I found Natsume and their PlayStation 3 RPG; Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny tucked away in a small booth in the south hall of E3. The latest Rune Factory game, Tides of Destiny was not only enjoyable, but also surprisingly diverse, with there seeming to be plenty of things to keep gamers busy later this year.
I picked up the demo inside the house of the main character which, during my time with the game, was the male side Azel and not the female side Sonia. I walked around inside the house for a bit, checking on the various options here such as combining ingredients to cook up something new or crafting items from materials you have collected. This was handled fairly easily and like most of the stuff in my time with the game; nothing was overly difficult, making it very easy for anyone passing by to grab the controller and feel comfortable playing the game.
I then snuck out of my house and headed over to an area with a lot of monsters around and started swinging my weapons around. Here the combat is very fast paced, playing much like a Kingdom Hearts game. In fact, this is a huge move forward for the series, where in the past the combat has been very much an afterthought. In Tides of Destiny, you will have plenty of different weapons to pick from at any point during battle and each of these handle very differently. In my time with the combat I went from dual swords to a long axe, each giving me a new way to battle oncoming threats.
Farming has taken a bit of a back seat with this Rune Factory title as you won’t have to really micromanage your field of crop this time around. Gone is the need to water your plants or clear land to plant new ones; this is all handled instead by monsters on the moving island. In the demo, the Spring and Winter islands were unlocked and when I visited a farm on one there were already plants growing and animals wandering around. Farming now comes down to simply waving your magical wand and having your plant monsters come in and do what they can to get crops growing. Fans of the past games where farming was such a vital part of the gameplay might be disappointed, but this new system might be perfect for newcomers joining the series.
Besides farming, combat, and crafting; there is an option in the game to go around and try to land yourself a man or woman depending on which main character you are, but I didn’t get a chance to try this. Instead, I took this quest up around the showroom floor with the booth babes but let’s not touch on that subject too much. The Wii version of the game includes motion controls and I have been told that Natsume is looking into the PlayStation Move so hopefully it is implemented well. It will be interesting to see just how deep the combat and exploration can take this game now that farming has been numbed down a bit from earlier versions.
In the end, Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny was a game I had fun with and one that I wish I could have spent some more time playing. The options here on what you want to do seem to go on forever and the upgraded combat works well. It will be interesting to see the reaction from fans of the series as there seems to be a lot of changes from past Rune Factory games but these changes might just help it out in the long run – only time will tell though. Make sure to keep your eye open for Tides of Destiny when it releases on the PlayStation 3 later this year.