Video game review – Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny

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Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny
Natsume
PS3/Wii

Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny is exactly the reason why I barely talk about gaming with my friends.

How would I begin to explain an anime-styled “life simulator” that sees two people inhabiting the same body, living on an island with dragons, trying to make a living treasure hunting (you know, on the ocean) while riding – you guessed it! – a giant, sentient stone golem, all while farming and trying to woo the many girls of the island that you’ve mysteriously washed up onto?

Despite how embarrassing the setup is to me personally, a 25-year-old high school English teacher, there’s a lot of stuff to do in Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny, and most of it is interesting enough to hold your attention, but that’s about it.

Rune Factory, as a spinoff of the Harvest Moon series, is all about giving players a sandbox with fairly mundane things to do and asking them to go wild within it. With the exception of wanton violence against the townspeople (which, as a well-adjusted individual, you had no intention of doing, right?), you can go about living within this world as you please. Do you want to make your scratch by being a farmer, collecting seeds, and maintaining crops and animals? Do you want to hunt for treasures on the high seas? Do you, uh, want to start a blacksmithing shop? Well, you can, but be prepared to be slightly underwhelmed.

See, it’s cool that the game offers so many options, but not too many of them are particularly great all on their own. In fact, for the most part they’re irritating rather than all that interesting. The Rune Factory series is known for its dungeon-crawling aspects, and for being known for that, it’s strange that the battling is so lacklustre, basically being a “press X to win” situation. Sure, you have to manage your hit points and action points, but otherwise it’s something like Namco’s Tales series without any of the tactical considerations.

And yet, there’s something ineffable about the game. Maybe it’s the confidence with which the game throws its myriad gameplay scenarios together, or maybe it’s the abject, endearing awkwardness of the whole thing. I don’t know. But what I do know is that the game’s lackadaisical pace and nonsense story somehow comes together to be oddly compelling, bringing the player back into its world over and over again.

Matthew Blackwell
Tech. Coordinator

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