Modern life can be pretty stressful. Spend five minutes on Twitter and you’re sure to agree. After those five minutes, you’re probably going to want to change things up, maybe look for a new way to live that’s a little more relaxed. Step away from the chaotic world of social media, Uber Eats and slapping comedians by checking out Rune Factory 5, the latest in the long-running series of farming/adventuring simulators from XSEED Games.
After heroically attempting to save a girl from some monsters, you find yourself with a nasty case of amnesia. Thankfully, the residents of Rigbarth are ready to take you in and help you out until the memory loss situation resolves itself. That’s not to mean your room and board are going to be free, though. No, Rigbarth needs help. There’s monsters about, mysteries to solve and crops to grow. What Rigbarth needs is a Ranger, and that’s going to be you.
Turns out life as a Ranger pretty much matches up to the kind of stuff previous Rune Factory protagonists did! You’ll grow crops for cash, bash monsters, advance your skills and complete quests. While doing all this, you’ll learn more about Rigbarth and the people who live there. You’ll make friends and maybe even find love. It’s the small town life with a little bit of combat thrown in.
As you progress through Rune Factory 5’s plot, you’ll also encounter nasty bosses that need a good beating, and these battles prove to be some of game’s highlights whether you’re battling them for the first time or farming them for crafting materials. Combat involves heading out into the wilderness surrounding the town and administering much-needed butt-kickings to the local monsterdom. There’s a variety of weapons to use, from swords to spears to punchy gloves to magic spells, and you’re bound to find something that suits your needs. If you don’t, maybe you’d have better luck collecting materials and crafting it yourself!
When you aren’t fighting, you’re dealing with more domestic tasks. Farming is as complex as you’d like it to be. Want to worry about soil quality, seasonal concerns and other agricultural questions? Sure, go for it. Become the Old McDonald you’ve always wanted to be. Rune Factory 5 isn’t going to make you, but the option is certainly there. If you’d rather farm livestock, that’s also entirely possible. You can catch monsters out in the field and raise them on your farm, then take them out as combat assistance or harvest valuables from them.
Likewise, you can fish, cook, craft, give gifts, visit the local bathhouse and more. There’s always something new demanding your attention. You’re spoiled for choice throughout the game and will likely find your main restriction comes from a lack of time rather than options. Doing pretty much anything will also yield stat bonuses for your character, so it’s never like you’re wasting your time. Rather, all your activities will yield a more powerful Ranger on the whole. Everything ends up feeling like it’s worth doing.
While Rune Factory 5’s colorful new look certainly helps the game feel like a step in the right direction, it’s encountered the same unfortunate situation that so many games on the Switch have encountered – namely, it’s on the Switch. The little hybrid console is getting on in years, so you can imagine the performance issues we’re talking about here. That’s not to say Rune Factory 5 is unplayable, far from it in fact, but you can just see how much more pleasant the experience would be with a little more horsepower. At least the music and voice acting is solid enough.
Still, we take the games we get, not the games we want, and for the moment at least if you want to play Rune Factory 5, you’re playing it on the Switch. It’s worth playing, too, despite the game’s technical struggles and definitely if you’re a fan of the genre. If you’d like a break from it all – with the odd monster-slaying expedition every now and again – then a relaxing trip to Rigbarth just might be just the ticket you’re looking for.