Rune Factory is one of those good farming simulator games with a few elements of RPGs, and even some cute characters fit to be dated. Overall, it’s a series that stood for a long time with a passionate community of fans. Thus, it’s a joy to see that Rune Factory 5 finally came out globally just recently after a year as a Japan-only release. Thus, we’re here to talk about Rune Factory 5. But first, let’s talk about the series itself.
What Is Rune Factory?
The Rune Factory series is a franchise of fantasy RPG Simulation games that was made by Yoshifumi Hashimoto. The series back in the day was primarily released by Marvelous. Back in the day, the Rune Factory games are created by Hakama, Yoshifumi Hashimoto’s studio, which took over from Neverland after they stopped operating back in 2013.
That doesn’t mean that the series started outright, though—the Rune Factory series started as a spin-off. Specifically to Story of Seasons, formerly Harvest Moon, another Marvelous IP. When the game got its second installment, Rune Factory2, all of The Story of Seasons references were removed to cement itself as a new IP. The Rune Factory Series started in 2006 and, since then, has five main games, two spin-offs, and a few manga adaptations.
As it’s similar to Story of Seasons, a lot of the things in that game were retained, particularly the farming and social simulation parts. However, Rune Factory added a few extra things to the formula, specifically, the introduction of a Fantasy setting as well as dungeon crawling elements into the gameplay. The core theme and premise of the games are pretty similar as well. The player is a hero that lost their memory but has to save the world from an evil force while also doing tasks like farmwork, mining, and recovering their memories. Pretty typical, sometimes tedious, but pretty fun.
It also helps that the player can marry their particular waifu or husband on Rune Factory as well due to the social simulation part. Overall, the Rune Factory series was a critical and commercial success, and a lot of copies were sold of the previous games, and Rune Factory 5 should be similar. Hopefully.
What Is Rune Factory 5?
Rune Factory 5 is an RPG Simulation game created and released by Marvelous for the Nintendo Switch only. It was the first entry in the Rune Factory series since 2012’s Rune Factory 4 and was released in Japan in May 2021 and worldwide by Xseed Games in March 2022.
Unfortunately, Rune Factory 5 is only playable on the Nintendo Switch, and there’s no sign of porting to any other console. We can only hope that they’ll do so, but given the fact that games that started on the Nintendo Switch haven’t been ported to other consoles yet? That’s going to be a long, long wait.
Rune Factory 5 Review
Here’s all you need to know about the newest Rune Factory game.
If you’ve played previous Rune Factory games, then you already know the score. You go around the world, complete various tasks, level up, farm crops, mine ores, and save the world. Typical JRPG shenanigans, and there’s no shame on it. But here’s the nitty-gritty.
Every actual one second, one minute of in-game time passes. This is important because a lot of events have specific times that they can happen. These can range from crops growing up, to appearances of certain bachelors/bachelorettes. In short, keeping track of the time to do stuff is a necessary game mechanic on Rune Factory to progress. Keeping watch on crop growth, finding new ores and items to create better stuff, talking with bachelors/bachelorettes to progress relationships, et cetera. Once a player’s relationship with a certain bachelor/bachelorette is high enough, they can then marry them and start a family. Yes, this is a thing, and yes, it’s adorable.
To do all this, players have Rune Points, which is the game’s equivalent to stamina. Players spend Rune Points every time they do farm tasks and do skills. Once this runs out, they can use HP to do tasks, but this isn’t recommended. It’s a better idea to replenish Rune Points by using specially crafted potions or specific crops. Overall, Rune Factory 5 hasn’t budged much in terms of its gameplay, and it’s pretty nice to see consistency.
Sadly though, the transition to its current form may or may not have hampered the experience a bit because player companions teleport to the player’s location instead of following organically. It’s not a deal-breaker on this game due to how polished everything else is, but it’s jarring, nonetheless.
There’s no actual character creation available on Rune Factory 5, which is pretty typical for the series. After all, the previous Rune Factory games also don’t have any character creation to speak of. The player only picks a gender, and nothing else. Players can’t even make their names as the male and female main characters are named Ares and Alice respectively.
There is a reason for this, and that’s because Rune Factory puts a lot of effort into the various cutscenes in the game. Thus the static main protagonist. Overall, it’s a pretty simple sacrifice to make and not important. What’s important are the various options that the players can woo.
The Marriage Candidates, a.k.a. the Bachelors and Bachelorettes, are one of the main draws of the Rune Factory series for both men and women. After all, who doesn’t want to get married to a handsome man or a beautiful woman and do sweet, adorable things with each other?
Anyhow, back to seriousness. Rune Factory has a total of 12 bachelors and bachelorettes. Six males and six females specifically, an even ratio. We’ll show them below as well as their Japanese voice actors/actresses.
