'Rune Factory' takes the essential philosophy of Harvest Moon to new levels. All Harvest Moon games embrace an animist view of the world but in many games, the interactions between humanity and 'magical creatures' is fairly limited, although one can court and even marry a magical girl in some games.
Interactions with Harvest Sprites often involve befriending them and learning their likes and dislikes. In all Harvest Moon games, ranching success depends somewhat on affection levels with the animals. It is not simply a matter of keeping them fed but of paying attention to them and spending a little time with them on a daily basis.
In 'Rune Factory', one cannot purchase farm animals. One must find them in the wilds, where they have become 'monsters'. One then must confront them and defeat them. Once defeated, however, one must establish a relationship with them, first by building a home for the monster and then by using the 'Friendship Glove' to try to persuade the monster to become a friend.
Tabatha, a maidservant who is a magical individual in disguise, tells the hero that: 'If you can get along with the monsters in the caves, you can become friends with them! If you have this friendship glove, you can become friends with them. Win it over and it may become your friend. But be careful, you may be attacked before you win the monster over.'
Then: 'The way to get along with something without speaking is through showing how you feel. Even if the monster hits you, you have to show it that you want to be friends.'
All Natsume games contain spiritual wisdom and a guide for players to follow in their real lives. One must be willing to deal with different personalities, to be patient with people who can be rude at first, but who ultimately display hearts of gold. One must respect the elderly and be kind to children. Listening to people and responding appropriately always is a vital element in Harvest Moon games. You can play the game without paying attention to the nuances, but you ultimately will wonder where you went wrong when you fail to obtain essential information and items!
In 'Rune Factory', the hero is both farmer and warrior. In every aspect of his life, he must work towards the good of the earth and the community. Learning how to maintain a balance in all things is the foundation of a hero's ultimate success in Harvest Moon. If he only is interested in wielding a sword, he never will be able to advance even as a warrior as the 'Runes' that restore energy are found only where crops are grown. If he is interested solely in farming, he never will be able to tame monsters that could provide him with eggs, milk and wool. If he neglects the other inhabitants of the village, he never will be able to acquire items and information that will allow him to attain his greatest ambitions...