Rune Factory 5 is a dense treat for fans and a good start for newbies – Review

The main appeal of life or farming simulators is being part of a community. The fantasy that is simultaneously utterly attainable and yet oddly unattainable is the simple caring fantasized about in small-town nostalgia. This requires some kind of loose friction. To care for someone else, you have to work with and through them. Your community and the place where you live has needs and desires that existed before you arrived. The same needs will remain after you leave. At best, farming games lean into the specifics of the place and community.

Unfortunately, more recent successful forays into the genre abandon this simple connection. Animal Crossing: New Horizons puts players in control of every aspect of their home island, and Stardew Valley turns your tiny piece of farmland into a factory floor. Thankfully, despite plenty of customization options, Rune Factory 5 retains the simple joy of learning about a community separate from you.

A day in the life

Image via XSEED Games

Rune Factory 5 starts out pretty much the same as any other entry in the series. The player awakens, rescues a townsman from imminent danger, and then discovers that they have lost their memory. Out of gratitude, the city takes them in, gives them a home and a job. In Rune Factory 5, the role expands from a farmer to a SEED ranger. This is basically equivalent to a city benefactor. You’ll help rid the area of ​​mean monsters, run errands for the locals, and collect money and materials for renovations. The villagers will leave requests on a bulletin board, which you can edit when you find time. This change in exact role reflects a shift over the lifetime of the series; Farming is “just” an important part of the game, not the main attraction.

In a way, that’s a theme for the series. Rune Factory’s primary twist on farming games is the addition of RPG-Lite elements like dungeon crawling and character stats. Nothing about this incarnation is particularly stunning. However, it remains an intelligent and well-drawn addition to the genre. The routine of farming in the morning and dungeon crawling in the afternoon is as exhilarating as a video game loop. Weapons feel appropriately heavy, monster designs are cute and imaginative, and dungeon layouts are appealing if simple. Additionally, you can take villagers with you into dungeons, adding another strategic and social dimension to exploration.

The city is populated with various anime clichés. I found that more charming than harmful. There are enough signs that easy-to-read designs feel like a blessing. It’s also easy to find favorite characters to befriend or date. I have a thing for the absent-minded bookworm princess and the loud, brash innkeeper cat boy. It’s easy to imagine that fans will find their own personal favourites. For the first time, Rune Factory has same-sex romance and marriage. It’s a welcome and long-overdue change that makes a traditionally heteronormative genre a little more inviting for people like me.

growing pains

Rune factory 5
Gamepur screenshot

The main problem with Rune Factory 5 is that it’s busy. There are several types of crafting: blacksmithing, chemistry, and cooking, each with their own core items and associated abilities. In fact, everything you do in Rune Factory 5 is linked to a skill – even sleeping, walking and eating. The game is far from difficult and everything is clearly and neatly tutorialed. It’s easy for information to get drowned in a sea of ​​text boxes. Luckily, you’ll be familiarizing signs around the world with any system you choose. Still, it’s easy to lose important details when skimming through tutorial text. Occasionally I had to read a tutorial multiple times to make sure I understood it. None of this is really a problem, but it can be intimidating – especially since it’s up to you, to some degree, how much you engage with any given system.

Visually, the game is simple and generous at the same time. With Rune Factory Frontier on Wii, the series has been in 3D before, but it feels like the game is fighting the format. The characters look so gorgeous that the expression in stilted animation is easy to read. Objects and homes also have a cheerful attention to detail. However, environments can appear washed out, like a finger-drawn landscape. The performance also suffers. The frame rate often stuttered when exploring the city. It’s certainly nothing groundbreaking, but it’s been consistent and could prove to be a problem for the game’s more action-heavy segments.

One wonders whether a visually more “modest” offering would have fared better in more ways than one. Rune Factory 5’s sense of place is strong enough not to wonder how wonderful an even simpler, impressionistic look could make it. For example, the “painted” backgrounds of the first rune factory still look great.

The judgment

Rune factory 5
Gamepur screenshot

I want to make it clear that there is still a certain importance of the players. Each relationship bar is a meter that can really only go up. It’s impossible to make enemies. It will always be strange to tame a monster and then let it work in your fields. As games drift toward convenience and automation, they lose that life-giving friction.

Still, Rune Factory 5 has the essential elements to feel warm and delicate. Most tutorials start with the villager requests mentioned above, making it clear that every member of the town wants to help. The area around the city feels quite wild. Powerful enemies linger even in early arenas, and no matter how many Buffamoo you tame, many more will remain in the wild. Taking friends into dungeons makes you feel less like a lone brave hero and more like part of a human chain. It’s enough for this humble, sometimes awkward game to feel right at home.

+ Warm and engaging community building with charming characters
+ Simple but addicting dungeon crawling and fighting
The jump to true 3D causes performance issues
Potentially overwhelming amount of systems and tasks for newcomers
Disclosure: A game code was provided to Gamepur for review purposes Rune Factory 5 is a dense treat for fans and a good start for newbies – Review

Curtis Crabtree

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