Paige FTW: Literary ‘Code: Realize’ Breaks The Norm

I am well aware that the “otome game” genre generally does not even brush against the edge of the average StreetPulse reader’s interests, much as it piques my own delight.

But a game as insane as Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ deserves some column inches for no other reason than that it presents a character named “Herlock Sholmes” and expects everyone to buy in.

While romance does factor into the game’s events, this visual novel actually is more interested in paying homage to Victorian-era literature and a lively steampunk aesthetic. Classic characters such as Arsene Lupin, Victor Frankenstein and Abraham van Helsing — as well as historical figures like Queen Victoria herself — play important roles, albeit in forms quite unlike what we are used to.

The story centers on Cardia, a mysterious girl who exudes poison from her bare skin, killing everyone she touches (a great hinder for romance), and her misadventures with a band of literary misfits as they attempt to discover the secret behind Cardia’s past/fight off wayward vampires/win an airship race/foil imperialistic terrorist attacks. This game goes to wild places, trust me.

Each of the five romance options take Cardia through different plots and escapades, with multiple endings. There’s a lot of reading to do, with about 13 chapters per route, each with two choices each that determine everyone’s fate. Truthfully, there’s astonishingly little choice for how much reading you’ll have to do. Such is the way of the genre. This ain’t no Mass Effect-style cause-and-effect.

In that sense, Code: Realize oddly has little time for the starry-eyed romance that usually accompanies the genre — there’s just too much else to get done in this whirlwind of a story. It serves as a perfectly decent starting point for newcomers to the genre.