A girl with poison flowing through her veins joins a gang of outcasts, ultimately finding friendship and love in a colorful, steampunk London. That is the premise of Code: Realize: ~Guardian of Rebirth~, an otome visual novel released in 2014. Code: Realize ~Future Blessings~ is a fan disc with stories following the events of the first game, as well as three additional tales.
As my first exposure to a fan disc, I initially wasn’t sure what to expect from Future Blessings. In the end, however, I found myself immersed in revisiting the extensive world building and likable characters of the first Code: Realize. The fan disc also includes several new, equally colorful additions to the cast, and they are all welcome newcomers to Code: Realize’s universe.
Due to Future Blessings’s nature as a fan disc, only fans of the original Code: Realize need apply for this venture. The stories do not bother explaining everything about the characters and world since the game assumes players are already familiar with them. Newcomers to the series would find themselves lost within moments of starting up a story segment. True to the term “fan disc,” this game was ultimately designed with fans in mind.
In the first Code: Realize, Cardia is a strong heroine with a lot of agency, and I’m glad to see those character traits return in this installment. Indeed, all of the returning characters are equally similar to how they were portrayed in the original title. In that regard, picking up Future Blessings felt very much like stepping into a well-worn, beloved shoe.
The first of the stories collected in this title are a group of tales that share the moniker White Rose. They’re epilogues featuring Cardia’s continued adventures with the beau of her choice, and her other friends make appearances along the way. While they aren’t as long as some of the other routes you can choose to play through in Future Blessings, the epilogues are of decent length and provide further insight into Cardia and her chosen partner’s lives together. Other characters are also given moments to shine, providing more of the excellent character development fans discovered in the first game. For example, Victor’s White Rose segment includes excellent scenes with Saint-Germain, and Queen Victoria continues to show positive character growth following her role in Victor’s route from the original game. It was great to see all of the Code: Realize characters having roles to play even in story routes that didn’t feature them predominantly.
The second story you can play through in Future Blessings is called Lupin’s Gang. It is billed as a side story to the original Code: Realize’s plot. Lupin’s Gang is well written and offers even more insight into the incredibly detailed world of Code: Realize. I loved the focus on the father-daughter relationship between Darius and Shirley, as well as the important emphasis on female friendship showcased by Cardia and Shirley’s relationship. Lupin’s Gang felt very much like a natural extension of the first Code: Realize and could easily be seen as just another of that game’s excellent story arcs.
The third story route is an alternate take on the original Code: Realize’s main storyline path; it’s a non-romantic route focusing on Cardia’s relationship with her younger brother, Finis. I’ll admit that I didn’t care much for Finis in the first game, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from his route in Future Blessings. However, Finis’ route really changed my perspective on his character. I loved the sibling bond that developed between him and Cardia over the course of my playthrough. Finis’ route also sheds more light on the mysterious Apostles of Idea who show up in some of the White Rose epilogues, including their leader Omnibus, the heavily armored Guinevere, and newcomer Hansel, who plays quite a larger role in the plot than I initially expected. With its heartfelt and touching moments, Finis’ route is very entertaining, and I give it kudos for changing my mind so wholeheartedly on Finis as a character.
The final route is another alternate retelling of events from the first Code: Realize, focusing on a developing romance between Cardia and Herlock Sholmes, a supporting character in the original game. Watson is a delightful cast addition, and I loved the Aleister Crowley plot twists and developments. As is the case with the other Code: Realize romantic routes, Herlock’s route is believable and well written. As a fan of Herlock’s character from the first game, I found his route a joy to play through here.
Now, you might have noticed that I said “play through” in regards to the Finis and Herlock routes, but not the others. That is because they are the only two routes where there is any “gameplay” to speak of. Players are given choices throughout these routes that ultimately determine the outcome of the stories. The other story routes in Future Blessings take the “novel” in visual novel literally, as you’re simply left reading as the scenes unfold. This isn’t such a huge issue in the epilogues given their shorter lengths, but I did think that Lupin’s Gang could have easily benefited from having at least some choice implementation every so often to cut through its lengthy scenes.
Graphically, the art for Future Blessings remains as gorgeous as its predecessor. I also loved the voice acting, sound effects, and music as everything helped to truly build the game’s atmosphere. There are some grammatical errors and typos at times, but that’s not uncommon with such a text-heavy game, and it never impacted the plot. Generally, I found the localization to be nicely done.
All in all, I quite enjoyed my time with Code: Realize ~Future Blessings~, even if I wished certain routes had provided player choice options. I’d be hard pressed to recommend this fan disc to newcomers not already familiar with Code: Realize in some capacity, as it clearly builds upon players’ prior knowledge of the series. However, fans will surely find some enjoyment in returning to the world and inhabitants of Steel London should they decide to give Future Blessings a try.