Some games, like The Sims and Animal Crossing, captivate you with their casual routines, ease you into the mechanics and let you make the experience your own. The Rune Factory series exemplifies this gameplay style, blending farming, socializing and dungeon crawling.
As someone who’s played the franchise since the first entry of the Story of Seasons spin-off 15 years ago, I’ve always loved how the action/RPG captures the spirit of discovery. Whether it’s to explore a new locale that offers fresh items and monsters to explore or learn more about the city’s eccentrics, there’s a satisfying sense of progress in the endless options for how to spend the day. Rune Factory 5 is successful in this regard, and in many ways, it is one of the better entries in the series. Unfortunately, some technical issues, such as terrible framerates, poorly designed wars, and upgrade systems, curtail the experience.
Rune Factory 5 continues the tradition of an amnesia to drive the narrative. You mysteriously end up in the town of Rigbarth, you can’t remember how you got there. You all know something is wrong because monsters are invading the land. To find answers, you take a job as a ranger. It allows you to accept requests from the people of the city and investigate suspicious locations in hopes of finding your next clue to more and more secrets in the game. Of course, to earn an income for a living, you have to farm along the way.
The plot serves to bring you into the world and provide twists for you to explore, but it is the townspeople who experience. The cast is one of the series’ strongest characters, with engaging and interesting characters in abundance. They’re not as over-the-top as some of the previous entries, but I delved into their personal struggles, like Lucy missing her father, in addition to more comical situations, like Raikar always wanting to take a nap. Having a character-focused quest adds extra layers to his everyday persona.
As an action/RPG and relationship/farming sim, Rune Factory offers a variety of ways to spend your time. Focusing on the townspeople can open up side adventures and eventually lead you to love. Catering to Farming increases your profits exponentially, allowing you to upgrade everything from the size of your house to the stock available from stores in town. Entering dungeons and outperforming your bosses often advances the plot, but you can also level up, learn new weapon combinations, pick up items for crafting, and find some monsters to work on your farm. Or can tame you to do battle with. The game has a fascinating loop, and I never felt like my days were empty, but it quickly dawned on me that many of these systems are just average or subpar in their design.
For starters, combat, despite being better than previous entries, is clunky, and the awkward multi-button combination capabilities don’t help. You tap R to dash, but holding it down casts your spell. The small difference in input is the recipe for the disaster you’d expect; My magic menu came up when I was trying to dodge more often than I would admit. That being said, I love the number of different weapons available and how unique they all feel, from melee-focused boxing gloves to heavy long swords that pack a punch. The use of different weapons changed my attitude towards war. For example, with the sharp, low-stamina-depleting dual blades, I could afford to spam attacks and combos, while the heavy weapons held me back and waited for enemies to open up to cry out.
Unfortunately, Rune Factory 5 doesn’t encourage much experimentation with its various weapons. Players must increase the efficiency of each weapon in order to learn combos and new attacks. Starting back to square one wasn’t worth the effort for me, and if I wasn’t trying to get a panoramic view of the game for the purposes of this review, I’d be stuck with only one or two weapons throughout the game. Would have gone
I love seeing the nice designs of the bosses (a personal favorite is a colorful octopus), but fighting them is too monotonous. Bosses are all about seeing enemy patterns, but I never felt challenged, especially when I brought demons into battle. You can also bring villagers you are friends with. They provide your character with powerful team-up attacks, but they all start at a lower level and must earn fighting experience before they can become useful. All my village fighters died too early for my liking, and I didn’t get the grind I deserved, so I often left them in favor of monsters I had tame.
That’s the thing about Rune Factory 5; Gaining the level fills everything up. On the one hand, it can be satisfying; On the other hand, it may require tedious grinding. It’s not just about your battle level; Your cooking, forging, crafting and chemistry levels are also focused on this progression system, where trying new recipes leads to better items, weapons, and armor.
The only way to unlock recipes is to experiment blindly, buy recipe bread (available in limited quantities every day), hope an NPC will reveal one in random conversation, or bread as a quest or festival reward. will receive. Once you get to a higher level, seeing what you can make gets really fun. I made a plush monkey shield, and could cook everything from chocolate sponge cakes to star-shaped hashbrowns. However, upgrading weapons, armor, or farm equipment was too much trial-and-error for my liking.
Since you can prepare, harvest, forge, cook, and mix potions, you pick up many items on any given day. Unfortunately, inventory management is a mess, making it quite a pain. Your backpack can only carry a certain number of items, and I constantly ran out of space. I lost so much time moving items into storage that I had to constantly expand. To add insult to injury, the game doesn’t automatically group them together when you move them to storage, forcing you to find a pair together to save space.
Even though I became annoyed with my inventory space, it never dampened my love for the discovery and joy of discovering new things. From discovering bandit hideouts, crystal caves, lava caves, and more, every new area is an opportunity – whether it’s to find rare items and ores for crafting, tame powerful monsters, or get a new fruit Yes which can be used in cooking recipe. Every trip you make feels rewarding – even if it’s just walking around town to discover something new about a villager.
Festivals and special events help divide the calendar, and I loved their interactivity, allowing me to do small things like dodging the beans and building my own monster team for a tournament. Sadly, the events are brief, and the rest of the day is destroyed as the villagers simply stand around the festival grounds. For them more than one main, minor event will go a long way towards making these celebrations meaningful and impactful.
Rune Factory 5 is rough around the edges, but I still love my time with it. Something about how all the parts work together keeps me drawn to it. Even after completing the main story, I’m still playing, because I have recipes I haven’t unlocked, a romantic journey I’m starting, and many upgrades I can still make in the city. . It has its flaws, but Rune Factory 5’s continual progression and engaging loop of quests help mitigate these annoyances, so they don’t sting so much.