|Dev: Neverland Co.|
|Pub: XSEED Games|
|Release: October 1, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: N/A||Fantasy Violence, Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol|
The crazy has been dialed back a notch in Rune Factory 4's cast compared to Rune Factory 3. There's nobody who runs around shouting “Rainbow!” or speaking in opposites, but the town still possesses a colorful cast with the right balance of likeability and eccentricity. They have an impressive variety of things to say, enough that you'll almost hear something new every day from every character. It's quite easy to become attached to the main cast, and a nice variety of love interests is available. I dare say that the town's bachelors have a slight edge on the bachelorettes in terms of interesting personalities--a nice change from Harvest Moon, in which the female character's love interests tend to feel like afterthoughts.
The entire experience is helped a great deal by a superb localization from XSEED Games. The English text hits just the right notes in the game's serious scenes, and in lighter moments, it can be touching or laugh-out-loud funny. Even the item descriptions have been packed full of puns and other kinds of silliness that show just how much love was poured into the project.
That quality extends into the English voice work, which has been performed by industry veterans who are obviously having a great time. Although voiced lines are mostly short sound bits, every character manages to have a unique voice that reflects their personality well. The more over-the-top characters, such as the mighty butler Volkanon and the thoroughly eccentric chef Porcoline, are especially fun to listen to.
Visuals may be the weakest link in Rune Factory 4, but only in comparison to the rest of the game's excellence. The 2D character art is lovely as always, and the outdoor areas, such as the town and forests, are lush and gorgeous. There's a very slight 3D effect applied, but you'll lose little by playing without 3D, all the better to save the battery for extended play sessions. The game's dungeons don't fare as well as the outdoors (though some, like the haunted Obsidian Mansion, are quite interesting), and the human character sprites are a bit squat. Still, the game does a good job conveying a lot of information on the two small screens, and has an attractive interface to boot.
Rune Factory 4 has erased my usual “if you enjoy these kinds of games” caveat from the series. Rune Factory 4 is more than a great farming and fantasy life simulation. It's a great game, period, that deserves to be played and enjoyed by a wide audience. It has cut the fat from its many systems while keeping plenty of complexity for those who want to dig in, allowing players to concentrate on their preferred activities or dabble in everything at once. More importantly, its mix of compelling characters and varied gameplay lend it that addictive “one more day” formula that will have you playing until the late hours of the night. Pick up this game at the store or on the 3DS eShop and give it a whirl. You won't regret it.
Date: October 10, 2013