Farming simulation games have always been a staple of video games. Rune Factory is one such game that has built its name as a fun franchise to play. It incorporates JRPG elements into its games to add its own unique flavor to the farming simulation genre. It is a spinoff of the popular farming simulation series Harvest Moon, which first debuted on the SNES in 1996.
Rune Factory has made its way to the Switch with its fourth installment, and we’re here to give you the lowdown on what to expect from the latest entry.
Rune Factory 4: Gameplay Overview
If you’ve ever played Harvest Moon as a child or enjoyed exploring Stardew Valley, you’re in for a real treat. Rune Factory 4 shares many similar traits with these two games while also coming with its own unique flair.
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Stamina and Time
When you start out, you’ll notice you have an HP bar on the upper left corner of the screen. This is your character’s Health Points, dictating your character’s life. When it drains completely, your character dies and it’s a game over.
Below your HP bar is a stat called RP. This stands for Rune Points and is essentially your stamina. Your RP is used up every time you perform actions like farming, fighting, or using rune abilities. Think of RP as your mana and stamina. When you’re out of RP, you can rest in your bed or use the bathhouse. These will replenish your RP.
Stamina isn’t the only thing limiting you from doing the things you need to though. Rune Factory 4 functions on a time-based system. Each second in real life is one minute in-game, so you need to plan out each day carefully. Your character will wake up at 6 AM every day and be in bed by 2 AM.
A lot of the time you spend in Rune Factory 4 will be dedicated to growing crops. You till the soil using your hoe, then plant seeds and wait for your plants to grow. Remember to water your crops every day so they won’t die out.
The first thing you’ll need to do is buy some seeds from the local store and plant them. Once they’re grown, you can harvest them and either sell them or keep them for later. As you keep planting crops, the soil will gain experience. This levels up the soil and improves the quality of the crops you produce.
Since the game focuses heavily on crops and farming, there is also a seasons system. You start out in Spring, followed by Summer, Fall, and Winter. There are different crops that grow well in each season, so be sure to maximize your harvests and plant the correct ones.
Quests in Rune Factory 4 take the form of requests given to you by NPCs. These requests can be unlockable, repeatable, and personal in nature.
Usually, you get requests from the request box. In the early game, you can complete one request a day. As you keep doing requests, you’ll be eventually able to do two or three at a time.
You can also get unlockable and repeatable requests from your request box. Unlockable requests will ask you to take care of some farming or achieve a social feat. Repeatable requests usually ask you to defeat monsters or fetch an item. As the name suggests, repeatable requests can be done over and over again.
Personal requests are different from unlockable and repeatable requests. Once you reach a certain level with a certain character, they might ask you to do a quest for them. This usually entails getting a certain item, defeating monsters, or doing something else entirely.
Regardless of what tools you have, they can all be used for combat. However, there are tools that specialize in combat. They have multiple advantages, such as the ability to use rune abilities and special attacks.
When you’re fighting and the enemy strikes back, you’ll sometimes be afflicted by status conditions, including poison and paralysis. You can even catch a cold if you’re unlucky.
Every status condition will have a negative effect on your character. For instance, the poison will reduce your HP over time, and paralysis will prevent you from moving. You can recover from these ailments by taking the correct medicine. For colds, it’s cold medicine; for poison, it’s an antidote.
No matter what you do in battle, always pay attention to your HP bar. Unlike other RPG games, you will not just be brought back to your previous save. You lose money and XP in the process, as well. If you die in combat, you usually lose half of your hard-earned money.
Rune abilities are a set of abilities you activate by sacrificing some of your RP. These can range from weapon skills to magic. Rune abilities are usually for combat, but there are a few that are for non-combat purposes.
Some rune abilities grant you the ability to heal yourself. Cure will heal a portion of your HP, and Cure All will heal your entire party. There are also abilities for killing monsters. However, you require specific weapons for some of these abilities.
Additionally, you will unlock a shop called the Ability Shop later in the game. From here, you can purchase new abilities that you don’t already have. There are also rune abilities that allow you to issue pet commands.
