For those who aren’t aware of Rune Factory the general idea behind it is a Fantasy Story of Seasons title, what this essentially means is it’s an RPG fused with Story of Seasons goodness. This creates not only a unique title but also a means of getting fans of both RPG and Farming games a taster of what the other side enjoys possibly opening them up to a new genre.
The story seems to be much more focused and in your face than in previous titles, you start off aboard an airship on it’s way to the peaceful town of Selphia, your ship gets attacked, you are thrown off, get amnesia (how original) and get mistaken for a Prince/Princess which is due to arrive to help out the village.
As luck would have it the official Prince/Princess isn’t bothered and actively helps you into his rightful role, this includes adventuring, farming, meet and greet, answering requests and using your Prince/Princess Powers to help improve tourism thus creating a better village!.
As with all Story of Seasons & Rune Factory titles alot of the allure of it is the side cast & I can confirm nothing has been lost here!, All are quirky and interesting, plenty of Waifu material for those who enjoy that kind of thing.
As I have just mentioned another major part of these games is choosing a Husband or Wife depending on your gender and settling down, finding out the perfect gifts and making sure you make the right choices go a long way to seeing what the fantastic cast has to offer!.
Visually Rune Factory 4 Special gets by on it’s fantastic art style. The game is after all an enhanced port of a 3DS game, it is far from hideous but some of the animations can look a little stiff and the character models seem at odds with the scenery.
The game has slight voice acting but nothing really special, the musical tracks for the game help establish the fantasy feel of the game. The distinct difference in tone between the village/farm and the forest and dungeons is brilliant and a real credit to the team for creating such a diverse and pleasing collection of songs.
So now we boil down to just how a fantasy RPG with heavy farming elements works, I have to say it honestly works a lot better than I would have guessed.
I have to start off and say that if you are looking for a solid RPG or a Story of Seasons only title here you’ll be let down. As it is a mixture of the two, both elements are there and functional but neither really shines in its respective genre, as stand alone sections neither really do anything to inspire but combined they create quite the attractive package.
At the start of the game you are given a little plot of land to farm in, once you have this cleaned up and done a number of requests you will be awarded a full set of tools to help maintain your land. The farm will be your main source of money for this quest so it’s well advised to put the hours in. Usual Story of Seasons style, tend the ground, plant the seeds, water and look after, once the plants have grown you can pocket them to help your quest or send them off for funds.
Starting off this can be quite slow but the more plants you have, the different schedules and weather keep you planning ahead to really maximize profits.
Another factor is using your Prince/Princess Powers to help bring more tourists in, what does this have to do with farming? well throwing festivals of course!. Alongside the usual upgrade options for yourself and the farm with such examples being Monster Shed, bigger plot & more bag space you can also use points to throw festivals for the village people and surrounding visitors. If you compete in these festivals it makes them an even bigger success as well as opening you up to more prizes, more tourists means happier village thus gaining you presents and profits which help in your quest.
Alongside farming you can also use your equipment to gather materials such as Wood, Iron and Minerals, these can be used to upgrade your home with Alchemy and Blacksmith equipment which once again helps you in the main quest.
It’s easy enough to get lost in all the farming and crafting side of things but as I have already pointed out it’s just all there to help the main quest, even every action you do causes you to gain skills which improve your overall character,
The other half of your royal duties involve the welfare of the village & the threat of the surrounding areas monsters. As per request from the Village’s Nature Dragon you’ll explore outside of the village to various monster riddled dungeons but fear not you don’t have to fight them off with a watering can.
Like any good RPG you are given options, playing out like a basic RPG say a slower version of the recent Ys game, you have choices between swords, spears, broadswords, Gloves and more. All the battles are done in real time and involve you understanding your distance, power and speed, you’ll find spells and upgrades along the way to help you fight off the games many monsters. You won’t be going alone! the game allows you to not only ask people you have forged a friendship with (see handy!) to go along with you but you also have the ability to tame monsters which not only help out at your farm but can be battle changing allies.
Additionally what makes this version “Special” is the 2 extra modes for the game. Another Episode contains some brilliantly written scenes for the cast and expands on the outstanding writing this game has. The game also comes with Newlywed Mode, this has extra scenarios for you to tackle once you have gotten married, like additional epilogues. Finally there is a “Hell” difficulty for those who really like a challenge.
Naturally you’ll come across many materials good and bad, monsters to help level up and challenging bosses, all typical RPG stuff it’s just a shame that it’s a little uninspired at times. On the other side of things despite all your options in regards to farming and crafting it isn’t quite as in depth or diverse as you would find in a main Story of Seasons title. The silver lining is both of these work really well together and despite not being amazing separated the fact they effect and work so well together is a real nice treat if a little unexpected.
Rune Factory 4 Special was a must buy on the 3DS and if you missed it there I implore you to purchase this version, the extras are welcome and it’s an absolute joy to be back in the world of Rune Factory, slaying beasts and growing beets!. Do yourself & your Switch a favor while doing your free no favors at all and get Rune Factory 4 Special.