Rune Factory 5 Review – Might Need Another Decade

Rune Factory 5 on Nintendo Switch

Ever since I got to play Rune Factory 4 Special back in 2020, I simply can’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 new 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 fade slowly, 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 example in a cute country town called Rigbarth. After being assigned to a ranger with SEED (this world law enforcement) while awaiting any 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 assignments 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.

Rune Factory 5 Review

Despite all of these new features, though, the first walk around town felt like something was missing. After exploding more areas, it becomes clear that Rune Factory 5’s environments lack the charming fantasy details that these games are known for.

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Usually, there are many flowers, elegantly architectural 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 Rune Factory 5 is missing these details, making it feel outdated and rushed.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’s 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 barren pathways of the excessive amount that make up different dungeons in the game. Unlike in past titles, where you were required to unlock an aircraft license, you can open your map and fast travel anywhere.

What is crazy is that I didn’t realize fast travel was an option until randomly opening the map and clicking on an icon. It seems odd that it 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, the lacking cute details and instructions weren’t the game’s only downfalls. Being the most recent game in the franchise, Rune Factory 5 runs like a PS2 game more often than not.

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Rune Factory 5 Review

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 the display on 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 looks like your character is moving through quicksand. The framerate even hampers the casual slice-of-life material, as well as trying to line up furniture properly and complete 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 past 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 normal. 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 of the romantic side quest that is out there 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.

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Being the light-hearted character he is, Murakumo simply laughs and is just delighted that he was bringing in more business. This is just a 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, mainly because of how high expectations are for it. After waiting a decade, there should simply be more quality and quantity regarding the new features that were added, as well as the ones the series is known for.

The series of long-time fans may be disappointed, but it’s at least the same box that all the other titles in this niche genre do. More casual players will probably just want to pass on this completely, as the pros aren’t outweighing the cons.

Rune Factory 5 Critic Review

Reviewer: Andrew McMahon | Copy provided by Publisher.