After my last blog post where I ranted about the UPS guy being slow, the guy turned up at 7 p.m. and handed Rune Factory 3 to me. (This magical event even happened during a blizzard. You are an inspiration UPS guy. Your dedication is outstanding.)
After playing RF3 for a few days, I can summarize this farming RPG hybrid in two words: brilliant gaming.
Story: A boy named Micah (or whatever you want to name your hero) wakes up in a foreign land suffering from everyone’s’ favourite plot device: amnesia. Stranded in nowheresville, Micah gets found by a maiden named Shara and is given a tree house home to live in, because this is obviously not our government run Earth. (I wish I would wake up in a foreign land and they would give me a house to live in. No The Twelve Kingdoms for me.) After being given his sweet pad, Micah is forced to fight off monsters in his garden so he can be given a weapon that will be vital in discovering the world of RF3. From there on he is tasked to meet the townspeople and go on adventures that will amaze and unfurl shocking secrets.
The Game: Having played Rune Factory 1, Rune Factory 2, and Rune Factory Frontier, I can honestly say that this game trumps them all. (Although I loved RFF as it is a console game, RF3 has much more to do in it and doesn’t have the annoying load times). There is so much going on in RF3 all the time and everything flows together, always pushing the plot further.
Festivals in RF3 are very interactive and in this game, people don’t stop going on with their daily lives. In festivals, life continues normally except for the few hours (in game time) it takes to do the festival. The festivals are new and interesting; in one you can even beat up a giant wooly with a lollipop.
A key thing to remember is to talk to townspeople before and after the event. They have new dialogue after each visit.
Battle in RF3 is very similar to its other siblings. But with a small switch: you can play as human Micah or his not so secret identity as a wooly (a monster that resembles a sheep. See cover). I still like playing as human!Micah more than wooly!Micah as nothing beats the thrust of a sword or the unleashing of a magical spell. But both forms have their needs, and you can’t unlock major plotlines without switching between both.
|Don’t you wish you never carved that pumpkin on Halloween now?|
Farming is like every other time you’ve farmed in RF. If you have played a Harvest Moon or a Rune Factory game, then you know how to farm (if you have played one and still don’t know how to farm, put down your DS and go cry in shame). Basically you take your hoe, dig up some dirt with the “B” button, sow some seeds, and water your plants or let the rain take care of the dirty business for you. As in previous RFs, monsters that you capture/befriend still give you items like wool or milk as long as you buy the right equipment from town.
RF3 also includes cooking, forging, pharmacy, and other side businesses that you can slowly build into a franchise inside your tree house. Characters will also give you tasks to complete for money or items that can be found in your mailbox or on the bulletin board by the shop Fantastic Flowers.
Characters: Character interaction has been vastly improved in RF3, characters having been given more personality and dialogue options as they interact with your character Micah (they even come into your house and talk to you). Townspeople even interact interpersonally with each other. Micah can listen to conversations they are having through little bubbles that appear over their heads or join in their conversations. The only downside to characters running around all the time is that the game will start to lag if too many people have clustered onto the screen. However, the lag is manageable and Micah can still get from point A to B and speak to characters without much hassle.
|Can you guess which one is Micah within the lovely ladies?|
In RF3 you have 11 bachelorettes to woo and take as your wife, all the girls given lots of interesting dialogue and events to participate in; later when you reach a certain heart level, Micah can even take the girls on dates. The dating system has been substantially improved since the previous RF incarnations – and even Harvest Moon.
Final Thoughts: The only real downsides to RF3 is that the storyline is a bit shorter than its predecessors (Rune Factory 1 & 2 both have longer plots), and that you can’t play as a female protagonist. But thankfully, Rune Factory Oceans for the PS3/Wii is coming out soon (in Japan anyway) and players will be able to play as a girl and boy.
|Ones of these things are not like the other…|
If you liked Rune Factory 1 & 2 or Rune Factory Frontier, you will like Rune Factory 3. If you didn’t like either, you still might like RF3 as everything has been substantially improved. It is a great dating sim/RPG/farming game that gracefully balances all these facets to create a stimulating and enriching gaming experience (translation: it kicks ass).