Rune Factory Frontier is the first installment of Rune Factory that was released on the Wii. However, anyone who has ever played a Harvest Moon title will be familiar with this game already. The gameplay and concept is almost identical except for a few minor additions. Overall, it has the same feeling as a Harvest Moon game.
The biggest change from the original Harvest Moon game is the addition of a combat/dungeon system. This means you can make this game into a moderately interesting dungeon crawler for short periods at a time. Why do I say short periods of time? I say this because like in Harvest Moon you have an RP or Endurance bar that drains with every swing of your sword. So when you enter a dungeon and start swinging your sword killing opponents eventually you will run out of endurance and have to run home to your bed and sleep before you can continue in the dungeon. If you neglect this you will lose health with every swing of your sword. Generally not something you want when you already have enemies trying to take your health away.
Another change was added that almost makes the game seem like a kind of dating sim at times. You can choose from a number of the women to try and woo and eventually get married to and have a kid with. Not something I would have expected to be added in a game like Rune Factory.
Time moves by pretty fast in the game. Ever minute in real life is 1 hour in game. So at most you can stay up from 6am till 5am… meaning 23 minutes of gameplay between sleeping at the very most. Even so the low amount of available endurance especially early in the game will have you going to sleep at 10am some days.
Some of the most frustrating aspects of the game deal with the storyline. There is no rhyme or reason to it and no direction or path that it provides. If you happen to walk into a certain area at a certain time and trigger part of the story great! But don’t expect to know where you need to go or what you need to do to progress. Probably the worst part about this is you need a hammer and axe to clear your field of debris. Most people would think you could just go to the shop and buy the tools you need. Instead you need to find certain characters and improve their relationship with you before they will give you the tools you need. The only way I could find this out sadly was through a walkthrough.
Ok now that I’ve spattered on about all the bad points of this title I would like to touch on many of the enduring and wonderful aspects of this title. The game’s art direction is vibrant and beautiful and if it wasn’t for the occasionally over pixilated texture I would regard it as one of the better looking Wii titles to date. The controls are very well done and intuitive making switching between various tools very easy. The voice acting is great and the cut scenes make you feel like your watching an anime on TV. So if you like anime and love Harvest Moon this is your cup of tea. The sounds are very well done and I really enjoyed the farming noises coming from my controller speaker. It helped make me feel like I was part of the game.
Overall Rune Factory Frontier is a great game for Harvest Moon fans. However, it is not so great for fans of dungeon crawlers because it isn’t anything like what you may expect from an RPG.
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