Code:Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ Arsène Lupin Review
First Impression: Well, you can steal my heart any day.
Lupin’s route was definitely the fluffier one of the bunch. For most part, almost every time he and Cardia interacted with each other, I couldn’t help but smile. I especially loved all of their CGs, the little kisses here and there, and just seeing Lupin hold Cardia, and a wedding to boot makes me all fuzzy inside. When they had their first kiss, oh goodness, I almost cried because I felt that, it was such an emotional moment. Lupin took a huge gamble, but the guy has proven the odds tend to be in his favour and was able to successfully exploit Isaac’s method by removing Cardia just so that she had enough energy left in her to survive. Her poison wasn’t all the way down to zero, but it didn’t take long for the last of it to be burned off. Lupin didn’t care for burning his hand briefly during the time it did, because he wanted to grant her wish of letting her truly experience the touch of warmth, and a kiss since he didn’t know if they were going to survive or not.
It was also nice to have for once, a backstory that wasn’t doom and gloom. Yes, Lupin was betrayed by his mentor who he perceived as a father figure, and was unable to save him from his own demise, but at least it wasn’t a full blown tragedy like some of the others.
But as much as I adore Lupin, you might be surprised to hear it actually took me a while to fall for him.
Unlike Van and Saint-Germain, Lupin isn’t exactly the type of character that grabs my attention right from the start. Beyond being a dazzling gentleman that made me swoon every time he sweeps Cardia off her feet, there was nothing about him that made me eager to learn more about him. But when he finally grew on me, it was certainly worth the wait.
Another part that probably contributed to my lack of interested how Lupin is one of those characters who can be tricky to read, especially when it comes down to their feelings. While yes, he certainly flirted and teased Cardia from the get go, for the longest time, I struggled to pin-point the exact moment I felt, “Ah, he has finally fallen for her”. In fact, to me, it’s Cardia who seems to have fallen in love first, but because it’s a foreign feeling to her, she didn’t know how to express it until Lupin explained it to her when he confessed to her. It wasn’t until then when they learned they were in fact on the same page.
But once we started to see more of Lupin outside of his Thief of Justice role, I found him to be a surprisingly grounded character. He is affectionate, kind, understanding but most of all, an earnest man. It was those qualities about him that finally made me fall for him. I also consider his confession to be the most heartfelt of the entire group. One of my favourite things he did was he sweetly teased Cardia, subtle giving her hints about his feelings towards her. We also got to see his moments of weakness, where we see his past regrets of being unable to save his mentor come back to haunt him when he lost Cardia to Finis. Actually, what I loved the most during that event was seeing Van check up on him. Lupin and Van are the BROTP I didn’t know I needed.
Cardia on the other hand, was a bit of a different story. This time round, her character didn’t appeal to me as much as it had in other routes. This had to do with how her story was set up. Since this is the true route that ties everything together, and since Isaac’s plan is set in motion, it made sense for Cardia to be in this position. However despite that, I still think there were times Cardia could have acted tougher than she had. Luckily, by Chapter 12, badass Cardia who isn’t going to wait to be saved finally made a comeback.
Nevertheless, whenever she was in trouble, Lupin would sweep in like a knight in shiny amour and make my heart flutter. (And let’s be real here: Lupin is so damn fine whenever he does it!)
However that being said, I don’t think it’s a coincidence how the two routes I found the early and mid game were terribly boring just so happened to focus only on one side of the party being saved. Both Impey’s and Lupin’s routes were missing that dramatic conflict that existed in Van’s, Saint-Germain’s routes (Victor’s is kind of in the middle, since his was a mixed of both). Neither he or Impey needed to be saved from a past that haunted them, or had enemy other than Twilight out to get them. Their own conflicts and the way it tied to their feelings for Cardia was how it kept things exciting for me until we finally got to the climax of their route.
STORY & CHARACTERS
As for the story, the main plot was good, but the overall pace getting there is debatable. I guess this really all comes down to one’s preference. During the early and mid-game, there were a number of times when I just wanted to skim through the text, because it was quickly turning into a snooze fest. And Cardia missing that fire (we all know she has) for so long wasn’t particularly encouraging either. More specifically, I found Chapter 9 and 11 to be terribly boring, which isn’t exactly great when starting from the very beginning of the game. It isn’t until Chapter 12 and 13 when the everything starts to come out into the open when it gets interesting again.
Isaac Beckford, the mastermind behind Code:Realize was a kind man who has gone astray after experiencing a horrific tragedy that took the lives of his beloved wife and two children. He felt God had betrayed him, so he decided he would wage a war against him, and become a God himself to serve as Humanity’s shepherd. Really all he was doing was just taking his anger and despair out on the world, when all he wanted was to revive his lost loved ones. His family was brutally murdered after the villagers turned against him, pinning the blame of the famine, despite how much he had helped them in the past. Since then the kind man who wished to use science as a means to help others, started using it against them. Finis and Cardia were made with the surviving genes of his deceased children, so while they looked just like them, they were nothing more than an image, and that was their sole purpose. Isaac didn’t consider them anything else other than his tools to fulfill his grand scheme.
