๐ŸŒฝ⚔️๐ŸŒพ Rune Factory 4 Special | Review | Nintendo Switch | "Farming and Fighting" ๐ŸŒฝ⚔️๐ŸŒพ @RuneFactory_PR #GameDev #IndieGames

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Rune Factory 4 Special has been Re-released on Nintendo Switch to keep fans sated until the 2020 release of Rune Factory 5, this port of a 3DS game from 2014 (in PAL regions, at least) is a solid title that does stand out as a little different from similar games by balancing out various gameplay mechanics such as farming, light adventuring and combat. This results in a fun, if not particularly deep gaming experience.
Beginning with our nameable protagonist being unceremoniously kicked off an airship and landing, naturally, on a massive and (luckily) amiable dragon-god, you are rendered as an amnesiac.

Through a coincidental turn of events, you end up with a permanent room at the castle and are put in charge of festivals and local quests in a bid to build up Princess points (PP) with which you can upgrade your inventory and ingratiate yourself with the local populace etc.
Being a game developed in Japan, the usual tropes are here with cutesy, wide-eyed characters and constant verbosity abound. The amount of extraneous dialogue did wear on me a bit as it jars with the brevity of the rest of the game. The lightness of touch and accessibility in the various elements such as farming and the hack and slash combat works well, you don’t spend too much time bogged down in menus and the regular save system leaves itself open to dip in n’ out gameplay which removes the grinding element that can slow the genre down to a crawl on occasion. 
The game has rich, clear explanations of the mechanics so you never get confused with what to do next or how to do it. I personally was more interested in exploration as opposed to garden maintenance and so spent more time wandering the areas of the game rife with enemies (enemies that respawn upon leaving an area).
The combat is quite straightforward with melee, ranged and charged attacks. I did find the ‘egress’ spell troubling, though as it’s hard-mapped to the right trigger and more than once, in the throes of a boss fight, I’d accidentally tap the button and be teleported to the start of a dungeon, having to fight my way through again. I really wish that it wasn’t so easy to press!
The music is jaunty and the 3D visuals are colourful and effective., however, the 3DS source comes through in the rendered backgrounds which aren’t the most visually-pleasing, as is the ‘too zoomed-in’ look overall, something I’ve noticed with past ports from handheld systems, although this one does a far better job than most in this regard.
Rune Factory 4 Special is a solid game that balances its various gameplay mechanics well but it does feel quite a casual experience.

The narrative is pretty generic but the main appeal of the game isn’t working through the story but just gently experiencing the world, unlocking new recipes and getting new spells, equipment etc.

If you are a fan of the genre RF4S will keep you occupied and does an admirable job in this port.

I’d be tempted, however, to wait until Rune Factory 5 is released as it will be a more rounded experience that takes fuller advantage of the Switch’s capabilities.
Just watch that egress button!

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

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