As Wii owners well know, the last few months have been pretty uneventful in terms of new software. Thankfully, a handful of games arriving later this year (The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Kirby Wii, etc.) should be just the boost our lonely systems need. Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny is one of those titles.
So far Tides of Destiny is very much in line with earlier entries in the series. For those new to the franchise, Rune Factory is essentially Harvest Moon with fighting. A hybrid of simulation and real-time RPG gameplay, players can take a break from tending to their farm by fighting enemies to level up, collecting items and slowly unraveling the overarching story.
While the combat is satisfactory, so far it's certainly not the strongest part of the experience. There's fun to be had choosing which type of weapon to equip and wailing on a group of unsuspecting monsters, but there's not much depth to the fighting itself. Tides of Destiny uses a real-time battle system, so you engage in combat by approaching enemies on the field and attacking them with your weapon of choice. All you really need to do to win is spam the A button. Perhaps this is expended on later in the game, but at least towards the beginning the title's real strength lies in the simulation segments. Don't get me wrong, the fighting is still enjoyable, but I do wish there was more complexity to help it compete with other, deeper RPG experiences.
While the gameplay itself is pretty much same old same old compared to other games in the series, what really grabbed my attention in Tides of Destiny was the world itself. The graphics are bright and colorful, with character models taking clear inspiration from anime. This is especially clear because of the anime-inspired cut scenes that are sprinkled throughout the game, which are beautifully animated and help to further bring the characters and environments to life.
The story in Tides of Destiny follows Aden and Sonja, two friends trapped in one body because of a powerful and mysterious curse. This same curse also tore them from their home and whisked them away to some sort of parallel world. Throw in some mystical dragons and a giant Golem friend named Ymir -- who you can use to raise sunken islands and ships from the sea, which you can then explore -- and you have a confusing but entrancing story that players should look forward to.
I'm just beginning to unravel the mysteries that Tides of Destiny has to offer. With the Wii winding down in preparation for Wii U, this may very well be the last RPG we see for the system. If you're looking for a new RPG to tide you over until Wii U arrives sometime next year, or you're already a fan of the Rune Factory franchise, this is a title you should certainly keep your eye on. Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny is due out later this year.