Rune Factory 5 Review – A Great Experience, But Choppy Performance

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While Rune Factory 5 officially coming out worldwide last month, let’s take a closer look on what this latest entry of the renowned farming sim has to offer! The Rune Factory series has always charmed me with a unique mix of dungeon crawling, socializing, and farming elements. As the series fan, who has played 3 and 4 on the Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS, I was hyped for this next numbered entry, Rune Factory 5, considering that Rune Factory 4 is a true masterpiece.

In Rune Factory 5, the protagonist has lost his/ her memory and ends up joining SEED, a group of rangers operating in the small town of Rigbarth. As an Earthling, a being with abundant rune power, you are encouraged to tend the land and complete tasks for the townspeople, as well as battle monsters in order to maintain the peace.

But unfortunately, this game had one huge flaw, and that is the lack of optimization that was made for Nintendo Switch, which resulted in a very choppy experience that ends up making me want to avoid the game until it gets released on another platform.

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New Game, But The Same Plot

Let’s begin with the story. And, yeah…we have an amnesiac protagonist…yet again. The only time we ever got a non-amnesiac protagonist was during Tides of Destiny, as far as I can remember.

Much as I enjoy the fact that the protagonist is very eager to know what they are, and the story actually develops well as you go, I still wished for something…new, instead of the same old plot starter. For example, Rune Factory 3 had the amnesia plot as well, but at least the plot twists there were more engaging. Maybe we’ll get something new in Rune Factory 6? Time will tell, I suppose.

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Same-Sex Marriage, A Series’ First!

Rune Factory 5 features a mechanic that has never been seen in most modern games: Same-sex marriage! Yes, even if you choose the male character or the female character, you can still try and woo the love of your life, even if they’re from the same gender.

In an interview, XSEED mentioned how even during the early phases of the translation, they made sure that the text would properly update, regardless of the gender chosen, and personally, I really enjoy this feature. Having the liberty and not being locked out due to your gender is a feature that has been seen a lot in recent games, and I hope they continue forward with this in the future titles.

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Rune Factory 5 same-sex marriage example.

Farm? Or Dungeons? The Choice Is Yours!

Much like previous entries in the series, whatever you choose to do next in Rune Factory 5, it is all up to you! There are no time limits on when or how you progress through the story. As the festivals do get harder with each given year, if you’re looking to get all those festival wins, perhaps it would be a good idea to complete them in your first year.

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Dungeons work similarly to previous titles as well. To progress, you must defeat all the monsters and the summoning gates in a given radius. Personally, I recommend going for the gate first, unless you’re looking to farm EXP from monsters since they’ll keep on spawning until the gate is destroyed.

Organize Festivals And Your Experience With Directives!

At the headquarter of SEED, you can talk to Eliza. If you feel enemies are too tough for you and you just wish for a more laidback experience, or if you’re the daring type who wants a tasteful challenge, you can change the difficulty at any time, without having to create a new save file.

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Eliza is also the one who will handle your requests for development, or your “Directives”, a feature that is based on Rune Factory 4’s Order System. By spending SEED Points, which you earn by completing requests, and talking to villagers, among other actions, you can unlock new festivals, as well as expansions to your bag, and later on, even morning wake-up calls.

Choppy Performance Hinders the Experience

Unfortunately, I can’t really beat around the bush this time when it comes to the game performance. Various tests indicated that it is simply unable at keeping its framerate stable. While the latest patches introduced Dynamic Resolution, which reduces the resolution to prevent frame drops, it just ends up making the game blurrier than it already is.

The moment you goes outdoor outside of the town, you’ll immediately notice frame spikes every so often as it loads the buildings. The same can be said for the dungeons. Furthermore, having too many crops in your field at once also drops frames. It’s not that the game’s unplayable, but it’s clear that the game wasn’t properly optimized for the Nintendo Switch.

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Final Thoughts on Rune Factory 5

Rune Factory 5 had the potential to be so so great, but ended underperforming my expectations. I’m not the one to care too much about graphics, but the frame spikes really bothered me, and hindered my experience.

The translation work from the XSEED team is nothing short of amazing, but I would suggest you perhaps wait for the day Rune Factory 5 comes to a higher-end platform, such as the PS4 or perhaps even the PC, if such plans are even in motion, because as-is, the experience on the Switch really underperforms.

The Switch isn’t a powerhouse, I agree, but I also disagree with the statement that Rune Factory 5 just underperforms because of the hardware, as many developers have known for quite a while that it’s all just a matter of optimization. I would love to revisit this game in the future on a different platform, but on the Nintendo Switch, Rune Factory 5 gets a 3.5 out of 5.

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