Review: Rune Factory 5 on PC
Rune Factory 5 is hitting PC on July 13th. DarthSagaSwag reviewed it along with offering some tips and tricks to getting started.
Publisher: XSeed Games, Marvelous Inc.
Available on: Nintendo Switch, PC (Steam - July 13th)
Rune Factory 5 hit the Nintendo Switch earlier this year and has been sitting on my list of games to check out eventually ever since. Upon receiving a PC review code in my email inbox, however, I knew I had to instantly get the game downloaded and play to get an idea of how the PC version compares to Fernando Da Costa's review on the Nintendo Switch. Prepare for some total contrasts in our opinions and experiences of Rune Factory 5.
First up, I'm playing Rune Factory 5 on an Asus ROG with an Nvidia Geforce RTX 3060 graphics card and Intel Core i7 processor. I include this to let you all know that Rune Factory 5 can be played at the maximum graphics settings with minimal impact on equal or higher PC setups. Based on how little impact it had on my PC overall, with the recommended requirements listed on Steam (Intel Core i5, Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti), I think it will still play beautifully and look great for that setup.
I also tested it on my Dell Inspiron laptop, which does not have a dedicated gaming graphics card. I do not recommend playing Rune Factory 5 on anything but a gaming laptop or greater if that's the route you choose, as performance issues abound on anything less.
I'm often hesitant about playing games that are made for the Switch but then ported or continue development for other consoles and PCs and vice-versa. The Nintendo Switch is a great portable system, but I've found that games developed with a focus on the Switch often have a lot of hiccups in translation. However, in the case of Rune Factory 5, this game was clearly made for the PC over the Nintendo Switch system. Plenty of reviews have noted frame rate drops and other problems in performance for the Switch, but I didn't even notice any drops while playing on my PC. The game played so well that I was 30 hours into the game before bumping into a good old falling through the map bug, which was quickly rectified with fast travel.
I've been playing Rune Factory since the first game's initial release on the Nintendo DS in 2006. I've played every Rune Factory game except RF2. Even the not-so-great Tides of Destiny for the Nintendo Wii. Rune Factory 5 feels like a culmination of great mechanics and gameplay from previous games while evolving the overall look and gameplay of what makes Rune Factory an enjoyable series.
The graphics and art style of the game have evolved into the 3D realm, and unlike Rune Factory, 4 Special looks great on PC. The top-down visuals are gone, now replaced by a fully 3D open-world map that is much more fun to look at and explore. As I played, the town of Rigbarth and interactions with the locals reminded me much of one of my top favorite games ever, Tales of Symphonia. Something about the town's ambiance, sounds, character interactions, and how the game looks graphically threw me back to those initial days of becoming a full-on gamer. It's a wonderful and much-appreciated evolution, oddly enough for a game that's still not quite on par with modern-day RPGs. But, for Rune Factory, it's quite the evolution from previous games.
Interactions with other characters are still much the same. Daily repetitive exchanges and interactions, however, the character art has evolved, and some of the characters feel as if they have more in-depth and unique personalities. A problem I did have with the overall game is it felt like there were fewer characters to interact with. The town of Rigbarth feels sparse compared to previous games, but that may be because everything was more realistically spread out than in previous Rune Factory games.
Another evolution of the Rune Factory games is the ability to pursue same-gender relationships. While this is great for anyone looking to play and pursue characters to their preference, I hardly noticed as I tend to play farming sims as a heterosexual male despite not being one (male outfits are better). That's just how I prefer to play farming sims, but I'm glad to see this is an option.
Without any major spoilers, the story carries on past Rune Factory tropes with the main character having amnesia and landing in a town of people who could use the reconnection to the earth that the player character offers. As the player character explores the world, they uncover a mystery at the heart of the game's story. It's still worth playing through the main story if only to progress the stories of the townspeople. If you're a fan of JRPGs, Rune Factory does have plenty to offer, but in my opinion, it's not one of the major draws to this series.
As is usual with a Rune Factory game, RF5 throws the player character into a position of authority wherein you get to make directives based on points gained from completing quests and attending and participating in events. Frankly, the amount of trust that the player character is given from right off the bat has always thrown me in Rune Factory games, but hey, if it's useful for gameplay, then it's just part of the game's world.
Some new mechanics of Rune Factory 5 include the ability to place furniture freely, which I could have done without, as the placement system is a little wonky. Now I have a bunch of crafting furniture placed all willy-nilly throughout my character's home. There's also the ability to upgrade and expand local businesses, which is a pretty great investment for unlocking more to do and buy in the game while using up what can easily become excess resources.
NPCs can be asked to hang out and accompany the player character and help in fights, much as captured monsters do. This is also a great way to grow your relationships with the characters populating Rigbarth. Rune Factory 5 is relatively easy to play even at the normal level for experienced gamers, so you may find yourself ignoring this team-up mechanic. If you are an experienced gamer, I recommend upping the game's difficulty to make it all the more challenging to engage monsters and bosses with some of the NPCs. Otherwise, you might find this game to be a little too easy.
Completing quests helps unlock more seeds and areas around Rigbarth. It behooves the player to complete as many initial quests as possible to unlock more resources in the game for crafting purposes. Quests are relatively easy to complete, and with that said, here are some tips for getting started early on in the game:
Get as many quests done as you can in a day to progress quicker.
Keep an eye on your RP bar. Running out of rune points will drain your health points quickly. You will pass out and end up at the local doctor's and pay quite the sum out of pocket for treatment. Take a daily bath at the Blue Moon inn and eat at the Lackadaisy when you can afford it.
Grow everything. The main character is an Earth-mate and gains experience from growing food. Growing food is also an easy income, and you'll rack up money fast by farming.
Talk to everyone every day for the first 10 days. You'll need their approval up to at least 1 heart for a quest that you'll need to complete to unlock more quests.
Treasure chests are located throughout the map. Open each and everyone that you come across but beware! Some of the chests are monsters in disguise. Same with suspicious vegetables lying on their side in dungeons.
Craft those recovery potions. You'll need them for boss fights.
For easy gameplay, recruit available bachelors and bachelorettes to help you in a fight. It's a great way to make friends and makes the game ridiculously easy, especially if you're looking to farm craft materials from monsters.
The mini-map shows where cutscene interactions are available. Make a beeline for those locations when they appear.
Overall, Rune Factory 5 on PC was a great experience and well worth getting into as a fan of the Rune Factory series. Folks just entering Rune Factory games may not find it very impressive unless they're seriously looking for a jack of all trades farming, crafting, and RPG sim.