Martin (VA: Fukuyama Jun)
Martin’s a craftsman apprentice with one goal in mind: to be the best blacksmith in the land. He’s one of the quieter bachelors on this list, and this led to people thinking he’s a cold and unfriendly person, which isn’t the case. There are even rumors that he names all of his favorite tools. He’s pretty single-minded on his goal and a bit on the stubborn side. Mayhaps the hero/heroine will show him a new path?
Cecile (VA: Ayumu Murase)
Cecile is Martin’s younger brother who wants to be a detective. He’s a pretty innocent guy, who turns practically anything he finds into a detective case thanks to his “Power of Delusion”. His main goal in being a detective, however, is to find his missing parents. Martin’s pretty proactive, and very likable to boot, which leads him to bond with the hero/heroine quickly. He does love his brother Martin dearly, though he does grow distant from him due to Martin’s single-minded goal of becoming a blacksmith.
Reinhard (VA: Natsuki Hanae)
A young knight of Norad, Reinhard is a political fiend and a pretty capable fighter. However, people don’t know why he’s visiting Rigbarth. His sense of duty is strong, and he’s also pretty reliable. Of course, mayhaps the hero/heroine will make Reinhard show a side unknown to others.
Murakumo (VA: Shunsuke Takeuchi)
A wereanimal innkeeper of empathy and chivalry, Murakumo is a pretty cool dude overall. Though he’s pretty bad at business sometimes and often runs his books to the red due to his desire to entertain his customers. Maybe the hero/heroine can show him a change of perspective?
Lyka (VA: Yoshitsugu Matsuoka)
A proficient apprentice carpenter, Lyka is very good at what he does. He’s also pretty nimble and has a lot of dexterity necessary for his work. However, there seems to be a hidden side to him, something that comes out at night mostly, so intriguing! Perhaps the hero/heroine can bring it out in the open?
Lucas (VA: Shotaro Morikubo)
The last of the Bachelors is Lucas, a traveler who appeared in Rigbarth with amnesia like the hero/heroine! So mysterious! He keeps a full record of anything that catches his interest in a notebook that he always has with him. In addition, he does have a bit of knowledge about certain items like ores, for example. Perhaps he’s a connoisseur or an item evaluator? Who knows? Maybe he’ll find out if he goes with the hero/heroine.
Beatrice (VA: Tomoyo Kurosawa)
The first Bachelorette we’re going to talk about is Beatrice, a young woman with a mysterious association with the kingdom of Norad. Beatrice is a talented young woman with a strong sense of responsibility. Above all else, she’s pretty dutiful, and her talents range from playing music to taking rides out of monsters. She wasn’t going to stay long in Rigbarth, but she took a shine on the hero/heroine. Hmm, maybe something can come out of it?
Fuqua (VA: Aki Toyosaki)
Next is Fuqua, a wereanimal traveler that made her way to Rigbarth after a lot of time traveling. She can’t read, talk, or write the language of humans, but does have a 6th sense of when someone’s lying to her. She used to be pretty rough, and very harsh, but now is a bit more cheerful, and her honest personality shines through. Overall, top tier quality waifu, best the hero/heroine snap her up when they have the chance.
Ludmila (VA: Sumire Morohoshi)
Next on the list of bachelorettes is Ludmila, a succubus. Yes, you heard right. Ludmila is a pretty selfish gal, who’s pretty obsessed with the hero/heroine from the get-go. She likes to do things at the last minute, and like love above all else. However, she can be pretty serious at times and has a method to her madness. Due to her being a succubus, there’s a divide between her and the other bachelorettes/bachelors on this list. Perhaps the hero/heroine can bridge that divide?
Priscilla (VA: Inori Minase)
Next on the list is Priscilla, born and raised on Rigbarth, she’s pretty, gentle, and very cute overall. Pretty much a 10/10 housewife. Though she does make mistakes every once in a while, she does her best, which is what matters. There was an incident that caused her to fear leaving her home, but she’s trying to overcome said fear and move on with her life, which is pretty good. Maybe the hero/heroine can help her with that?
Lucy (Yuka Iguchi)
Next is Lucy, who’s Priscilla’s childhood friend and an actual exercise nut., She usually keeps a close eye on Priscilla to make sure she doesn’t get into any trouble or danger. Above all else, though is her competitive nature and dislike of losing, which means that she’ll always try to challenge the hero/heroine in a contest or two. She’s a cool and pretty tomboy whose sunny nature helps her make friends but can get lonely at times. Maybe the hero/heroine can provide some consistency in her life?
