Review – Rune Factory 3 Special

Rune Factory fans are eating well this generation. Not only have we seen the release of Rune Factory 5 finally, but Rune Factory 4 and now Rune Factory 3 have gotten remakes. These 3DS and DS exclusives respectively have managed to make their way to the Switch, and in 4s case, other consoles. The question is though, with Rune Factory 4 Special and Rune Factory 5 already on the console, is there much point in going back to 3?

For anyone that played Rune Factory 4 Special, 3 Special will feel right at home. This game is built very much the same way with chibi style characters that run around all day doing their errands. When you speak to characters they have proper sprites to give a better look at who you’re talking to. From there you can start to plan out some gifts you want to give to the people you like most and raise your friend with them. You might even end up with a *gasp* girl/boyfriend.

Rune Factory 3 Special Shara

It’s like she knows me already.

The best way to give gifts is to cook them some food; everyone likes food. This leads to the next key part of Rune Factory 3 Special: farming. In your tree trunk that doubles as a house, you have two quite large patches of soil that you can till to plant seeds. Seeds take a set amount of time to grow and need to be watered every day, or else your plants will die. Farming, and really most actions that aren’t just walking around and talking to people, takes energy.

If you’re not attentive to your energy bar, you’ll run out and start taking a good chunk of damage every time you go to do something. I can not be the only one who has accidentally died trying to plant a bunch of potatoes because they stopped paying attention. One weird thing is the farm seems to be under your house, but when it rains in the game, it rains over the farm, but somehow not in your house. Don’t think too much about the logistics, just appreciate when it rains you don’t need to water your plans.

Rune Factory 3 Special Sakuya

Why is everyone in this game so adorable?

Time progresses through the day, and the last thing you would want to do is run out of energy at 11am and decide to go to bed for the day. I know art mimics reality, but we all need to be able to get away from how we feel every day, right? This is where food comes in. Food restores health and energy. Different foods will restore more of one than the other so if you plan it out you can make some foods that are specifically for spending an entire day farming.

The other big thing in Rune Factory is combat. Rune Factory 3 Special feels a lot less focused on combat than 4 or 5 did, but it still exists. Again, combat takes energy, so it can be easy to maybe forget to look at your stamina bar and accidentally end up dying while trying to beat up some little wolf guys that shoot arrows at you. I will say, Rune Factory 3, even though it’s not focused around combat, does actually have some pretty clean feeling fighting and gives some weapon variety, so it’s got to be praised on that.

Rune Factory 3 Special enemies

The enemies are cute, you almost feel bad killing them off.

As mentioned, time passes in game and that means days pass as well. There are holidays that happen throughout the course of Rune Factory, like a bean festival where you try to get hit by beans (seems backwards) and New Year’s. There is also the ability to have your own big celebration, a wedding. That’s right, make enough nice blocks of cheese for the partner of your choice, and you might just be in with getting married. This is complete with a whole day of celebration dedicated to you and your significant other.

Rune Factory 3 Special is bright and vibrant. The world is filled with colour, and all the different characters are distinguishable from one another. When farming it’s easy to tell your crops apart, tell which dirt has already been tilled, and tell which sections have already been watered. The music and ambient sounds are fitting as well, it’s all very soft and calming. There’s not much for voice acting to speak of, but the bit that exists all feels like it makes sense. The voices you’re getting from characters you can definitely imagine them sounding like.

Rune Factory 3 Special gardening

You dirty hoe, you

I love my casual little farming games, and Rune Factory always scratches the itch for me. Even though numerically we’re going backwards from the other games already on the Nintendo Switch, Rune Factory 3 Special is a very welcome addition to the platform and a healthy return for the Nintendo DS game. With less emphasis on combat, although there is plenty of it there should you want to make it a focus, it feels a lot more casual and focused on relationship building.


Graphics: 8.5

While some games have been hindered by the chibi art style in Rune Factory 3 Special, this is a game that thrives on cutesy simplicity, while taking advantage of full anime style character designs for dialogue.

Gameplay: 9.0

I know Rune Factory 3 was originally a DS game, but it runs incredibly smoothly on Switch. The controls feel responsive, and being able to casually farm without mandatory combat is a nice addition.

Sound: 8.0

The bit of voice acting there is in Rune Factory 3 Special is great. Characters sound like you can vaguely imagine they would. The music and atmosphere around the world is casual and nice, while there’s an air of mystery in the areas that do have combat.

Fun Factor: 8.5

The Rune Factory series as a whole are great casual games. Rune Factory 3 Special is no different. Being more focused on farming than combat this time around, adds to the laid-back feeling that has been missing from other recent entries.

Final Verdict: 8.5

Rune Factory 3 Special is available now on Nintendo Switch and PC.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

A copy of Rune Factory 3 Special was provided by the publisher.