Rune Factory 4 Special is an HD release of the original version of Rune Factory 4, which was released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2012. While a Nintendo Switch version of the game was made available in 2020, the game now arrives on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. While it doesn’t bring anything new to the table, it is another way to enjoy an already solid farming simulator visual novel hybrid. However, Rune Factory 4 Special for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC are bundled with the Another Episode DLC entirely for free.
While it isn’t an incredible amount of content, the DLC expands upon the player’s relationship with the marriage candidate of their choosing. The add-on content mostly focuses on what comes after marriage. The DLC is told from the perspective of the marriage candidate. It usually elaborates on the feeling of having children and the life of a proud parent.
For example after finally getting married to Dylas in Rune Factory 4 Special, I was given access to the Another Episode DLC content. The segment focused on a short, sweet scenario between the former-boss-monster-turned-spouse making a cake with your child. The end result serves to endear the player towards their family and to potentially have the player pursue another playthrough to unlock these little visual novel-esque segments. It certainly worked for me, as I started another playthrough to unlock Leon’s Another Episode DLC.
This is largely where Rune Factory 4 Special succeeds, in its relationships between the player character and potential spouses. While the bulk of the narrative focuses on unraveling a fantastical mystery concerning the quaint village of Selphia, the best moments of the game are distributed through character interaction, and strengthening your bond with the individual inhabitants of the village. This in turn will allow players to take certain characters, all of which are marriage candidates, into dungeons with them once their relationship has progressed to a point. While the game itself is relatively old, it still manages to blend the various different styles of gameplay together well. Cultivating produce to turn into gifts helps strengthen the player’s relationship with the citizens of Selphia. This in turn triggers special events or allows them to accompany you into challenging dungeons. The Rune Factory 4 Special DLC supplements that.
Thankfully, the PlayStation 4 release of Rune Factory 4 Special doesn’t have any performance issues. Loading times are relatively fast, and the upscaled textures lend themselves well to the painterly style of the game. I was initially worried that the textures would become stretched or pixelated, but that wasn’t the case. However, the only things that didn’t receive any kind of HD update are the animated cutscenes. They appear pixelated and blurry, which might bother users. I also had the opportunity to see how the game performed on the PlayStation 5 (because, yes, you can play it on the PlayStation 5 without needing to purchase an upgrade), which yielded similar results. However, the loading times were insignificant and lasted maybe a second or two at most.
That said, Rune Factory 4 Special is a great time. Mostly, because the foundation is already solid. The extra DLC content bundled in with Rune Factory 4 Special is entirely optional and doesn’t impact your overall time or experience with the game or its characters. (But can offer more insight if you play it.) If you’re looking for a farming and dungeon crawling simulator to spend some time with, and are drawn to games like Stardew Valley or Story of Seasons, Rune Factory 4 Special may be perfect for you.
Rune Factory 4 Special is immediately available for the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.