Scarlett (VA: Aya Suzaki)
Last but not least is Scarlett, a half-elf mercenary member of Seed, a group made to protect Rigbarth. She’s pretty serious most of the time, and her main goal is to be like her father, who she admires. Overall, a serious individual, though she has problems maintaining said seriousness. Maybe adding the hero/heroine is a bad idea on this one? Eh, who cares? Just plow on in any way and rock her world.
The player starts after choosing either Ares or Alice outside the town of Rigbarth. However, the main character has lost their memory. Eventually reaching the town, they decide to join SEED, a group dedicated to protecting Rigbarth from outside threats like monsters. Overall, if you’ve played a Rune Factory game before, then the story beats should be pretty similar. The main draw is the various Bachelors and Bachelorettes your character can woo.
In Rune Factory 5, there are a lot of interesting things players can do in combat. We’ll just talk about two things: the ability to swap weapons mid-battle and taming monsters to do your bidding.
Players can swap weapons mid-battle through the use of the tool command. However, that’s not where it ends, as all tools can be used as a weapon, but actual weaponry has bonuses in combat. Specifically, actual weapons can use Rune Abilities, as well as certain Special Attacks. Rune Abilities can be bought on the Crystalabra or found on specific monsters. They’re very powerful, so using them is a pretty good idea in a fight.
Next on the list is the ability to tame monsters, which is its article in and of itself. However, once tamed, monsters can be brought into battle as companions and extra party members. Some monsters can even be ridden by the player to do some crazy stunts. Some favorites include the Cerberus and the Nine-Tailed Fox, especially since the Nine-Tailed Fox has some pretty cool attacks.
One thing that’s a bit on the annoying side of things is the fact that the controls for Rune Factory 5 are a bit iffy. It’s slippery, and there are times when the input lag can beat the player in the ass, especially in combat. Furniture placement is also affected by this as precise placement can be annoying to go for due to the janky controls. The stick drift, in particular, is very sensitive. This means that the player might want to go just a few meters only to find their character zooming around an arena. This can then lead to getting their ass kicked by an AoE attack from a boss.
Overall, there are some improvements to be made on the controls side of things, but let’s hope that it’ll be patched sooner or later.
In terms of sound design, Rune Factory 5 leverages its roots quite a bit, and a lot of its soundtrack is reminiscent of previous entries. Combat sounds are great, voice acting’s awesome, and overall, there’s nothing that needs to be said in terms of sound design.
World Design-wise, Rune Factory 5 is a gorgeous world, but it didn’t survive the transition from 2D to 3D unscathed. The world feels a bit on the empty side, with wide stretches of land that seem like there’s nothing there. The frame rate also suffers when there are too many things in a particular moment, hampering the experience. The designs of the bachelors and the bachelorettes remain stellar, and their introductions were well crafted. However, it would’ve been cool to also have consideration on how the game would run on the Nintendo Switch.
Rune Factory 5 vs Similar Games
Now that we’ve talked about Rune Factory 5, let’s talk about games like it. We’ll start with Stardew Valley, followed by Space Farm, and lastly, Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles.
Stardew Valley is for those peeps that jive more on the farming parts of Rune Factory than anything else. The game’s main premise is that the player inherits a farm, and their main task is to turn that farm into something to be proud of. However, the player has complete and utter freedom on what they want to do from that point.
They can grow whatever they want, sell whatever they want, and a lot more. They can explore dungeons for cool stuff, help develop the town they’re living in, and so much more. There’s also a cool relationship system and even a marriage system that provides cool stuff to the player once done. Overall, a really good farming simulator for those that just want a relaxing time.
Space Farm is exactly what it says on the tin: A farm. In space. It’s a pretty unique take on the genre because, on Space Farm, the conventional rules are usually thrown out of the window. This means that the player can do some pretty wacky stuff if they put their mind to it. Overall, if you’re looking for a unique take on the farming simulator with a lot of quirky things, try out Space Farm. It’s well worth the price and the time.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles
Last but not the least is Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles, which is pretty similar in terms of Rune Factory gameplay. Players explore the land of Gemea, an island with a lot of mysteries in it. While doing so, they’ll have to turn this island into a home worth living, which means farming food, building their home, and exploring. There’s no combat on Yonder as well, with the only thing the player needs is tools and their trusty lamp. Overall, it’s a cool game that a few people are sleeping out on.
Should You Play Rune Factory 5 on Switch?
Is Rune Factory 5 a must-play for the Nintendo Switch? Yes and no. The game has a lot of things going for it, with the bachelor/bachelorette system, the taming, the farming, and more. However, the iffy controls, optimization, and the empty world can hamper this quite a bit. If you’re buying Rune Factory 5, it’s best to wait until a sale, or if the developers start to fix some of these issues. It’s a good game, but it can be a better one with some polish.
Robots.net’s final score for Rune Factory 5 is: B