Rune Factory 4 Special Review (Nintendo Switch)

Published on February 25th, 2020 by Gervais D.

Rune Factory 4 Special Review (Nintendo Switch)

Rune Factory 4 is back with its remastered version, this time with HD graphics, a new opening movie, a tougher difficulty level, and a Newlywed Mode. Relive the story as a returning gamer and experience the new hellish difficulty, or start afresh as a new player to experience many hours of gameplay.

Story

The tale begins when the protagonist meets with an unfortunate accident, ending in their loss of memory. As a male or female hero, you will relive the popular 3DS game’s story while bonding with characters and performing your daily tasks. With many character events to trigger, seasonal festivals to participate in and story to unfold, Rune Factory 4 Special will certainly keep you occupied for over 40 hours.

Gameplay

Rune Factory 4 Special meshes the life of a farmer with a dungeon-crawling adventurer to offer the best of both worlds. It balances each other well enough to work hand in hand together, providing players with a small number of things to do during the protagonist’s daily life. The in-game timer isn’t strict enough to make it impossible to partake in every aspect of the game before ending the day.

Getting lumber in Rune Factory 4 Special
Chop chop chop… and maybe another chop.

Players will find themselves establishing friendships with the townsfolk, growing crops, triggering character events, fighting monsters, and even raising them. There’s no need to rush into anything hastily because the game allows players to play at their own pace. The usual festive events and birthdays can be missed, however, if such an unfortunate occurrence took place, there’s always the next year to make up for it.

Fighting The Good Fight

There is a range of different types of weapons, all with their own unique fighting style. Combat might feel a bit boring and limited when beginning the game, however, the more the weapon type is used, the more effective it becomes. As the weapon’s skill level increases and abilities are obtained, it opens up room for attack combos to use against enemies. Fights never feel boring when unleashing a series of attacks upon formidable foes and the different types of weapons keep things fresh enough to maintain interest.

Combat in Rune Factory 4 Special
Intimidating the goblins with a hammer.

Swapping between weapons can be a bit inconvenient to some players as there is no quick-swap button. This forces players to pause the real-time action to choose what they would like to use next, having to build up any form of an adrenaline rush from before, all over again. Even though it doesn’t ruin the experience, it takes away some of the smoothness from the continuous fast-paced action.

Combat Difficulty

The game has four different difficulty modes: easy, normal, hard, and hell. All are available straight from the start, therefore you can pick your poison freely without having to finish a first playthrough of the game.

There is nothing to fear if you feel as though you’ve made a mistake when deciding on the difficulty level at the start of the game. It’s less of a concern since the game allows players to change the difficulty at any time, therefore the world isn’t going to end if you’re unable to defeat a tough boss. Simply adjusting the difficulty makes it easier to overcome the challenge and proceed with the gameplay.

Dual Blade Attack in Rune Factory 4 Special
Learning how to use the ultimate Dual Blade attack.

The developers haven’t messed around with the wording for the game’s difficulty setting. Easy mode, as its name suggests, is extremely easy, to the point where the protagonist can stand right in front of a boss and claim victory. This is not the case with certain bosses in the game, as sometimes it’s required to dodge a fatal blow, even on the easiest difficulty mode. The normal difficulty is more reasonable for players who want a challenge and to enjoy the story at the same time. It has its challenging moments but it’s manageable. The last two difficulty modes are not for the faint of heart; players who are confident enough can put their JRPG muscles to the test.

Characters and Friendships

Rune Factory 4 Special has a large variety of characters to interact with and more are introduced as the story progresses. As friendship levels increase, players will be able to invite them on adventures for support during battle. They all have their likes and dislikes with regard to what you give them, and they give good gifts in return when your relationship improves with them.

Rune Factory 4 Conversation
Talking to the good doctor.

Unfortunately, the game retains its heterosexual-only marriages. This will certainly be disheartening for a lot of gamers who were hoping for a change in the remastered version of the game.

Farming and Crafting

When not slaying monsters or strengthening relationships with the various characters in the game, players can attend to the field and grow a variety of crops. It’s not as relaxing as one would expect, but it allows the user to reap the benefits of manual labor. Manual labor isn’t supposed to be easy and it shows a little in this game. Not because of the objective of planting seeds, but the pain of having to manually open a menu and equip farming tools each time for use. It prolongs the process when an option to swiftly swap between them would have made life easier and much more enjoyable.

Farming in Rune Factory 4 Special
Growing simple crops.

Crafting is also possible in the game, from weapons to food and the list goes on. It’s as simple as it can be and not much to learn. The challenging aspect is collecting the goods in order to produce the end result. The game gives players the choice of crafting their own goods or relying on salespersons to purchase their expensive products, all coming down to a matter of preference. Upgrading gear is essential to keeping up with the powerful enemies introduced as the game moves forward.

Newlywed Mode

One of the highly anticipated and new additions to the remastered version of Rune Factory 4 is none other than its Newlywed Mode. It adds an additional story to play alongside your spouse. It can only be unlocked after marrying an eligible candidate during the story mode.

Another Episode Pack DLC

Another Episode Pack DLC can be downloaded from the Nintendo Switch eShop for free within the first 4 weeks of the game’s launch. The DLC tells a short story of each eligible marriable character, accessible right from the start menu. It includes full English voice acting and heartwarming cutscenes that will likely please the viewer, especially if it’s a character they are aiming to marry in the game.

Rune Factory 4 Special DLC
DLC is free for the first month after the game’s release.

After the 4 weeks are over, it will return to its $4.99 US price tag.

Graphics and Soundtrack

The game looks exceptionally well on the big screen for a port. All of the character/enemy models were nicely made, however, the male protagonist’s face looks weird with his hairstyle and eyes on the small screen. Still-image dialogue pieces were all beautifully drawn with vivid colors to spark life into them. The developers even added in more eye candy, allowing players to view fan art to celebrate Rune Factory’s 5th anniversary. Backgrounds aren’t top-notch in quality but they are decent.

Apple monster in Rune Factory 4 Special
This apple monster is just minding its own business.

The music is soothing to listen to. It doesn’t leave the best impression but it works enough with the game. The native dragon’s eerie noise when it talks formerly can be bothersome, but nothing players wouldn’t be able to handle. It’s confusing at first but eventually, you’ll realize the purpose of the sound.

Conclusion

Rune Factory 4 Special brings yet another great RPG to the Nintendo Switch lineup with good combat, pretty characters, and difficulty levels for both casual and hardcore players. Swapping between weapons and tools can prove to be an inconvenience and the lack of same-sex marriages is a little disappointing, especially for an updated game with content centered around the commitment.

Rune Factory 4 Special gets an 8/10.

Gervais D.

About Gervais D.

Gervais is a Nintendo fan who loves to play a good game. His first owned Nintendo console was the NES, and he currently owns a blue 3DS XL.