Otome games are certainly an acquired taste. Fortunately, the PlayStation Vita caters to such niche games and gamers. While there are plenty of visual novels that contain intricate gameplay within, others tend to lend themselves to just a choose you own adventure style story. Code: Realize is the latter of those types of games, but nothing less can be expected from Aksys Games who have made it part of their business to create such content. At the very least, we are taken to an alternate reality where classic literary characters are put into a steampunk setting, and that alone should be interesting, or that’s what was thought at least.
Like many otome games made by Aksys, there is a girl involved with many males around her. That may come off as a tad snarky, but that seems to be a consistent plot trend with these games, and there is nothing wrong with that since these games are typically catered to a female demographic.
You play as, well, whatever name you pick out essentially, the protagonist who has amnesia (like another Aksys game that released late last year). The protagonist has gems embedded in her chest, which allows a poison to course through her bloodstream, making anyone that touches her feel pain, or potentially death. Isolated to her home, she is considered a monster until a dashing thief, Lupin, captures her.
Of course, a slight case of Stockholm syndrome occurs as she teams up with Lupin and his team of overly attractive men consisting of Van Helsing, Victor Frankenstein, and Impey Barbicane, to unravel the conspiracy as an organization is after the stones. Along the way you run into other characters that you may be familiar with, like, Saint-Germaine (actual person), Finis, and Herlock Sholmes (really?).
At the very least, what makes Code: Realize stand out is its setting and the attention to detail there is in each of the character’s backstory’s. It would have been easy to just simply move the plot along, but the writers added in some fun, if extremely goofy moments, in the game to help connect you with them better. The problem is that these great historical figures that had so much potential to be so much more than just archetypes.
The writing tends to get, well, laughably bad at times where it should be taken more seriously. This shouldn’t be anything new to fans of this genre, but going from one extreme of emotion to another in little time is strange. Fortunately, the music in Code: Realize can help keep you in the moments more than the writing can and the artwork in the game can keep you sucked into the world.
In fact, the art direction is a saving grace for this title. The steam punk aesthetic is enough to keep the world interesting and the lighting in certain scenes are beautiful to say the least. Perhaps that is what is so frustrating about the game, more effort was put into the look and not in the writing.This may impede on the replay factor for the game, which is unfortunate as there are so many different endings the game provides. Granted, you can speed by the areas you already have read to get to the point where you can see the different ways you fall in love with each character, assuming of course you pick the right dialogue options to get a good, or true endings.
Code: Realize has its moments to be sure, but poor writing in many areas kept it from being more engaging. The world is wonderfully realized, but the story and even the characters that are taken from classic literature, were reduced to nothing more than just anime stereotypes. While there is nothing wrong with that, in most cases, it made the characters I wanted to take seriously, due to their literary history, nothing more than a cliche.