Final verdict: C-
Final playtime: Clock freezes at 99:59:59
Can somebody please tell me. What. The fuck. Is. This. Shit.
So I played Rune Factory Frontier earlier this year and it was the best game I’d played in a LONG ass time. Easily the best game I played this year. So when Tides of Destiny was announced I expected it to be the second coming, especially because now the game would be on the PS3. But of course, I shoulda known, all along that whenever a great game is made, it’s always a huge fucking fluke. Never because the developers actually know what in the god damn fuck they’re doing. This has been proven countless times and the latest offender is Rune Factory, a game I thought they couldn’t fuck up. Well shut me up. Lemme tell you everything that went wrong here.
As everyone should already know, Rune Factory is a cross between Harvest Moon and more traditional RPG elements like dungeon crawling. What this means is that Rune Factory is like Harvest Moon but better and with a lot more to do, thus making Harvest Moon obsolete. What this also means, is that Rune Factory’s charm actually comes from the combination of these aspects. Because let’s face it, if you look at its RPG elements alone, it’s quite lackluster. No, what makes RF good is that aside from exploring the dungeons and leveling up and advancing the story and all that you’re also tending to your farm to make money to buy things and upgrade your house, befriending the villagers, trying to get married, etc.
That’s what made Rune Factory Frontier so amazing. The fact that it effectively solved the problem that plagues all Harvest Moons, which is that once you’ve become rich and married and bought everything there isn’t all that much left to do, and the game goes way downhill. For once, I could get married and actually keep playing, because I still had dungeons to explore and story to unfold. This was literally amazing. It blew me away that they finally recognized and made such an important step towards solving such a fundamental problem for the series.
And then Tides of Destiny comes out, and shows me that they, in fact, did not recognize SHIT. It was all a fucking fluke. How depressing is that? And that’s not even all, not only do they show that they have no idea what they’re doing, but they also show that they’re cheap, lazy, shameless jackasses by taking steps back in everything including things that should be better or at the very least the same. For example, the first thing you might notice is that the characters in the game no longer have hand-drawn portraits. Yeah, you heard that right. There is no longer a single fucking character with a hand-drawn portrait. Not a single one. NOT ONE. BITCH. How fucking cheap and lazy can you get? Every god damn character in Frontier had their own portraits (several, in fact, for different emotions), and that was five fucking years ago and you’re telling me you can’t even make one now? FUCK you. This makes me so sad because the art in Frontier was really nice and made the girls cute, and now all we get is the in-game character model. What excuse could you possibly have for taking that out other than just to be a huge fucking asshole?
Second, did you know for some unknown reason (actually the reason is that Natsume are a bunch of cheap fucks), this game actually has less voice acting than Frontier, a game which came out years and years ago? This is inexcusable. I remember the vast majority of characters’ lines in Frontier were voice acted, even the regular dialogue when you talked to them. In contrast, voiced dialogue in Tides of Destiny is a rarity. I mean, I know artists and actors are a little expensive but come the fuck on, at the very least try to be on par with the predecessor. And it’s not even just the voice acting, but the text itself, holy shit you have NO idea the amount of typos, misspellings, grammatical errors and jumbled sentences in this game. I swear you can find them practically every other line or some shit, it’s almost comical. It’s obvious that they didn’t hire even one proof reader, but even then I find it difficult to believe that the person who originally wrote the lines in the first place could make this many mistakes. Even I don’t make that many mistakes and everything I write is a fucking mess so that’s saying something.
Oh, but do you know in what area they don’t skimp on the voice acting? The one where you wish they had. You see, in this game they put an annoying ass bitch inside you called Sonja whose entire purpose is just to ruin everything and piss you off. Not only does she have a super annoying voice, but she never shuts the fuck up. Doesn’t matter what you’re doing she’s always screaming the same annoying shit at you. “MONSTERS!” “WATCH OUT!” “AHH, HERE THEY COME!” “OHH, POISON!” “YOU’RE SEALED!” SHUT. THE FUCK. UP. God dammit. Eugh.
Then there’s a bunch of other random minor stuff that they removed for no reason but which all makes me sad, like how in Frontier whenever you examined things in a character’s room they would comment on said things, or how whenever you tried to walk into the women’s bath and there were characters nearby they would all have their own scandalized reactions, or whenever you tried to sleep in someone else’s bed. All of these fun little things from Frontier are mysteriously absent in this game.
I also miss having a farm. I miss buying seeds and planting them and tending to them and all that classic Harvest Moon stuff. Instead of having a farm in this game, you have several islands you can teleport to where you use magic to sprout things, and then your monsters make them grow. It’s extremely streamlined. Probably too much. You no longer have to buy any seeds (the crops that will grow are random… which can be kind of annoying when you want a specific crop or flower but the wrong ones keep growing), and you no longer have to tend for them either.
