Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~


Review by · November 29, 2016

Idea Factory is better known in the west for their Neptunia games, but they’re also prolific visual novel developers in Japan. As visual novels are starting to become more popular in the USA and beyond, many of Idea Factory’s entries are finally being localised. In the case of Code: Realize, this is fortunate as, aside from a few quirks, it’s an excellent game with a likeable cast of characters and an intriguing story.

Set in a steampunk industrial London, Code: Realize ~Guardians of Rebirth~ tells the story of a young woman named Cardia who has a strange gem embedded in her chest and a body full of poison. Told she is a monster, Cardia desperately desires to be loved and accepted, even though the poison she contains will kill anyone who touches her. After a group of guards comes to take her away, Cardia is rescued by legendary thief Arsene Lupin and whisked away on a tale of adventure and romance to discover who she is and how she fits into a grand scheme to destroy the world.

As an otome visual novel, Code: Realize’s primary purpose is for Cardia to get lovey-dovey with a group of handsome, yet troubled, gentlemen. There are five potential love interests, (almost) all of whom, for reasons that aren’t apparent, are named after figures from English literature: Arsense Lupin, Impey Barbicane, Abraham Van Helsing, Saint-Germain and Victor Frankenstein. They have very little in common with their classical literature counterparts, aside from some superficial motivations, but are a generally likeable group of heroes. There’s little character development though, so what you see at the beginning is essentially what you get at the end. All of them have troubled pasts, but only Van Helsing’s vampire killing and Saint-Germain’s mystical society are particularly compelling. Lupin’s history as a thief and Frankenstein’s involvement in developing military weapons show promise, but are brushed over too quickly. Barbicane’s story is a complete throwaway that boils down to how he dreams to go to the moon one day.

Cardia steals the spotlight as a likeable and determined, yet delicate, character. Under the tutelage of her male suitors, Cardia learns, grows and becomes a brave and tough young woman. When the game begins, Cardia is lost in depression, thinks of herself as a monster and cares little about life. Gradually, this changes and her outlook on life transforms in subtly different ways depending on which man she ends up with. I was far more interested in her story than the cast of males, and it was upsetting at times to see her subjected to borderline abusive situations at the hands of one man in particular. He’s just misunderstood though, of course…

Each character has their own path and ending, though Lupin’s can only be reached after you clear all the others. There’s an excellent selection of dialogue choices to make as you play, though many lead to bad ends and require you to reload your last save. Fortunately, you can save at any time and a quicksave makes it even easier. There’s approximately 30-40 hours of content, even if you’re skipping through the parts you’ve seen before on subsequent playthroughs, so there’s plenty of steampunk goodness to enjoy. The true path also has two different endings, though the final choice that leads to each is confusingly arbitrary.

Unlike many visual novels, Code: Realize is largely free of filler. Each scene is important in building character relationships or progressing through the story. A few plot points aren’t explained too well, like an immortal society that watches over history, and the main villains do have largely cliché motivation. It’s also irritating to see solutions to Cardia’s poison problem shoehorned in and then brushed over. Still, there’s a great mix of humour, lazy days and fast-paced action that kept me interested in the story the whole way through.

The voice acting is excellent across the board, and each of the main male cast has a distinctive voice that conveys their personalities well. There’s no English dub, so you’ll be listening to the original Japanese. Cardia is unvoiced, as protagonists in visual novels often are, but everyone else has audio. Though not exceptional, the backing music is solid and conveys the appropriate emotions in both dramatic and easy-going scenes.

Code: Realize is visually stunning. Each character is meticulously drawn and their outfits are exceptionally detailed. The grinding gears and smoking chimneys of Steel London are a delight to see in the backgrounds, as are other areas the heroes visit during the journey. There’s a great variety of CGs too, and some of the romantic ones between Cardia and her man of choice are delights. Letting it down is the design of Finis, one of the game’s villains. Until he is called “he” I thought he was a woman with his feminine face, Princess Leia-style hair buns and stupidly tiny top hat. As evil as he is, I couldn’t take him seriously at any point because of his design.

If you enjoy visual novels, then I can highly recommend Code: Realize. There’s a delightful cast of characters to meet, an interesting story to experience and beautiful visuals to take in. The plot rushes over details that could use better explanation, but there are plenty of twists and turns to keep things interesting. The dialogue is well written and I enjoyed my time with it from beginning to end. Even if you normally shy away from an otome game, do yourself a favour and pick this one up.


Great protagonist, well-paced and interesting story, beautiful visuals.


Main villain's design, lack of character development for the male cast.

Bottom Line

An excellent visual novel that can be enjoyed by anyone who likes a good story.

Overall Score 87
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Andrew Barker

Andrew Barker

Andrew was an absolute workhorse during his many years with RPGFan. A contributor to both news and reviews, he would go on to overhaul and completely run our news department – in fact, he was the reason we expanded news INTO a "department."