After recently being able to get my hands on Corpse Party: Blood Drive, I now have a hold of yet another visual novel story dubbed Code:Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ for the PlayStation Vita. Released on October 20th, this title doesn’t fall into the same story category as Corpse Party, at all. It takes you off into a more whimsical land and it’s based primarily on love and fantasy rather than a haunting story. As another addition to the cascade of visual novel games pouring in from Japan, players will be wondering if this is simply just another to ignore or something to pick up and savour.
Code:Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth: Playstation Vita [Reviewed]
Developer: Idea Factory
Publisher: Aksys Games
Release Date: 20 October 2015
Price: £28.99 [Disclosure Game Copy provided by Publisher]
Code:Realize begins with the player selecting their female protagonist’s name, which is defaulted to Cardia, and sends them off on an otome (female version of a harem) adventure. Cardia is dubbed a monster, based on her uncontrollable power of acidic touch, who has the ability to corrode the flesh of anyone/anything that touches her into a puddle of goop. She is promptly rescued by a dashing male character and whisked away from an alternate timeline’s London police force. As she stumbles her way across different scenarios, she encounters more men based off of real life fictional characters.
This game is tended to lean towards the female video gamers out there in the world, as you are only able to play as the female protagonist. You explore the storyline and guide Cardia’s decisions, choosing among the aforementioned characters based off of such literary characters as Abraham Van Helsing, Sherlock Holmes and more. Each has their own personality and is meant for the player to choose a male for Cardia based more on their own preferences or their own personality. This makes The choices throughout the game vary and there’s many roads to travel while guiding her, but it doesn’t only escalate her love life.
Throughout the heavy-text based story, Cardia will undergo changes from her dry stupor at the beginning of the game to later in it. Her story is done really well in that you see her character development drastically increase while progressing and making choices for her. This is great because she ends up not feeling so much like a girl who needs to be rescued all the time, such as at the beginning of the game. She offers intuitive and complex thoughts into some of the plot points and circumstances she’s going through, which makes her more interesting than many other female roles in video games.
As a straight male reviewer, I’d have to admit that I didn’t feel uncomfortable at any points whilst playing the game. Overall, it had a great story that makes the player feel like it doesn’t necessarily have to be a female who’s taking the reins as Cardia. The romance aspect of the game isn’t overpowering, which would normally push away the male population playing the game, but gets them interested in her thought processes throughout the story and how she approaches different situations.
The thing that the game lacks, like most visual novels, is any form of gameplay whatsoever. Although the story was innovative, I couldn’t help feel that this would be a game that could have some form of RPG-element added to it, somewhat like Corpse Party. With each of the characters individual powers, or just Cardia’s alone, there could have been an opportunity at so many interactions with objects in different areas. For example, Cardia’s ability could have been expanded to include not only melting flesh but also inanimate objects to progress through areas. This may seem like a gimmicky idea, but if intricate puzzles were added to properly utilize Cardia’s powers, it could have made for an intriguing gameplay along with a powerful narrative.
The art, character designs, and setting for the title are amazing. First, beginning with many of their costumes, the Gothic-London feel makes it really feel like you’re in another world (even though it’s an alternate-history Earth). Even though you’re simply reading and listening to the words and voice actors, you really feel like you’re in the world with the depth of the images displayed on the screen at the time. The atmosphere projected from the background makes you feel like you’re in the environment, and is sometimes calming whenever you reach a vast prairie. Not only that, but there’s also city sounds like automobiles and people talking in the background make it feel like you’re really in the city. The developers really wanted to ensure that the reader of their visual novel was experiencing the ambience.
Another thing that needs to be brought up is the sheer talent of the voice actors. Each character sounds unique and the actors knew their characters well enough to portray their personalities. Emotional scenes tug at your heart-strings and others have them sound just epic. It’s hard to understand any of what they’re saying since it’s Japanese, but reading what it is and hearing the tone in their voice really gets you pumped for the more dramatic sequences.
The user interface in the game is well-done, making it easier to navigate around dialogue throughout the game. You are able to bring up a menu in order to return to something that was said a while back in a chapter, repeating it in case you moved too quickly over it to absorb any of what was said. So you can either reverse it to the time that they said it, or simply just read over the script in the menu to refresh yourself. This is something that I wished was included in some other visual novels I had my hands on.
The well-thought interface doesn’t stop there, as it adds a glossary that is accessible at any point during the narrative. During the dialogue, players will see certain coloured phrases or words, you will be able to press a button and bring up a separate window that explains the history of that certain term. This is a fantastic feature as the terms won’t have to be forcibly included into the dialogue, making it feel clunky and expositional. If you care to know the term, you’re able to pause the dialogue, bring it up quickly and easily understand it as it is briefly explained. This makes for a smoother experience whilst reading and provides the player with the option of even getting to know the terms if they just want to quickly get through the story.
Overall, Code:Realize is a game that breaks the usual boredom of visual novels even without any form of gameplay. The soundtrack is impressive along with a line-up of talented voice actors portraying many of the interesting/well-thought characters in the whole story. Cardia’s narrative becomes more complex as you progress and makes her feel less like a damsel in distress and more like a contemplating figure. This coupled with the user interface, for reversing back to something you may have missed in the dialogue, and the glossary, to research terms, makes for an interesting visual novel that’ll stand out from the rest. While targeting the female demographic, it’s still an enjoyable game for the opposite sex, as well.