Rune Factory 5 on Nintendo Switch
Ever since I got to play Rune Factory 4 Special back in 2020, I simply couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next installment in the franchise. That day has finally arrived. After a decade since the last full game in the franchise was released, Rune Factory 5 is here, bringing with it a boatload of new features that look to breathe new life into the series.
It didn’t take long after booting up the game and hopping into the story for my excitement to slowly fade, as Rune Factory 5’s gameplay doesn’t have the most flattering introduction.
After saving a stranded young girl in the forest, you faint and wake up without your memories in a cute country town called Rigbarth. After being assigned as a Ranger with SEED (this world’s law enforcement) while awaiting any memories to come back, you find yourself trying to solve the mystery surrounding the lack of Rune Power, which leads to the land slowly dying out.
Like all other Rune Factory games, you start with your own farmland, which SEED assigns you to take care of in exchange for a place to stay. From there, you explore dungeons, befriend monsters, build relationships with the townspeople, and complete an abundance of side quests. In addition, there are some cool new features like same-sex marriage, farm dragons, new types of festivals, wanted monsters, and romance side quests.
Despite all of these new features, though, the first walk around the town felt like something was missing. After exploring more areas, it becomes clear that Rune Factory 5’s environments lack the charming fantasy details that these games are known for.
Usually, there are many flowers, elegantly architectured buildings, and other detailed environmental designs making up the locals of the setting. Rune Factory 5 is missing these details, making it feel outdated and rushed.
Rigbarth lacks the cozy, small-town feel I was hoping for. Instead, it is more of a bland archetype made up of basic dirt paths, far-spread apart buildings, dull color palettes, and an overall lack of decor that simply doesn’t sell that engrossing detail that farm sim games are known for.
Luckily, the ease of use regarding the fast travel system alleviates the need to walk through the excessive amount of barren pathways that make up the different dungeons in the game. Unlike in past titles, where you were required to unlock an aircraft license, you can open up your map and fast travel anywhere.
What is crazy is that I didn’t realize that fast travel was an option until randomly opening up the map and clicking on an icon. It seems odd that this didn’t fall under the tutorial system that was present in the game, as this and other features like wanted monsters, farm dragons, and companions weren’t explained very well.
Unfortunately, lacking cute details and instructions weren’t the game’s only downfalls. Despite being the most recent game in the franchise, Rune Factory 5 runs like a PS2 game more often than not.
Whether you’re in combat or simply looking at a loading screen icon, the framerate and graphics are a complete step back for the franchise. A good example of this is on display via the game’s dashing mechanic.
It’s honestly hard to explain how bad and useless dashing in Rune Factory 5 looks and feels, as the game sputters so hard when you press RB that it’s like your character is moving through quicksand. The framerate even hampers the casual slice-of-life content as well, as trying to line up furniture correctly is a complete and crooked nightmare.
Since these farming simulations are niche, it is still worth playing for fans of this genre because it carries over the same comforting feel of the previous games that are loved, like fishing, farming, caring for monsters, and relationship building.
Romance building, in particular, gets a nice focus in Rune Factory 5, as it has a lot of different options that are all pretty far from ordinary. Each prospective romance has its own unique quirks, lengthy character-specific romance side quests, phrases, and artistic designs. This diversity and variety make it a lot easier to find at least one person that interests you.
One romantic side quest that stood out is the one where you help the kind Inn owner, Murakumo, find out if his Inn was haunted or if it was just a rumor. You group up with the townspeople and chase the ghost, only to figure out it was some kids playing a prank.
Being the light-hearted character he is, Murakumo simply laughs and is just delighted that it was bringing in more business. This is just one cute example of a romantic side quest that actually adds to Rune Factory 5’s overall atmosphere.
Overall, Rune Factory 5 is a complicated game, mostly because of how high expectations are for it. After a decade of waiting, there simply should have been more quality and quantity regarding the new features that were added, as well as the ones the series is known for.
Long-time fans of the series might be disappointed, but it is at least check the same boxes that all of the other titles in this niche genre do. More casual players will probably just want to pass on this entirely, as the pros won’t outweigh the cons.
No instructions or tutorials on important mechanics results in a lot of unecessary guesswork.
Rigbarth is lacks the intimate detail and life that the series is known for.