When the sad news that developers Neverland, the studio behind the fantasy themed farming/dating/exploration game Rune Factory were disbanding first broke, the future of the series seemed uncertain at best, and bleak at worst. While past iterations in the series have won critical and commercial fame alike (we were particularly fond of Rune Factory 4), with the studio having gone into administration, we were beginning to wonder if we'd ever see another game. However, an announcement from the game's publishers Marvelous has shown that there might just be some light at the end of the tunnel, as after the success of Rune Factory 4, they've acknowledged that further additions to the series are worth looking into.
In a recent interview with Destructoid, XSEED VP Ken Berry said:
This spin-off from the popular farming/dating simulation and role play game series, Harvest Moon, Rune Factory combines the magical elements of growing crops and raising monsters with the idea of defending a land from various enemies, intent on destruction. In Rune Factory 4, we last found ourselves defending the village of Selphia from the evil Sechs Empire, whilst attending to the village's economic development and completing quests for the residents (oh, and courting the eligible bachelors and bachelorettes in the village, of course). The threat of the Sechs Empire has been present throughout the series, and it would be great to see some sort of sequel which unites the villages from each game, crossing over more of the characters!
There are continuing discussions on how to keep the Rune Factory series going, despite Neverland, the original developers, no longer being around. Hopefully, something will come of that in the not too distant future, because Rune Factory 4 was the best-selling title in the series, I believe, and it's a series that's been growing and growing over the years. Marvelous knows fans are clamouring for a sequel and are looking for ways to make it happen.
Of course, if there's one thing we know with games like Rune Factory, it's that an announcement that the game's in development means nothing if the game never comes out over here (we're still waiting on any news about upcoming Wii U instalment Harvest Moon: Seeds of Memories, for example). That's why we'll be keeping our fingers crossed that if and when a Rune Factory 5 is announced, it'll actually manage to make its way over here too. Rune Factory 4 barely made it, as there were originally no plans to bring it out here, but luckily game localisers XSEED took pity on us and released it as a digital download through the Nintendo eShop! Beggars can't be choosers, so we'd welcome a digital copy with open arms - however, we'd love to have a physical copy to add to our collections.
Who knows, with the changes of companies involved with the making of the series, there might even be a chance that we will get pre-order bonuses, like the adorable plushies that came with some of the games in the US! Hey, it may not be likely, but a girl can dream, right?
Hopefully it won't be too long until we hear more news - and hopefully good news at that! After all, there are so many questions that remain. Will it be called Rune Factory 5, or will it have a new name? Who will the characters be? How many romances options are there? And, perhaps most importantly, which formats will it come out on?
In the meantime, we have Natsume's Harvest Moon the Lost Valley to go back to, and we're due to see Marvelous' Story of Seasons during the first quarter of next year (hopefully a definite release date for that is on its way soon!). We'll bring you more as you get it!