The newest edition of the Rune Factory saga finally makes it's début on the PlayStation 3. Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny starts the story off without much explanation or details; all you know is somehow two friends, Aden and Sonja, have become trapped in the same body in an odd parallel world. With plenty of help from the friendly locals, it’s up to Sonja and Aden to figure out how they got stuck there and how Sonja became stuck in Aden’s body.
While the story stars slow and take a while to explain, there's plenty to do while waiting for the main quests to progress. While many of the side quests are simple fetch quests, occasionally Aden will be sent out to explore exciting dungeons with new monsters.
The main story's anime-style cut scenes look phenomenal but are often far too short and will leave you wanting more. Most of the dialogue between players is text only with the occasional voice over; for a recent PlayStation 3 title, there is a bit too much reading and not enough spoken dialogue for its time, though perhaps that's due to the fact this is a multiformat release alongside Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny on Wii.
Focusing heavily on a time system, Aden will have to follow a specific routine more similar to real life than an anime. Each night players must send him to bed in order to get well rested; forget to sleep or stay out too late and Aden will become sick, followed by negative attributes to his stats such as lower total HP or attack for the next day or two.
The battle system is simple and satisfying for the most part. While primarily a button masher, gamers will still have to time certain attacks while using different weapons to be most effective in a fight. There are many types of weapons, each with their own style and feel without any one type dominating the rest. Using skills increases individual skill levels for just about any action you do from running to swinging a giant sword around.
Every attack or farm action (such as watering a plant) takes up RP (Rune Points). With a limited amount of RP per day, planning ahead can often be the deciding factor of the success of a mission, as if Aden’s RP runs out he’ll start to lose his HP rapidly until it becomes depleted and he passes out. To restore RP, Aden can either eat costly foods, sleep, or visit the town bathhouse (but only once a day). While the RP system might sound like a bit of a hassle, as skill levels increase for different actions, the amount of total RP Aden possesses increases making it bearable.
One of the main aspects of the Rune Factory has always been the ability to raise and manage a farm of your very own. Tides of Destiny takes what players loved from previous titles and removes some of the more tedious tasks such as taking care of crops and animals — now many of these actions are simple one click actions or automated, removing the need to constantly check up on crops and animals every in-game day.
While out in the wilderness on missions, if you come across a wild animal you can use a brush to tame it to help out on your farm. Tamed animals will produce different goods used to make weapons and armour as well as help take care of the plants on your farm.
While most of the story and quests all come from a single town, your character travels to different locations using a giant golem grown from a seed. While you manoeuvre this huge beast, you can dig up islands or other objects in the ocean in order to explore new areas and level up your character as well as your golem.
The biggest pitfall is easily the control system using either the DualShock or PlayStation Move. Most notably it lacks a free camera control; one can only push a button to force the camera to rotate in the direction your toon is facing. As a matter of fact, the right joystick does little to nothing.
Using Move feels a bit more awkward. There is hardly any true motion tracking in the game except for a few instances when players might shake the controller, with the rest all done via the buttons and joystick. A free range targeting system or camera would have drastically improved the feel of this title.
While the motion and camera controls leave much to be desired, there is a huge amount of gameplay in this title for anyone looking to discover all areas and level up all their skills. A few tweaks here and there could have made a world of difference, but any fan of the Rune Factory series will feel right at home and appreciate the new additions Tides of Destiny has to offer.