“What is farming doing in my action RPG?” This was my initial question upon getting settled into Neverland Co.‘s newest title for the Nintendo 3DS, Rune Factory 4. “And where are the rune factories?” That was my second question. As someone brand new to the Rune Factory series I had been told that 4 was a perfect starting point, and I hoped it would go as smoothly as my first foray into Animal Crossing with New Leaf a few months ago. Rune Factory 4 could be described as Harvest Moon meets your favorite action RPG and those descriptions would not be wrong. The game blends day-to-day upkeep that games like Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing are known for with a RPG twist, and tops it with a solid story that will keep your interest piqued for numerous hours.

The plot of Rune Factory 4 follows your character as he proceeds to lose his memory and literally fall on top of a Dragon. Upon awakening it is first thought that you are a Prince, and you begin the game under this notion. Not much later the true Prince shows up and it becomes apparent that you are someone different. Regardless, the Prince decides you are trustworthy and makes you the unofficial “Prince” of the land you happened to fall into. From here the story takes some fun twists and turns but largely remains true to similar games in that the gameplay takes a higher prescience than the actual narrative. This isn’t The Last of Us in narrative, it’s more akin to Final Fantasy-light. If you’re playing for plot you won’t be horribly disappointed, but this is a game you play for the fun more than the narrative. One shining point in the game were characters, especially townsfolk. Everyone you meet seems to have a story and chatting can be quite interesting. I enjoyed running around town socializing quite a bit.

Speaking of gameplay, the systems and features in Rune Factory 4 make it a game that you keep booting up your 3DS for at 3AM in the morning. The easiest way to describe how the game works is to say Harvest Moon with dungeons. You work to build up the city that you’ve been awarded by the real Prince and all the while you discover some mysterious forces working in nearby dungeons and must fight your way through to keep progressing. One of the positives or negatives (depending on if you’ve played a RF game before) is that the tutorial takes a few hours to work through. For me it was great, being this is my first foray into Rune Factory, but for seasoned vest it may become tiresome. The actual fighting gameplay is decent, but could be more refined. I found myself missing attacks a lot and getting trough dungeons can be a bit tricky if you’re not on your game. The dungeons themselves are a bit boring, existing more for gathering and plot than anything. On the upside, the game is all about routine, and if you love games like Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon where routines are the norm (with the added bonus of dungeon crawling here) you should enjoy Rune Factory 4.

Overall Rune Factory 4 is a very solid game that seems to fit in well with the series’ past entries. It’s extremely accessible (which could be a negative to some) and offers a lot of gameplay for the price. You’ll quickly get into a routine of tending your crops, chatting with the interesting people around town, and crawling dungeons for items and monsters. It’s a game that can keep your attention for hours at a time, or in short bursts. The 3DS seems to be rocking it this year for games, and Rune Factory 4 is another strong title to add to the long list. If you were debating jumping into the Rune Factory series, now is the time to do it!

Rune Factor 4 Gameplay