Otome games, visual novels directed at women, are relatively common in the East but less so here. We’ve got a couple – in particular, the classic Hakuoki: Stories of the Shinsengumi, as well as more recent titles like Amnesia: Memories – but the subgenre is still in its relative infancy in the West. The PS Vita, a popular platform for visual novels, has added another otome game to the library with Code: Realize: Guardian of Rebirth, so fans looking to scratch that specific itch now have another outlet.
Code: Realize stars Cardia, a young lady living in a steampunk reimagining of Victorian-era London. Cardia’s not exactly the dating type, since she’s got a deadly condition that renders her poisonous to those around her and must live in seclusion so she doesn’t melt anybody. How fortunate that Arsené Lupin is willing to look past this and see the woman inside! Yes, seriously. This is a visual novel about dating Lupin.
I mean, it doesn’t have to be Lupin. There’s also the incredibly rich Count of Saint Germain, Impey Barbicane from Jules Verne’s work or Victor Frankenstein. More importantly, you can date Van Helsing, which I think is the only real choice here, though sadly it’s not Hugh Jackman. When you run out of VN ideas I suppose you end up turning to utter insanity, and this sort of literary mishmash actually makes Code: Realize stand out amongst the crowd. Let’s not even talk about “Hérlock Sholmes.” I’m not sure it takes a detective to determine who that is.
As always with otome games, I’m not the intended audience so I can’t really speak to the quality of the writing. It’s typical anime and I don’t think the target demographic is going to have any issues with it, but what do I know? The art is gorgeous, as is to be expected for a premium VN, the Japanese voice acting is solid as far as I know and as this is a full-fledged VN rather than a kinetic novel there are a variety of endings available.
Code: Realize is interesting in that it essentially allows you to “cheat” your way into other endings, allowing you to choose directly which you’d like to play if you’d rather do that instead of making your way there via branching decisions. Amnesia: Memories did something similar and I’m wondering if this sort of thing will become common for future otome titles.
As always, the PS Vita’s the platform of choice for visual novels. Given Sony’s conclusion of official support for the platform, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is all we end up seeing for it in the future. That’s actually not such a bad thing, as it’s been the best system for niche titles of this nature throughout its lifespan. As for Code: Realize: Guardian of Rebirth, it’s got Hérlock Sholmes and you can date Frankenstein. I really don’t need to say anything more. Check it out if you’re after new otome.