Review by Infinity_Bowman
"Solid, but needs salt..."
As far as Rune Factory games go, Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny is a solid title. As though taking a cue from Harvest Moon: Sunshine Islands, Tides of Destiny also takes place on the expanse of an ocean and it is your duty to raise islands out of the sea. Unlike Harvest Moon, however, you'll be doing this job aboard a giant golem; or plant golem to be specific. Ymir, the default name of the golem, stands tall enough to walk easily through the ocean and possesses strength great enough to heft islands of differing sizes from the depths they sank to. While spelunking for sunken islands, you'll also encounter giant beasts, such as giant squids or Godzilla-ish monsters, that you'll combat. Surprisingly enough, the combat mechanic for these titanic battles is pretty smooth and accessible. It is slow, but that is to be expected as you are fighting a giant with a giant. You are able to simply stroll across the sea as you see fit, provided you have the RP to do so, or you can take advantage of the top-down view, select a waypoint, and put Ymir on auto-drive. Pretty handy when travelling long distances. Oh, and don't worry about missing potentially important things in the sea; Sonja will alert you with a random phrase and an (!) over her head in the upper right hand corner of the screen.
Combat would be the next topic. Since the first game on the DS, the combat mechanic for the main character has come a long way what with new weapons and faster pace. In ToD, the pace is even faster and much more eye-catching. Unlike the other games, you can now jump, adding a new dynamic to pummeling monsters. Each weapon has its own strengths, weaknesses, speeds, and animations. The spear, for example, is fantastic for attacking large groups of enemies. It may not have the greatest attack power, but it is capable of swift attacks while reaching several monsters in a single blow. All in all, fighting monsters has never felt more rewarding.
Like the games before it, you get to farm and mingle with townsfolk while battling and even taming monsters. In Tides of Destiny, monsters ten your crops for you, so there is no need to waste any time watering or whatever. In fact, all you are required to do is plant and harvest - monsters do everything else. Monsters, too, are also responsible for what your spirit magic plants become. Unlike previous entries, you no longer need to spend your hard earned gold on seeds. Instead, monsters that are able to work in the fields (or islands in this case) have up to four different crops they can possibly plant after you've used spirit magic on a planting point. Basically, monsters are a much bigger deal in this game than they have been.
As far as the town activities go, the greatest (and best) change is in the bulletin board. Yes, the bulletin board is back, only now it offers the weather report, news, announcements, and even the ability to take on more than one quest. Like RF 2 and 3, you'll kibitz with the residents of the town and also talk to random passersby. Later in the game, you will also get the opportunity to pursue either a bachelorette or bachelor, depending on whether you play as Aden or Sonja.
Now for some nitpicks. Upon playing, it is painfully obvious this game is a direct port of the Wii version, possessing graphics seen on a PSP. The graphics are good enough, but the textures aren't as smooth as the PS3 is capable of making them. Rather than allowing the right analog stick to be used for controlling the camera, it is used for very few things (including knocking on doors). This is frustrating considering the only control you have of the camera is centering it with L1 or just allowing it to adjust as you move along. Finally, the voice acting is limited and only sub-par. Having departed from the handheld arena, I expected some better voice work, but it is sparse. All of the important characters have voices, but there is a heavy reliance on unspoken dialogue that you read. Most of the story-related dialogue features voiceovers, but even then I say MOST, not all. I lied: FINALLY, this game features more than just an opening video. There are now videos throughout the game but the animation is pretty weak; about on par with Saturday morning wishes-it-was-anime like Yu-Gi-Oh.
When it comes down to it, the game is a blast. Staying true to its name, ToD offers a ton of content to keep you playing for hours and the amount of content and accessibility of the features make the flaws negligible. So I will say: Try it; you'll like it.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 10/17/11
Game Release: Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny (US, 10/07/11)
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