Rune Factory 4 Special (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Nayu 26.02.2020

Review for Rune Factory 4 Special on Nintendo Switch

Long time fans of the Rune Factory series know what to expect from this Nintendo 3DS remaster by Marvelous (XSEED), which has extra parts not included in the original game released in Japan 2012, with the new instalment's Japanese launch in July 2019. New fans, like this reviewer, can look forward to Rune Factory 4 Special being a balanced blend of a fantasy farming simulation, with RPG elements that add an extra twist to the standard farming genre.

Planting various crops, watching them grow over a period of game days, then either selling the fruit or vegetables directly, or using them in cooking to create a more lucrative item to sell is the bread and butter of farming simulations. Starting out with amnesia is a popular gaming trait, as is falling from the sky. Becoming a princess or prince upon waking from the dramatic sky dive with a talking dragon overseeing the whole operation feels unique to Rune Factory 4 Special, which includes ruling a bustling town on top of farming duties. It is as fun as it sounds!

After a curious opening sequence that leaves the player with many questions, the prince or princess starts their new life in the usual way with an area of farm land to clear for crops. That field is not the only workable area. Using princess/prince points earned through fulfilling tasks, at least two additional fields can be added to the royal farm, as well as four small external fields, each permanently being one of the four seasons, providing a means to grow out-of-season crops all year round. Combined with the four seasonal lakes in the surrounding area, it truly is possible to fulfil seemingly out-of-season requests that would otherwise be impossible to meet. It is unclear if cancelling a request from the friendly request box affects popularity within the town.

Screenshot for Rune Factory 4 Special on Nintendo Switch

Cooking is a fun aspect of farming, with ingredients gained from both crops and monster drops out in the wider world. Initially there is just one cooking method, with more being bought from the local restaurant run by a melodramatic chef, using money, as well as wood and stone gathered outside the town and inside on the farm. Dishes include jam, juice, the usual baked goods including bread, traditional Japanese dishes such as sashimi and onigiri, which can also be fried. Each food item provides a way to restore both health and RP, rune points that are used up by both magic and activities on and off the farm.

Expect the unexpected into the town of Selphia. Ordinary animals like sheep, cows and chickens are not available to purchase. Instead they are cute monsters who must be won over in the field by throwing food at them in the hope they will love you enough to become your livestock. There are not so adorable monsters, which provide much needed resources of fur and horns for weapon and accessory making, essential for gaining money and improving weapon stats. All are caught in the same way, and can be released when no longer needed or if the monster barns become too full. It is entirely down to the player who they capture and what produce they want to collect.

The monsters, and some of the townsfolk, can join the protagonist to help them fight battles, a function this reviewer hardly used until the end, probably because setting the level of difficulty at easy makes it fairly quick to overpower enemies on one's own. It is advisable to grab a healer and a fighter in the final stages of the game, which can prove impossible without them, even on an easy setting. Fights can initially be overwhelming with the wide range of weapons available to use, but it is up to the player which gets focused on, since they can be switched about in battle. Upgrades require rune points and materials, although some higher level weapons are gained as battle rewards. Enhancing a weapon is highly encouraged to improve fighting stats.

Screenshot for Rune Factory 4 Special on Nintendo Switch

Being royal provides extra scope to the farming side of life in decent sized town of Selphia. Not all the residents are present from the start - several appear with a new range of services, adding the rich variety of shops on offer. Entering an area of town or a shop can trigger a cut-scene which is frequently hilarious, with one or two more sobering. The personalities of each resident come out in these scenarios, making their friendship more meaningful, and having the aspect of increasing their friendship, which in certain individuals can lead to love and marriage, a situation this reviewer was unable to trigger before writing this review. From the local doctor and wife medical team, to the lazy, always trying to pull the wool over customers' eyes blacksmith, every single resident matters and is important to the life of the princess/prince.

The game's story is highly engaging and at times emotional. Several occasions made needing a tissue necessary during game play. It may be the classic good versus evil, but the plot twists are unexpected, and add higher stakes to succeeding. These are tempered out by the constant need to tend the farm, fulfil requests for princess/points, and important items which get harder as the game progresses. These points are used to expand the farm, provide certain items for the farm, as well as hold festivals which raise happiness in the town, and bring in the all important tourists, who in turn help raise the protagonist's princess/prince rank throughout the adventure.

Screenshot for Rune Factory 4 Special on Nintendo Switch

There are several festivals each season, including throwing items at other players, creating splendid dishes, or showing off high quality crops for judging. Festival days lead to limited shop hours, but that rarely mattered as they were open most of the other days. Whatever prize the player achieves, the events can be revisited in the trophy basement, which is updated with trophies for fishing goals reached - a fun activity kept suitably simplistic for enjoyment.

Hours can be spent simply tending the farm both in and out of town, with each seasonal area having different music that is a pleasure to listen to, leading to spending longer in an area simply to hear the music. Battling monsters for loot and to tame them helps in the advancement of the story, and in levelling up the characters. There are instances where instead of letting the protagonist actively take part in the story, a cut-scene does the work for the player, which decreases enjoyment of it all a little.

The range of options for weapons/cooking/acquiring items can be occasionally overwhelming, but that complexity is heavily linked to the difficulty chosen, which can be changed at any time. The final dungeon area has several puzzles that can involve going around in circles until they are figured out, but that is expected in any video game. There are post game dungeons, as well as getting married and having a family, providing further gameplay once the main story ends.

Screenshot for Rune Factory 4 Special on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Rune Factory 4 Special is a near perfect farming and RPG title. The frustrating elements are outweighed by the gorgeous styled graphics, the immersiveness of the plot, and the sheer joy that comes from playing this remastered game. It raises high hopes for the upcoming fifth instalment in the series, and it can perhaps be considered a masterpiece.






Real Time RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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