There are many characters in Rune Factory 4 that you can interact and build relationships with. When you talk to them and give them gifts, your friendship points go up. As this goes up, you unlock new interactions and requests.
Each character has their own list of liked and disliked gifts. This gives life to each individual character, giving you a glimpse into their different personalities. Every character in the game also has their own lifestyle and daily schedule. Some enjoy baking and farming, while others love reading and engaging in combat. This makes the world of Rune Factory 4 feel alive.
Rune Factory 4: Starting Out
When you first play Rune Factory 4, there are some things that you need to keep in mind. Doing these things early will help you tremendously in the long run. In this section, we talk about the things you need to do to acclimatize yourself to Rune Factory 4.
What to Do on the First Day
On your first day, you might be tempted to leave your land to explore the town. However, you will find that you cannot do this as you’re confined to your farmland.
This is the opportune time for you to clear your land. Remove rocks and uproot the weeds. Try to use up the entire day to do this if you can.
It might be tempting to sell all of the rocks and wood, but you shouldn’t do this yet. Instead, you should store and save these for future endeavors. These resources will come in handy in the future.
Learn What Your Tools Do
Each tool serves a different function to help you with the farming process. The waterpot waters your crops, the axe cuts down trees, and the hoe tills your soil. You can use these farming tools to attack your enemies. In fact, you can even perform charged attacks by holding down the attack button. However, you shouldn’t overdo your charged attacks as they consume RP.
Talk to the Townspeople
The villagers of Selphia are mostly friendly. They will always have something to say to you, and occasionally they will give you requests. The more you talk to them, the more you will develop your friendship with them.
Sometimes, the villagers will give you subtle hints on secrets you can’t normally find. Some of these secrets will unlock new events and requests. Giving them gifts will also increase your friendship level with them, depending on whether they liked the gift or not.
If you’re nice enough to the villagers, they might even give you useful items. As is the case with Harvest Moon tradition, you can romance characters of the opposite gender and eventually marry them.
Rune Factory 4 can get tricky at times, so there are some things you should take into account when you play. In this section, we give you some general tips to make your gameplay easier.
Adjusting the Difficulty
Before you start playing, the game will ask you to choose your difficulty. Your choices are Easy, Normal, and Hell. The difficulty setting you choose here is not fixed; if at any point in time you feel like the game is too hard or easy for you, you can change the difficulty as you please. Simply go to your basement and interact with the book on one of your shelves.
An easier difficulty translates into fewer experience points, but combat will be much easier. A higher difficulty awards a lot more experience but will obviously make the enemies tough to beat. So if you think that a boss fight is too easy, try cranking up the difficulty to see you like the challenge and experience boon better.
Beyond the town is the wilderness. Here, you will encounter a plethora of monsters that will attack you. What many new players don’t know is that you can actually tame these monsters by giving them presents and food.
Tamed monsters will be able to join your party when you are on an adventure. You can also send them back to your farm and make them do fieldwork for you. Taming monsters isn’t the last step, though, as you can further improve your relationship with your monsters by brushing and petting them.
Once you no longer have use for a particular monster, you can release it back into the wild.
Rune Factory 4 is a game meant to be thoroughly enjoyed. You don’t need to hurry when playing this game since it’s supposed to be a relaxing experience. Similar to Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley, Rune Factory 4 is a game that might take you hundreds of hours to complete everything it has to offer.
Rune Factory 4 is a big game. Farming, combat, and interacting with townspeople are just some of the hundreds of things you can do. It’s better to take it slow and steady to have more fun with the game than to rush your progress and make it feel like a grind to play.
Do Requests Regularly
You unlock a lot of the starter tools by completing the first few requests. It’s better to do the first few requests immediately so you can get all the tools you need. After that, you should continue to check the request box for any other requests that you might receive.
Requests are one of the best ways to gain money and unlock new resources. They’re some of the most important things to do in the game. More requests will get you more money, and more money will help you get better tools and more requests.
Rune Factory 4 is for anyone who enjoys a relaxing time farming, fishing, and fighting. It takes a lot of elements from Harvest Moon and improves upon them to provide a better experience. It’s a JRPG game with farming simulator elements that make it an entirely unique experience unlike any other.