart…
Does this sound like romance to you? No? Well then, you clearly haven’t played it.
An emotion not quite sadness and not quite anger permeates this entire story for our male MC, a man who doesn’t believe he deserves to be happy.
Speaking of whom, Van Helsing is so confident; I love it. He uses that confidence as an insult to his peers/enemies and as a tool for reassuring Cardia. It’s kind of adorable, and more than a little bit hot, to be honest. They always say that confidence is sexy, and they’re right.
Van Helsing’s route got so incredibly dark, and it really leads you to question the motivations behind behavior, both bad and good. When it is “okay” to kill? When it is mercy, or madness? Is an unforgivable crime still a crime if you had an unavoidable reason?
As side notes, even though Van Helsing is so bad@$$, Saint-Germain is still always the one going in for the pre-character route Finis-kill shot, because he’s Saint-Germain, and that’s enough of a reason, right? Also, I intentionally got a bad end as a side note to Van Helsing’s route, but it was frankly underwhelming.
Prediction for the route? Victor will prove to be a milder, diet version of Van Helsing whose Clark-Kent demeanor allows the Heroine to shine as she kicks butt and takes names.
Victor’s route really didn’t do it for me for the longest time during my play through; it wasn’t a bad story by any stretch of the imagination, but rather that, when compared with some of the other male MCs, he wasn’t really my personal type, and this impacted my enjoyment. However, his tale of its own merit, the backstories of side characters that it revealed, etc… these were all well done. Two things really did do it for me, however, and they are as follows; I’m a sucker for that tingly, constricted feeling one gets in one’s chest whenever one sees a heroin in pain—in need of saving—and a hero step in to make it right. Such drama! And Victor’s route was rife with it; Cardia almost becoming a monster, his concerned voice calling out for her as she drops to her knees in agony and then passes out, his utter determination to save her in ways that only he can… so much emotion. So much drama. So much chest tingle. Kandkdnejdkdh
The other thing that got me absolutely was that our meek little Victor was the only one who managed to cure Cardia, and then… well. Let’s just say… he used their mutual ability to touch to his full advantage…
Okay, I’m fine now. Okay.
Finally, the supposed end-all-be-all of informational routes—the route only unlock able through completion of his companion’s escapes—began. New knowledge gleaned! New inferences made! Reference to the title of the game!
In seriousness, Lupin’s route is that of further questions.
The events of the common route take place over a 2 month period, in case one didn’t pick it up elsewhere. Cardia gets to go off on her own in this, the only route in which she isn’t caught running away from the mansion by a main character or at least found within a few days. That the mansion she once lived in gives Cardia the heebie-jeebies upon her return (as opposed to her disinterest and general ease before she initially left) references her changed heart that refuses to go back; it is indicative of the change toward humanity. She literally becomes a human, even if she does begin life as a doll.
This route with it new considerations; did it work similarly all of us? What I mean is, do not our experiences in interaction define us, or care and companionship with others truly make us human?
Does willingness to lay down your life for a selfless cause indicate greater moral compass or nobility than strict priority of one’s life own family?
Is blindly following religious dictation faith or superstition?
(On a lighthearted note, I love how Saint-Germain just shows up with this woman in colossal armor and old lady in a wheelchair and everybody just like goes with it because they know that Saint-Germain is kinda bonkers so they’re just like “Yeah, OK, that works.”)
And that, dear readers, is my review.
I highly recommend Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth as a worthwhile investment of both your time and money. If you’d like to buy the game on Amazon, I offer you my affiliate link by clicking on the image below!***
What did you think of Code:Realize? Have you played the game or, if not, do you think you’ll give it a try?
Until I play again,
HERLOCK SHOLMES *cries* That’s too good.
*I do not believe that God and science need be at war, but rather that the idea of one is supported by the practice of another, but that is neither here nor their in the context of this post. ❤ (^^)
**This is true in far more ways than one and bears further consideration on my part. In doctrine, yes, but I also need to examine Romans 5:12-19 in greater plot relevance.
***This post is no way intended to be an advertisement or written to promote the game so that I can make money. I just happen to include my affiliate link for those interested in supporting the blog! (*^^*)