It’s been six years since the original Rune Factory hit the DS and became an instant success, since then the game has spanned a total of four handheld games and two console games. Rune Factory 4 finally gives the series a chance to stretch its legs on the 3DS and despite the occasional issue here and there, it proves itself to be up to par.
Rune Factory 4 (Nintendo 3DS)
Developed by Neverland Co. – Published by XSEED Games
In typical Rune Factory fashion your character begins the game with amnesia, this time after falling head first out of an airship and onto the local dragon god Ventuswill. Luckily instead of burning you to a crisp, Ventuswill mistakes you for royalty as a prince named Arthur is supposed to take up residence in the village that very day, but when he does show up he decides to hand over the title of prince and all corresponding duties to you.
You’re set up with a farm and various items you can use to till the land, plant seeds, chop lumber and various other things, there’s also a quick and fun battle system with various upgradable weapons and a wide variety of spells and abilities to give your moves a little bit of extra flair. This all comes at a price of course as any physical activities you do will consume RP. Once your RP is depleted large chunks will be taken out of your HP and once that’s gone you’ll pass out and be taken to the local clinic, which charges you more and more for their services the farther you progress in the game. So not only do you have a ton of activities on your plate as it is but you also have to be careful not to wear yourself out, with that said the joy of getting lots of things done in one day is well worth the additional hassle.
This is also where you’re introduced to the concept of Prince Points (PP), the biggest deviation from past titles. Over the course of the game you’re awarded Prince Points by participating in festivals or completing quests or doing other activities, you can then use these points for various things like throwing additional festivals to attract tourists, upgrading storage space, and other perks to make your playthrough a bit easier.
This system is something of a mixed bag. It gives importance to festivals instead of just having them act as random side activities like in past titles, but at the same time it’s just not all that fun. Collecting Prince Points doesn’t take a whole lot of time, and there’s no real feeling of accomplishment once you have enough to get something you want. The amount you can do with PP could also stand to be expanded, like the increased monster item drops that Tides Of Destiny had. The system itself works well enough, but it’s an idea that absolutely needs to be expanded and enhanced in future entries.
Another large part of the game is dating/marriage. By giving gifts and talking to the various girls (or guys if you decided to play as a girl) in the town you can increase their love points towards you and end up dating them, increasing their love points an even greater amount allows you to end up marrying them. There’s a varied cast of characters and everyone is sure to find at least one character they want to romance. One interesting change to the formula allows you to enter the dating phase with more than one character, essentially making lovers out of everyone. You can still only have one spouse, but it’s a breath of fresh air nonetheless.
There’s also a story that runs through the much of the game, however it is very lacking and by far the weakest part of the game. Plot has never been the main draw of a Rune Factory game and it won’t even come close to ruining your experience, but it couldn’t hurt to see a little more care given to the story in future entries.
To say that Rune Factory 4 is packed with content is a massive understatement. The sheer amount of things to do could keep you playing for months, if not years. Say goodbye to your free time, because Rune Factory 4 is proof that this series still has the magic six years later.
Final Score: 8.5/10