I loved Rune Factory 4 Special, much more than I thought I would going into it just a few months ago. So of course, Rune Factory 5 was high on my radar – granted, this time on Switch as there is no PC version.
This is the series’ first foray into full 3D graphics and – if I am being completely honest – it is a bit rough. They kinda perfected the formula with the last game, so the sudden shift to full 3D comes with numerous downsides – like less detailed environments, large patches of just open space, and many more smaller changes that give the overall package a clunkier feel to it.
One of my favorite things in 4, for example, was being able to pick up stacks of items quickly and chuck them across my farm into my sales chest. You can still do that in 5, but now you have to account for the verticality of your throw and I found myself constantly missing and having to run over and pick up items again. That and picking up items in general isn’t as smooth – it felt like I was fumbling around placing things, picking them up accidentally – I’m not really sure why.
And none of this is helped by the Switch hardware, which really makes itself known in this game. You get your usual 30 fps and then constant dips to 10 or 20 when turning the camera or entering open places. That and the game freezes for seconds upon entering or leaving any area. All of this is most noticeable in combat, where you’re having to dash, attack, and dodge things while chugging along at 15 fps.
I also ran into the occasional bug or two – like a set of tiles being frozen on my farm and locked from tilling for some reason. Maybe these issues can be cleaned up with patches, but considering the game has been out in Japan for almost a year – I don’t have high hopes.
That aside, it is still a Rune Factory game at its core and comes with all the usuals that I grew to love in the last game. Questing, tons of skills to level up, cool areas to explore, simple, yet fun combat – that is all there – it just plays a lot slower and with a clunkier edge to it as a side effect of the transition to 3D.
I have played several hours now and was aiming to give this game a proper review, but I am going to be honest – I’m just not feeling it. Rune Factory 4 grabbed me, but all the little issues in this one really bring down the overall experience. As the first fully 3D entry, maybe these are just some growing pains and I’ll have to wait for the sixth game to properly get into it, or maybe they’ll do an updated release like they did with 4 and actually let the game run well on PC.
Whatever the case, I decided to throw together this quick impressions video in time for release and hopefully you all found it at least somewhat helpful. For now, I cannot see myself recommending this one and I’ll probably go back to just playing 4.
Rune Factory 5 retails for $60 USD on the Nintendo eShop.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.