Rune Factory 4 Special on Switch
While Rune Factory is a spin-off of the Harvest Moon series, each new installment manages to build upon the identity it’s been creating ever since it branched off back in 2006. Rune Factory 4 Special continues that idea, possibly even sporting the best personality of any game in the series so far.
Like the Nintendo DS version, simply titled Rune Factory 4, this edition of the game once again gives players the option to choose between a male or a female character. The twist is that instead of a simple farmhand, players get to be either a Prince and Princess… sort of, at least.
Soon after picking your character, the protagonist finds themselves caught in sheer chaos. In the mayhem, they fall from the airship they were traveling on, landing in the town of Selphia.
Upon landing, more calamity ensues, as the main character is mistaken for a member of royalty. While the confusion is quickly solved, the actual royal member, Arthur, gladly lets the player take over the position of Prince/Princess.
From here, the Rune Factory 4 Special shows off plenty of features that are known to the Rune Factory franchise. Crafting, mining, and loads of exploration result in a lot of activities to do right off the bat.
Go out into the world and meet with NPCs, battle creatures, or even get to know the land, as there are plenty of exciting places and dungeons to traverse throughout Selphia and its neighboring wilds.
Relationship-building also retakes center stage, allowing your character to strengthen bonds with NPCs and Monsters by giving them gifts. In return, you’ll receive gifts and assistance from them throughout the game.
While that assistance comes in handy during a battle, the real importance of befriending Monsters, in particular, is found when tending to crops. By building a Monster Barn and keeping them fed, these friendly beasts manage your farm.
Even though it has always been an essential part of these types of games, crop management has never been entirely too delightful to me. That’s why I was so thankful to see this mechanic return again in Rune Factory 4 Special.
The request and orders system also fleshes out Rune Factory 4 Special considerably.
Via request and orders, the game allows you to complete tasks for the townsfolk. Completing them nets experience, unlocks items, and builds relationships all at the same time.
Even more so than that, the request and orders add personality to the NPCs and the town.
Instead of just wanting to go into town to do the main storyline or talk to who I wanted to marry, I found myself enthralled in a lot of the side quests that came from requests and orders.
Interestingly enough, the best ones didn’t even have entirely too much gameplay involved either. Instead, I found myself listening to stories about a bird stealing everyone’s stuff or a ghost going around terrorizing people.
These elements weren’t as prevalent in previous installments in the series, so I loved just getting to flesh out the world a bit more this time around.
The one downside is that the game seemed to lack a lot of backstory about the characters, despite how much things get fleshed out. Specifically, there wasn’t much in the way of specific cutscenes devoted toward characters you’ve built a relationship with throughout the game.
Placing furniture is also a pain, as nothing ends up being symmetrical once placed. While the placement issue might seem like a small gripe, it kept me from feeling at home in my room, so I avoided going to it whenever I could.
Those issues aside, Rune Factory 4 Special is another fantastic installment in the franchise. Even players who have gone through the DS version enjoy playing through this title, as it has more cutscenes, a new difficulty, and even Newlywed Mode that unlock when you marry someone.
Any Harvest Moon, Story of Seasons, or Rune Factory fan should definitely check this one out on Nintendo Switch, as it has one of the most charismatic worlds I’ve seen in a game in the genre yet.
- Requests and orders system works well.
- Relationship building takes center stage.
- Lots of dungeons and exploration.
- Quests build the town, NPCs, and overall world.
- Lack of relationship specific cutscenes.
- Furniture placement isn’t great.
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