This also has the very bad side effect that making money is way too easy. Granted, it was also way too easy in Frontier, and I said in my review of it that that was a problem which would greatly improve the game should they fix it. Hell, I even gave a few easy suggestions on how to improve it. Well, not only did they not fix it in Tides of Destiny, but they actually made it even worse. Since now you don’t even have to buy seeds, there is no reason why you can’t just fill the entirety of your fields with crops. It’s way, way too easy to become a millionaire. This, plus the fact that everything is too cheap and easy to get, makes it so that you get all of your house expansions and everything you ever need too fast and money becomes absolutely useless after that. In fact, you don’t even need lumber for your house expansions anymore, which was something that acted as a limiter to buying your house expansions in Frontier even when you had more money than god himself. Granted, it wasn’t a great limiter, but at least it was something. In ToD you can just buy everything immediately no problem. It got to the point (very early on in the game, might I add) where money was so useless and I had so much of it that I could no longer even be assed to sell anything.
And as if that wasn’t enough, now you can just grow ore and gems to forge your weapons too. Don’t ask me how that works. With magic. Even if you don’t grow it though, monsters just drop materials like candy now. Oh, and speaking of monsters, another thing that pisses me off is how easy they all are. I remember in Frontier they could do some damage to you. In this game even bosses barely move your health bar when they hit you. It’s just bullshit man. I will say, after you beat the game you can go and fight powered up versions of the bosses that are actually difficult for a change, and which require strategy and learning their patterns and avoiding their attacks because they can kill you in one hit. Surprisingly, this makes the boss fights actually pretty fun, but they should have all been like that from the start.
But you know what pisses me off the most about this game by far? It’s that they ruined the charm of Rune Factory that I talked about in the beginning of this review. Tides of Destiny FORCES you to complete all the dungeons, the story, and beat the game before you can marry. Not only that, it literally caps the affection levels of everyone at 6 and doesn’t uncap them until after you beat the game. That’s just so wrong. They completely fucked up the game by forcing you to grind out the story first like that. What that does is it turns the game into a lackluster RPG for the first few hours, and then a Harvest Moon where you already have everything done for the rest. In Frontier you could play however you wanted. As I said before, I loved how you could marry in that game and still keep playing and have a lot left to do. But in Tides of Destiny, there is nothing left to do LONG before you get married. By the time you do get married, all that’s left to do is basically to turn off the console. So what is even the damn point.
Then there’s the fact that the girls just aren’t as good as the ones in Frontier. But I mean everybody already knew they wouldn’t be, so that’s not as big of a deal. I mean, let’s face it, after what an amazing wife Tabatha was in Frontier, that’s kind of a tough act to follow. So I’m willing to let that shit slide.
Another thing I don’t like is how they’ve made a huge ocean overworld (kind of like Wind Waker except shitty) in a bullshit attempt to make the game seem like it’s bigger. Thing is, there is absolutely nothing in this overworld, because all the islands are under the sea, and you have to pull them out. But how to do find them? You remember how in Wild Arms 4 there was this ultra shitty mechanic where the towns and landmarks didn’t show up on the map unless you used your radar while standing nearby to “find” it? It’s exactly like that. You press a button to make your golem slap the water, and if there is an island nearby, there will be ripples indicating where it is. So basically if you want to explore and find things in this huge ocean you have to walk a little bit, slap the water. Walk a little bit more, slap it again. Walk forward a little bit more, slap. Over and over. You get the idea and it’s awful. It makes exploring the map completely pointless. You can go fuck a dolphin if you think I’m gonna do that shit. But you don’t even have to, because eventually the game itself just marks where the next island you should go to is. Plus, the islands that aren’t part of the main game are just small generic ones that ALL look the same. So basically the huge ocean is a big pointless waste of time. As it is I liked the old way better where it was just the village and you found all the dungeons around that area.
The music is also not quite as good as Frontier’s, and I think the game knows this because it reuses a lot of the music from it. Nice try, ToD, but you won’t get me to overlook your flaws just by hitting me with your nostalgia bombs from a better game.
But okay. I’m not a bad guy. Despite the fact that this game fucked up SO much, it does have some slight improvements here and there. Improvements which don’t redeem it, but still. For one thing, I like how it stole the Persona 3 mechanic of giving you an event with a character every time you gain a new rank of friendship with them. That’s great. I also like the bulletin system where characters have requests for you. Doing them gives you rewards of course, but also more affection, and extra dialogue and scenes so it’s nice. Finally, the combat is a little improved. It’s still not great, but hey, I’ll take a little improvement.
So yeah. In conclusion Neverland had a gem in their hands and then fucked it up HARD and ended up with something really disappointing. I am pissed as hell about this. That’s what I get for still having faith. Do not buy this garbage.
Final Verdict: C-
Final Playtime: The clock freezes at 99:59:59 even though Frontier’s clock goes into triple digits no problem! Subtle hint that the developer didn’t think Tides of Destiny was as good and thus didn’t expect anyone to play it for more than 100 hours? I’ll let you decide.