Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ | Game Review

We are all monsters, but still beautiful people. Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ is a story about how low self-esteem and self-loathing doesn’t bar you from being loved, and that everyone is broken in some regard. Set in a steam-punk version of London, we get to grow with a poisonous girl as she learns about life and love from literary figures brought to life.

Game Name: Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~
Developer: Otomate, Idea Factory
Publisher: Aksys Games
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS Vita
Age Rating: Teen (ESRB)
Price: $39.99, $49.99 (only available bundled with first fandisc), $39.99
More Info: Website

Disclaimer: While the game is the same across all systems, the Switch version was played for this review. There is no stated difference between versions except that the PS4 title is bundled with the first fandisc and thus 2 games in one.


Sweet 4/5: There are a lot of feels in this game, both direct and indirect.
Spicy 1/4: With a poisonous touch, there’s not much touching to be had in Code: Realize.
Design 4/5: Each character is unique, detailed, and complicated. Great cast.
Story 4/5: While well paced with extensive world building, the common route is extraordinarily long and largely repetitive.


“When Cardia is awoken in her Welsh estate by the handsome thief Arsène Lupin, she can’t possibly imagine the journey she has ahead of her… and the dangers that await. Fortunately, Cardia is not entirely helpless–the mysterious gems embedded in her chest grant her poisonous skin, which can melt away anything that touches it.”

Official English Website

If only this were the way the story starts, how romantic it would be. We do start with a poisonous girl, Cardia, who is sort of kidnapped rescued by Arsène Lupin, a renowned gentleman thief, from the clutches of England’s Queensguard who are referring to our precious heroine as a “monster.” She is precious and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise.

While not as romantic, the writers certainly know how to start an action-packed story on the right foot. From there we’re introduced to the rest of the cast, and the plot begins to unfold in the longest common route I’ve ever played in my life (Hakuouki doesn’t count). Everyone has their own reasons for deciding to team up in this merry gang of sexy men with Cardia connected to some part of their conflict or path to resolution.

The world is akin to ours in 19th century London, except in this timeline there have been advances made in alchemy and engineering, and everything has been steam-punkified. It’s a reimagined historical fiction setting, where literary men are real and very much a part of the story, such as Lupin – the gentleman thief – and Van Helsing – yes, the vampire hunter, himself.

Game Trailer


Oh boy, or should I say “Oh boys!”? Code: Realize boasts an average-sized cast of five LIs. Four of them are available at the beginning of the game, with the fifth unlocking once you complete a Good or Normal ending in each route.

While it is suggested you save Saint-Germain for last (before Lupin, of course, since he is man-candy number 5 and unavailable in more ways than one), there isn’t a route order to be followed with the other three.

Recommended play order: Impey (or) Victor (or) Van HelsingSaint-GermainLupin

I’ll be listing them in order of angst build up. So if you want to start out light and watch the game get darker, this will be what I consider the ideal way to build the drama.

Since either a Good or Normal ending will unlock Lupin, you don’t have to complete every ending to progress the story. However, some Normal endings have CGs, so if you’re a completionist, you should play both Normal and Good endings for each route to ensure you pick up all the CGs.

There are also a number of Bad endings in each route, but these are all usually very short instant death situations with no CGs, so there’s no point in hitting every ending unless you simply want to.

Main Character (MC)

Name: Cardia Beckford
Pronouns: She/Her
Voice Actor: N/A

One of the biggest highlights of Code: Realize is getting to play the story as Cardia, the MC. Her first name can be changed, but the voice actors will say her default name if you leave it. Cardia is a young woman of unknown age, depicted as late-teen, who is introduced as a girl with poisonous skin. She is the blankest of blank slates starting out. As apathetic as it gets.

That is, until the prologue is over and she has been whisked away by a certain gentleman thief, Arsène Lupin. From then on, Cardia grows as a person. We get to witness her developing a personality, expanding her knowledge, learning new skills that she gets to actually use in the story, and create relationships both platonic and romantic.

She was blessed to be surrounded by not only hot men, but men that are practical experts in their own fields, and they bestow what they know upon her. As the story continues, she proves to be something special for the 1850 (alternate universe) time period that the game takes place in and the writing for her character development is top-tier.

Cardia appears as a sprite by the textbox in the bottom of the screen. She is not voiced, but gets a few expression and outfit changes that can be seen on her sprite. I really enjoy being able to see the MC during the game, otherwise I tend to forget what she looks like and find myself surprised when she shows up in a CG.

Impey Barbicane

Name: Impey Barbicane (Impey)
Pronouns: He/Him
Potential Endings: 1 Good, 1 Normal, 2 Bad
Voice Actor: Morikubo Shoutarou (森久保 祥太郎)
Tropes: Genki, Flirt, Himbo

The easy-breezy, Impey-squeezy redhead is up first. Impey Barbicane comes on strong and he is certainly a character, a caricature, even. He is based on some French novel I’ve never heard of, by an author I have heard of, Jules Verne. It’s about a man (Impey Barbicane) who wanted to go to the moon way back in 1865.

