This is a review of Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon for the Nintendo DS. It is the first game in the Rune Factory series, which is a spin-off of the regular Harvest Moon games. Rune Factory brings magic, weapons, and monsters to the table along with the traditional farming of Harvest Moon. It has been a very long time since I have played it so my memory is a little rusty and for that I apologize. And also, if you aren’t familiar with Harvest Moon, it might be a good idea to Google it.
I have played every Rune Factory game that has come out in the United States (5 of them) and have beaten the DS ones (3), including this one. I beat this game 3+ years ago so this won’t be perfect. Sorry!
Plot: A young man, Raguna, wonders into the town of Kardia with no memory of who he is or where he’s from. He collapses from lack of food and water in front of a house. The young woman who lives there comes out to see if you’re okay. You ask for food and water, but instead she brings out a watering can and hoe. You tell her that wasn’t exactly what you meant and she runs back inside to get what you originally asked for. After eating and having something to drink you feel better and tell Mist you don’t have any memories and no where to go. She says that you can live on the farm just north of her house and that was why she gave you the farming tools. The two of you head to the farm and all of a sudden a monster appears. You tell her to let you deal with it. After taking down the monster with your trusty hoe, Mist says that you seem to have the powers of an Earthmate, someone who can farm the earth and tame monsters. You also learn that monsters have started popping up recently and that something isn’t right. After this you are allowed to run your farm and start exploring the caves around the outskirts of town after receiving passes which are obtained by doing certain tasks the mayor asks you to do. By exploring the caves you uncover the mystery behind the monster appearances. I’m not going to say anymore so that I don’t spoil the ending! But in general, the plot was intriguing and the most complex in my opinion of the DS Rune Factories.
Gameplay: This was my first video game of this kind (games with monsters and stuff) and I absolutely loved it. It kept me entertained for hours. I apologize in the regard that I don’t remember much about the controls. I do know that after playing the later games and going back to this one that some of the controls irritated me a bit. It wasn’t anything too major though. Time in the game can seem rather slow if you run out of things to do during the day. Luckily, when you are in the main storyline it doesn’t happen very often.
Graphics: Okay, I admit, they are pretty bad. One must keep in mind thought that this game came out 5 years ago here in the U.S. and is for the DS. Graphics have come a long way since then. Considering that I started playing this game several years ago, I didn’t think the graphics were too bad. They still aren’t since they don’t detract from the gameplay.
Art style: The character portraits (the pictures of them when you talk to them) were very nice in my opinion. Each character seemed to have their own style and that was nice to see. The caves all had a different style and theme to them which always made it fun to see what was next. The scenery on the outskirts was very nice, especially by the ruins. The town was kinda plain. The makers did a very good job for a first in the series and naturally improved as they went.
Pacing of story: It went at a steady pace most of the time, generally it depended on how fast you were able to move through a cave. The only time it pretty much stopped was when you got to the Misty Bloom cave, which was only accessible in the winter. If you are like me and beat everything pretty quickly, you are going to have a very long wait. I was in summer when I finished the previous cave so I had a VERY long wait. But other than that, it was good.
Customization: Beyond naming your character (Raguna is just the default name and a suggestion) and naming your farm and any monsters you capture, there isn’t much. I suppose you could count choosing which weapon you use as customization if you want.
Difficulty of game: It really isn’t that hard. If you aren’t diligent in leveling up, boss battles might get really tricky, but probably not impossible. On the other hand, it can get too easy if you level up too much, like a friend of mine did. This game was aimed for a younger audience (10 or so and some of us teenagers) so it can’t be too hard.
Music soundtrack: I don’t remember a thing about the music that plays on your farm, but it can’t be too irritating if I don’t remember it. I do know that I liked the music that played in the caves. Each cave had a different music playing and it matched the atmosphere of the cave nicely.
Price of game: Prices are all over the place depending on where you buy it. I just checked and Amazon has it for around $20 new and Gamestop has it for $7 used.
Lasting appeal: After you beat the main storyline and get married, there is nothing to do really. I haven’t picked it up to play again in a couple years. It just isn’t replayable like the newer ones (especially Rune Factory 3.) You could always make a second file, but I never got that far since I bought the new one right after I beat this one. But that shouldn’t steer you away from this one. The storyline alone made it worth the money.
Stars out of 10: An 8 from me. Yes, I probably am being a little unfair since I’ve been spoiled with the improvements of the newer ones, but the fighting (such as time to swing your sword) was a little slow and the game isn’t really made to be played again after the plot. Overall, it was a great game and it sucked me into the series. Rune Factory games are definitely among my favorites.
I hope this was helpful! If you have any suggestions on how I can improve this, please feel free to leave a comment!
Disclaimer: Harvest Moon and Rune Factory belong to their respective owners and creators. None of it is mine. This is strictly a personal review of the game and I’m not being paid for it or anything.