|Release Date||Summer 2013|
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Would it shock you to hear this isn’t the only Japanese RPG I played at E3 that features a character with amnesia? What’s even sadder is that I called it the moment I saw the title of the game. More than any other franchise, Rune Factory truly owns the “amnesiac protagonist” trope—and makes no apologies for including it. Rune Factory 4, however, at least adds some perks to the formula. For one, you can choose to be either a male or female protagonist, adding some diversity to your romancing options. And number two—definitely the best part—it turns out that you’re royalty. You get to run the town! No more kowtowing to a corrupt Rune Factory mayor—no, sir!
Instead, you get to be the despotic ruler and cruelly burden your subjects with back-breaking indentured servitude! …Sadly, no. Plus, it turns out that you aren’t actually royalty; the real ruler is just seemingly too lazy to do his job! Instead, you gotta do a lot of the heavy lifting yourself; since this is a Rune Factory game, a lot of building the town comes with building crops and understanding when to plant, when to reap, and when to make an offering to Zybor, the Many-Handed One. These things are plain.
What’s not plain, of course, is the art of seduction in Rune Factory 4. This, of course, is my favorite part of the series, as you must win the heart of one of several eligible—and highly dysfunctional—bachelors and bachelorettes. During my hands-on romp through the village, I professed my love to any and all who approached me…but got friend-zoned in each and every case. So, yeah, Rune Factory 4 is sure to be goofy, absurd, and a tale of completely incompetent townspeople, but that’s all part of the charm—and why I’m optimistic this will be one of the better entries in the series.