Rune Factory 4 Special Review – A Small Slice Of Life

Rune Factory is a series with humble origins that started as a spin-off to the, then called, Harvest Moon series. In fact, the first game’s full title was Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon. However, over time the series was able to branch away from being just a spin off and find an identity to call its own.

Rune Factory 4 Special attempts to bring back the classic game, which was released in 2012, to more modern consoles with a few special features to keep veterans from getting bored.

It Starts With a Long Fall

The story of Rune Factory 4 Special begins with the protagonist, in which the player can choose their gender, on an airship to deliver an item to the local guardian dragon. However, before they can land a group of terrorists ambush the airship, and in the process cause both the item and the protagonist’s memory to be lost. In a fit of rage the terrorists drop the protagonist overboard causing them to fall into the town of Selphia.

This is how the story begins, and veterans of the series know that a protagonist with amnesia is a constant in the series. Except for the two side games, and by this fourth entry it has gotten a little stale. It sets the stage for a mystery and what the item could be, but it’s really not needed.

There easily could have had the same mystery by having the item be unknown and have the events play out as normal. The item can still be lost, and the protagonist falls off the airship into the town below. However, there would have been a total rewrite of one of the main focuses of the game, prince points and orders.

Government Intervention

After falling into the town on top of the guardian dragon, Ventuswill, she decides that the player must be the prince that they have been expecting. However, only a day passes before Arthur, the real prince, makes an appearance.

Apparently, he has been tasked to revitalize the town by passing various orders. He graciously gives the protagonist all of the duties that were assigned to him, instead opting to view the town as a fellow villager instead of royalty.

This system is actually rather intuitive and offers players a small set of goals while going about their day. The basis is rather simple, everyday players will be able to take on a request from villagers. These requests can be anything from harvesting crops to killing certain monsters and rewards players with items, more shop inventory, and prince points.

These points can then be spent on orders that will establish festivals, upgrade storage for the ‘prince’ and obtain licenses to craft items. So, players are heavily incentivized to check the orders everyday as the story progresses and other major events happen throughout the town.

These quests are even used as tutorials splitting each important mechanic in the game through different days. This makes the tutorial effectively a month long which can get annoying at first. 

Especially when tools and more seeds are locked behind them forcing more experienced players to slow down, causing them too much time in a day before the first major story point happens.

A Day in the Life

The reason for this is that a player’s day is usually split into two separate components the first being the farming, and socialization aspect. This starts with waking up from the night, which will then cause players to go check their crops to harvest, water and plant as needed. This is, of course, without any monsters helping to work the field.

This only takes about an hour of in game time which is about a minute. The rest of the day will be running around talking to each NPC to gain their affections. This again should only take a couple of hours of in game time. The rest of the day the player is free to do whatever they want. Which could be fishing, crafting, hunting monsters or collecting materials.

The issue is that with so much locked behind the quests that the first week will have players wandering around aimlessly while they wait for the next day. Players can, of course, choose to end the day early by going to bed after their daily chores are completed. This shouldn’t be the solution and instead there should have been optional quests or something to do outside of the daily limit.

This does change as soon as Ventuswill tells the player to investigate the nearby forest. She has sensed that something has changed and has tasked the prince to investigate it, opening up the most unique aspect of Rune Factory, Dungeons.

Plunge Into the Depths

Dungeons can be anything from a cave to a forest and even an abandoned house. When players are out exploring outside of the town the first available dungeon is the forest. However, while the outskirts of town are all considered part of the forest, the dungeon begins in a thicket of woods that has a save point right next to it.

These dungeons are straightforward and have minimal puzzles that players will need to solve. The benefits is that each dungeon has specific monsters that roam them, making them excellent spots to farm certain ingredients. In fact, the forest can be easily discovered as soon as the players complete the tutorial of the second day.

There are also no restrictions on exploration of each dungeon, so one can easily complete it in a single day if they are determined enough. This makes moving the story along rather simple especially on repeat play. However, players will find that if their equipment is not up to par for the dungeon they will be easily defeated and will need to spend some time grinding.

This system actually rewards players for keeping up with the town while making sure they aren’t just blasting past each dungeon. However, players will find that they can make significant progress in the story through Spring. Which is nice for those more romantically inclined.

What’s Love Got To Do With It

So, talking with each villager will upgrade their friendship points, a representation to how close each villager is with the player. This will include the bachelors and bachelorettes of the town, which will have certain conditions to be met.

The most general condition is that players must view each of their events prior to marriage. These events can be triggered by getting through the story and gaining enough friendship points with each candidate. Marriage will then unlock the newly added Newlywed Mode. 

This mode only adds around 45 minutes of content which can be rather short, marrying each candidate will unlock their story inside this mode. Players will need to name their character and choose pet names to call each other.

Sadly this mode isn’t worth it alone if players still have the original game as these scenes are not only optional but only adds a bit of context right after getting married with their paramour. This also adds a bit of a disappointment for some in that your gender decides who you can marry.

In my opinion, this newly updated version could have implemented the ability to marry anyone the player wants regardless of gender, which was a feature added in its sequel, Rune Factory 5. There is a little bit of a workaround that has been implemented, but still, it’s not perfect.

After completing the game, you’ll be able to spend Prince (or Princess) Points to change the appearance of their character to the opposite gender. This transition won’t change the way the villagers see the player, and will continue treating them as their original gender. Which allows same sex marriage, kind of. It is disappointing that this option will only come at the end of the main story where most players will decide to stop playing the game.


Rune Factory 4 Special is a great re-release of a game to modern consoles, however, there isn’t enough new for players who still have the original game. The story remains untouched, the additional content takes too long to reach and is too short to be worth it. However, fans looking to replay this game and enjoy it upscaled from its original release will be happy to finally earn some trophies.


  • Farming and social interactions are the best
  • The addition of Requests and Orders gives more goals for the players


  • New Content isn’t worth the Full game price
  • Marriage still has restrictions
  • Beginning of game is slow

Rune Factory 4 Special


Rune Factory 4 Special is a great re-release of a game to modern consoles, however, there isn’t enough new for players who still have the original game.

Estelle Mejia
PS4 version reviewed.