Rune Factory 4 Special is an enhanced version of the game that was released on the Nintendo Switch on February 25, 2020. This time it’s getting an improved resolution and performance for the PlayStation 4.
The game uses chibi-sized characters reminiscent of games like Ragnarok or Final Fantasy IX. You start off the game with either a male or a female who forgot their memories when they were attacked on the airship. They then fell off to the kingdom of Selphia on top of a wind dragon god named Ventuswill. Here is where the adventures of our protagonist begins.
Without any knowledge of who they are, Ventuswill helps them out by letting them live in the kingdom believing they were the royal person they were waiting for. Only to find out the next day that the real person they were waiting for arrived. Things start to get complicated for our hero as they now have to pretend that they are royalty.
The core mechanics of this game is that of a farming simulator. You spend each day trying to leave the life of a farmer. Tilling the soil, farming seeds, watering the seeds and then harvesting it when it grows to sell off for money. It reminds me a lot of Harvest Moon. What sets its apart from that game is that there is also combat involved.
Before you get too excited about the combat though, it’s not really its biggest selling point. The combat is very lackluster and could use a lot of improvements. For example, there’s no way for you to target enemies so are basically just aimlessly hitting them. I do think this game could do without the combat and just focused on the farming side of things.
The game has a leveling system where you do certain things that will gain you experience. Anything you actually do in this game gives you experience even just by walking. So it isn’t really hard to level up if you just really play the game. You also gain skill points for each activity that you do, either walking or using a specific tool or weapon. I like the simplicity of the mechanics but at the same time I wish you could gain stat points that you can spend on your stats to improve. However, instead of that you gain base stat points each level.
The game also has side quests in the form a request box that you can visit everyday. It’s a good way to break the monotony of farming but at the same time you can only do 1 or 2 requests at a day and you’d have to wait another day to do the other quests. What’s more is that if you have an active quest, you can’t receive any other quests.
Completing a request will earn you Prince points. These points can be used to make an order that can range from creating a bigger backpack or holding a festival. The points don’t get deducted when you make an order so as long as you have the points required to make an order then you can do so as much as you want. But then again, gaining points is impeded by the fact that you can’t do as many requests as you can in a given day.
The requests are actually the game’s way of teaching you the basics as each of the quests are poised to let you do things around the town, like planting seeds, or making new structures. But because you can only do 1 or 2 requests at a time, learning all the basics is being dragged into several days when you could have completed farming and fishing on the same day.
The game has a night and day cycle and time actually flows pretty quick in this game. A minute is presented in seconds so you don’t really have to wait long if you are waiting for a time when shops open or when you need to go to sleep. You can also sleep anytime you want to if you want the day to pass by so you can make take on another request but it gives me a feeling that I just wasted the day if I did that.
You can also set yourself a birthday that will be added to the calendar. However, unlike most games that keeps tracks of special occasions and make it a point to make you feel special on your birthday by doing some sort of activity. There’s really nothing special happening on your birthday here. The towns people just greet you and that’s it. I guess the game reflects how the real world treats your birthday too.
I do like how the town really feels alive. You can see the townspeople interacting with each other and going on about with their day to day lives. They also eat, they express their feelings and they also react to you when you give them gifts. That’s one of the parts where the game really shines because it makes you really feel like you are part of their world.
The game actually doesn’t force you to sleep as well as you can just stay up all day and all night but you will lose more RP or Rest Points if don’t go to sleep. Rest Points is the games meter for any action that you take. Losing all of your RP will make your character collapse and wake up in their bed. So you need to always look at this gauge as well as your HP when you are in combat. You can eat food and other items that will replenish your HP and RP to help you do more things and explore the dungeons.
Despite this game being an enhanced version of the Nintendo Switch version, it actually feels like it doesn’t belong to a TV. That the graphics feels suited more for handheld consoles. There’s also no option for you to adjust video settings.
The controls are also not very optimized as they are hard to use sometimes. I found myself spending a minute or two just trying to plow some soil because my character seems to have a life of its own and insisted on facing left when the soil I wanted to till was on the right. Combat is not just fun when your character just swings aimlessly while you are getting hit by the enemies left to right.
The music is actually good in this game and even though you can’t really adjust the volume. It is set at just the right volume that it doesn’t destroy your eardrums. The background music matches the time of day as well as the location. Making each walk through the town feel very festive and calming. While walking in the dungeons makes you feel ready for battle.
Overall, Rune Factory 4 Special is a game that keeps its mechanics from previous iterations of the game but at the same time adding more features. Fans of the series will surely enjoy this game but it’s a game that only hardcore farm simulator fans would really appreciate.
Rune Factory 4 Special – Review
It’s a good game, but the bad may be harder to ignore than usual.
Farm life and dungeon adventures
World is teeming with life
Simple way to level up
Janky combat and farming controls
Not really having as enhanced of a graphics as it would promise