Rune Factory 4 Special Rapid Review

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Fast Facts

Title: Rune Factory 4 Special
Publisher: Marvelous Europe Limited
Website: http://www.runefactory4.com
Genre: RPG, Action, Simulation
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 28/02/2020
Price: £32.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.

Rune Factory 4 was initially released in 2013 in North America, and in 2014 in the PAL regions, for the Nintendo 3DS systems. Thankfully, they decided to release it on the Nintendo Switch system worldwide this month. What changes have they made to the game? Let’s find out!

Yet another amnesiac plot!

You start out in Selphia, a town with a revered dragon, as an amnesiac. You are permitted to live in the palace, and expected to farm the land there. Your character meets the townspeople in an attempt to discover your identity, but that fails. This is the beginning of the game’s plot. Will you discover your true identity? That’s up to you!

Farming the land, you begin to learn the controls to the game. It’s just a little user unfriendly, compared to recent Harvest Moon games from Natsume which introduced the ability to use tools automatically depending on what task you perform. But I don’t know how hard that would have been to program. It’s a minor quality of life complaint, I suppose.

As you meet the townspeople, the town layout is very accessible. The map on the bottom left corner of the screen can be enlarged to show you where people are at the time. You can make the map bigger, smaller, or take it off the screen if you’d like. What isn’t so accessible is some of the text, which can be small. 

Part of the game involves using points for the development of the town. You do this by earning said points from completing requests. It involves how much the townspeople trust you as a person. You also seem to earn points by defeating more and more enemies.

Action-based combat

Combat is action based. You can use a variety of different weapons depending on your preferences. The crafting system is fairly extensive, and you’re able to craft weapons, armour, medicine, and cook.

Early on in the game, I chose to grind by attacking Wooly enemies, and they dropped clippers sometimes when I defeated them. You can then equip those clippers and use them on enemy Woolies. You can make bank from clipping enemy fur! It’s a good way to make some money early on in the game. You can also befriend monsters by giving them gifts as long as you have a monster barn on your farm. They’ll fight by your side as well as provide you with fur, milk, honey, eggs, and more. This is yet another way they’ll help you make money. They also help you with farm chores once you have enough friendship with them!

Something important to note is that your RP (MP essentially) restores as your character holds still. This is useful for when you’re running low on energy! Be careful and take note of your energy levels, as using energy when you’re out of RP ends up damaging your HP instead!

An interesting aspect of the game is the ability to rechallenge bosses. It doesn’t make much sense plotwise, but it is a great way to farm boss drop items and sell or use them!

Convenient features

A nice thing in the game is the ability to stay out almost as late as you’d like due to a transportation spell you have early on. In many Harvest Moon-esque games, you can only stay out so late before having to hurry home to bed. In this game, you can stay out until about 11:30 PM before transporting yourself home quickly with the spell.

You also are able to acquire an airship license that allows you to transport yourself quickly between dungeons, which is convenient. The escape transport spell also allows you to escape from boss fights if they’re too difficult, allowing you to avoid the costly doctor’s fees you’d be charged otherwise.

You can also check what you are supposed to be doing by “reading” your diary where you save. Your character will then mention what it is you need to do – in case you’d forgotten!

A negative would have to be the extent to which the doctor charges you if you pass out in the game; I did one time and he charged me 8,000+ gold. This was fairly ridiculous considering it was about a fourth of my cash reserves. Another slight negative is that in docked mode, it can be somewhat difficult to read some text on menus and view the map as well. 

Something nice was the ability to grow crops “out of season,” whereas it normally wouldn’t work that way in similar games. 

I enjoyed being able to befriend the townspeople by giving them gifts. There will occasionally be town events available that involve specific townspeople. There are also festivals you can participate in, once you’ve ordered the festival using points.

Extras!

Upon beating the second arc of the game, you’re able to change your protagonist’s appearance to look like other characters. You can even change to look like the opposite gender’s protagonist. That way, you can still technically have same sex relationships. Or confuse the heck out of yourself by seeing two Arthurs haha. You can also enact quality of life changes, like being able to see enemy HP and levels. This would have been nice to have at the beginning of the game…

You’re able to get married in this game, and once you’ve done so you can start Newlywed Mode. This is a special story mode dedicated to your spouse. The character art has animation in this mode, which I wish was also in the main game. Newlywed mode also contains hints – another feature that would have been nice in the main game. This mode was also somewhat short and took me maybe ten minutes to complete. I would have appreciated a little longer, but understand it would have been hard logistically.

The game gets a lot more challenging in the third arc; some enemies are close to double your level. You’re still able to beat them, but it requires some strategy now. One room drove me absolutely crazy in a non-boss battle. There were several fire mages that shot fire spells at you and made it impossible to beat them with my dual blades, as they were behind walls. For that, I had to use a spear with poison attributes crafted into it in order to poison them to defeat. Crafting becomes a lot more important later on. 

The dungeon design for the last one in the third arc is rather annoying, and not well done in my opinion. They seem to have made things difficult just for the sake of making things difficult instead of any enjoyment. There’s also an optional dungeon you can unlock using points, with a minimum level of 300 (I believe I read somewhere that the max level is 50,000?!?). People that enjoy games like Disgaea may enjoy the challenge, but I’m the sort of person that likes levels to be capped at 100. It really depends on what kind of gamer you are. I’ll probably try to finish the game’s third arc eventually, but at level 150 I’m already drained.

Final Verdict

Overall Rune Factory 4 is enjoyable, with lovable characters, an expansive crafting system, farming, and challenging combat. The difficulty spike in the third arc is a bit of a downer. Some quality of life changes that should have been available early on are locked behind a later arc in the game’s plot. At the price, I’d definitely recommend this game, but do expect a little bit of frustration in later parts of the game.

Rapid Reviews Rating

You can purchase Rune Factory 4 Special from the following store(s).
eShop

You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.

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