Nintendo Reviews

Rune Factory 4 Special Nintendo Switch Review

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The Game

Rune Factory 4 Special is a combination of an RPG game and a farming simulator and is perhaps a perfect combination of the two, previously released for the 3DS it comes with several differences such as a Newlywed Mode and harder difficulty settings. While the game looks okay it’s very obvious that it was never meant to be played on a large screen since the quality drops quite a bit compared to when you’re playing in handheld mode, it’s not that it becomes unplayable but the difference is definitely noticeable.

The main story of the game sees you having to rescue four guardians, this has you travelling to different regions and fighting more and more dangerous enemies. While the story is a big focus of the game, it’s not the only focus and once you’ve gotten through it, the game continues and there are still areas yet unexplored and hidden bosses to find and defeat, the bosses you fight during the story for example can be fought again and again and if you’re lucky they have a chance of dropping rare items you can use to upgrade your equipment or you could happen across dangerous caves that may contain intimidating giant skeletons or perhaps overgrown chickens. Essentially the game can go on for as long as you want to continue playing it and given the amount of content there’s a good chance that it should keep the most avid players entertained for quite some time. There’s festivals to take part in and friends to make and if you build up your relationship with a specific character you may be able to marry them which unlocks a story for the person you’ve married, there’s quite a lot of eligible characters to choose from but you can only pair off with someone from the opposite gender.

To say Rune Factory 4 Special is a mash up of more than one genre, the particulars of it are done very well, take the RPG elements for example; there are many different weapons to use which all have skills to build up and unlock new moves and they can all be upgraded using the items you collect. The enemies you fight can also be quite difficult if you’re not prepared and if you go to an area that you’re not a high enough level to be in you’ll probably have a tough time getting through. As for the farming there’s a varied amount of crops to plant and they all have different growing rates and conditions, for example some of them can only be grown in certain weather conditions and while this might make it hard to complete a request for a specific crop if it’s not in season as you explore you’ll find locations that are set to a permanent season so you can always grow what you need, the only issue is that they’re quite a distance away but if you get your airship license you’ll have no problem getting to them. The condition of the ground they’re growing in can also affect how well the crops grow so you have to pay attention to the condition of the soil and you may even have to reap and replant seeds if you want to improve the quality of your crops. One annoying thing I encountered was that there will occasionally be storms that can completely wreck your farms, ripping up and disposing of all your hard work so it’s a good idea to have quite a lot of stuff in different plots or seeds stored away as a back up plan.

Everything you do in the game has a skill level that goes up as you do something whether it’s sleeping, bathing, eating or mining among other things, then it will affect your character’s abilities or at least that’s what the game promises but in practice it doesn’t feel like it does much, at least not as much as when your character actually levels up. There are a few crafting stations in the game such as cooking, medicine and weapon making and when you use them your skill in using them levels up which allows you to make more with them so long as you know the recipes, if you try and make something without a recipe it will almost certainly fail, at least I never had a situation where ingredients I used would result in something successful anyway. To get more recipes you have to buy recipe breads from the restaurant and there’s a different type of bread for each of the crafting stations, the problem is that you can only buy so many of these breads per day and even when you increase the amount available it’s still not a lot, plus if you take in to consideration the fact that your character gets up around 6 am and the restaurant doesn’t open till 12 so you’ll have to wait around for what feels like a longer time than it actually is, meaning you’re likely tempted to go adventuring all day so the odds are that you might miss the chance to buy them, you can warp back to town at the press of a button though so it just depends if you want to drop what you’re doing to go and buy bread. If you take part in the festivals you arrange you do have a chance to win some recipe breads as a prize but it definitely doesn’t seem like the type pf game where you win just because you’re the player, in my experience no matter how well you think you’re doing someone else will usually come out of top, in a harvest festival for example I lost out on the top spot by one single measly point.

One of the main things you can do in the game as a result of being mistaken for royalty is that you can have some say in what goes on in the town, so long as you have the resources to do so, anything you do as a prince or princess can only be accomplished if you have appropriate number of points which you earn by fulfilling requests of the townsfolk, shipping produce or items or by defeating monsters. When you earn points you can spend them on the development of the town such as arranging festivals to bring in tourists and you can use them to improve the shops to increase the amount of things available to buy. The requests you do for the towns people will be your main source of points but the problem is that you can’t take on more than one at a time unless they’re given to you directly by the character and not the requests board, also if you take them from the request board you can only accept a certain number of them per day, though you can gradually accept more as you complete them but you’re still limited to the amount you can take on. These requests are basically the game’s way of teaching you the ins and outs of how to get the most out of your play time but they take so long to get through that often when there’s a new request you can immediately mark it as finished because you’ve managed to get through what it wants you to do without any prompting. Though they’re often short and you’re likely to have done a lot already, the requests can be handy for teaching you things you didn’t know about as they become more advanced and start to take a considerable amount of time to complete a single one.Everyday you can walk around the town and talk to the characters that live there and build up relationships with them and the more friendly they become with you the more often they might reciprocate your gifts or even join you when you’re out and about battling, you can give them equipment and armour to make them more effective in a fight and they will level up the same way that you do. As well as having human companions join you, if you build a monster barn you can befriend the monsters that you fight and have them fight alongside you, you can also ride on the larger ones and use their abilities as your own. If you send the monsters home back to their barn, depending on the kind of monster you have they may drop the items you would normally get from defeating them and if they become friendly with you, you can assign chores to them so that they will take care of your farm while you’re out and about but you do have to make sure they’re stocked up with fodder or they’ll become too tired to work. You should also keep an eye on them if there’s specific crops that you want because they’ll harvest them indiscriminately and deposit them in the shipping box.


To Conclude

Rune Factory 4 Special is a great game and one of those kinds of games where you might settle down to have a go for about an hour or so and find that you might have been on it for much longer than you realised, once you get going on it, it’s hard to put down. I would recommend this to long time fans of games like Harvest Moon and even if you’re the type of person who has a passing interest in the RPG genre I would recommend it to you as well, you get a lot of entertainment value for your money. The sheer amount of things there are to do may be a little daunting to some, especially when you consider that if you want to experience everything on offer it means having to have various different saves on the go but it’s definitely still worth playing even if you’re the kind on player who just wants to have one play through.

If you want to learn more about Rune Factory 4 Special then you can visit this link, or you can check out the link below if you’d like to buy it;


If you don’t have a Switch but you’d still like to try your hand at Rune Factory 4, you can find the link to the original version for the 3DS below;



Chris Bracewell
Been a gamer for a long time, is my favourite and oldest pastime. Occasionally, when the mood strikes; I enjoy dabbling in games design, primarily the artistic side.