Rune Factory is probably the best farming sim you’ve never heard of… mostly because it’s been assumed dead for the almost eight years, since its original developer Neverland filed for bankruptcy. Rune Factory is a fantasy-themed spinoff of Story of Seasons (formerly known in the States as Harvest Moon, which is now a different franchise) that combines farming with dungeon crawling: you split your time between tending your crops, befriending local townsfolk, and then inviting said townsfolk to come kill monsters with you (or taming the monsters so they can tend your crops and you can get back to killing their brethren). The franchise was only recently revived by Marvelous subsidiary Hakama, inc. with the arrival of the remaster Rune Factory 4 Special and the announcement of Rune Factory 5, expected in Japan in May 2021 and sometime in later 2021 for the rest of us.
Details are coming out slowly—a trailer has been released and the love interests announced—but there is one thing I hope to see in the new RF that’s been missing from the last couple of generations: love rivals. Common to older SoS/HM games was a mechanic where each love interest available to the player also had an NPC vying for their virtual affections, known in fandom spaces as “love rivals.” So, in honor of Rune Factory 5’s upcoming release, here’s 5 reasons why love rivals should be a thing again.
December Cuccaro (she/her) is an MFA graduate from the University of Nevada, Reno and a member of the 2021 Clarion West cohort. When not rambling about video games, she writes about sapphic werewolves and sad necromancers searching for friendship.