Rune Factory 4 just launched yesterday for the Nintendo 3DS on both the eShop and via retail outlets, and I’ve had a chance to spend a little time with the game as I prepare a full review for some time next week. I thought I’d share some of those impressions here, as I’m finding myself genuinely impressed with the game so far, and hopefully more people will be willing to check it out than just the devout fan base surrounding the series.
The biggest thing that stands out to me in the early parts of the game is just how alive the hub town seems to be. It’s not a big, sprawling metropolis of any sort. The opening city is comprised of a small number of shops and areas. But the NPC’s within that town are constantly on the move. Shops have set hours, and outside of those hours shop workers, named characters that you’ll interact with outside of them peddling their wares, can be seen bustling around town. There’s a day/night cycle in place with time tracked on screen, and while the day is fairly brisk you can speed things up by going to sleep in your room to begin the next day bright and early.
And then there’s the farming, gathering, and crafting aspects of the game, known as staples for the series. You’ll start off with a small patch of land that you’ll need to clear of debris, till, and plant seeds in. Just like previous Rune Factory titles, you’ll harvest those goods and be able to sell them daily, or use them for other material. You can also gift goods, crafted or harvested, to other characters in order to improve relationships with those NPC’s. Guys and girls can be courted here, with a fair number of options for both.
Another thing that stands out to me about this particular Rune Factory entry is that everything feels speedy. Character movement is brisk, farming and crafting can be accomplished in little time, and you can generally fill the early requests made of you without being bogged down in endless dialogue or overly repetitive actions. This is all appropriate for a portable game of course, but still manages to be a mark missed by a lot of developers on handhelds, especially RPG devs.
All in all, I’m pretty impressed with what I’ve seen so far. I’ve got a long ways to go before I’ll be ready to write a review, but as of now I’d say this is worth a look. From what I understand there’s no demo available via the eShop, which seems like a missed opportunity for publisher XSeed. But I imagine you’ll see plenty of similar impressions trickling in from various folks this week, and if you’re still on the fence, be sure to check back for my full review next week.
Rune Factory 4 marks the return of the popular ‘Harvest Moon’ spinoff that combines farming with dungeon adventuring. For the first time in the series, the player can select to play as a male or female hero, and potential suitors of either gender are also available in order to pursue love, marriage, and possibly a child. As the newly-appointed prince or princess, you can fulfill your royal duties of protecting the town from invaders, or take a more rural approach to governing by raising your own fruits and vegetables and helping townsfolk. Should some dungeon adventuring be on the day’s itinerary, you can select from the castle’s vast armament of swords, spears, and staffs along with magic for battle against dangerous foes, or even bring along a companion or friendly monster to aid you during your travels.