Sunday, October 6, 2013

Rune Factory 4 is Pretty Fantastic

It's not surprising that this game that I've been looking forward to for forever is wonderful and definitely something that I wanted and the like.  It's not surprising that I feel compelled to tell you to pick it up if the Harvest Moon bits of the game tempt you because the Rune Factory bits are better than ever.  It's not surprising that it's got its hooks into me in a way that few games do, pulling me into playing it whenever and however, constantly luring me and calling out to me, pleading with me to play while I'm doing important things like writing a blog post about how it does all these things.  What it is, however, is refreshingVindicating, even.  I hoped - I knew- the game would be exactly what I wanted, and even that level of certainty does grant a little bit of relief when it turns out to be correct.  I can enjoy everything about it while also enjoying the fact that I knew I would enjoy it.

It's hard to really know where to begin, other than the beginning, which is actually easy enough to do.  Every game manages to have the protagonist have amnesia to start with and, as tired of a trope as it is, it's not shoe-horned in and it -does- manage to serve a purpose.  RF4's method is perhaps one of the more spectacular the series has seen and ends up dropping you right into the thick of things in a light-hearted way that the series seems to just ooze.  You're then prompted to introduce yourself to the cast of characters this iteration boasts who are just as crazy and fun as they've been in previous games, making it hard to pick a favorite immediately.  Of course that's not where the end of the cast is, however, as more people (including more Bachelors/Bachelorettes) start appearing as you get more and more into the game for various reasons.  The cast is filled and rounded out well, to put it mildly.

The controls have been refined to such a degree that doing just about anything is fairly easy and intuitive, making it just as enjoyable to play as it's ever been.  The "Magical L Pocket" as it's referred to in-game lets you hit the L button and bring up a menu (that thankfully stops time) to allow you to go through your Weapons, Armor, Tools and holdable Items and manage them right there without jumping into the proper Start menu.  This cuts down on the tedium of switching between the various things that you have to manage to do simple tasks.  Planting and watering seeds, for instance requires you to equip a hoe, use it, equip the seeds, plant them, equip the watering can and then water them.  Imaging doing that in a quick-swap menu (ala Animal Crossing) and it's cumbersome, but just imagine going into the Start menu proper for all that.  It wouldn't be pleasant, which makes me thankful that RF4 had that amount of forethought put into it.

Some people tend to worry that these types of games are slow-starters and that's understandable, especially after Harvest Moon:  A New Beginning.  While generally considered one of the best straight-up Harvest Moon games in a long time, it nonetheless had a first season that I've heard described from anywhere as "a really, really long tutorial" to "a slog" before it really opens up and lets you do things.  Rune Factory 4 is not like that.  It's not like that at all.  On my second day, I walked outside of town, Forte came out and was like "So hey, it's dangerous out here, want me to come along?", I went "Okay", and then we partied up and I proceeded to rail through the entire first dungeon without so much as a "woah, wait, are you sure you wanna do that".  On my second day, I cleared the entire first dungeon, boss-fight and all.  It was a good feeling.  There have been absolutely no barriers since then aside from the one I'm self-imposing because I need to stop stumbling into things until at least Summer if I don't want to beat the game's story before Fall.  And I don't.  I think.

Finally, the translation is absolutely wonderful, but that's hardly a surprise.  There's a good blend of humor spiced into things, of course, but it's not excessive nor is it cringe-worthy (as some tend to worry when 'humor' is mentioned) unless it's in a good way.  Otherwise, it's handled quite professionally and everyone has a cohesive manner of speaking that's individualized enough to give them all their own character.  Dolce talks differently than Forte who talks differently than Amber who talks differently than Nancy and so on and so forth.  Things are just as they should be, I should say, so I can't find fault at all with XSEED's handling of that portion of the game.  If anything, I have to applaud them for it, because the experience has been uniformly great on that front.  Of course, the game is uniformly great on -all- fronts, and it's engrossing as all get out.  In fact, that's mostly all of what I wanted to talk about for the game, so I'm going to get back into it now.  Because it's awesome, you see.

actually I'm going to watch this episode of Attack on Titan first, then play RF4 as the next one pre-loads because oh my god, Attack on Titan

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