Rune Factory 5
Developer: Hakama Inc.
Publisher: XSEED Games & Marvelous
Genre(s): Role-playing, simulation, action
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on PC – Windows)
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 25/03/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
The Start of a Harvest
I had never played a Rune Factory game before – not even that but any game of this genre. If you want a good idea of what Rune Factory is, it is like Stardew Valley where you harvest yourself a field of crops, go on adventures, interact with the town people, and so on and so forth. This brings us to Rune Factory 5. How was it? Was it a great harvest from start to finish? Was it a great game to be introduced into the harvest genre? Let’s find out!
Slight spoiler warning about the beginning of the game.
Rune Factory 5 starts off with you waking up and not remembering anything other than waking up to a weird spell circle right next to you. At this point you choose whether you’re a woman or a man. I chose to go with the woman character and later named her “Alice” and for the sake of this review I will refer to her as such.
Alice, not knowing anything, was wondering what she should do and what she was doing. Then she was caught off guard by hearing the screams of a child whom she ran towards. The child was about to get hurt by a monster before Alice steps in and defeats it herself. However, Alice was wounded and tired from the encounter and before reaching the child’s town she collapses.
Waking Up in a New Place
Alice wakes up to several strangers who introduce themselves as Lucy, Priscilla, Simone, Murakumo, and the child she saved, Hina. After discussing who you are and determining that you’re suffering from amnesia, it is decided that you should stay in Rigbarth, the hometown. Although not everyone trusts Alice, so they take her to Captain Livia where they have her reach out to a soulsphere, which radiates light depending on whether the person is good or not. With Alice however, it explodes with a lot of light to blinding levels.
After some short discussion, Livia asks Alice to join Seed, an organization that deals with monsters and other affairs. There, Alice gains access to a farm and living arrangements. After a small bit of her introducing herself to the other people in Rigbarth, she learns why Hina was all alone in the forest. It turns out that her mother went to the forest for something and never returned. Alice then sets off to find and save Hina’s mother. While coming back to town she encounters a friendly dragon that gives her a lift to Rigbarth. It is called a “Farm Dragon” which I will talk more about later.
Rune Factory 5‘s story gets far better as time passes, with there being marvelous twists I never saw coming and I just don’t want to spoil that for you. Sadly I did find the ending of the game anticlimactic. What about the characters of Rune Factory 5? Well…
Options of Romance
Characters from Rune Factory 5 are a mixed bag. You have great characters like Scarlett, Livia, and Alice herself; characters who are vastly interesting as the story goes on. However, most of the other characters are just there. Either to run one of the shops or the inn or just to fill up your options. They have no real impact on the story and most of them are romance partners.
What are romance partners? Well, they are characters you can date, fall in love with, and eventually marry. There are twelve partners; six men, and six women. You can choose from this including the previously mentioned characters: Scarlett, Lucy, Priscilla, and Murakumo. Other characters that get introduced are: Martin, Cecil, Ryker, Lucas, Reinhardt, Fuuka, Beatrice and Ludmilla.
Briefly going over the options we have, I will say that I wasn’t interested in having Alice fall in love with the men. Either due to their personality, roles in the story, or even their ages I wasn’t interested in them. Thankfully this game has a same-sex option to it so I could have Alice date one of the women instead and most of the women are so much better in every way compared to the men. Sure Ludmilla and Fuuka fall into the same pitfalls as the men, but other than them you have a better selection with the women. I went with Lucy, with Beatrice being my second option.
You might be asking, “How do I date/marry one of these characters?” There are several ways you can do this. First things first, you must raise affinity with them. To do this you must do their quests, give them things that they will like and bring them on adventures with you. This leads me to my first serious complaint about this game. Rune Factory 5 fails to teach you its mechanics and you must figure these out for yourself. On paper this seems fair but then it comes to problems like not knowing how to recruit characters to my team until the last fourth of the story. It is in cases like these that I recommend looking up a guide to play this game if you want to do everything you can in it.
This game is more than its romance options though, there are also farming, combat and crafting, cooking, and forging systems as well. Farming in Rune Factory 5 is simple but engaging, you first need to clean up the farms, till the fields, and plant the seeds you either get from quests or you buy from the store, and water them. Rinse and repeat. You can also farm on the previously mentioned Farm Dragons, there are a few of them and they each have their fields for you to farm on.
Combat in the game is simple but also fun (minus a couple of enemies that can one-shot you) because you have several ways to fight monsters you encounter. You can use a sword, dual blades, axes, hammers, magic rods, and a couple more weapons. As you fight you also gain access to different moves as well, like a charge move and an end of the combo finisher. You can also capture monsters, have them battle alongside you and you can befriend them and they will help you out with the farms on the Farm Dragons.
Finally, there are the crafting, forging, and cooking systems. With forging you can create brand new weapons to fight with or new farm tools to make farming easier, with crafting you can make brand new items to equip to help yourself out, and with cooking, you can make dishes to give others or help you in a pinch. You can either make these things from scratch or you can get recipes from eating Recipe Bread. You can get this by doing quests or going to the bakery and buying it.
The game contains something called “RP” or “Rune Points”. This is how you can farm and do the other things I have already mentioned so far. The systems where you can make stuff cost a lot of Rune Points and if you run out it will start costing you your HP and if you get KO you will lose money from the doctor of the town.
The Look of the Harvest
The presentation of Rune Factory 5 is underwhelming. From how low-resolution everything is, the frame rate chugging as the game goes on is very distracting. I like the colors and art style the game attempted to do, but everything being poor visually is disappointing. However, the music is wonderful and I enjoyed the soundtrack of the game. The voice acting is also great, but it is lacking as we only hear voice acting every once in a while.
Rune Factory 5 was a great introduction to the harvest genre for me, it has a fantastic story and a great gameplay loop to it and the music is magnificent. Sadly, most of the characters left me with the impression they were just there and the romance options felt limited with the men. In addition, I felt the presentation of the game was dreadful, especially the frame rate. However, that being said I still liked Rune Factory 5 and will recommend it to people interested in trying it out.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3.5 out of 5
You can buy Rune Factory 5 in the Nintendo eShop.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.