I have been mainlining Rune Factory 4 so hard, I've had to take pain meds for my shoulders and hands. Even though I only played through the first ten minutes or so of RF2, I have found myself completely drawn in by a story that largely features the best way to grow turnips, all while saving the world.
That said… content developers? We have to talk about the romance options you gave me.
I bonded fiercely to my character. You're given the option of man or woman, so I picked the woman, Frey. Solidarity, after all. Also, woman characters get cuter outfits.
Now, at this point in the game, my character is bad ass. She got knocked out of a ship, lost her memory, landed on a dragon, proceeded to sass it, and got herself appointed princess. This is in the first ten minutes.
Several seasons later, she's saved the world, won the love of the townspeople, and amassed a fortune. While solving everyone else's issues, she runs her own farm, makes her own armor, continues to sass at a dragon, and tames massive creatures to do manual labor for her.
Less than a year, this woman has done all this, and shows no sign of stopping? I want to be Frey when I grow up.
A major feature of these games is the idea that you will marry a local and maybe pop out a kid or two. Now, the dialogue in this game is actually quite good, so this was something I was looking forward to. It doesn't hurt that you can date several characters at once with no problem, so it's easy to test the waters without committing. You only have to lock it down when it comes to a ring.
One problem: I don't want any of them.
They're not badly written (they're great!). But when I think of Frey going out with any of these dudes, much less pledging her troth, I feel bad for my badass woman.
Let's go over our options.
This probably would have been the guy that I would have been bending myself backwards to please, fifteen years ago. He's so dark! So moody! But OMG his thought bubbles let me know that he actually secretly likes me! I will give him ALL the carrots!
Now? I have no time for that moody bullshit. He is an outright jerk to you for the first, oh, thirty or so interactions. Frey wrote him off at about interaction ten. At this point, she's just being polite because he's friends or something with the dopey dragon.
Another asshole! Because girls like their dates to warm them up by insulting them!
This one isn't even moody. He's just a jerk. He's arrogant, tossing out barbs even though you saved the god-damn world and pulled him out of oblivion. And worse than that? He assumes you like him! Several times, he tries to railroad you into saying you think his pecs are all that or that you really dig his pantaloons, just so he can tell you that he doesn't think much of you at all.
I seriously contemplated running around with him in the woods, just to watch him die, over and over and over.
Vishnal is a butler in training, and has decided to train on you. He's sweet. He's dedicated. He's a fast learner. He's very obviously into you. He's the kind that would probably do anything to make Frey smile.
That power dynamic, though… It just creeps me out. I'm a world saving princess. He's a fan boy. I just can't see me and Vish one day being on a level playing field. He's more the kind of guy I'd keep on the side so he can clean my feet with his tongue.
I'm just not opening a banking account with him.
Doug was looking at least a little good, until he went off and considered killing my best friend.
Maybe at 20, I would have looked past that. He was just being passionate! He really thought that the dragon had done something bad! I mean, okay, he didn't do any actual research, but Doug's not that kind of guy! He's all heart! You don't know him like I do!
At 33? Nuh-uh. Go dip your stick elsewhere. I'll be hanging with my girl, the dragon, and some people that actually check shit out now and then.
I think Kiel is twelve.
And that leaves us with…
Now, Arthur isn't a bad dude. He's super dedicated to being a prince. He's slow to excite. He uses his resources wisely. He even bows out of being the local hot-shit royalty when he sees that you do it so much better. He accepts gifts with grace, and thankfully, the stuff he likes is super cheap.
Good thing that his gifts are cheap, because it takes forever to get him to look your way. Every other dude, even the guys that were jerks, are way more into Frey than he is, and that was just with me saying 'hey' to them every day. It took a mountain of pickles and eyeglasses (don't ask) to get this guy to even think about moving my name to his little black book.
And once I was there? Good luck actually getting a date with him. Damn workaholics.
Why bother? Because, at the end of the day, he's the one guy who is actually a peer to Frey, he's never been an ass to her, and hell, if I'm going to rule this world, he makes a logical choice. Might as well marry into power, rather than take it by force. We'll leave that for the next empire over.
But GAWD, I just know their sex life is going to involve spreadsheets.
Life would be so much better. I'd happily tie myself to nearly all of them. There's a kick-ass knight, a talented musician, a butler who doesn't spend all her time fawning over you, and a woman who can talk to ghosts. Such good options! The only faults of the remaining two are the pesky age issue, which I just cannot deal with.
For a while, I thought that they were allowing same-sex relationships, because the women keep flirting with you. But no, alas. My little town is not so forward thinking. Maybe after I bring the bloody revolution, we can get that put right.
Maybe this is part of gaming as a woman who's 30+. I'd really love it if content devs would take a look at the options I get and think "What would someone who is over the emo BS or cutesy shit want?"