Games in a series are always going to have commonalities. It’s a given. However with the Rune Factory line, there would be a tendency for certain themes to vary from game to game. The original started things off. The sequel focused on the second generation being the “important” one. The third introduced a protagonist who would be able to shift between human and monster. Rune Factory 4 offered the idea of the protagonist being something of an authority figure. Rather than a more drastic leap to the next new theme or idea, people might find Rune Factory 5 feeling more like a jump to the left. Especially in the first hour or so.
As with every entry, Rune Factory 5 begins with an amnesiac protagonist. You initially know who you are and what you’re capable of as the game begins. However when coming to the rescue of Hina, one of Rigbarth’s children, you lose your memory. You’re brought to town, tested to make sure you possess no ill intent, and are inducted into Seed. (Not the FFVIII mercenary group, but also it is a group of folks who declare themselves protectors and errand-people for people.) You take on requests from the bulletin board or people you meet. You manage the small bit of farmland behind headquarters, where you also live. You sometimes visit different nearby locations and fight monsters. It’s typical fare for the series. But given your role as a Seed member, you feel like a person in charge in town. People are relying on you the same way they did the prince/princess in Rune Factory 4.
Perhaps because it is following in the same sorts of footsteps, getting started is fairly easy. The initial tutorials are quite hands-on. You’re given a hoe, turnip seeds, and a watering can, so you can start growing. This provides income and access to runes to boost your RP. You’ll always have one farming tool and one weapon actively equipped, with the left and right buttons on the d-pad letting you switch between them. Swapping what you’re using (or carrying) can be done with a tap of the L button. But if you want to sift through the bag for things, you can too. Pressing a button repeatedly in front of an area where an action can be repeated means, well, you repeat it. So if there are 8 unplowed plots of land, you equip the hoe, and you keep tapping, you’ll automatically move forward tilling the soil. The same goes for planting and watering. Like Rune Factory 4, your farmland is in town, connected to a major facility and your place of business, and you start out with a small, manageable plot.
Another early task involves meeting many of the notable residents around town. This also means seeing important shops like the blacksmith and general store when you do. While running directly to each point of interest is an option, fast travel is immediately available. There are certain spots on the map which you can instantly teleport to. (The one right outside your home/office is the most handy early on.) And those you don’t meet on this morning run. Well. The game helps make sure you meet a few other townsfolk on its other early billboard quest. Things are clearly labeled.
From there, it gets into another gameplay element pulled from Rune Factory 4. In the previous game, you could use your royal Princess/Princess Points to enact Orders. This would lead to things like Festivals. Well, in the main office, you’ll speak with “Eliza” to enact Initiatives. You’ll again earn points for actions, which you then can put toward festivals for the town. The early options all cost 1,000, and involve things like cooking, crops, and minigames.
As for the last part of the tutorial, it gets into the battling itself. Yes, within the first two hours of Rune Factory 5, you’ll head into your first dungeon. Which will look familiar, as its the area in which the game begins. The girl you rescued’s mother was with her and didn’t return from the trip. Her brother Murakumo and Hina essentially task you with finding her. This means heading back into the woods. And again, things feel a lot like Rune Factory 4. The difference is perspective, since this is a 3D, third-person affair. You’ll happen upon an area. It will likely feature a gate that spawns monsters. In some situations, you’ll be trapped in that spot until you beat them all. The foes you defeat might drop important resources, like cloth or fur. As you go through, you’ll eventually happen upon a major boss. Of course, save points appear at the entrance and ahead of that major fight.
And from there, well, things obviously open up more. After two hours with Rune Factory 5, its easy to see the development team heavily drew from what Rune Factory 4 gameplay worked. It also focuses a lot on learning by doing. Which means that from the start, people familiar with the formula could be getting back to their routine.