Rune Factory 4 Special is a beautiful game developed by Marvelous Inc, Neverland and Hakama Inc and Published by XSEED games and Marvelous Inc. Previously released on Nintendo DS, this is a remake and upgrade for the famously modern handheld equivalent; the Nintendo Switch.
Rare is it; a game can have so many mechanics that all hit the mark and make the overall experience enjoyable. No matter what aspect has you most intrigued, Rune Factory 4 Special is a role-playing adventure, life and farming simulation game that is profound in good time feels. You are chosen to be a champion in training by the land of Selphia’s Native Dragon, Ventuswill. Ventuswill is basically the Queen of this realm. You need to make friends with the local townsfolk, tend your farm and complete objectives that help the town strive. You can choose between a male and female character, develop friendships and love interests while tending to the needs of the village.
Mechanically, your main goal is to tend to your farm, which involves sowing seeds, planting and watering your crops. As the game develops you get variations of plants and flowers to use at your disposal. Fishing and harvesting, across the world is via ponds and the terrain has rocks, minerals and plants that you harvest using your axe, hammer or sickle. During your exploration of the land you will have enemies to fight, some are woodland creatures, sheep, chipmunks and mushrooms but some caves hold stranger enemies; orcs, fairies and trolls. These enemies can also be tamed and become almost like pets. These allies can then join you and help fight or help maintain the farm or even just drop materials like the sheep with it’s wool.
All the resources you collect whether it be, fish, plants, stones or more can be used or sold. As a Princess/Prince in training you have the ability to choose different paths or hobbies, develop a menu of foods to heal you, give items to the townsfolk to create bonds or complete objectives, or even create medicine or weapons with a forge. To create these paths, you need points which you get from performing different jobs around the town, defeating monsters, learning skills and running errands. These points can also be used to improve the town and create festivals like the fishing competitions or the eating contests.
There were a lot of aspects to this game, but they didn’t feel forced or incredibly challenging, if you forgot what you were doing it was easy to go back to someone and ask again what the objective was. The gameplay itself was easy to grasp, you have the L button as your backpack which holds all your major bits and pieces such as weapons and armour, that you could switch out on a whim. If you have the space, this will include magic spells, farming equipment and miscellaneous which can range from food to enemy drops. The map can be resized using ZL and shows up on the bottom left screen, your health and Rune points sit top left. Rune points were kind of like energy, certain moves require different amount of rune points, a little amount was required for using your weapon and farming equipment, larger amount for spells and using your cooking skills or the forge.
Rune Factory 4 Special has a lovely look to it with it’s a nice, 3D world with different places to explore; the town itself, the forest with caves, a spooky mansion plus more. Each location is well designed and beautifully detailed. The music is also different for each of these locations and if its night or day. Some music felt like Irish folk, Riverdance music, while other music was soothing and had a simple melody. At night, the atmospheric owls hooting or the pitter patter of the rain echoing around you, polished off the experience.
There is a story but I feel like you could have just ignored it and kept running around your farm and the surrounding land. The story is about helping Ventuswill as she had become weak and you had to help her by traveling and helping with the process of having the Guardians awaken. The game concepts weren’t hard to grasp even coming into this game havening not played any of the other Rune Factory games.
A must mention is that some of the language during the game, with many inside adult jokes lurking underneath the layers. The game is rated PG and honestly if a kid played this game it would likely go over their heads but I couldn’t help but have a laugh out loud moment when reading the description of a couple of items. Things such as Turtle Shell – A hard Turtle Shell: Good when you want to make something hard (Hey get your mind out of the gutter) and the Friendly Rod – A staff of friendship, garnished a giggle or two. “We should be good friends” means she doesn’t want to date you; I will honestly admit I did not see that coming and it cracked me up.
I thoroughly enjoyed this sweet little surprise of a game, so much so, even after having finished the story I will definitely be going back to continue exploring and levelling myself and my gear up as much as I can.
- Easy and fun to play
- Simple controls
- Chirpy music and cute detailed graphics
- Tonnes of things to do
- Doesn’t finish with the story
- Nothing I could see