It’s because he didn’t give a shit about them, that Finis in particular suffered the most. While the guy was insane, he truly was a pitiful character. He was insane, but I still felt bad for the guy. Isaac was a dick. Perhaps had he not constantly identify Finis and Cardia as monsters, but equally give them love, maybe his plans would have actually succeeded since the would be more inclined to listen to him (even if it meant to their own demise, that’s the power of manipulation that could have played out). Finis was incredibly jealous of Cardia’s ability to be loved and experience love. He was starving for Isaac’s affection, who constantly degraded him, and labeled him as a failure. He hated how Cardia was the favoured one, regardless of Isaac’s fake love. He also couldn’t stand the fact she refused to accept herself a a monster, and identified herself as a Human. In the end, when Cardia tried to save him, Finis was shocked, but he couldn’t accept it. He wouldn’t, and forced her to let him fall to his demise.
This route also did its job of tying together the remaining loose ends and mysteries that were left unresolved in the other routes. We learned that Herlock Sholmes intentionally mixed up his name (Sherlock Holmes) in attempt to avoid drawing attention to himself as he worked to catch Jimmy Aleister, otherwise known as James Mortiary, his arch-rival. While Van doesn’t kill him, Sholmes finishes the job. Ironically, Aleister only realizes then that what he has been longing for to fulfill his (twisted) loneliness, was right under his nose the entire time.
Imply and Victor who both were affected by Nemo’s involvement dealt with him, the Zictirum, and successfully taken back Impey’s precious Gravity Alleviator. Meanwhile, Saint-Germain knew Omnibus couldn’t be trusted, and was prepared to deal with Guinevere who was ordered to take Cardia out, regardless of the promise that was made.
Perhaps one of my favourite aspect of this route was how everyone came together. Aside from Idea who pledged to work alongside them to deal with Nautilus, while having no intention giving them the opportunity to prove they can stop him and save Cardia, it was fantastic to see everyone mesh together. It was fun, especially Leonhardt who always entertains me no matter what route I’m on. He is consistently the MVP secondary character. Though he can act a bit like a fool, the man is actually a badass and a total softie, and I love him for it.
Tragic End: A month has passed since the battle, and London is currently undergoing repairs. Everyone in the group survived, except for Lupin and Cardia, whose bodies were never found. Since then, everyone has gone their separate ways, and Saint-Germain who has been banished from Idea and stripped of his immortality. Saint-Germain tells himself he will wait for Lupin and Cardia to return to his mansion, but eventually passes on in his sleep, while thinking about his most cherished memories of his dear friends.
Don’t mind me, I’m just going to drown in my tears. I seriously cried over this ending, and I hadn’t cried over an ending since Okita Souji’s from Hakuouki back in 2011. But it wasn’t just because of the loss of both Lupin’s and Cardia’s lives, but it killed me inside to see Saint-Germain be all alone again. He truly loved everyone, especially Cardia, and made the decision to betray idea so he could fight alongside them. There is a little bit of comfort with him no longer being immortal and set from from Idea, because had he still been, I don’t think I would have been able to handle it. It would have been too much for my poor heart.
Happy End: Lupin and Cardia were saved thanks to Impey’s gravity device. It has been six months since, and Cardia and Lupin are living happily at Saint-Germain’s mansion, while he has moved back to France. He is no longer immortal, nor affiliated with Idea, and plans to live the remaining of his life in leisure. Victor has since returned to the Royal Society, and Impey will be heading off to America to pursue his dreams of going to the Moon. Meanwhile Van has become a guard for Marquise Enfield, a diplomat meeting with Vampires on behalf of Britian. Delly told Van to atone his sins by helping them live. Now Lupin and Cardia are getting married, and have a joyous wedding with all of their comrades who fought alongside them.
I absolutely loved this end, it’s sweet, charming, silly, all of the goodies that made me love the characters, their dynamic and the game itself. Cardia looked absolutely stunning in her wedding gown, and Lupin was dashing as always, though it surprised me a bit to see him in a white suit, but it’s even cuter because they match.
FINAL VERDICT: 4/5
Being the “Canon Route”, I loved how all the characters of various backgrounds came together to unite to put a stop to Isaac’s plot, Code:Realize, but in terms of execution, it wasn’t perfect. The early-game and mid-game were definitely its weakest point with how long it took to finally get the ball rolling. Unlike some of the other routes, this wasn’t one where I couldn’t put the game down, but rather benefited more when I took breaks in between. I especially found Chapter 9 and 10 in particular were the most dreadful parts of the game for me due to how the story felt like it had stalled and certain scenes were dragged out longer than they needed to be. There were a number of times when I just wanted to skim through the text.
But when the story felt like it was dragging, the little moments of growing affection between Cardia and Lupin that managed to help me get through it until the very end. It was nice to see a relationship grow between a heroine and a grounded love interest who isn’t being bogged down by the past or external forces.
In the end, as much as I adore Lupin and how affectionate he is, he still falls more in the middle of the rankings, making him my third favourite of the game.
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