Impey certainly carries the same goals as his novel-influenced self, and he’s willing to tell anyone that listens that he will get to the moon some day. That’s only one defining feature of this tall drink of delicious steam-power. He’s a genius inventor (or so he claims), a shameless flirt, the most emotive and emotional of the not so merry men, and has hair longer than most otome heroines. I love it. I love him.

There is rarely a time that Impey is not smiling, and I know that genki, flirty, himbos are not most people’s cups of English tea, but this man will grow on you and work his way into your refined tastes. He gets probably the most romantic line in the game, and the love story is full of goodness.

RJ’s Ending Suggestion
Assuming you’ve aimed for the Good End, if you managed that first I wouldn’t go back for the Normal End. You can skip out on the unresolved and unsatisfying “bittersweet” ending and leave yourself with only the best of impressions from Impey’s route.

Victor Frankenstein

Name: Victor Frankenstein (Fran)
Pronouns: He/Him
Potential Endings: 1 Good, 1 Normal, 3 Bad
Voice Actor: Kakihara Tetsuya (柿原 徹也)
Tropes: Awkward, Cinnamon Roll, FOR SCIENCE!

Coming off that beautiful high, we get to test our chemistry with Victor Frankenstein. The progenitor of Frankenstein’s monster is into less morbid things in this AU (alternate universe), though still dabbling in pseudo-science as an alchemist.

Despite obviously having a wealth of knowledge about many science-related fields, Victor lacks the self-confidence that Impey has, which gives us a reserved, book learned, cinnamon roll. He completes the smartboi look with glasses and kind features – kindness included – plus a touch of awkwardness because intelligent boys blushing is best.

Due to his personal conflict, romance comes in starts and fits but largely simmers on the Bunsen-burner while more pressing matters are handled. The payoff is as sweet as Victor is, so I suggest sticking it out.

RJ’s Ending Suggestion
I enjoyed both the Good and Normal endings for Victor’s route. If you want to feel some pain, do the Normal End.

Abraham Van Helsing

Name: Abraham Van Helsing (Van)
Pronouns: He/Him
Potential Endings: 1 Good, 1 Normal, 3 Bad
Voice Actor: Suwabe Jun’ichi (諏訪部 順一)
Tropes: Kuudere, Violence, Suwabe’s Sweet Sweet Voice

I’m a sucker for a man in a suit. I’m also a sucker for a LI introduced in a powerful manner where his presence is overwhelming. Abraham Van Helsing is brought into the story like any self-respecting bad guy would be, but… he’s not the bad guy?

If you don’t know who Van Helsing, the famed Vampire Hunter, is in fiction, we can’t be friends. Van is a militaristic man, out for blood against some unnamed person that apparently Cardia (MC) can help him get to. He doesn’t reveal who this person is until said person is introduced in the game. And it isn’t revealed why he’s after this person until his route, as it should be.

But let’s get back to this bodacious badass. If you want a man that internalizes everything and presents a gruff, aggressive exterior with a barely smoldering romance, this is your route. I was not a fan of the romance in this route, but I can’t say no to Van the man. Probably because he says it plenty for the both of us, so someone has to say yes.

Really, though, the angst is turned up tenfold from the previous route, and that’s what got me. He’s just too cool.

RJ’s Ending Suggestion
The Normal End is full of ouch. If you like it when it hurts, you might want to check out the Normal End. The Good End is good, so if you only want a happy ending, or to end it on a good note, do that one.


Name: Saint-Germain (San)
Pronouns: He/Him
Potential Endings: 1 Good, 1 Normal, 4 Bad
Voice Actor: Hirakawa Daisuke (平川 大輔)
Tropes: Aristocrat, Closed-Eye Sprite, Spoiler

Time to take a step away from the common folk and be treated by the eccentric Count Saint-Germain. This one is an interesting fellow who actually existed in our history and because of his constant spinning of webs about himself and his origins, he became somewhat of a legend and found his way into fiction.

Introduced as an androgynous-looking, mysterious, wealthy nobleman, he plays host to Cardia and her group of studly suitors. Cool and composed at all times, Saint-Germain appears to be willing to jump into any adventure, head-sure and confident no matter what outcome comes about. It’s like life is a game to him, and he’s poised to win.

If Van’s route was angst at dangerous levels, Saint-Germain somehow turned the control past max. How did it get to 12?! This is my route. This is my jam. This is my man. It’s a slow-burn romance with a sudden helping of accelerant added to the fire causing it to threaten to rage out of control.

RJ’s Ending Suggestion
The Normal End felt out of character to me. Skip the Normal End for this one, the Good End is where it’s at.

Arsène Lupin

Name: Arsène Lupin (Lupin)
Pronouns: He/Him
Potential Endings: 1 Good, 1 Normal, 3 Bad
Voice Actor: Maeno Tomoaki (前野 智昭)
Tropes: Charismatic, True Route, Charmer

And then there were five. Finally we’ve come to Arsène Lupin, the truth route. If you are unfamiliar with what a truth or true route is, it’s a route where the whole story is wrapped up along with all conflicts. It’s less “this is the canon boy” and more “this route handles everything,” thus it is the “truth”.

