Rune Factory 5 is a perfect example of a game that, at a glance, has everything you would expect from an installment in the series. There is an amnesiac hero with a connection to nature. You have dragons. People of different fantasy races appear, some of which you can even smooch and seduce. There is agriculture and fighting. However, it is also unfortunately a bit hollow and marred by technical issues. It’s like we told the developers of Hakama what the game should be and showed videos of Rune Factory 4but didn’t really understand what makes the series special.

As Rune Factory 4, the fifth entry begins with a person who appears to be someone notable and influential. However, the circumstances cause them to lose their memory almost immediately. They are cared for by an authority figure in the town where they meet and placed in a position of power in the community. In this case, players end up being members of Rigbarth’s SEED force. It is basically an organization that helps people by dealing with dangerous situations and monsters. However, because you’re special, you can also manage that division’s farm and issue directives that result in holding festivals, increasing storage, and obtaining crafting licenses. This means that when you don’t have a case that will send you to a dungeon, you’ll be talking to townspeople, running errands, and farming.

Review: Rune Factory 5 does the series a disservice

From the start, Rune Factory 5 going to give people a sense of deja vu. In the past, each main line rune factory the game had its own gimmick. The original set the tone. The second entry was about the generational aspect. The third was to turn into a monster. tides of fate had two characters sharing one body. The fourth involved being “royalty” while accomplishing your goals. I’m not going to get into spoilers here! However, there are a number of beats and story elements that are very similar to Rune Factory 4. If other elements were executed better, that might have been forgivable. But unfortunately they are not.

One of these faults is the inaccuracy Rune Factory 5 can feel. Which is weird, given the amount of control it offers a player. You can fast travel to fixed points in town, certain points on the world map, dragons you’ve unlocked, and floors you’ve reached in dungeons. which is great! It really helps you engage in activities and progress at your own pace. You can use the L button to enter your pockets and immediately gain access to farming tools, weapons, items, or other useful items you designate. Everything is immediately at hand. It is convenient! You can quickly pick up or harvest items.

But the game is also very floating. Moving around can feel awkward, and you can overtake your targets when running, attacking, or performing actions. Upgrading farm tools aside from the watering can or fishing rod doesn’t always seem necessary. I found that I could sometimes mash the buttons to plow, water, chop, or pound faster than the time it takes to recharge the enhanced tool actions for the early stages. Not to mention that your free ax and hammer can handle any tree stump or stone you find on the farm and tackle the mining ore. This meant that I really didn’t feel the need to invest in Recipe Bread for farming too often.

RF5

This extends to combat. Rune Factory 5 is an action-RPG, like the previous episodes. Normal enemies spawn from doors. Which means defeating them stops the flow of enemies. You have magic, provided you stumble upon, buy, or gain spells. But the time it takes to cast and hit enemies and how powerful they are means they’re not very viable. Standard weapons are better. And the most powerful “fast” weapon you have tends to be the best. (Even if it’s tied to an item.) Which means investing in weapon recipe bread for those crafting recipes is an easy way to break the game. There are no zones” walled up”. You can explore any part of the huge map from the start. However, you’ll quickly hit barriers in the form of enemies you don’t deal any damage to and who are about ten paces away from those you can annihilate with one or two hits.

But what really touched me Rune Factory 5 it’s how cumbersome the little things can be. When you leave your room every morning, it will take a few minutes for things like crops and your health/RP bar to “charge up”. Especially on festival days, when the confetti is raining down. The initial charge feels like you’re literally dragging yourself out of bed. You go out. Then you have to wait 10-15 seconds for your field items to “appear” and populate. There are also frame rate issues.

I felt like I was going to overshoot because maybe the game was trying to catch up with what I was trying to do. This becomes a problem when trying to dodge various attacks from opponents, especially bosses. Dashing can feel like trudging through mud. There seems to be no collision detection at times, which means your avatar could be playing hide and seek by literally standing inside another character like Palmo. (What I mean means you won’t get trapped anywhere, I guess.) You can lock on enemies, but I would find that would change my target to the enemy closest to me without my intervention. It’s not great if you try to get out the door first so extra mobs don’t spawn!

Webbed

It can also take an awful lot of time to get things done. I would attribute this to it being “too” big, too empty, and having terrible monster drop rates. The dungeons are generally fine, if a bit boring as there isn’t really any puzzle solving or thinking involved. The city and the world map, on the other hand, are too big and empty. It’s like you’re running forever through empty, dull expanses to do anything. Once you finally reach a destination to possibly fight monsters for materials, good luck getting them! I would usually have to fight at least ten creatures of the same type if I wanted to get one of their typical drops. With bosses, I might get their item once every five times after I return.

Which discouraged me from casually following a daily routine. Especially when I reached the endgame and the postgame. Let’s say there are quite a few reused assets throughout Rune Factory 5. Not to mention that the bosses aren’t very difficult, so the prospect of coming back to them isn’t exactly exciting. If you don’t really need their materials for crafting, there’s little point in repeating cleared encounters.

As for love interests? Some may appear as bland one-note characters. Martin is a workaholic and one of his first encounters is when he berates Ryker for being a halfling. Reinhard is the knight devoted to his lord. If you spend enough time with them, there may be a little more nuance. However, I have the impression that they are not as well updated as the Rune Factory 4 romantic options. It made it harder for me to connect with them.

But hey, at least now you see map markers telling you when an event with one of them is available. This helps you romance them faster! Although the heart events take place over several days and locations in this entry. So if you accidentally start one for a character you don’t like, you need to spend a few days cleaning it up until you can sue someone you like. Say you complete Reinhard’s first event, which ends in the restaurant. But you don’t notice that Fuuka’s first heart event opened up the second it was done and it’s just steps away. You might unwittingly enter it, forcing you to complete it within the next game week before you can continue a romance with someone else.

Review: Rune Factory 5 does the series a disservice

If you need a farming and combat solution, Rune Factory 5 is an option. It’s just not the best. He lives in the shadow of his far superior brothers and sisters. Even if the patches fix all the technical issues, it would still look spotty. I think if we get a Rune Factory 6, it could be better and build on the missteps of this entry. There were times when I had fun playing, but going back to Rune Factory 4 Special for another race would be a wiser choice.

Rune Factory 5 is available for the Nintendo Switch.

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