"I have no doubt that Rune Factory 4 will appeal to fans of the series, and its whimsicality may even charm some newcomers."
The release date for the fourth Rune Factory game is quickly approaching. No longer just "Harvest Moon with fighting," Rune Factory has become a fully-featured spin-off series with its own constantly evolving features. The latest title makes the jump from the DS to the 3DS, sporting an enhanced presentation and more content than ever.
There is a deeper story than one might expect in Rune Factory 4, though it isn't revolutionary by any means. The main character (who can be either male or female) is an amnesiac who fell from the sky and was taken in by a benevolent dragon. She begins a new life in the town of Selphia while searching for her lost memories, possibly encountering romance and starting a family along the way.
The overall look of Rune Factory 4 has not changed over the years, but the graphical fidelity has been turned up a notch for this iteration. The game's bright, pre-rendered backgrounds and anime-styled character designs are easy on the eyes, with subtle 3D effects like flower petals wafting in the wind, much like Harvest Moon: The Tale of Two Towns. The gameplay, too, remains similar to previous titles; laid-back activities like harvesting crops and forming relationships with townsfolk are interspersed with exploration and combat. The player can choose to form an intimate bond with a special someone by inviting them out on adventures and giving them gifts, culminating in a special event: the birth of a child.
It's tough to describe the game without comparing it to its forerunners, simply because little has changed since Rune Factory 3. Combat has a bit more depth, the world is populated with new characters and items, and plenty of goals exist for the player to pursue. With XSEED at the helm, the localization will most assuredly be a standout element, and from what I've seen, the script is replete with humor. I have no doubt that Rune Factory 4 will appeal to fans of the series, and its whimsicality may even charm some newcomers. I intend to find out everything the game has to offer when it releases later this summer.