By: Uma Smith
If you were entertained by Harvest Moon‘s simulation and RPG gameplay, then you should also be aware of its spinoff series called Rune Factory. With the latter, you’re dealing with dungeons and monsters rather than animals; however the essential gameplay of farming still remains in either case. Well now, the spinoff is at it again, this time, for the Nintendo 3DS with Rune Factory 4. So pick up your sword and start swinging… at your crops!
Rune Factory 4 makes full usage of all the buttons on the Nintendo 3DS. Essentially, moving your character around during the game is both smooth and responsive. The face buttons are assigned to your basic and special commands, including your rune abilities and magic spells. When you get further in the game, holding down the right shoulder button followed by pressing X or Y will execute other abilities. Although the button layout can get kind of overwhelming to remember, it won’t take too long to get used to.
Expect some fantastic anime-style presentation from Rune Factory 4. The video sequences are well-drawn while the characters themselves are full of life and energy. With plenty of colors popping out of the screen thanks to the nice 3D effects, the overall visuals offer quite the spectacle. Occasionally, though, you may notice the sprites appearing to be a little rough around the edges, especially when your camera is zoomed in. Nonetheless, there are enough attractive visuals that compensate for this little mishap.
Both the soundtrack and voice acting offer an outstanding auditory experience. With Rune Factory 4‘s light-hearted theme, you’ll notice how the music playing in the background tends to be friendly and upbeat. What’s also impressive is that the tunes transition whenever the scene changes over to a more dangerous atmosphere.
As mentioned before, Rune Factory 4 will have you engaging in various aspects of farming; including planting your crops and picking fresh produce from the ground. Additionally, you’ll be able to perform other activities including mining, fishing, cooking, and crafting various objects. And to change it up a little, you’ll also be visiting the Overworld, filled with dungeons and populated by monsters. Hence, you get a mixture of adventure, action, and simulation.
Later in the game, you will have the opportunity to tame monsters, which can then end up functioning as pets, sidekicks or even livestock. They can be really useful considering how they can even help you with the farming during your absence, that is, if you take the time to domesticate them enough. Of course, you’ll have to have a barn set up for the monsters to live in. As you progress further, these barns can be upgraded, thereby making players become further engaged with its gameplay mechanics.
Jumping into the more active aspect of Rune Factory 4, this part can add some excitement. However, in time, it could also seem a little redundant due to limited variety. The objectives for you to carry out in the dungeons are mainly focused on locating specific levers to get into locked-up areas and engaging in battles. Nevertheless, the boss battles provide a little additional challenge that will get back your attention span.
Rune Factory 4 also manages to keep the gameplay much more interesting on account of the opportunity to improve on your characters’ stats, as expected since there are RPG elements within this Nintendo 3DS title. And with gained experience, your characters’ crafting abilities can also improve. On top of that, you can also collect currency, which you can use toward upgrading your farm, acquiring certain licenses for crafting, and even hosting special events in your village. There’s a diverse number of activities that will keep players busy, especially when there’s so much that can happen in terms of rewards to be earned.
Rune Factory 4 is a fine title for the Nintendo 3DS that combines elements of a simulation and RPG into one package. It’s a game that even lets you find out what happens when you incorporate monsters to a farming setting. While it may not necessarily make leaps and bounds in terms of gameplay, it certainly does have a certain charm and cuteness that will keep the right audience smiling for hours on end.