It’s almost been 10 years since the popular Rune Factory series received a sequel. Rune Factory 4 was originally released on the 3DS in July 2012 and came to the west a year later. XSEED Games had only blessed us with an updated version for the Nintendo Switch, but that has thankfully changed with the reveal of Rune Factory 5.
Some story openings never change. Dropped off in a town called Rigbarth, you play as a male or female character suffering from amnesia. It’s not long before you get recruited by SEED, an organization built to maintain the peace. It’s now your job as the newest ranger to protect the town from monsters and help the people of Rigbarth with their various tasks.
You’re not going to get one of the best RPG stories from this game, but what you will get is something that gives good substance to the gameplay. It’s a decent ride to take while you distract yourself with the game’s many character events, seasonal festivals, crafting, and dungeon crawling. Markers on the map make it convenient to trigger story points so that you never get lost.
Rune Factory 5 continues the trend with its much-loved gameplay. It mixes farming, combat, and relationships in a well-presented game. It lacks beginner tutorials. However, a rotation of tips is shown during each loading screen to serve as its replacement.
The game is split into four seasons with a clock for time management. There’s no need to rush the story as it’s a game you can play at your own pace. The lack of tutorials may cause some minor inconveniences because it’s entirely possible to miss some core gameplay elements.
Similar to previous games in the series, Rune Factory 5 will have you doing daily chores. You will have to chop wood, break rocks, go fishing, plant and water crops, and clean up your farm area. It’s a repetitive cycle that can be relaxing for some players. The game has its methods to ease the workload later by giving you the option to assign tasks to tamed monsters.
In this game, maintenance plays a crucial part in farming. Ignore the vital aspects and you will soon watch some of your crops wither. Keep going the extra mile and you will produce higher quality crops. There’s a lot of content in this department to dwell in and mechanics to keep you occupied.
It’s possible to get a good chunk of work done each in-game day. The pocket mechanics greatly help make everyday activities convenient. What may try to halt your progress is your stamina (RP) which is consumed by some of your actions such as mining or using magic. This can be replenished through various items or stores in the game, though. It helps give a balance that isn’t much of a nuisance so that the game can be split into multiple days and seasons.
Rune Factory 5 will take you from dungeon to dungeon fighting the enemies that stand in your path and closing their entrance portals. The hack and slash combat is basic but can still be engaging. I’ve always found it exhilarating to run into enemy territory with my crew and sink our weaponry into several groups of foes. Sometimes dashing to dodge enemy fire would be necessary and it was vital to know when to pull away and consume healing items.
Take your pick between axes, long/short swords, magic staves, dual blades, lances, spears, hammers, and fist-based weapons. There’s no shortage of weapons and bosses in this game. Each weapon has a different playstyle, but they all have similar usage concepts. Equipable Runes are the only items that expand their basic controls and can add extra firepower. The only problem with this is that your favorite Runes may quickly become outclassed as you progress further in the story.
The boss battles in this game are truly spectacular. Some of the dungeon floors have also piqued my interest because of their hazardous environments. Rune Factory 5 is not too difficult of a game, but you can always adjust the difficulty if you’re having trouble. It’s a live action game that will have you on the lookout for stronger gear, make you learn enemy attack patterns, and figure out how to counter them.
Even though crafting is part of the game, it feels insignificant. The crafting content isn’t lacking, but the reason to craft is. As a matter of fact, the number of furniture you can use for crafting can be overwhelming. Collecting materials throughout the world is enjoyable, but they are likely to sit in your storage unless you have a burning desire to craft.
It adds another daily objective to the game which is at least interesting. It’s not difficult to fit into a routine: visit two shops that open at different times, purchase as many recipe bread as they’d sell you, and learn ’em all. The only nuisance it poses is having to check back at the second store at a later time, although minor.
The only major problem I’ve had with respect to crafting is placing crafting furniture early in the game. It kept telling me I ran out of space and how I couldn’t place more crafting furniture. It is possible to pick up and move the furniture to a new location before having the ability to place more. It’s an oversight on my part, but it’s something the game failed to inform me about.
Quests in this game serve more as a way to encourage you to do everyday activities. They introduce you to some items you may not have even considered using. Some of these activities may be taming monsters, using specific farming items, and delivering specific items to characters. Completing them may not be as fulfilling as other games. However, clearing them does bring rewards. The only problem some people may have is if they’re struggling to complete current quests, as new ones won’t pop up until the old quests are finished.
Rune Factory 5 maintains the concept of relationships. You’ll be able to raise friendship levels by talking and gifting items to characters each day. There’s new dialogue to read each time you interact with one of these characters, so that’s something to look forward to. Additionally, once this level hits a specific point, you can bring them along to fight by your side.
Getting your friendship level high enough will allow you to marry one of the bachelors or bachelorettes. Unlike previous games in the series—especially the remastered Rune Factory 4—same sex marriage is now possible in the game. A little late considering Rune Factory 4 Special was an opening to change the tide, but it’s good to see the option available now.
A lot of RPGs on the Nintendo Switch either do not have costumes or ask you to purchase them from the Nintendo eShop. Thankfully, this game has many costumes for your character. While you will have to pay for these costumes, you won’t be doing so with real money. It’s pricey, but it’s good to see a variety of costumes available without having to pull out a real wallet.
It’s possible to finish the main story of the game in 30-45 hours without hitting the third season if you use each in-game day to the fullest. Extra Directives unlock after beating the game. There won’t be many new dungeons or bosses later, but you can still continue to play and finish off what you haven’t done. Completing quests, crafting every item, and replaying the boss levels on a higher difficulty are just some of them. Not to mention the fact that you may marry a character you fancy.
Graphics and Sound
Rune Factory 5 is visually a major upgrade to Rune Factory 4 Special. This graphical improvement did not come without its drawbacks, though. Loading screens are bearable, but there’s a little noticeable lag in specific parts of the game. One such common area is when you return to your room. Other than that, only some boss battles present minor lag during heavy attack usage.
The soundtrack isn’t a major selling point for me. There weren’t any memorable tunes; it’s just been mediocre at best. There is still good music in the mix, but nothing that has really stuck with me. The voice acting is a pleasant bonus to have, but it can get repetitively annoying when your character does basic farming tasks.
Rune Factory 5 may have altered its visual appearance but it has stuck to its root at the core. The game is an excellent addition to the series and one that will go down in history for finally allowing same-sex marriages. Look no further than this game if you want fast-paced combat, a variety of activities to do with each day cycle, and multiple ways to collect and craft items.
Rune Factory 5 gets an 8.5/10.