Harvest Moon is a game that may make some of you reminisce about wasting many an hour playing what was a farming simulator. Well, in Rune Factory Oceans you get to combine fantasy farming with dungeon exploring. The Harvest Moon series was renowned for its slow pace, so hopefully the added dungeon exploring element will help Rune Factory Oceans garner new fans to the role-playing genre.
The brash Aden and Sonja (well you get a chance to rename them) are two close friends taking life easy on their peaceful island. Then, out of nowhere, they are struck by a curse and awaken to find out they have been transported to a mysterious new island. That isn’t the only strange thing to happen to them because they also discover that both their souls are trapped in the same body! The island they end up on is Fenith, a land that loves its farming, and you can guarantee you’ll have to participate in more than farming relating action.
As with all Harvest Moon games, once you’re in control you are able at your own leisure to follow your own routine. There are literally tons of activities to take part in, you start and run a farm, fish for dinner or take part in competitions, develop delicious recipes that will aid you in combat and improve your relationships with the characters around you, craft items from scratch and also compete in numerous festivals that occur during the year. Alongside the day to day running of things, you also have to explore various dungeons and battle a variety of monsters that luckily drop items that you can use in the other areas of your busy life. Alternatively, you can choose to tame them which adds some variety to the proceedings. As you can tell, you can literally spend hours taking your time and exploring as much as you can because there is no real urgency in reaching the end. For this reason, some gamers will find Rune Factory Oceans very involving and addictive, whilst others will quickly get frustrated with the boring repetitive tasks and slow pace.
Some of the big parts of the game, i.e. raising an island to explore or crossing the oceans, are not as interesting as they should be unfortunately. These aspects continue to move at the same leisurely pace as the rest of Rune Factory Oceans. As mentioned earlier, you can tame monsters that can then be used in future combat/farming situations. One of the most involving and enjoyable aspects of Rune Factory Oceans is the amount of weapons available which include hammers and swords, the more you use one kind of the weapon then the more experienced you become at using it.
With the lack of speed you slowly begin to find out some of Rune Factory Oceans flaws, because, unlike faster paced games which can hide their issues behind fancy graphics, Rune Factory Oceans can be a cumbersome beast. The dungeon exploring is fun to begin with, but there is no variety, it’s just mindless button bashing, no skill is involved which is a big shame. The islands and inhabitants are colourful enough but the enemies lack imagination. The farming element has been simplified which is unfortunate, one of the main parts of the Harvest Moon series was the planting and harvesting of crops, but in Rune Factory Oceans it has been overly simplified.
Graphically, Rune Factory Oceans wouldn’t look out of place on the Wii. Sure it’s the depth of Rune Factory Oceans which entices you, but it would have helped had the characters and monsters had a bit more time dedicated to their appearance. The question is whether having so many average activities is actually better than having a fair few less but more entertaining ones to participate in.
Rune Factory Oceans is a time consuming game that will take many hours to explore and fully appreciate. However, the issue with Rune Factory Oceans is that it’s not a great deal of fun and fans of the genre it aims for may become quite disappointed with the constant button-bashed battles and the repetitive fetch quests that litter this game. Rune Factory Oceans isn’t a particularly exciting game but it doesn’t try to be either, it knows that its hook is to draw you into the farming and dungeon crawling and suddenly you realise that you’ve spent 8 hours practising your craft and taming a monster. If you want lose hours of your life at a leisurely pace, then Rune Factory Oceans is the game for you.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 3 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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