Rune Factory had me when it was described loosely as “Harvest Moon’s lovechild with Zelda.” But, I found it’s much more than that. It is, for one, the perfect game for people who save and quit a log session of Animal Crossing to exit out and fire up some Breath of the Wild. Sometimes, for some folks, the peace must end.
The inclusion of action and treasure hunting melds perfectly with Harvest Moon’s farming and crafting. The smithing, crafting, and cooking options are vast. You can strive to become a blue ribbon farmer, master magic and medicine, work hard to grow and provide for a family, forge mighty weapons, crush your enemies, see them driven before you… there is a satisfying loop to most aspects of your character’s life.
Rune Factory 5 has been a long time coming, and it almost never happened. I mean, Rune Factory 4 was good. Good enough to get a remaster on Switch, and a pretty good one at that. Rune Factory 5 is fun. I’ll shoot the elephant in the room right away: it looks like a 3DS game. Graphically, it doesn’t hold a candle to the best-looking games on the Switch, but that’s never really been Rune Factory’s thing anyway.
Rune Factory 5 has a really classic farming and forging gameplay hook that’s always pretty engaging if done right. It kind of reminds me of another game with similar lovable jankiness and tons of flashy skills, magic, and a crazy deep crafting system: Legend of Mana.
Another thing I love about Rune Factory 5 is that it’s kind of a time capsule for classic Harvest Moon gameplay. If you removed all the action RPG elements, it would still be a fun, full-featured farming simulator. That’s really why I ended up liking this game. Rune Factory is best if you like farming sims and action RPGs. It’s still good if you like one or the other.
I won’t get into any story details since that would spoil a sizable part of the game, but the characters are all pretty charming, and the world map is pretty large. Combat is varied with numerous types of weapons, each with a library of skills. In addition, there is a collection of magic spells to devastate any under-leveled naked sheep monster standing before you.
You have this neat magic ring you can throw to halt an enemy, possibly stealing a rare drop in the process. If you hold the spell, you may befriend the beastie for the day. From here, you can tame and keep said beastie, provided you have lodging. Therein do, the gameplay loops intertwine beautifully. I want a badass pet griffin. I must get him a barn. Food helps a lot with dungeons, so being a good farmer and cook helps. Everything kind of necessitates and gels with everything else.
At times there is a weird little slowdown, especially with a bunch of enemies on screen or when leaving a house. So, performance-wise, yea, it could be better. But, for what it is, I’m having a good time with it. Rune Factory 5 has a lot going on, and it’s enough to keep me playing for a while.
Rune Factory is property of Marvelous Inc. All screenshots taken via Nintendo Switch.