Being a farming sim and action-RPG set in a fantasy world, Rune Factory 4 Special features the sorts of locations you’d expect from such a game. There are mysterious forests, forgotten ruins, a perilous mountain area, and an enemy stronghold. But there’s one Rune Factory 4 spot that has always stuck out: Obsidian Mansion. While it isn’t the longest or most involved dungeon, its tonal shift and gimmicks make it stand out.
Editor’s Note: There are spoilers for the Rune Factory 4 Obsidian Mansion below.
The Rune Factory 4 Special Obsidian Mansion is a haunted house. Which, in its own way, fits in a fantasy world filled with ghosts and monsters. After all, you are fighting grim reapers. It stands to reason that conventional ghosts would appear here too. Every element of it goes out of its way to capture the spooky mood and completely change your expectation for the area.
For example, the Rune Factory 4 Obsidian Mansion begins with an escape room situation. Or, as much of an escape room that this game can muster. After Pico leads a player in to rescue “Dolly,” the door locks behind you. There’s no way to go forward or back, and you have to look in the lobby’s nooks and crannies to advance. While it isn’t terribly challenging and searching each clearly marked area will help you get the key to keep moving forward, it does its best to make someone uneasy. For example, you’ll have something sticky and moist touch your hand. Looking at it confirms it is red. (The color… of blood.) When you check a nearby journal, the author noted they are unable to escape, but eventually finds some in their palm. The text turns red at this point (the color… of blood) and the entries become more nonsensical and unnerving.
From there, the Rune Factory 4 Obsidian Mansion attempts to do its best with rudimentary jump scares and horror movie archetypes. Ghosts, reapers, and spiders are the most frequent monsters. Chandeliers sway and occasionally drop on you to cause damage. A ghostly NPC will sometimes follow your avatar through areas or pass through walls, with one dialogue prompt even offering the option to turn around and confront the specter. You can even encounter Dolly’s “dolls” before the boss fight and find pathways where doors remain locked until you double back to open them.
The Rune Factory 4 Obsidian is so out of place and completely different from anything else the Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Switch versions of the game throw at you. Instead of bringing in switches to throw or multiple paths, you have a relatively straight path to follow. However, it instead litters the area with strong enemies and environmental elements that could distract you or make you feel like you’d have to double back. It’s a really inventive way to handle the location and makes the game, as a whole, feel stronger and more diverse.
Rune Factory 4 Special is available for the Nintendo Switch, and some DLC is temporarily free. Rune Factory 4 is available for the Nintendo 3DS.