I was a bit iffy going into this one. Harvest Moon type games have always been a bit hit or miss for me and I had never tried the Rune Factory series before. But with Rune Factory 5 coming out soon and this port just now dropping on PC, I figured I’d give it a shot.
So despite the simple graphics here – this is a bit of a beast in terms of content. Not only is there the farming stuff, but you’ve got dungeon exploring, this extensive crafting system, a large map to explore, and – of course – a dating and marriage system on top of that. Up front, it seemed like I would get lost in all of this, but the game actually does a really good job easing you into it through its request system.
You start off small and eventually work your way up to this big field of crops, tamed animals taking care of it, and an arsenal of cool weapons and runes to take down dungeons with. There’s a lot of freedom too. Some days I would just completely ignore the storyline and try to maximize my farm’s space or go hunting for a certain animal to tame, some days I would work towards getting more prince points to bring a new festival to town or upgrade a local shop, and some days I would spend the daylight hours fishing and the nighttime cooking up new meals with those fish.
It’s something I didn’t think I would catch on to as quickly as I did and honestly, it made me kinda nostalgic for how DS games like this were designed back in the day – simple on the surface, but really complex if you want to get into it. Regardless, the overall gameplay is just incredibly relaxing and it is exactly for this type of game that I’m excited to get my Steam Deck in just a few months.
Still, I can’t deny that there is a bit of repetition involved. This is ultimately a Harvest Moon type game, so you will be doing the usual tasks over and over, especially early on before you can tame animals to do some of it for you. It can be a bit tedious, so you gotta have a bit of tolerance for it. Once I got past that point though, I found myself experimenting more with the crafting, cooking, and dating mechanics – and yes, that last one is a very central theme to the experience.
In fact, this is immediately evident on the main menu with the “Newlywed Mode” – a bonus mode added by the Special edition of Rune Factory 4 that basically adds extra scenes for each character unlocked once you wed them. There’s also a mode titled “Another Episode” which acts as a sort of epilogue for each character taking place after the main story (which itself is like a 50+ hour thing on its own).
The writing may not be all that impressive, but the story elements that are there aren’t that bad either. If anything, it reminded me a lot of an Atelier game, where it can be serious at times, but it’s ultimately there to serve a more relaxed gameplay style.
Now the PC port. I may not have run into any crashes, fps drops, freezes, bugs, or really anything like that, but it does carry the problem of being hardlocked to 90 fps and being unplayable at that framerate because the game speed is tied to it. Fortunately, unlike another garbage PC port we got just last month, you can fix this problem simply by toggling the game’s VSync option on – which forced it down to 60 fps even on my 155 Hz monitor.
Beyond that, I don’t really have any other complaints. The game runs flawlessly at 1440p 60 fps and even includes an HD texture pack to up the quality a bit. It’s a minor facelift (being mostly noticeable around icons, text, and UI elements), but it’s a nice addition to have.
That and the game plays fine on both controller AND keyboard and mouse. The latter actually feels good to use and is fully rebindable too – I would have no problems recommending that playstyle if you don’t have a controller. I guess a minor complaint would be the lack of an auto-advance text toggle, but that’s really all I can think of here with regards to the port.
So yeah, Rune Factory 4 Special is a really easy recommendation. Fun and laidback gameplay, tons of depth, plenty of character interaction, and a nice PC port too. There’s way more to this game than I can talk about in a short video like this, but if you’re a fan of games like Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley – this one is definitely worth a play and I myself am already looking forward to the 5th one coming out next year.
Quote: Rune Factory 4 Special is an easy recommendation for fans of farming sims like Harvest Moon, with fun and laidback gameplay, tons of depth, plenty of character interaction, and a nice PC port too.
Rune Factory 4 Special retails for $30 USD on Steam. It is also available on Switch.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.