Rune Factory 4 Special Review – An RPG To Relax Back
Rune Factory is a game series that combines pleasant farming and life simulator with light RPG and town management elements. Rune Factory 4 Special was first launched for the Nintendo 3DS before being remastered for the Nintendo Switch. It has been released on several platforms, including PS4 and PC. It pertains to a subgenre of video games that has recently been dominated by indie developers.
It all started with a small gem from Japan, Harvest Moon (Story of Seasons), and now it has attained unprecedented popularity because of the phenomenal success of games like Stardew Valley. Rune Factory 4 Special combines the farming and life management components of previous games with those of an action RPG. This strange blend of genres may look odd from the outside, but it works rather well once we play it.
Since the game was launched about a decade ago, it does look antiquated, not only in terms of aesthetics but also in terms of gameplay design. The characters have a chibi appearance, and the world map is separated into screens rather than being shown as complete. With its old-school appeal, the game does evoke a sense of nostalgia. The new enhancements are welcome, and this is more than simply a remaster; it also includes new content, which we shall discuss momentarily.
This was my first introduction to the series, so I had to research its history. It’s reasonable that this began as a spin-off of Story of Seasons (see Harvest Moon), with the original game bearing the name. As the series progressed, new elements were added to the mix while existing ones were refined. The upcoming sequel also looks promising, indicating that the developers are on the right road.
In Harvest Moon (Story of Seasons), you may begin your life as a typical farmer, but in Rune Factory 4 Special, you are a royal from the start. This also introduces another intriguing aspect of the town administration, in which you are entrusted with issuing commands like a prince to further improve your town. Your commands will define the town’s growth, all while living in a world influenced in real-time by your actions. Time passes in this universe in the same way as it does in any other farming or life simulation game, with events taking place on specified calendar days.
In the beginning, Rune Factory 4 Special throws a lot at the player. You must juggle many duties, such as cleaning and upgrading your farm, exploring dungeons for loot, and doing other jobs assigned by townsfolk. This doesn’t even begin to cover all you have to deal with in the game. You also have a stamina bar that depletes over time, requiring you to locate a source of energy to keep going. If you’re new to the series, like me, it might be daunting at first, but with time, I was able to settle down and have a better knowledge of how the game works.
While it is exciting to hear that there is so much to do in the game, it all starts to feel cumbersome because of a lack of direction. You are rarely told what to do in the game aside from these menial tasks that you perform. While the core loop is satisfying, the lack of a proper progression system is felt across the game. The whole time management aspect of it can be overwhelming due to the huge emphasis that is placed on it. New gameplay features are constantly introduced in the mix like minigames and even dating.
This is where the Special edition comes in since it includes a new gameplay mode called Newlywed. There are more than a dozen different eligible bachelors and bachelorettes to romance, and their epilogue can be shown in this mode depending on how you grow your relationship. These new sequences introduced to the game are highly pleasant, especially if you have formed a deep relationship with these individuals. They’ve also gotten new visuals and character portraits, which make their look feel more alive if that makes sense. The first time you meet a prominent character, you are treated to a beautifully animated introduction that establishes their personality.
The Newlywed mode is also completely voiced, which feels amazing if you have the opportunity to go through it. Aside from the additional scenarios involving our in-game partners, this remaster includes a new difficulty option. I wouldn’t recommend it for newbies because it demands a solid understanding of the game before you can attempt it. Those looking for a replay may find this new difficulty to be a nice change of pace.
The game doesn’t provide many challenges on the default difficulty, so you can just sit back and relax while immersing yourself in the universe. Rune Factory 4 Special is a refreshing change of pace from standard JRPGs. It may not be visually appealing, and the progression and pacing are a little glacial, but the result is incredibly gratifying if you can devote some time to it.
Rune Factory 4 Special Game Information
- Price: $29.99
- Publisher: XSEED Games
- Developer: Marvelous
- Platform: PS4 (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher