More opportunities for love abound in Code: Realize ~Wintertide Miracles~, the second fan disc released for otome visual novel series Code: Realize. The main focus of this fan disc is Cardia reconnecting with one of the five heroes from the first title in an alternate timeline where the relationship between Cardia and her brother Finis has a much happier outcome than in the original Code: Realize, though there is also a wealth of other content for players to peruse.
Similar to the first fan disc, Code: Realize ~Future Blessings~, newcomers need not apply. Wintertide Miracles relies on gamers having previous knowledge of both the first game and Future Blessings, especially given the focus on Finis’ route in so much of the story content. Plus, characters like Shirley and her dad from the first fan disc venture into its plots. By this point in Code: Realize’s mythos, little time is spent explaining who everyone is and how they’re connected to one another, so the game clearly banks on players already having extensive knowledge of Code: Realize’s story universe. Truthfully, that makes the intended audience for Wintertide Miracles pretty limited: only fans who have experienced both of the other Code: Realize outings are going to find much to enjoy in this title.
However, those fans who are coming in with prior Code: Realize knowledge will find an enjoyable collection of new stories to partake in. The new narratives are often not as serious as those found in the other Code: Realize titles; many have an “epilogue” feel attached to them and linger more on the fluff side in terms of storytelling. Wintertide Miracles provides story outings that fans of the previous two games will no doubt like even if they don’t bring anything new or groundbreaking to the Code: Realize universe.
The first story mode to play through in Wintertide Miracles is called Triangle Date, and the name pretty much speaks for itself. In Triangle Date, Cardia goes on a date with two of her potential suitors, and the scenarios alter somewhat depending on which characters you choose to go on a date with due to their differing personalities. The Triangle Date stories are fun little ventures that can be rather entertaining, especially when gamers experiment with the character combinations, though my favorite element of Triangle Date was the non-romantic outings you can opt to have Cardia go on with her friends. I found the Triangle Date story with Delacroix II and corgi Sisi to be filled with cuteness, and the Hansel and Watson “date” was thoroughly entertaining.
With Wintertide Miracles being a direct “sequel” of sorts to events found in Future Blessings, the game also contains proper character epilogues for both the Finis and Herlock routes from that first fan disc. I appreciated the way Finis’ route so wholly changed my opinion on Cardia’s brother in Future Blessings, as he was not a favorite character of mine in the original game, but I warmed up to him considerably in the fan disc and his story epilogue in Wintertide Miracles further cemented that. Likewise, the Herlock romance in Future Blessings was nicely done and I appreciated the resolution it got in this title.
Another narrative to explore in Wintertide Miracles is the Cantarella side story, which is set during the common route of the first Code: Realize. In this adventure, Cardia befriends a songstress named Cantarella with a mysterious and tragic past; events surrounding her soon spiral out of control to embroil the Lupin Gang once more in a battle to save Steel London. Similar to Shirley’s story in Future Blessings, Cantarella’s narrative is a nice addition to the adventures Cardia and company get into, and I appreciate that the focus was once again on female friendship. The adopted daughter and father storyline it contained was also quite touchingly handled and conveyed.
The main plot focus of Wintertide Miracles are the five Christmas-themed stories that players can choose to partake in. These stories are set after the events of Finis’ route from Future Blessings, delving into the idea of Cardia finally being able to pursue a romance with one of the five heroes from the first game in that alternate universe. These Christmas-themed stories are generally more lighthearted affairs with a romantic focus, and I found they helped balance out the heaviness often found in Finis’ route.
The final story mode for Wintertide Miracles only opens up as a reward should gamers play every other story mode to completion. Known as Special Epilogue, these stories continue the character route epilogues found in Future Blessings for all five of the main suitors. Gaining access to the Special Epilogue stories certainly is no small effort on the part of the player!
Similar to Future Blessings, “playing” Wintertide Miracles is a bit of a stretch at times, as you’re often going through long periods of simply reading text before reaching any sort of decision point. In fact, both the Finis and Herlock epilogues contain no decision points whatsoever, so they’re quite literally taking the “novel” aspect of the Visual Novel genre into account. The Christmas routes, Special Epilogue, and Cantarella story do contain some player choice elements to break up the text, and in Cantarella’s story in particular these decisions can impact the way the plot progresses. However, there aren’t a whole lot of decision points in any of the routes, so players will spend a majority of time simply reading.
For the most part, the localization of Wintertide Miracles is excellent. I did notice a few typos here and there, but nothing that was overall detrimental to the flow of the story. Truthfully, I was quite impressed at that given how text heavy a game this is. Like with other otome titles I’ve played, I did notice that the voice acting, while excellent, became quite “soft” on the normal audio settings. However, the sound effects and music were very well done and nicely implemented. Similar to the first two games in the Code: Realize series, the artwork and illustrations that help breathe life into Wintertide Miracles’ story and characters are quite gorgeous to behold.
Code: Realize ~Wintertide Miracles~ is essentially a sequel of a fan disc, and its audience will no doubt be limited because of that. Still, for those fans of Code: Realize who want more content and to enjoy some good old-fashioned fluff, Wintertide Miracles will not disappoint. Those who like happy endings will certainly appreciate another opportunity to continue Cardia’s journey.