Ever heard of Harvest Moon? Now imagine a Harvest Moon with swords, magic, and a medieval setting, on a Nintendo DS, and you have yourself Runefactory. I’ve spent over 5 hours today planting fields and wooing the local ladies with my farmer/fighter and let me tell you… it’s addicting! You start off as a character with amnesia stumbling across a little cottage. With no idea who you are and in desperate need of a place to stay and a way to support yourself theres little choice but to except the offer from a young lady named Mist. She offers you the opportunity of a lifetime to take care of her field.
The field you are forced into tending is a disaster. Covered in wood, weeds, and all sorts of “herbs”, there are plenty of things to keep you busy. You start off with nothing but a hoe and a pack of radish seeds but things begin to look up quickly. After you clear your field and look around you’ll find a well to fill your watering can and a cottage of your very own! Inside the house you’ll find a big empty room with a bed, a diary (save point), and a little doodle pad to draw on screenshots you take. The days go by quickly and your stamina or “runepoints” go by even quicker. The first week felt like it zoomed by because by 1pm in the afternoon my character was half dead (When you run out of stamina it takes health to work) and I had already watered all the crops I could afford. However once you start raising your skills you’ll find that runepoints go a long way.
The graphics are superb! When in the town you really notice that this Harvest Moon successor has stepped up their game. The town is large, approx. 4 screens, and there are nearly a dozen houses with multiple people ready to talk. Working on a 6 day week with monday-fri and their weekend combined into one day called a “Holiday” it requires some effort of planning when going into town. Not every store is open every day so there is some guesswork in the beginning. There’s everything from a bar to a day spa in this town.
Lastly I’ll talk about combat. Scattered around the landscape you’ll find caves full of “monsters” or creatures that spawn from these currently unknown devices. So far I have been given access to only one cave and it’s a toughy. The monsters can kill you in 3-4 hits if you’re not careful. If you don’t kill the spawners then you will quickly be overrun and killed sending you back to the last save (an awful thing to have happen). Inside these caves you’ll find controled climate crop fields that you can use to grow plants that are normally only able to grow in a certain season; no more waiting for summer when it’s winter!
Overall my impressions from about 5-6 hours of play place Runefactory on the top of my gaming list right now. It’s addicting and it feels like there is always so much to do that I can never keep up. It passes the time very quickly and it’s a rewarding experience to see crops grow and your property expand. If you like Harvest Moon then this is definitely a game for you.