• Rune Factory 3 Special is a faithful remake with impressive graphic improvements, but lacks innovation beyond its aesthetic.
  • The game offers a satisfying game loop with farming, romance, crafting, and dungeon crawling, but some activities can feel repetitive.
  • The characters in the game are well-defined and engaging, aided by updated graphics and fresh voice recordings, but there are no LGBTQA marriage options.

Rune Factory 3 Special is a faithful remake of the Nintendo DS title that offers impressive graphic improvements, but doesn’t do much to innovate beyond its aesthetic. The game comes from Marvelous Inc and XSEED Games, which have a long history with the Rune Factory and Story of Seasons franchises.

Just like all Rune Factory titles, players will begin in a mysterious new place after being struck with a bad case of amnesia. The title weaves a tale about a long-standing conflict between monsters and humans, which the protagonist – who’s half human and half monster – becomes embroiled in. Unfortunately, unlike other Rune Factory games, there’s still only an option for a male character in the remake; the ability to play as a female hero was arguably one of the biggest things long-time fans had hoped would be added in the new version.

Related: Rune Factory 5’s Romances Best Stardew Valley’s

The Daily Routine

Rune Factory 3 Special farming, with the character swinging a hoe.

There’s plenty for players to do outside of Rune Factory 3 Special‘s main storyline thanks to its blended mechanics of farming, romance, crafting, and dungeon crawling. Things can feel a bit slow in the beginning, but by mid-spring the satisfying game loop begins to unfold. Tending to one’s farm and monsters, checking the bulletin board for villager requests, giving gifts to the townsfolk, fishing, and grinding new levels for the myriad of skills in the title are all interesting and viable options of gameplay. Some of these things can occasionally feel repetitive – particularly raising certain skills – but they do a good job of always giving the player something to do.

As players go through the daily grind, one of the most noticeable things that could’ve used an improvement in the remake is the game’s controls. While not awful, things like having to drag and drop every item into one’s storage chest and the clunkiness of holding versus equipping items can feel tedious at times. Combat controls have are remained the same, but not to a fault – fighting was always somewhat simplistic in Rune Factory 3, but a handful of special moves, interesting spells, and the ability to fight as a monster keep things engaging, as does the wide variance of enemies and the new Hell difficulty setting.

Engaging Characters & Relationships

Rune Factory 3 Special conversation with Shara.

One of the things that stands out most about Rune Factory 3 Special is its characters, who feel like some of the most well-defined and unique townsfolk in the entire franchise. From the father and daughter who amusingly only speak in opposites to the mermaid who runs the bathhouse, each resident feels distinctive and engaging, and this is further aided by the game’s updated graphics. New character portraits for conversations paired with fresh voice recordings make getting to know everyone very special. There sadly aren’t LGBTQA marriage options in this entry, but the 11 bachelorettes are a fun and diverse bunch.

Newlywed mode is one of few additions to come to Rune Factory 3 Special, which offers extra quests following the main story for players to do with their chosen spouse. One of the main complaints about the original RF3 was its short storyline, which clocks in around 25 hours; compared to the incredible length of some JRPGs – including others in the Rune Factory series – this felt lacking to some. This mode is more episodic, presenting a sort of slice-of-life style approach to married life. These short segments don’t add a huge amount of new content, but it’s a nice touch that adds depth to in-game marriage.

A New & Improved Aesthetic

Rune Factory 3 Special area with flowers with the character standing on the edge of a cliff.

The graphical improvements in Rune Factory 3 Special go beyond character portraits, helping to create an immersive and beautiful world with stylized nature environments across its different biome areas. There are a few hiccups here and there – on more than one occasion characters or animals became stuck on certain objects, flickering and unable to move. Despite this, the combination of new portraits, crisper environments, and a lovely soundtrack make for a fantasy world that’s enjoyable to be a part of.

Final Thoughts & Review Score

Rune Factory 3 Special fight against goblins in the desert.

The original Rune Factory 3 was widely considered a critical success, and it still holds on to the elements that made it beloved in this new release, but when judged as a remake the game does very little to improve upon anything except for its visuals. The Newlywed Mode and new Hell difficulty are nice additions, but they barely impact the main storyline or player experience in the way refreshed controls or female protagonist would – it’s essentially the same game reskinned. However, Rune Factory 3 Special is still worthwhile for fans of the series, even if it doesn’t quite match up with its franchise cohorts.

Source: XSEEDgames/YouTube

Rune Factory 3 Special releases today, September 5, for Nintendo Switch and PC. Screen Rant was provided with a Nintendo Switch code for the purpose of this review.

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