Originally released back in 2012 on the Nintendo 3DS, Rune Factory 4 makes its way on the Nintendo Switch with Rune Factory 4 Special – it’s bigger and better with brand new game modes, new cutscenes, beautiful illustrations and even an updated opening sequence. Spoiler – this is special.
Rune Factory 4 Special begins with your Prince or Princess onboard a cargo ship en route to Selphia, the town famous for its God. You are on your way to deliver a gift to that God. We don’t know what that gift is, but we know it’s pretty important. As is the way with most JRPGs, nothing goes as planned and some pesky bandits board the ship, knocking us off of it (falling to our supposed death) and ultimately, sending the gift overboard with us. Luckily, we land safely in Selphia. Unluckily, we wake up with a pretty bad case of amnesia, forgetting who we are or what our purpose is.
The opening is fairly long-winded with the game introducing you to all its characters and mechanics, seeing you experience very little gameplay and a lot of narrative during the first hour. After that though, you’re pretty free to roam and do as you please: completing requests, farming crops, cooking, looking after monsters, fishing, crafting equipment, rearranging your room, making friends – you name it, it’s here.
My favourite part about Rune Factory 4 Special was interacting with all the characters and building relationships with them. Each character has their own personality with their own likes and dislikes. Learning these likes and dislikes can be vital to building upon those relationships and eventually getting married – unlocking the ability to play the brand new Newlyweds Mode. Newlyweds Mode unlocks a new scenario involving you and your chosen partner.
There are a lot of things to be keeping busy within the game but many of these things can feel unnecessary – take farming for example. It’s a nice addition to the game, but if you don’t do it there is no real punishment. For something that Rune Factory 4 Special makes out to be a chore, there should be a downside for not doing it.
Combat in the game is simple but fun – there is one button for your attacks which makes combat pretty easy. It would’ve been nice to have some other attacks but it’s not too much of an issue. There are a lot of monsters to discover and numerous weapons to use adding some variety to the combat. What’s better is you can ‘friend’ monsters (if you offer them the right gift) and have them fight with you and travel with you. Sometimes I found more joy in friending the monsters than I did the people… For an added bonus you can even ride certain monsters around the map, which I loved.
Rune Factory 4 Special’s soundtrack is wonderful and where the game shines the most. It’s packed full of both emotional and jolly tunes that will keep your head nodding throughout the majority of your playthrough. Sadly, the same cannot be said about the game’s graphics. They haven’t aged very well and look a lot older than they actually are. The new cutscenes look stunning and the character illustrations within the dialogue interludes are a pleasure to look at, I just wish the whole game had been given this revamp.
Rune Factory 4 Special Review £32.99
Rune Factory 4 Special seems to be a jack of all genres but a master of none. It’s a fun game with a lot of interesting features, I only wish that the beautiful illustrations of the characters would’ve been portrayed in the gameplay itself.