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Rune Factory: Frontier Review
Review Score:

I fancy a cheap hoe, care to join me?

The concept of adding game play elements of farming into a video game maybe a hard fact to stomach for some gamers, but with the success of Astragon’s Farming Simulator 2009 and more storyline centric titles such as Harvest Moon the popularity for it is most certainly there. One look on Facebook right now Farmville seems to be the most played game on the social network right now. So without delving any further, may I suggest you stop reading now if this idea totally defies your logic! For the rest of us wanting to slip away into serenity, keep reading.

Firstly, no animals get killed in this game. Whenever you defeat one with your weapon or farming implement they go back to the forest where they live happily ever after. If you don’t want to return them you can keep them on your farm instead to produce milk, wool, eggs etc.

Flirting is actually a gameplay feature mentioned on the back of the box

Despite the addition of combat, plenty of the traditional Harvest Moon elements survive: seasons rotate, crops need feeding, animals need to be looked after and you have to find yourself a woman. Those familiar with the series will fit right into Rune Factory: Frontier but there’s enough new elements to rejuvenate what has become a series that has seen better days.

The script is better it’s certainly has more punch than, say, Tree of Tranquillity, though that’s not exactly hard. Don’t expect a plotline that will bedazzle you in any shape or form. It’s also worth nothing that Rune Factory is one of the more visually serene games on Wii, with a great colour palette and intricate design, not to mention the animated cut scenes. There’s a lot of the traditional Harvest Moon character to the game’s actual design, but it also feels authentic because of its combat system. The audio is of good quality, some good voice acting, relaxing yet catchy tunes accompanying you wherever you go.

Although they may seem basic gameplay types, the farming and combat work together really well. Growing crops not only earns you money to spend on new weapons, harvesting them lets you restore your stamina, letting you explore further in the dungeons. Defeating enemies also earns you materials you can use to improve your tools and weapons. Stack onto that plenty of skills to improve, from cooking to chemistry, special attacks and magic weapons and you’ve got a battle system that’s surprisingly enjoyable and with the ability to learn new skills, there’s always an excuse to kill the same returning enemies.

Water those crops!

There’s no combat above ground, meaning you always have the option to remain on your farm and chill out, but due to the clever map design you’re always close by a slice of the action. Discovery in the game is also a nice touch, I remember specifically randomly ploughing what looked like a weed only to discover it was the route up to the stone whale, a nice touch.

It’s not all songs and praise: though. Within the first couple of seasons you’re introduced to Runeys, one of the game’s major new introductions, and it’s likely you’ll be completely thrown off by them. Essentially, Runeys are magical floating spirits that influence the prosperity of your land: the more of them you have, generally the quicker your crops will grow and the more productive your animals will be. So far, so good, but the problem lies in the amount of time it takes to organise them properly. It isn’t absolutely essential to the games progression to understand what Runeys do, but their addition is off-putting and does detract from what is otherwise an exceptionally accomplished title.

Tranquil landscapes

As stated at the beginning of the review, this title is not for everyone and to be fair it wasn’t until I started to accept it for what it was that I truly started to understand the endearment that many people have towards it. For new players I’d say that this game doesn’t really transcend in a game that will introduce you to the world, whilst controls and chores are easy to understand you never get the true feeling that the games plotline has ever incorporated first time players to the series. As such we’d recommend this only for those that are familiar with the series already. Everything may feel slightly foreign otherwise. When standing this up to the Harvest Moon universe and failing titles such as the Tree of Tranquillity you’d have to say that Rune Factory: Frontier is a much welcomed return to form and Marvellous Interactive should certainly be commended for that. Would have been nice to have seen some online multiplayer extension for this title though, Animal Crossing anyone?

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Rating: 10.0/10 (3 votes cast)
Rune Factory: Frontier Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
  • https://?u=admin James Ireland

    Oh fantastic review Sam, brilliant

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