The Rune Factory series, a spin-off to Story of Seasons, combines action combat/RPG with the agricultural and social elements of its sibling. Now, nearly a decade after Rune Factory 4 debuted on the 3DS, a new Rune Factory game is coming as a Switch exclusive on March 22. We spoke with director Shiro Maekawa to provide gives you an idea of what you can expect, from fun carnivals to power-ups to Link Attacks with other members of town.
Rune Factory 5 has a long way to go. Many fans have been worried about the future of the series, especially with Neverland closing. Can you discuss the journey to get this long-awaited entry off the face of the earth?
Maekawa: After completing Rune Factory 4, we drafted many plans for Rune Factory 5 that we were unable to materialize, but different elements came together to finally release the title. this. We’re really driven by a lot of fans who still want new Rune Factory games when we release Rune Factory 4 Special.
What did the team learn from Rune Factory 4 Special that was applied to Rune Factory 5?
I’d say the fan’s love for its characters. We’ve learned that it’s important to illuminate all the charming inhabitants of the town.
How does the team want to develop based on the Rune Factory formula for this item?
Rune Factory Frontier and Rune Factory Oceans are in 3D, but this is our first game made entirely in real 3D. Players can seamlessly switch between their lives in Rigbarth and their adventures in the lands around it. We want players to feel like they’re part of the in-game world like never before.
What are some new features that you think fans will especially like?
You can do a lot of different things with the townsfolk: cook, fish, blacksmith, ride monsters around, perform Link attacks in battle… All these new features are allowing you to spend more time with your favorite characters.
What are certain elements that you consider essential to the series’ identity, and how do you ensure those elements remain interesting for fans while remaining familiar?
The three elements we have included since the first Rune Factory game are love, farming, and adventure. At first glance, these elements seem to exist independently of each other, but the crafting system ties it all together to create a whole new level of fun.
What kind of festivals can we expect in this category? Is there anything new?
You can expect to see traditional competitions like the harvest festival and fishing contest, as well as a monster-slaying contest known as the Buddy Battle, but there are also some new ones!
How do you keep the primarily amnesiac element interesting and a fun mystery to uncover each game?
You’d think our fans would exclaim, “Amnesia again?!” but this important feature allows the player to experience a whole new world beside the main character. As in previous titles, Rune Factory 5 explains what causes the protagonist’s amnesia and how it relates to the main mysteries of the game.
How do you make sure there are enough dungeon types? Can you give some examples of the types of dungeons we will see?
In addition to the familiar ice and fire pits, you’ll have the chance to visit many locations, including a vast prairie, a bandit’s hideout, and an abandoned town swallowed up by darkness.
Can you discuss link attacks, and how will they differ depending on the character?
Instead of the characters themselves, the character’s preferred weapon affects Link Attacks. These attacks also gain additional power depending on the strength of the character’s relationship with the player.
It is the first game in the franchise to include same-sex marriage. How important was it for the series to finally take this step and be more inclusive?
To a certain extent (i.e. swapping out the protagonist’s appearance), same-sex marriage is possible in Rune Factory 4, but not really. At the time, this choice was intended to give players the freedom to play the game as they wanted. But Rune Factory 5 marks its official release and allows us to welcome more fans to the series. I think we should continue to include this feature in future Rune Factory titles.
Do you have any advice for fans starting their Rune Factory 5 journey?
What you do in this game is up to you. You can fish from dawn to dusk, invite someone on an adventure or go on a date — play it any way you like. There’s nothing you have to do. So I hope you settle into Rigbarth and live your ideal relaxed life there!