Rune Factory 4 Special – Review
Follow Genre: RPG, simulation
Developers: Neverland
Publishers: Marvelous
Platforms: Switch
Tested on: Switch

Rune Factory 4 Special – Review

Site Score
7.0
Good: Extensive gameplay, New additions
Bad: Graphics could have been better, Gameplay sometime feels clunky and slow
User Score
6.5
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.5/10 (2 votes cast)

Harvest Moon is a series that has been around for quite some time and one of the franchises that really leans close is Rune Factory. Both revolve around farming and village life, while the latter takes it a step further and adds adventuring and dungeons to the mix. With Rune Factory 4 Special, the 3DS version of this game, the series makes its debut on the Nintendo Switch, although it might need some more dusting off here and there.

Story

At the start of the game, there are two questions that will determine your gender and after that, the story can commence. You start on an airship, where things go haywire rather fast. It seems that you’re carrying something special, something so valuable that two rogue agents went all the way to track you down on that aircraft. It seems that you need to deliver that specific item to a ‘God’ in Selphia, which can’t happen if it would depend on the opposing party. After some fighting, the unexpected happens and you get hit on the head. After regaining consciousness, it seems that you’ve lost all your memories. The only thing that pops into mind is your name. Due to the marvelous actions of your enemies, the next stop is approaching fast as you’re falling head down towards your doom.

At least, that’s what you expect but a huge dragon is just at the right location to break the fall. After introductions, it seems that you’ve reached the town you were headed for anyway … if you could remember. This is the start of an adventure, putting you in charge of the town together with the dragon Lady Ventuswill. An adventure where you have to attract more tourists to the town, grow crops and go kill monsters in dungeons or to stay in and win some festivals. Maybe there is even room for some love? The options are all there for you.

As expected, the game has an extensive storyline but it might feel like progression is going slow as you have all these tasks to combine and as these are all needed to get somewhere in the narrative, this might make you want to stop but it pays to keep on pushing through.

Graphics

Rune Factory 4 Special is an enhanced version of the Nintendo 3DS game from the beginning of the 2010s and although it has now moved to the Switch, the graphics could have been better. The new cutscenes are beautiful and the overall feel of the game is nice, but the different sprites look clunky and really pixelated, just like the first version. If you play this title on a TV, it’s even more noticeable. The same can be said about the menu, as this was made for a 3DS kind of setup but feels outdated for the current console. The text is really small and although this was solved by adding a zoom function, it just feels off.

Even though some parts might need some more attention, it’s still a really bright and fun game to dive into. The surroundings are bright and filled with colors while the different characters stand out nicely. You can see in a heartbeat when someone is an inhabitant or just a tourist thanks to the number of details each resident has. The different dungeons all have their particular feel too, which makes it fun to discover every time.

Sound

Just like the graphics, it would have been nice if there was an update here as well. The different tracks are nice and fit the game, but the problem is that there aren’t that many so you might get sick of them rather fast, especially the one playing in town as this is where you spend a lot of your time. To add to these tracks, there are also a lot of different sound effects that spice up the game and make it a lot livelier and more interesting.

The voice acting can now be put on English or Japanese in this title, which is always a nice addition. Each inhabitant has their own distinct voice, but the only downside is that the written lines don’t always match with what is actually spoken, which makes it confusing at times.

Gameplay

Rune Factory 4 Special is an RPG game with a plethora of different activities for you to discover. You can get your hands dirty while farming different delicious crops or while grooming your livestock. Even more, you can pick up any kind of weapon and go venture the world outside Selphia as monsters roam freely. If that isn’t enough, you can also go fishing or do some cooking. Some of these activities unlock while playing the game, so you need to be a bit patient.

When you just start this game, you will probably have to go through a lot of tutorials on how to tackle all the different aspects this title has to offer. Most of these can be found in the request box. The only downside is that, in the beginning, you can only do one request each day, slowing you down and even holding you back if you want to make progression in the game. This will change though, but it makes the game feel really slow.

As there are quite some things to do, we’ll just touch upon the basics of this game. First of all, every action you do, be it walking or swinging your sword, for example, everything has a level. The more you perform the action, the higher your level will be and the less stamina (or called Rune Points here) it takes when performing. This is especially useful for weapons or farming tools as you only have a limited amount of RP available and depleting it completely means bad business. If you keep on performing actions that require RP when it’s empty, you will decrease your health. Getting zero health means you will collapse and pay a nice fee when waking up again at the clinic.

Getting further in the game means also facing higher level monsters that can wipe you in one blow. To counter this, you can return to previous dungeons and gain levels by grinding and you can go and try to find materials to craft your own gear. Before you can even think about blacksmithing or any other type of crafting, you need to have a license. This can be obtained by putting out an ‘Order’. Orders are different kinds of actions you can take as you’re the princess of this town, although you need the right amount of points. These points are gained by completing requests or by competing in festivals for example (which are also ordered by you). After obtaining the license, you can go and get the station and drop it at your place. It’s best that you have recipes at your disposal, which can be obtained by eating Recipe bread. If real life was just this simple…

It might take a while before you can actually start the crafting process, but when you’ve met all the requirements and you’ve obtained the recipes, it’s not that hard anymore. All you got to do is see that you have the right materials and enough RP to perform the crafting process. If you have all of this, you can just tinker away and end up with some nice new gear. Same counts for cooking too, which is quite useful to gain stat bonuses or heal HP and RP.

A lot of these materials can be found while exploring, while sometimes you also need goods from your farm. As expected, this is done by taking good care of them and keeping track of the weather. Some crops grow faster than others, while others tend to take a lot of resources from your ground. Of course, you can use fertilizers to improve the quality of your veggies and you can also do some tricks to get that soil healthy again. There is more to the whole farming story, but that’s something for you to discover.

One of the other big parts of the game, next to farming and exploring, is the relation with the villagers. Especially if you’re looking for a spouse, this is something to keep in mind. There are a few requirements to be met on this aspect too, but talking daily to everyone and giving gifts now and then certainly go a long way.

Overall, the game has a lot of fun aspects for you to enjoy but it feels really slow at times. Having only one request each day at the beginning of the game, the amount of time it takes before you can unlock certain parts of the game, … it makes it feel rather repetitive and dull at the beginning. When sink in more time, it starts to pick up the pace, but then you probably will find another barrier. The difficulty between dungeons is sometimes huge, meaning that you are stuck for a while and that you need to go grind so you can make some gear that will help you. It is great that the developers added some extras to the title, like the Newlywed mode and even a new difficulty level.

Conclusion

Rune Factory 4 Special is a nice enhanced version of the original 3DS game. The 2D visuals and character representations look nice but the sprites still look quite clunky for this new type of console. Music-wise you’ll be able to enjoy some fitting tunes but these loop rather fast, making it less pleasant to listen to after a longer period of time. The gameplay is extensive but might feel a bit slow at times, especially with the dungeon setback at times. Overall it’s nice to have the game on a newer console, but it feels like there was some more tinkering needed here and there.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.5/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Rune Factory 4 Special - Review, 6.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
AnneMieke
AnneMieke


Faster than lightning

No Comments

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.