Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon Review

Harvest Moon with combat, monsters, and magic? If that doesn’t excite you (or confuse you), I don’t know what will. Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon lives up to its name, and the additions of the fantasy RPG elements to the traditional Harvest Moon formula liven up the franchise, offering a fun game for both newcomers and veterans alike.

The game begins like a clichéd JRPG, complete with amnesic main character and odd-but-friendly girl who takes him in. Raguna (the default name of the main character) finds himself in the middle of a road, not knowing who he is or where he came from. Mist (the local farm girl) is quick to talk to him, and after a fairly short conversation, Raguna finds himself being put in charge of her farm, and given a fairly spacious house.

This is where things get a little different from the traditional Harvest Moon game. Once Mist shows you your field and gives you your first hoe, you’re quickly accosted by a monster. Using the hoe, you need to fight it off. The combat is completed with simple one button presses, so it’s not amazingly intricate. If anything, it feels a lot like you’re just farming and preparing your field, but on a monster’s face. (Until you make some money and buy your first sword, that is — then you can string together combos by pressing the attack button.)

Anyone who’s ever played a Harvest Moon game knows how the farming system works. For those of you who haven’t, though, it’s fairly simple (and much more entertaining than it sounds). You start off by clearing a field and preparing the soil. Throw in a couple seeds, water the sprouts, and keep at it. After an amount of time passes by (it varies according to crop) you’re rewarded with whatever it was you were growing, and you’re free to do what you want with it within the game’s limits.

After you’ve cleared enough squares of soil on the farm Mist gives to you, the mayor of the nearby town will open up a nearby cave for you to explore. Exploring caves is fairly fun, although early on you’ll often be retreating because you didn’t use your rune points very effectively.

What are rune points? Basically, it’s stamina. Every action you perform (farming, fighting, etc.) takes rune points. Run out of rune points, and your actions start draining your HP. This forces you to rest or consume items in order to regain the points. Unfortunately, most gamers will blow through their allotted rune points for the day extremely fast, meaning to get into the afternoon (which some events require) you’ll have to just walk around or leave your DS while you eat lunch.

Unlike the other Harvest Moon titles, this one doesn’t have the emphasis on livestock in addition to farming. Instead, you’re able to capture monsters found in the various caves and dungeons. Monsters can be used to fight by your side, or to perform simple tasks on the farm. It’s a nice addition, but it seems like more could have been done with it. Maybe next time…

Rune Factory is a hit or miss game. Fans of Harvest Moon and similar titles will likely enjoy it, although the addition of combat and monsters may put off some longtime veterans. For newcomers to the series or those who were quickly bored with Harvest Moon titles in the past, though, the new additions may help alleviate some of the tediousness of virtual farming.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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