Originating as a spin-off of the Story of Seasons – formally called Harvest Moon – franchise, the Rune Factory series marries traditional farming simulator mechanics with dungeon crawling RPG gameplay. One day you may be carefully cultivating your growing form, only to spend the next cutting down monsters with your sword and possibly taming a few to work in your fields. Fans of the series have waited nine years, only broken by a part of Rune Factory 4 in 2019, for Rune Factory 5, which was released in Japan during May 2021 and in March of this year outside of Japan.
Talking to Eurogamer, Shiro Maekawa – the project manager for Rune Factory 5 – explained that, in the early stages of the game’s creation, the development team decided they would focus on the ‘guardian experience.’ Initially, he was worried whether the theme of guardianship and the Rune Factory gameplay would work well together, but came to feel that ‘the town sheriff’s stance of going back and forth between every day life and an extraordinary adventure suited the game cycle of going back and forth between daily experiences (farming, relationships) and adventure which focuses on combat and exploration.’
The farming simulator and RPG elements of Rune Factory 5 do flow together well. Farming supports your adventuring by providing you with crops to sell or cook into health-giving meals, while exploring dungeons can lead you to finding new seeds or recruiting a useful monster. If you want a regular supply of eggs, for example, then you need to tame a Cluckadoodle in the nearby fieldlands. Progressing the main storyline, which is heavily tied to the game’s RPG side, unlocks Farm Dragons; on their backs lie additional farming fields. Expanding your farm in such a way allows you to divide your farming exploits across multiple locations, so, if you wished, you could have a field specifically for growing trees.