From the doors of Rising Star games comes ‘Rune Factory,’ another notch in the considerably notchy belt that is the Harvest Moon series.
As someone who hasn't played through a Harvest Moon game before, I found Rune Factory to be a mixed blessing. On the positive side, the game features an in-depth item system, with raw materials such as plants and minerals able to be refined into better items, such as cooked-food, clothing or weaponry. The game is also rather lengthy, with 6–7 caves to explore and different requirements that have to be met before the various cave passes can be obtained. Rune Factory also introduces a simple battle system. Enemies can be defeated to progress through a cave or befriended. Befriended enemies produce items and help out with farm-work, reducing the amount of time spent in some of Rune Factory's more tedious areas such as watering and harvesting crops.
On the negative side, Rune Factory features a healthy amount of “grind.” The player needs to get into a routine of waking up, watering the plants, feeding/brushing the animals and collecting/selling produce, a process which takes up a lot of the player's time. The dialog is also fairly limited. The npcs cycle through half a dozen pre-scripted sentences depending on the time of day, making it very difficult to feel emotionally attached to any of the characters. Furthermore, sub-par localisation makes some of the dialog confusing and as a result, the social aspects of the game suffer.
Nevertheless, Rune Factory is a lot of fun and the wide range of activities in the game make up for the grind and poor dialog. If you're looking for a game to keep you entertained throughout the school holidays, Rune Factory is just the ticket.