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Rune Factory 5 review: neither meat nor fish (only vegetables)

Find out in our Rune Factory 5 review if Marvelous (XSEED) has dealt a critical hit or if it is better to go back to hoeing

Let’s start immediately to set the record straight: the title of ours review of the last arrived on Nintendo Switchthe multifaceted Rune Factory 5, by no means intends to denigrate agriculture. If anything, the bucolic metaphor aims to make clear the vital role that the primary sector plays in any economy. This vitality is also reflected in the limited range of aspects in which the agricultural industry operates. With the exception of the nunchaku, born as tools for sifting rice fields and elevated as an improvised weapon against shogun horses, fighting and harvests never got along very well.

In this sense, the zeal with which this franchise is committed to explaining why is commendable. Despite the premise, this spinoff of Story of Seasons (in turn born from the ribs of Harvest Moon, but we digress) never really amalgamates the two souls that on paper he wants to marry so much. For those not in the know, the games of the series coexist a gameplay from agricultural simulator and another more devoted to the canons of RPGs. If nothing else, they are both genres in which Japan boasts some mastery, although they behave like water and oil here too.

“I remember green mountains”

The plot of Rune Factory 5 leaves some time it finds, but it is good to dedicate a few lines to it in the review phase. The protagonist, or if you prefer the protagonist, finds himself unconscious in another world, just as little Hina finds herself cornered by monsters. Once the decision has been made to start our adventure as the forgetful Areswe found ourselves involved in the events of the village of Rigbarthits welcoming and eccentric inhabitants, and (if desired) the duties of local law enforcement, SEED (not to be confused with the eponymous group of Final Fantasy VIII).

We preferred to cut short on the plot because, to be honest, you can shape a bit like we believe as we undertake the necessary relationships with the characters. These bonds can range from simple friendship to real love relationships, complete with any offspring. The game knows how to leverage the charm of supporting actors, without even denying the player to be part of a de facto couple (for the first time in the series). There is also a more adventurous world outside Rigbarth’s walls, but for the most part Ares (or Alice) will have to settle into his new home for much of the story.

Rune Factory 5 review: neither meat nor fish (only vegetables)

Attention Deficit – Rune Factory 5 Review

Let’s break a lance in favor of Rune Factory 5: despite our (not entirely voluntary) sarcasm expressed in the opening of the review, the hybrid nature of the game paves the way for a complex and intricate combination of gameplay ideas. We have already talked about relationships, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. As you continue through the introductory lines, you can find yourself talking about shields and greatswords and then chopping wood a minute later. It’s a lengthy tutorial, but unlike Kingdom Hearts II, we’re dealing with here a non-stop concentration of notions.

Unfortunately, we are saddened to say that the few occasions in which the two genres involved are truly amalgamated know more than “invasion of the field” what else. It left a bad taste in our mouth to see that stamina and magic points are the exact same thing, leading us to fall to the ground lifeless from chopping too much wood in too short a period of time (only for not keeping an eye on the top left corner of the interface). The attention that the game requires from us is not little, but at a guess the specific target for the game (one who loves both genres) will benefit enormously.

Rune Factory 5 review: neither meat nor fish (only vegetables)

Animal Sforzing – Rune Factory 5 Review

The gameplay loop typical of every farming simulator is also present here, albeit with one command scheme forcibly identical for each gender. The result can be as functional as it is intrusive: sharp tools are used both to cultivate and to fight, after all, but there is a way and a way to manage the action. To give any example, in the fields the manual management of tools and equipment can work; in combat, however, it is good to be able to change weapons without the protagonist holding the sword that has just been discarded. Likewise, it is not possible to use tools directly from the menu.

Soon, it also takes hold a bureaucratic interweaving of permits and licenses which permeates (and, for a layman, potentially cripples) the game. The SEED headquarters where we are allowed to stay overnight hosts a sort of living computer (it’s … complicated) with which we can issue Animal Crossing-style ordinances, while outside the building a notice board awaits us where we can fulfill the requests of the premises. To forge weapons, on the other hand, we must have the appropriate licenses that are unlocked as the adventure progresses. A pretext like any to turn Rigbarth inside out like a sock, we suppose.

Rune Factory 5 review: neither meat nor fish (only vegetables)

Hoeing in all fairness – Rune Factory 5 review

To the detriment of our nose wrinkled in every line you’ve read so far, when it comes to picking up the tools for the fields, it is clear that the development team knows what they are doing. Despite certain survival mechanics exceed in the effort to transpose hard agricultural work (such as the need to feed and rest) on the screen, the basic idea often proves to be functional. The field, once properly plowed, allows us to set up our personal plantation. To make everything particularly satisfying, the phases in which the work is divided are provided: hoeing, sowing, hydration and, in due course, harvesting.

