Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Rune Factory Frontier - Wii

Due to the staggering amount of big-name titles released in the first half of the year, many great games have been sadly forgotten about. One such title is Rune Factory Frontier, a lovely game which really deserves your attention.

A spin-off from the much-loved Harvest Moon franchise, Rune Factory's unusual blend of farming, life simulation and dungeon crawling makes for a wonderful and original single player adventure.

Taking control of a boy named Raguna, you arrive in the town of Trampoli, desperately looking for your friend, Mist. It turns out she has started a new life in the picturesque town and urges you to join her.

Within the opening 15 minutes, Raguna will be a fully-fledged member of Trampoli's small but vibrant community, have his own house - complete with dusty plot of land - and own the bare essentials with which to make a living.

The whimsical background story isn't deep, complex or sprinkled with heavy dialogue choices, but Rune Factory Frontier's mish-mash of gameplay styles is so well delivered, the flimsy tale really doesn't matter.

Being a game from the Harvest Moon stable, Rune Factory Frontier focuses heavily on growing crops, looking after livestock and expanding your farm. However, unlike some other Harvest Moon titles, you never feel rushed into trying to cram as much as possible into every in-game day.

The clock still ticks along at an alarming rate, but stops when Raguna is indoors - a wonderful design choice which takes the stress away from his daily chores.

Rune Factory Frontier is completely open-ended, meaning it's entirely possible to concentrate solely on looking after your small farm. But doing so would be folly, as the game is crammed with things to do.

Some aren't immediately obvious, due in large to a lack of hand-holding. In my view, this is one of the game's strengths as it encourages the player to explore the beautiful game world and interact with other characters to move the story along at its own sedate pace.

When not pulling turnips and crops out of the earth, Raguna can cook, fish, craft items, upgrade weapons, visit townsfolk, sell his produce, go shopping, build relationships, get married, go sailing, visit a health spa and generally live a life of comfort.

But where Rune Factory branches away from the traditional Harvest Moon template is in the game's combat. Raguna can enter dungeons and do battle against a range of enemies - he can even recruit monsters to fight by his side or work on his farm. It's very well done, although be prepared to put in some serious work if you want to get the most out of these denizens of the dark.

Visually, the game is beautiful - although there's unfortunately no 480p option. The cheery scenery changes as the seasons pass with rainy autumn and the eerie ambiance of winter being particular stand-outs. There's a full day/night cycle in place, too, which adds to the games enchanting atmosphere.

Each new day in Trampoli brings with it a boggling amount of stuff to do, and the sheer amount of tasks can be overwhelming at times. However, just take your time, and quietly potter about at your own pace and the game becomes much more manageable. Trying to cram everything in at one time is an impossible task, so relax and the game's charms will rise to the surface.

Rune Factory Frontier is bright, breezy, utterly charming and incredibly satisfying to play. Some may think it's a bit too twee, but it's the best role-playing game on the Wii since 2008's Opoona.

If you missed it when it was released back in April, this Rising Stars Games' title is well worth hunting down.

1 comment:

free wii points said...

rune factory is one of the best wii games ever!