Never lose hope or prematurely believe that a series is truly gone. That's the lesson I learned last year when Marvelous revealed that the Rune Factory series would be returning not only with a remake of Rune Factory 4, but a sequel as well. While we eagerly await more news about Rune Factory 5, Rune Factory 4 Special is just a couple of weeks away from launch and I've been able to play about 20 hours so far.
Rune Factory 4 Special stars you as a boy or girl, dropped unceremoniously into the town of Selphia. Having been mistaken for the prince/princess of the kingdom, you are now in charge of the royal duties as well as maintaining the farm in the backyard of the castle you are residing in. You are aided by the divine dragon Ventuswill, who protects the town and advises them on matters where they need assistance.
The Rune Factory series is a spin-off of Harvest Moon (or Story of Seasons as the games are now called), so the main draw of the game is the combination of farming and connecting with the unique residents in your town. The objective of most Harvest Moon games is to build your farm, expand your house, become the most beloved resident in town, and eventually marry the person you like the most. Rune Factory follows the same pattern, with additions that make them closer to traditional RPGs. Along with focusing on your farm, you also must explore dungeons at the request of Ventuswill and the townspeople. I've completed three dungeons so far, and the difficulty is steadily increasing, which is nice to see. However, the spikes are getting more significant which means making better equipment or increasing my level.
Rune Factory 4 Special adds a number of improvements to the original game including HD visuals, dual audio, and its new "episodes." New episodes focus on specific characters in the game, which should help give the cast more depth. This new material will unlock later on in the game, which I have not reached at this point. Nonetheless, I welcome a chance to get to know some of these residents better, since everyone has a unique personality and there's never a dull moment (so far) with them around.
I'm only a week in, but this game is as addictive as the series has ever been. If you like farming sims/simulations with an RPG twist, this is the game for you. Look forward to my review of it in the coming weeks!
Rune Factory 4 Special is coming to Nintendo Switch later this month. XSEED Games will release the game in North America on February 25, while Marvelous Europe will handle the European release on February 28.