Code: Realize Guardian of Rebirth is an anime visual novel with a Steampunk aesthetic. Its compelling characters are immersed in a fascinating story full of beautiful designs, colorful scenes, and meticulously composed music.
Every now and then, you can find yourself questioning the meaning of existence, wondering whether you deserve to live at all. Code: Realize Guardian of Rebirth tells the story of Cardia Beckford, pretty and cute as she is complicated, suffering from this very same existential crisis.
It is a visual novel that was first released on PS Vita in 2014. It later made its way to the Nintendo Switch in Japan, but this year it’s finally available to players worldwide.
What’s Your Poison?
Code: Realize Guardian of Rebirth is set in a beautifully-designed steampunk version of Britain. Vehicles, air crafts, and even prosthetic limbs are, all utilizing Neosteam engines, one of Isaac Beckford’s brilliant inventions. Isaac is an extraordinary genius, whose designs pushed the United Kingdom beyond belief, giving his country an unparalleled advantage in both technology and military might. As his last name suggests, he is related to the story’s protagonist, Cardia Beckford. He is her father, to be exact.
The plot begins in an isolated mansion where Cardia lives by in solitude. Her father left her one day and instructed her not to leave the house – she is a monster, after all. What is so monstrous about a beautiful young lady? Cardia has lethal poison running through her veins, making her very touch a death sentence. This potent poison can dissolve even fabrics and metals, but her genius father had developed special clothes for her before he left.
One day, lonely Cardia finds herself facing the British Royal Guard that was ordered to seize her. On their way back to the city, the convoy is attacked by Arsène Lupin, a skilled thief who can steal every treasure, including Cardia. Lupin successfully abducts Cardia and discovers that she has amnesia and doesn’t remember anything from before the point her father has left her.
They join Impey Barbicane, a brilliant but childish engineer that works with Lupin. To Cardia’s horror, Lupin and Impey tell her that the cause of her poisonous blood is Isaac’s experiments. He embedded a beautiful jewel called Horologium in Cardia’s chest. The Horologium is a state-of-the-art invention, and it is the real reason she is being pursued. Cardia agrees to join Lupin’s team and unravel the truth about herself and her father.
Your Love Is My Drug
In Code: Realize Guardian of Rebirth, Cardia meets many characters, five of them could become her suitors throughout the story. To my dismay, I discovered that to unlock Lupin’s route (and revealing the true ending), you first have to finish the other four routes. This isn’t necessarily a downside since the plot changes according to the lover of choice, so you continually unlock more content.
Fortunately, you will not have to go through the early story in each run, and you can choose to skip to the point of branch out. Moreover, the story is fascinating, and I really liked how it can keep going without losing steam.
All the suitors, and some of the others, are based on iconic characters from Western culture and literature. For example, you’d probably imagine Victor Frankenstein as a demented scientist, yet the game presents him as a kind-hearted man that will not abandon his comrades in need. He practices alchemy and can create small bombs, as well as clothes and other objects that will not degrade from Cardia’s touch.
Along with Frankenstein, you’ll discover that each one of Cardia’s suitors is unique and has a different set of skills. They are dependable and reliable but maintain different styles when vying for Cardia’s heart. Impey is hurried and impulsive, but his engineering skills are almost unparalleled. He is as much of a handful to deal with as he is handy.
Lupin, on the contrary, is very calculated and quick thinking. His beaming self-confidence is highly justified. Count Saint-Germin is a mysterious wealthy man that doesn’t seem to cease smiling. He lets the group take shelter in his mansion and helps them plan and execute their next actions without any apparent motive.
Lastly, we have Abraham Van Helsing, a renowned and stern warrior who fought off dozens of vampires. He can reload a gun faster than you can blink. Van Helsing joins the team after trying to abduct Cardia (yes, again) but figures that he can use the help of the team for his own interests.
With the help of her suitors, Cardia grows up to be a strong young woman and a quick learner. She still remains somewhat naive but not longer a damsel in distress, even though the sinister Twilight organization is always after her on every turn.
The art design of Code: Realize Guardian of Rebirth is marvelous. The Steampunk style is almost always present, be it on the streets of London, the NeoSteam-powered vehicles, or the fashion the characters are dressed. It reminded me of Pokemon Sword and Shield‘s world, which is also based on Britain.
If you are an anime lover, you’ll enjoy the vivid design of the characters. Every detail is carefully thought out, every facial expression, even the faintest smile, is well stationed in the correct text line.
Realize Guardian of Rebirth got an anime adaptation in 2017, and when you play the game, you understand why. Everything that is sound-related screams anime: the voice acting is accurate and matches the anime style, and is done by recognizable voice actors. Together with many nuance sound effects, a powerful soundtrack, and the visual art, it is almost like playing an anime series. The only negative thing I can say regarding the sound is that some characters are hard to hear even after sound adjustments.
While the voice acting is in Japanese only, there are English subtitles. They are very clear and large enough to read easily from the TV in docked mode.
A Gateway Visual Novel
There are several QOL features such as quick save and load, auto-skip, and easy scene-rewinding in case you missed a line. Through the main menu, you can listen to the soundtrack, look through unlocked images, and review your ever-growing glossary.
Code: Realize Guardian of Rebirth sucks you into a steamy and colorful whirlpool, even if you don’t usually play visual novels. In fact, it just might be the gateway game you’ve been looking for if you ever wanted to understand the genre’s appeal.
The game is available for Nintendo Switch in a beautiful collector’s edition or a regular edition. If you still own a PS Vita or want the double-pack for PlayStation 4 – it is still available on those platforms as well.
Publisher: Aksys Games
Release Date: Feb. 6, 2020
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