The Rune Factory series is a spin-off of the old Harvest Moon / Story of Seasons farming and life sim games. It captures the spirit and style of these games, but adds more fantasy elements and hack-and-slash battles. Like the games that came before that, Rune Factory 4 Special is a mix of farm management, life sim and action elements – the combination results in a relaxing, addictive and admittedly repetitive experience. Rune Factory 4 Special is a solid port and a nice title to add to your list of PC games. It does not change or renew anything compared to previous releases, but it also does not pretend to be anything other than a slightly higher re-release of a classic 3DS game. It’s selling for just $ 29.99, oozes charm and comes packed with content.
A great package
The story of Rune Factory 4 Special follows you, an envoy with memory loss in the picturesque town of Selphia. You must gather your memory while saving the city and its guardian dragon (Ventuswill) from internal conflict and external warfare. And on top of that, you also have to take care of the city yard.
The game uses blocked, slightly deformed chibi-style character models, simplified textures, and a top-down isometric camera view to bring its world to life.
Do not let the cute looks and simple visuals of Rune Factory 4 Specials fool you. It’s an animal game, close to content. You have a large field to cultivate and cultivate, as well as dungeons to plunder, monsters to tame, an expansive map to explore, tools and equipment to make, and of course intimate relationships to promote.
On paper, the game sounds like it has an overwhelming number of systems to learn, but the request system helps you ease into its various mechanics. Inquiries are tasks or goals you perform right outside your home and serve as tutorials in the game for all the activities of the Rune Factory. You start with basic agricultural work, such as tillage and planting, as well as household chores, such as moving and placing furniture.
As the days progress, the requests become more advanced. For example, a later request gives you an ax that you use to remove stumps and wood debris from your yard to make room for more crops. Later you tame animals and give them the task of coping with basic tasks on the farm. You also start compiling an encyclopedic list of tools, weapons, and recipes. Despite this wealth of content, I have never felt overwhelmed or in a hurry. Rune Factory 4 Special is very accommodating, so you can play and advance at your own pace.
You can choose to shorten your days by ignoring the history and simply managing your farm. Some days I went hunting for a specific animal to tame while I spent others fishing or making recipes I collected. If I felt particularly motivated, I would paint monsters and easy bosses to earn Prince Points, a currency you use to develop the farm and the city.
The hack-and-slash battle is straightforward, but there is a good selection of weapons and magic attacks to unlock and master. Rune Factory 4 Special does not have crazy, high-flying action, but the ability development, the spells, the weapon types and members of the city’s people all help to create a rich action system that reminds me of Legend of Mana.
Once you get used to the basic mechanics of Rune Factory, it does not take long to get used to a rhythm and start fooling around in the way you find appropriate. Rune Factory 4 Special is a simple game at its core, but it can be incredibly deep if you choose to invest time in it.
Relaxing but repetitive
Whatever you choose to do, the game is pretty relaxing. Still, there are quite a few repetitions inherent to all the games under the Story of Seasons umbrella. As such, you perform some tasks repeatedly and often, especially early when you have no animal friends to handle petty duties for you.
Rune Factory 4 Special can be tiring, so you need a certain degree of tolerance for repetition in order to enjoy it. If you can look past that aspect or do not mind it, below is a meaty game to enjoy with endless agricultural, craft, cooking and dating elements.
Lots to love
Relationships are at the heart of the Rune Factory 4 Special experience. As a light-hearted fantasy life sim, the game encourages you to build relationships with the urban population and equally old bachelors and bachelors. Talking, shopping, giving gifts and flirting with the people of Selphia is as much a pillar of the game as agriculture, crafts and struggle. In fact, Rune Factory 4 Special pushes this groundbreaking aspect to the forefront with the Newlywed Mode bonus unique to this special edition – it’s a new story episode for your spouse in the game.
Because you have 12 potential spouses to choose from (six for men and six for women), you have a considerable amount of bonus stories to unlock. Similarly, Another Episode is a fully told epilogue for each of the characters that takes place after the main story. These charming events are worth playing through or watching if you like the cast.
Writing and dialogue
The script has a few fourth wall-breaking gags and is generally light-hearted and humorous, though it also has its share of gloomy points. Much of the game’s charm comes from the relationships you build with the city’s citizens and how they help you through Rune Factory 4’s three great story arcs.
The game is partially tuned, much like the 3DS game Fire Emblem Awakening. Selected lines are fully tuned, but most text scrolls are marked with a few words or exclamation marks. I do not mind the minimalist approach; given the game’s 3DS origins, the voice work is generally surprisingly good. My only complaint is that there is no way to scroll quickly through text or get it out automatically. I could also do without the annoying, rumbling sound bite that plays with text to indicate when a character is speaking loudly. Fortunately, the game does not use this effect often.
Can you run Rune Factory 4 Special?
To play Rune Factory 4 Special, you need at least a 64-bit processor and operating system, Windows 10, Intel Core i5-6400 CPU, 8 GB RAM, Intel HD Graphics HD530 graphics card and 5 GB hard disk space. For an optimal experience, your PC should have an Intel Core i5-9300H CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a GTX 1650Q GPU. Rune Factory 4 Special is not demanding, so there is no need to shop for a gaming CPU or graphics card to run it.
On a desktop PC with a Ryzen 5 3600 processor, Nvidia RTX 2080 and 16GB of RAM, I enjoyed the Rune Factory 4 with 1440p and 60FPS without any issues. I did not experience any game crashes, frame rate issues or errors.
Rune Factory 4 Specials game speed is directly related to its frame rate, but Vsync is enabled by default, so you should always get a steady 60FPS. If you turn off Vsync, the game runs at the refresh rate your screen is set to, which in my case was a comically fast turbo mode. You can switch between screen modes and adjust the resolution, textures, and keyboard configuration in the settings, but that’s all. The only thing that is noticeably missing in the game is the ability to exit at any time or return to the main menu. You can only return to the main menu from your saved diary, which you need to physically travel and access by your bed in the game. The keyboard functionality is satisfactory and can be fully customized, so Rune Factory 4 Special is easy to play, whether you have a gamepad or not.
Rune Factory 4 Special is an entertaining game if you like cute Sims with old world charm. It’s packed with fun, relaxing gameplay, tons of depth, lots of character interaction and a huge amount of content. However, if you can not stomach repetitions or the dated visual style – like an upscale 3DS port, it lacks the wow factor of many modern RPGs – you can skip it. But if you’re at all a little curious about the game or the Story of Seasons series as a whole, Rune Factory 4 Special should appeal to you.