Rune Factory 4 Review (3DS)

Rune Factory 4 has had a lot of attention surrounding it due to its sudden cancellation, and even more sudden revival, and so it has quite the reputation to live up to now that it’s finally reached Europe.

 

I’ve only had little experience with the series previously, as I’ve only had the chance to play Oceans, and so much of what happens in Rune Factory 4 is fresh to me; fortunately, it’s good fun and felt reminiscent of Final Fantasy IX.

 

You begin your journey on an airship journeying to an unknown location, until you’re suddenly attacked by thugs and kicked from the airship. You land in a small town and now suffer amnesia, marking the true start of your adventure as you try to regain your lost memories. You’ll take control of your male or female character, depending on what gender you choose, and be set to work on the farm and as the acting prince of Selphia.

 

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The cast of characters are unique to eachother and loveable – I personally really liked Clorica and Forte – and I really liked the different personalities that everybody brought to the table; it has a feel good feeling that isn’t common in gaming, and being able to talk with everybody kept a smile on my face, more so as building relationships in games is one of my favourite gameplay mechanics. Relationship building may not be as in-depth here as it is in some other series’, but it does a great job in presenting everybody which is important when you choose to confess your love somebody.

 

Of course it isn’t all socialising, you’re a prince after all! You’re expected to care for your farm, hold festivals which you can participate in, including a cooking festival, to appeal to tourists and earn money, and help clear out dangers from the surrounding areas of Selphia. I’ll start off with the non-battling duties you’ll be doing, beginning with the joys of farming. Farming genuinely is fun, satisfying and easy enough to do that it doesn’t feel like a chore; I get bored cutting the grass in my garden after five minutes so it’s glad to see that Rune Factory 4’s farming isn’t equally as dull! You earn Prince Points via various tasks which you can then use to upgrade your weapons and weapon space, as well as buy licenses to cook more food, create more items, hold festivals and more.

 

You’ll be doing everything from cleaning and maintaining the garden by removing loose branches, rocks, etc, and then using the new space to dig a hole, plant seeds and water them – after three or so days you’ll have your very own… whatever you planted! You also learn to harvest minerals and runes via gardening which become very important in ensuring that you have a comfortable journey later on; it’s best to stock up so you don’t struggle with requests, battles and in earning the people of Selphia’s trust.

 

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The battling is simple with R to dash and B to swing your weapon of choice, and you’ll want to remember to use the L button to access your backpack to change weapons or access healing items, especially as some of the fights can be quite gruelling. Areas are easy to navigate with one huge area consisting of many little ones littered with enemies and items to pick up, until you reach the ‘boss zone’ which is usually indicated by a save point in the room before it. The gameplay is accessible and enjoyable, and anybody should be able to enjoy both the battles and the farming aspects of the game.

 

You can ask others to join you during your fights to strengthen your relationship with them, which is best to do if you have a best girl or boy in mind that you want to confess your love to; you can also strengthen these via completing requests submitted to the letterbox outside of the royal castle. You can have multiple partners until you get married but well, you’re a jerk if you date more than one person! Choose a best partner and stick with them, damn it.

 

The art style is one of my absolute favourite things in Rune Factory 4. The character design is superb, colourful and cheerful and adds so much life to the little town of Selphia, and aided immersing me into the town as if it were real. Animated cutscenes are beautifully animated, with potential partners receiving one the first time you talk to them, and I’d be more than happy to watch a Rune Factory anime if they could keep this up. Dungeons and enemy design are almost equally as impressive and the developers have done a great job on the 3DS in bringing everything together, with chibi-inspired graphics to fully round off the pleasant feel of Selphia.

 

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The soundtrack perfectly fits the tone of the game with its lighthearted tunes when wandering around town and suitably light-rock themes for battles. Games like Rune Factory 4 make me wish that official OST’s were easier to buy in the UK rather than having to import them. The voice-acting is spot on but sadly there isn’t a whole lot of it, with characters having catchphrases rather than speaking their dialogue; the subtitles are clear but I feel a fully voice-acted game would’ve been really nice.

 

XSEED and Marvelous deserve a round of applause for finally bringing Rune Factory 4 to Europe, and I’m sure many longtime fans are pleased to get their hands on it. It’s a terrific game brimming with content and the varied choice of partners offers replayability, especially if you play through as the opposite gender; each gender has their own partners to choose from although all the characters will be present regardless.

 

I can’t really say if you’re a fan then you’ll love Rune Factory 4 as I’ve had little experience with the series, but if you love a solid RPG with town-building mechanics then you’ll fit right in at Selphia.

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