An extraordinary profoundness and large scale immersion separates this game from the rest.
It's a pretty simple premise just like the other games from the genre. You wake up each day and live the life of this character in his imaginary little world. Now it sounds that simple on paper but you'll find yourself overwhelmed pretty quickly and trying to figure out what to do. It may even require substantial patience to get the hang of everything because you're instantly given so much. Start setting up your farm, raising monsters, making friends, fishing, crafting, getting stronger, doing requests, exploring the ocean, and so much more. It's a lot to throw at someone all at once and it may even be too much to handle for certain people's taste.
The more you play the game, the more it will grow on you. This isn't just some cliche, this is an absolute truth which presents one of the very reasons why this game is so good. The festivals are interesting, the characters are diverse and people you want to fall in love with, you're constantly discovering new places, constantly finding new things you want to build towards, it's a truly rich world full of interesting things to do. Just give it the chance and don't let the dull beginning set off prejudice, you may just find more than you were looking for.
So what makes this game any different from the other Harvest Moon and Rune factory games? That's a good question and it deserves a paragraph in and of itself to explain. The Harvest Moon formula is pretty simple and both games have historically played very close to it. In them, you traditionally micromanage a farm and do repetitive tasks throughout the day all in hopes of making money and getting married. Now it's not that this idea is completely revolutionary but it's no longer anywhere near as repetitive. It's no longer a question of where should I waste some time today. It's a question of when will I be able to slow down? These games have traditionally kept to a very tight knit formula of having precise things to do each day and this game revolutionizes in some way in that it completely breaks that ground. There's no longer a responsibility to water the crops each day or mindlessly feed your animals. It's all about what you want and the task abundance is more than enough to keep you busy. You may decide to work on the request board which has a lot of interesting diversity aside from the usual fetch quests, you may want to work on your crafting skill and invest all your energy into that, or you may want to harvest your crops where your monsters now raise your crops independent of you for the first time. It's a big step in the direction of freedom and choice and an even bigger step away from mindless repetitiveness.
Now as much of a step in the right direction this is as a large scale Social RPG with a lot of content, there are still significant flaws. To me, first and foremost what stands out is the mindless button mashing battle system. Now RPG games don't usually get called out for being button mashers even when their guilty of it but I think that the core process of an RPG game that separates it from the other genres is THOUGHT. A battle system should make you think in some way or another, even in an action rpg there should still be some kind of strategy. It just seems like your mashing the attack button and sure you get some new moves but it's not enough. There's not even a guard button and that just astonishes me. Fortunately, there's still so much to do that the action isn't really a big deal and it may not even bother everyone. Just expect to not use much thought when it comes to fighting and relying more on grinding to get through the game. This criticism may put off some people while others won't care but know that it's not a big enough flaw to not play the game. If you've played previous Rune Factory games, expect more of the same from the battle system. Aside from that, I have surprisingly encountered very few flaws and that speaks greatly to how good this game really is.
So here we have it, a Rune Factory game that completely differentiates itself from it's handheld predecessors and presents a large scale interpretation to great success. Unlike others in the past, we're exploring a vast ocean and we aren't mindless repeating repetitive tasks like watering. Furthermore, our monsters are now doing all the boring tasks and all we have to do is find and befriend them which is actually quite fun as we discover a vast variety of them to fight and recruit as we progress further into the game. If that's not enough, the social aspects are great as the cast and festivals are all quite interesting and there's more than enough quests to keep you busy. Overall, we have a hundred hour game that builds completely on the genre in exciting new ways so why haven't you bought it yet?