Rune Factory 3 Special brings a beloved entry into the HD era
After Rune Factory 5 and Rune Factory 4 Special's financial success, it seems like the farming life sim/action RPG hybrid series has secured its future with the announcement of future games. While we wait for the next game in the series, Marvelous has decided that they're going to go backwards through Rune Factory's history and have presented us with Rune Factory 3 Special, a HD remake of the 2009 DS game.
Like most other Rune Factory games, the game begins with a protagonist with amnesia, and they're given a farm out of the goodness of the townspeople's hearts. The objective is to find out what happened in your past, and to find love along the way. Rune Factory 3 only features a male lead, Micah, with the only choices for love interests being female.
First thing to note is that Neverland didn't make any significant changes to the graphics of Rune Factory 3. This is mainly a HD upscale of the DS graphics and improved 3D character models. Like Rune Factory 4 Special, there is a Newlywed Mode: a special scenario featuring you and your bachelorette of choice. These segments make use of Live2D to help bring more life to the old static portraits the game uses normally.
I've spent a little bit of time getting acquainted with Rune Factory 3's cast of characters, all of whom are as quirky as every other Rune Factory cast. The interactions with the townsfolk are always some of my favourite parts of any Rune Factory game, providing a lot of humorous moments as their big personalities liven up the many hours that I spend in each game. A couple of moments that have stood out to me so far are the interactions I have with Karina. She's the regular town sleepyhead, who has a tendency to mutter under her breath what she's really feeling. Her lines are pretty funny since she means well, but she's usually too tired to deal with just about anything.
As for the game itself, I think it's a bit more difficult than previous games in the series. In the first week or so in-game, I've already fainted once from farming and already got taken out by monsters in the field twice. The amount of Rune Points, or stamina in relation to Story of Seasons games, required even for maintaining just a few patches of crops drains me of all of my RP before the clock strikes noon. Unlike other games, crops can fail on harvest day leaving you nothing but withered grass instead of your crop. Crop rotation and soil health seems like it plays a much bigger role in Rune Factory 3. As for the monsters, grinding for a bit on the first weak enemies you encounter might help survivability for the future.
While Rune Factory 3 Special doesn't make any real impactful changes to the game aside from its Newlywed Mode, it's looking like a good remaster of a classic game. The mix of farming sim and action RPG has always been a great mix for me personally, and it's what kept me interested throughout the years. Rune Factory 3 Special releases worldwide on September 5, 2023.