The Rune Factory series has been around for a long time, branching off from the regular hum-drum of Harvest Moon. Past games were still somehow attached to Harvest Moon, boasting the subtitle of ďA fantasy Harvest MoonĒ but have since become more independent and have formed into its own genreóa weird mix between a farming sim and a RPG. This installment of the series is more unlike any Rune Factory or Harvest Moon game yet. It is Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny.
Tides of Destiny begins with a young boy, Aden (however, you can name him whatever you wish) going to use his Spirit Magic powers to help a local farmer. The opening also introduces Sonja (you can also name her whatever you want), his best friend and potential love interest. However, before they can head on their way to the farm, a flash of light strikes them, and next thing they know, Sonjaís soul is trapped in Adenís body! To make matters worse, they are now on an unfamiliar island; which is also called Fenith Island, the name of their hometown!
Luckily, a young girl named Odette, who owns the Inn in this strange new village, offers them a house to live in until they get things sorted out. Even though itís not their house, they basically give it to them, rent-free! My, what kind folks! The main concern of the game for now is to figure out where they are, and how to get Sonja back to her old self again! I really like the idea behind this, having a girlís soul in his body really makes the gameís dialogue awkward and very funny! Curiously enough, none of the villagers even question it, acting as if it were normal!
The game play is similar to any other Rune Factory game, with a few changes in Tides of Destiny. In this game, combat consists of pressing a single button, and all of the crafting things have the same skill bar. Some say this makes the parts of the game into a chore, but I enjoy forging weapons, cooking meals, and crafting accessories and furniture! I find fishing very entertaining as well. I think that Tides of Destiny has great game play with all of the different things you can do! Unlike Harvest Moon, with all these different possibilities, you shouldnít get bored!
Speaking of your nice neighbors, each of them will let you have full access to their equipment. You no longer have to wait and save up funds to build your own kitchen, forge, or crafting table. Odette will let you use her kitchen, Elena will allow you to use her forge to make weapons, and Electra will let you make accessories at her crafting table. Your neighbors only have the very basic tables, you will need to buy the better ones from James to make more advanced goods.
Also new to Rune Factory, you can no longer grow crops on your own land. You must take control of a giant plant golem, named Yimr (like Aden and Sonja, you can make his name whatever you wish) to act as something like a boat, to traverse the ocean. There are four seasonal islands, representing Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter, where you can plant crops according to the season. However, you will need to tame monsters to work the crops. All Aden can do is plant them, with nothing more than a wave of his Spirit Wand, and the monsters take care of the rest. You no longer need to water; all you have to do is plant and harvest! Some players do not like this idea, but it saves a bunch of money from not having to buy seeds, and saves more time for dungeon crawling! Whatís more, there are some monsters that will even harvest crops for you!
Speaking of your golem friend, your monster barn is located in Ymirís torso. Your barn can house up to 10 monsters, and each island can hold 5. Half the fun of the monster process is mixing and matching combinations of different monsters to get the maximum profit from your crops! There are several catagories of monsters, from the crop monsters like Goblins and Silver Wovles, who grow your crops, the tree monsters like Chipsqueeks, whose main purpose is to grow trees, the harvest monsters, such as any type of Orc, that will harvest ripe crops and place them in your storage bin on each island. Other than that, there are monsters like the Buffamoo and Wooly, which produce wool and milk for you. These monsters are best left in the main barn, since they do not contribute to island crops.
The Dungeons are like giant mazes full of monsters just waiting to ruin your day. I mean that "ruin your day" literally. If you run out of HP, you faint and wake up the next day! However, there are riches and rewards to be found deep in the dungeons. Completing these is necessary to the storyline, and the story line cannot progress without you accepting requests at the board in the Inn! Of course, at the uppermost floor of each dungeon, there will be a big, bad boss ready to wipe you out. Boss battles are long and hard, so be sure to prepare well.
Looks like Krabby on steroids...
The characters of the game are well done. All of them are colorful and quirky, all with a distinct personality. I think the characters of this game, especially with the voice-overs, make them more interesting than any Harvest Moon character. There are plenty of choices for marriage as well, from the evil sorceress Pandora to the sweet nurse Violet! However, marriage isnít possible until you finish the main game, which is somewhat of a drag, since friendship only goes up to 6 hearts and is easy to achieve.
Also, once you finish the main game, you may start over again as Sonja, which is new to Rune Factory as well. This is the first Rune Factor game where you can play as a female character! I feel as if the marriage candidates are shortchanged on her end, there only being 4 possibilities for marriage, as opposed to the 8 available for the male player! Still, I like the idea of having the New Game Plus to play, giving you a whole new adventure to look forward to at the end!
As stated before, the controls are pretty stale. You use the nun-chuck and Wii remote, and move using the control stick on the nun-chuck. You attack and use rune abilities with ďAĒ, which is also the general action button to talk and perform other actions. So far, I have not noticed an ability to block attacks. You pick up things by pressing B, and open your menu with +. If you like games with elaborate combo attacks and combat, you will probably find Tides of Destiny boring. I didnít like that you canít use the classic controller, which is my preferred controller for the Wii. Also, since you are not able to block attacks, all you can do is run away and hope you get far enough away in time to avoid the blow.
The music is very nice, although slightly annoying at times. I loved the intro; it runs like an anime opening and plays a pretty Japanese song. I often stop and listen to it before I play the game! Some of the characters, such as Odette and Lily, sing during the game as well. The only thing I didn't like is that while Sonja is in your body, she talks a lot...and hearing her voice all the time is quite annoying. For example, she will give a weather report every time you leave your home in the morning, such as "What a nice, warm day!" or "A rainy day, huh?"
Although this game gives you many things to do, from raising monsters for animal products or growing crops, it sometimes feels like the features are half-done. Tasks can get quite repetitive, and to make any items worthwhile, you have to make tons of easy items until you level up that skill, which is very annoying at times when there is an accessory or weapon you really want. Still, I really canít find a fault with this game, and it easily sucks me in for hours. Compared to Harvest Moon, this game has tons more to do and plenty of action, keeping you on edge. If you like Harvest Moon, but feel like you want more, then Rune Factory is a game you should try.