Code: Realize ~Bouquet of Rainbows~ Review (PS4)
Oh here we go with yet another otome visual novel. You know, one of those romance games geared toward women where the protagonist is a beautiful girl who has at least four different guys to choose from. It’s almost like the Bachelorette, but with a decent script and better acting. The biggest problem with otome visual novels is that sometimes the storyline barely changes, no matter who you choose to spend your time with. Sure, you’ll learn the unique (often tragic) backstory for your true love, but the drama that unfolds typically runs the same path no matter what. Code: Realize ~Bouquet of Rainbows~ may be monotonous in some areas, but at least the player reads through a completely different experience each time. In some ways, this is a Choose Your Own Adventure in visual novel form done right.
Forrest Gump of 19th Century UK
Our story unfolds with an amnesiac girl (didn’t see that coming) named Cardia who knows nothing of her life before she remembered waking up two years ago. Even more strangely, her body contains a horrible acidic poison that melts anything on contact. The British Royal Army was sent to pick her up for Twilight, Britain’s super secret double probation intelligence agency, for reasons unknown. However, they are quickly thwarted by the great gentleman thief, Arséne Lupin, who steals her away and promises to steal her heart in the process.
Well. Obviously we’ve found our first suitor.
As obvious as this is, and as much as the game pushes you toward Lupin no matter who you choose, he’s not available for any romantic encounters until after the other romance options are completed. Stand back ladies; he’s only yours after you go through his friends.
So who are these other eligible bachelors? They are none other than additional literary figures from the era, including Impey Barbicane (from Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon), Dr. Victor Frankenstein (no explanation needed), Abraham Van Helsing (from Bram Stoker’s Dracula), and Count Saint-Germain (lead character in Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s novels, based upon the historical Count of St. Germain, a supposed immortal alchemist in France). With this group, how is a girl supposed to pick just one?
Yet, she can’t do much picking at all since she can’t touch anything. They’re all fairly certain it has to do with the Horologium lodged in her chest, a present from her missing father, Isaac Beckford. The Horologium is a beautiful stone that reportedly provides an infinite supply of power, and it’s one that was only theorized while Beckford and other alchemists (including Frankenstein, naturally) were researching the Philosopher’s Stone. This ragtag band of brothers have sworn to help cure her of her poison, find out why Twilight is hunting her, and why her father left her all alone in that Welsh mansion with the instructions to never leave.
Why not get really close to one of these hot guys and learn about the one thing you never thought you’d have while you’re at it? That one thing is called love, by the way. Try to keep up.
Monotony to Get to Monogamy
Bouquet of Rainbows is actually a collection of both Code: Realize games. The first game, Code: Realize Guardians of Rebirth was released on the Vita back in 2014. When the sequel released for Vita in March, both games were combined into one disc for the PS4 as Bouquet of Rainbows. You can play either one in any order you wish, but since Future Blessings picks up right where Guardians of Rebirth left off, you’re going to want to do these games in order. Or maybe not, if you enjoy being super confused.
Each guy has a pretty intricate—and tragic—backstory as well as a completely unique path to the end. Once your choice is made, the following chapters are entirely different from any other route. What happens to Cardia and how she gets the answers to her questions vary with each suitor. Like I said earlier, no matter who you choose, the game heavily hints that Cardia is supposed to end up with Lupin in the end. Lupin’s story route brings in elements of the other story paths, but they’re told as if it’s a storyteller saying, “Well, here’s what really happened.”
Think of the 80s movie Clue, and its three endings.
It’s a good thing all five paths are so different because dear Lord, the chapters you most sift through before that point are an absolutely beating. They’re boring and so ridiculously (almost needlessly) padded. It’s as if the writers had all of these characters they really wanted to include and didn’t know how to naturally introduce them to the story. For instance, a young Dracula is rather integral to the plot. Somehow, the writers thought the best way to introduce him to the Lupin gang was to have them fall into money problems and sign up to be bounty hunters. It was just as painful as it sounds.
Thank God you can skip through dialogue you’ve already seen, because otherwise, there would be no replaying; it doesn’t matter how hot Lupin is.
All of these branches are very intriguing—unlike the first eight chapters preceding them—but it doesn’t mean that all of them flow well. A couple of branches didn’t logistically fit together, especially in terms of Cardia falling for them. For example, it doesn’t take long to see that there is no way Cardia would ever initiate a romance with Impey, so following this branch is often cringe-worthy. Some of it is definitely my own personal taste, but you know it doesn’t fit together at all when the rest of the cast is constantly shocked Cardia chooses to spend time with him. His path might have been written as a joke, but he’s not the only bachelor with the cringe-inducing story that makes zero logical sense.
What About After the Happily Ever After?
The Future Blessings portion of the collection was obviously created as fanservice, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s easy to get attached to a favorite pairing or two and want to see more of them. However, these extensions of Cardia’s love stories were more than just oh-let’s-hang-out-with-the-lovebirds for another hour. They tackled the big question of what do you do next, now that you’re in a relationship? Now that the world is no longer in danger, what do you talk about? What do you do together? Is the love just as strong without the life-threatening thrills? While not many of us have found a relationship during a life-and-death event, all of us can understand the feeling of “what do we do now?” after the thrill of the chase is over.
The stories here are pretty deep and great, but unlike Guardians of Rebirth, there are no dialogue choices to make. It makes sense, as the dialogue choices in Guardians of Rebirth led to either a bad ending, a normal ending, or a true ending, and the White Rose tales of Future Blessings are simply that—tales with one true ending. While logical it may be, the interactivity is completely lost, and there wasn’t much there to begin with.
However, there are three other stories in Future Blessings that bring back the slight interactivity of Guardians of Rebirth. One story involves events that Lupin hinted toward in the middle of Guardians of Rebirth, and the other two additional routes for Guardians of Rebirth: one with Cardia’s brother Finis (no this isn’t an incest story, stop that) and the other opening up Herlock Sholmes as a sixth romance option. I have to add here that before you roll your eyes at the ridiculousness of naming Sherlock Holmes, there’s actually a comical and literary reason behind it.
Unfortunately, none of these extra stories are half as good as the originals. I thought the first half of Guardians of Rebirth was a snoozer, but I frequently nodded off during Herlock Sholmes’ route and literally fell asleep while playing the Lupin’s Gang extra story. The White Rose extensions should have been DLC for the original game and that’s it. None of them are very long, so it’s obvious that to make the second title worth the same amount of coin, they had to offer more. Too bad they forgot the golden rule of quality over quantity.
At least I had the frequent typos to keep me giggling.
In the End, You Realize…
PlayStation 4 owners certainly got the best deal out of the ~Bouquet of Rainbows~ collection, as the Future Blessings title is tacked on, price-wise, as DLC. Vita owners, I am so sorry that each costs $39.99, and you don’t have access to this collection. The combined duo is certainly the best way to go, even for die-hard otome fans. As sweet as the romances are, there simply isn’t enough in Future Blessings to warrant an additional purchase. Fortunately, PS4 players have ~Bouquet of Rainbows~ to see all of these romances through to the end, and despite the glaring typos, jumps in logic, and overly simple gameplay, it’s worth it to press X to get to the various conclusions.
Code: Realize ~Bouquet of Rainbows~ review code provided by publisher. Version 1.00 reviewed on a standard PS4. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.