Since the body of the SEEDs is closely linked to rural activities, the foreman Livia will be at our disposal to tell us the ideal crop type for the current week and the one to come. For each of the in-game weeks, a more abundant harvest is expected for a specific seed and a more deficient harvest for another. The passage of time, in true Grand Theft Auto style, is to scale; to this is added a structure of the months that refers instead to Pokémon White Version and Black Version, making each season last no more than four weeks. In short, meat on the fire (or should we say vegetables) is not lacking.

Rune Factory 5 review: neither meat nor fish (only vegetables)

Sword and Swashbuckle Robe – Rune Factory 5 Review

Suspicious of the lethargy with which Rigbarth focuses only on the agricultural aspect of the game, we have succumbed to the temptation to get out of the village. After all, our abilities (from the more logical ones like our dexterity in chopping wood to our own walking) rose without our overall level coming off the threshold of one. Much to our surprise, the first few fights knocked us to level seven in just one play session. We don’t want to imply that the pace of the gameplay is poorly managed, but the change of air was very pleasant.

Compared to the predecessors, although never going beyond the side role, the role-playing elements are undoubtedly “revised and corrected”. Fight in real time involves the gradual introduction of attacks, from moves related to a specific type of weapon to spells. Those who like to take risks can dabble with the dodge mechanic, while those who prefer to bond with monsters too have the option of recruiting them. Since Pokémon has made school, the capture spell allows you to make excellent allies. We do not mean only in the context of the battles, but also (and above all) in the everyday life of Rigbarth.

Rune Factory 5 review: neither meat nor fish (only vegetables)

Completeness First – Rune Factory 5 Review

Our duties as community members can range from something tangible like bringing a specific item to our fellow villagers, to asking the local locksmith for help in opening a barred door. From time to time there are also the necessary digressions, such as i festival that the ordinances allow to organize. On these occasions (between one coriander and another) the player has the opportunity to try his hand at many different mini-games, emphasizing the greatest strength of the game. A title does not always succeed in making tangible the freedom to proceed at one’s own pace, but Rune Factory 5 knows how to enhance our every “waste of time”.

We take this opportunity to talk about the extra expressly definable as such. The title screen has three items that have no bearing on the adventure. After “New game” and “Upload” the audio commentary by the voice actors, unfortunately exclusive to the nevertheless talented seiyuu who have lent their vocal cords to the game. It is a kind of podcast with which each voice actor tells the experience of him. Later we have an online version of the game manual, with which to make a general review. Finally we have the choice of languages, which however proves to be completely useless considering that the game is in english only.

Rune Factory 5 review: neither meat nor fish (only vegetables)

Who Sows Wind – Rune Factory 5 Review

We are at the final stages: it’s time to judge the technical sector of Rune Factory 5. Let’s start with graphics, which in turn reflects the hard-fought soul of the game. On the one hand, we have very high levels of production, between hand-animated skits for the characters and an entire opening musical number. On the other hand, however, we have the hiccups often associated with titles developed through Unity. In other words, the framerate boasts dizzying drops (including one almost guaranteed at the first exit after loading a game), while among the many detailed textures the exceptions stand out, which therefore are very evident (below).

There is very little to talk about badly when it comes to sound. The soundtrack is more appreciated by those who manage to alternate the different aspects of the gameplay with the right rhythm: the theme of Rigbarth can be boring only to those who treat the title exclusively as an agricultural simulator. The dubbing, as you could guess from our description of the extras, is the result of an evident passion both on Japanese and Western soil (Robbie Raymond and Erica Lindbeck are in very good shape). In short, the execution is not immaculate but the conditions for bringing the formula to its peak are all there.

Rune Factory 5 review: neither meat nor fish (only vegetables)

Final considerations

As much as the sarcasm was at the beginning of our review, therefore, it is clear that we cannot really reject Rune Factory 5 a priori. The game stands as a factotum in its intent to marry two genres, which for the moment has the flavor of a wedding with an American shotgun. As an agricultural simulator, the game takes the heart, but without emerging. This may suffice for newbies, although the compromise you remind us that there are also better exponents. The same goes for the title as an RPG: it does the job of him, but there are development teams that know the genre better.

That said, is this fifth chapter for you? It depends on many factors. Do you like simulators or role-playing games? If you answered yes for a genre you might find something …