In each Rune Factory game, there tends to be a sense of balance. You have an equal division of tending to your farm, diving into dungeons, and getting to know the people around you. Rune Factory 4 has always been great about this. It can feel like it is among the most well-rounded, due to how easy it is to wander around the town and talk to everyone, tend to your land, and go explore the hazardous outside world in a single day. But when it comes to the Rune Factory 4 Special changes, it seems like one area gets the most attention. A lot of the new features have to do with finding someone to love.
Romance in Rune Factory 4 Special is handled in the same way as the original game. There are four love interests of each gender who immediately live in town, and you can start trying to marry three of each right away. Clorica, Forte, and Xiao Pai are all ready to date and marry you, as are Arthur, Kiel, and Vishnal. The others require a bit more work. Amber and Dolce need to be brought to town as part of your adventures before you can date and marry them, while Margaret can only be fully romanced once Dylas lives in town. (Margaret has an event that requires his involvement.) Likewise, the bachelors Dylas and Leon need to be rescued before you can pursue them, and Doug won’t even consider marriage until you have pretty much beaten the campaign portion of the game. (You have to help with his revelation in the second portion to advance the relationship.) To actually get married, you need to go on about three dates with the person you are interested in, have earned 10 love points with the person you want to marry, own a double bed, and make a ring if you chose to be a prince. (The princess’ love interests can propose to her.)
Among the more lovey-dovey Rune Factory 4 Special changes is Newlywed Mode. This is a segment that you must unlock by pursuing and marrying one of the love interests. Once you do, you can choose that character’s extra story from the main menu. This is considered a stand-alone activity, so you choose your character’s name, a nickname for yourself, and one for your new partner. You then go through a brief story with this person, complete with more detailed and animated avatars for your avatar and all potential love interests. (I hope you like 2D images that look like they’re breathing!)
These segments are essentially part visual novel and part action-RPG. A hint on-screen constantly guides you to the place you should be at that very moment. You can explore the town and talk to people, and everyone has new dialogue that references your recent wedding. It’s essentially a relaxed, slice-of-life story that eventually rewards you with a new cutscene. It is frustrating that these must be unlocked, especially with the way it is handled within the mode, but I suppose it does work since they are a reward.
As for the Another Story, these are the incredibly brief story segments that look at life with a love interest after having been married for a while. Many of these clips involve life after you are already married to a bachelor or bachelorette. Quite a few even feature your child with your spouse in the story. They’re quite cute, for what they are. (Especially if you get Rune Factory 4 Special within the launch window so you can get this DLC for free.) I do wish they were as substantial as Newlywed Mode, as those stories last about 20-30 minutes and this is a maybe five minute clip.
At its core, there really aren’t too many Rune Factory 4 Special changes. This game is as solid and timeless on the Nintendo Switch as it is on the Nintendo 3DS. The real difference here is the extra love put into the characters you can connect with. Each one of the bachelors and bachelorettes gets extra stories, both long and short, that help you see what life is like with them and what their mindsets are like. You can really feel the love.
Rune Factory 4 Special is available for the Nintendo Switch.