So, what makes Lupin so special? I guess, what doesn’t make Lupin special? He’s the first LI we meet in the game, he’s the reason we are pulled into this world full of fine fellows, and he makes a promise that simply must be upheld if he’s going to keep his title as the gentleman thief.

Arsène Lupin is a fictional character similar to the Victorian Robin Hood, robbing from “bad” people for “good” reasons. He’s portrayed as this cool, suave dude, but when circumstances deviate from his meticulous planning it seems like he just gets lucky. He is rather skilled, don’t get me wrong, but he is not infallible. I like a man with flaws, it makes them more interesting.

Lupin is a grand character with a grand story that encompasses all previous conflicts in this game. Perhaps due to how larger than life everything is relating to Lupin, the romance flounders a bit. It just exists like every Lupin magic trick, supposedly there the entire time, but not revealed until Lupin wants it to be. It is cute. But it also feels like he knew from the beginning that he was the ultimate boyfriend, so there was never a question about whether or not Cardia would end up with him.

RJ’s Ending Suggestion
Obviously we want the Good End, but this Normal End is worth it as well. Do both.

Story & Gameplay

It is no secret that Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ boasts one of the longest common routes in otome games. This is a big turn off for a lot of people, because there are eight full chapters before you get onto a LI route. Besides setting the scene and tone of the game, the common route divvies up a chapter per LI to highlight their personal story and foreshadow the conflict to be seen in their route.

Personally, I really enjoyed getting to know every character to the extent Code: Realize allowed us to. The found family trope is strong in this game, and it made it feel even more like we were a tightknit group of people working together due to the group dynamics and how every problem wasn’t a single person’s issue alone.

The common route, while long, is action-packed. I didn’t feel there was a moment that the game lagged, mixing in the right amount of drama and mystery to keep me interested. Romance is also integral to Code: Realize. It is a key ingredient needed in order for the story to rise to its perfect, rich form. No matter whose route you go down, there will be romance. We get to eat good with this story.

Story Structure

Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ is an affection building otome in visual novel format. That’s just a fancy way of saying the choices you make will earn you affection points with certain characters, ultimately leading you towards the route with the LI with the highest affection. It’s very easy in most cases to determine who you’re earning points with, as the choices usually include siding with, or choosing that character.

There is a feature that Code: Realize has that I haven’t seen in another game. Once you’ve finished the Good End for a single character, the main menu has a selection called “The Path of Genesis.” Through here you can choose to skip the common route, going directly to where the character routes split to play any character and choose the affection level – not just for characters you’ve finished.

Since the common route for Code: Realize is incredibly long, “The Path of Genesis” makes subsequent plays much easier. However, if you like the story, you could always use the skip feature and just slow down for parts you want to enjoy all over again.

Full disclosure: I totally played the common route all over again for every character. The personalized LI choices aren’t vastly different, as they fit within the narrative no matter which ones you choose, but I really loved the game and feeling like I was building a relationship with each guy individually.

Final Thoughts

I reluctantly left the world of Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ a different person than when I entered. Long had I felt like I didn’t deserve love, and this game finally showed me that no matter what demons I had, I was allowed to love and be loved. To say it had an impact on me is severely understating what I learned through my playthrough of Code: Realize.

There are flaws with the story, like any other. The common route’s length and the romance being overshadowed by plot in nearly every route are valid criticisms. But I’ve rarely played a game that made me feel the way I did after this one. Cardia is a beautiful protagonist who becomes a woman I want to protect and befriend. The men are all characters who are easy to love and the story constantly warms my heart every time I recall a scene from the game.

You’ll like Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ if you like: Extensive world-building, and finding hope in the darkest of places. It can get dreadfully angsty, with an assortment of bad endings throughout the game that contain some soul-crushing moments, but every Good Ending is undoubtedly good and worth the journey it takes to get there.

Game Info

Game Name: Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~
Developer: Otomate, Idea Factory
Publisher: Aksys Games
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS Vita
Age Rating: Teen (ESRB)
Price: $39.99, $49.99 (only available bundled with first fandisc), $39.99
More Info: Website

Disclaimer: While the game is the same across all systems, the Switch version was played for this review. There is no stated difference between versions except that the PS4 title is bundled with the first fandisc and thus 2 games in one.

About the Author

RJ Mercy

Late blooming romance lover living the dream of playing games and writing about 2D men.

Obsessive content consumer, awkward streamer, and casual reviewer.

Fun fact: I sleep with several men in my bed at night.

Thank You

~☆ Patrons ☆~

SSR – Annie

SSR – John

SR – Teryarel

SR – RJ Mercy

SSR – Meghan

SSR – Caroline

SR – Fitzroy

R – Vilicus

Contact Us

For media, PR, and all other enquiries, please email us at:

Twitch | Patreon | Twitter | Facebook | Reddit | Discord

More like this…


  • I love this review and the way it is written. I adore the puns and the way you use language. I’d love to say something witty or funny in response, but alas, no ispiration will come.
    But I can say that I definitely look forward to learning more about this game and the characters. Thank you for this review.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.