Title Rune Factory 3 Special
Developer Marvelous Inc.
Publisher XSEED Games
Release Date Sept 5th, 2023
Genre Action RPG
Platform Switch, PC
Age Rating Teen
Official Website

As I stated in my preview a while back, I’d never played a Rune Factory title until I decided to take this one for review. I had no idea what to expect going into this, I didn’t know if the farming would be too complicated, if I would enjoy the combat or if the story would be something I could get into. I’ve spent over 30 hours with Rune Factory 3 Special, and I have my answer to all of these questions. So let’s see how my first experience with this franchise went!

Rune Factory 3 Special | Collette

The game begins as a young girl named Shara is dragging a collapsed monster into the village. Her grandfather is very upset she has brought a monster into their home, since monsters and humans haven’t gotten along in a very long time in this world. She is very keen on helping the poor creature out, but the next morning the monster has disappeared! He transformed into a young man, and of course with any good RPG our protagonist has amnesia. The young man has no idea how he got to this town or that he can transform into a monster. As he leaves the house he encounters a red haired girl who is very quiet and named Raven. She is in front of a huge tree they refer to as the Sharance Tree. He attempts to talk to Raven but to no avail when suddenly, he sees Shara. She takes him to the heart of the tree, and explains he will be staying there for the time being. The tree hasn’t bloomed in a very long time. He will soon discover the mystery of why this tree hasn’t bloomed as he quests to recover his memories and more.

Rune Factory 3 Special | Combat

I have to say the mainline story here feels a bit thrown together. It’s interesting to learn about this world and why humans haven’t gotten along with monsters in a very long time, but everything plays out exactly like you would expect. It seems like an afterthought to the stories of all the game’s amazing Bachelorettes and other residents of the world. From Collette’s obsession with food to Pia and Sakuya or Sophia’s backward talk, everyone here is very interesting and I loved learning about them. The newly added Newlywed Stories will unlock once you complete the game, and features a cute after story for your new wife. These are pretty short, but include some new animations, and I thought Raven’s was especially cute since she was my girl of choice here.

Rune Factory 3 Special | Joke

Graphically, Rune Factory 3 Special looks great. The characters have a lot of detail and the little emotes that appear over them as they converse with each other add a lot of personality. There is some Live 2D work when the characters are talking as well that I feel really gives them more life. The monsters have unique designs as well and a good amount of variety. The dungeons found here each represent a different season, and the graphics very much reflect this. Vale River is the winter dungeon and is full of ice, while Sol Terrano Desert is blazing hot like the summer we’ve had in my neck of the woods. Shields and Weapons all have different looks as well, and I really loved some of their designs.

Rune Factory 3 Special | Combat

I think this game has one of the most soothing soundtracks I’ve heard in a long time. The comfy home theme is great and you will catch yourself humming it hours after you stop playing. The themes for each of the four seasons are great as well, and they really fit the vibe of each one. The summer theme is really upbeat and warm, which is a stark contrast to the winter theme that is much more laid back with a much cooler sound. The game is voiced in both Japanese and English and I think both casts do an excellent job of giving these characters life.

Rune Factory 3 Special | Wooly

I had never played a Rune Factory game before, so I didn’t know what to expect in terms of game-play. What I found here was one of the most laid back and comfy games I’ve ever played, but with a surprising amount of depth. It’s pretty much left to the player how they want to spend each of their days. Players start out each day with a certain amount of RP (Rune Points) and every activity you do will consume some of these. You may want to do some farming, you may decide to crawl the dungeon, or spend the day crafting. The more you do each activity your level will increase, and this will decrease the amount of RP consumed by doing each one. You will also gain RP and HP as your overall level increases.

Rune Factory 3 Special | Pia

I didn’t do very much farming during my play-through, as I made most of my money crafting items since it was pretty easy to gather any materials you need in the dungeons, and that helped me build up my craft and smithing skills quickly. I was able to make better equipment for myself and do more upgrades to the weapons and accessories I had as well. Though if you want to go the farming route, recruiting some monster friends will help you greatly. You do this by giving them gifts in the dungeon and if you give them something they like, they will join your team. You can have them do chores on the farm, or have them help you in a tough dungeon. Just be sure to take care of them by brushing them and feeding them plenty of yummy fodder.

Rune Factory 3 | Craft

The combat here is done in a top down fashion much like the the classic 2D Legend of Zelda games. You have a few different types of weapons to choose from. These include a one handed sword and shield, axes, spears, two handed swords, rods and duel blades. Each one has a very different fighting style and special moves you can obtain by leveling up your skills. In addition to all the weapon types, players have a variety of spells at their disposal as well. These include attack spells, buffs, healing spells and some that will let you escape battle altogether. I mostly stuck with the healing spells and double blades, but there is no wrong way to go here, and I love how much variety this gives in making your character fight exactly how you want them to. In addition to all that, you can transform into your monster form and do combat as well. As a Wooly you only have some punching attacks, but you’re very fast and do a lot of damage. Some of the lovely Bachelorettes can accompany you in dungeons as well, but be aware they start at level one, so you will need to help build them up.

Rune Factory 3 Special | Raven

Overall, I really enjoyed my time with Rune Factory 3 Special. I can see why people love this series; its laid back game-play is welcoming but it has enough depth to keep you coming back for more. I had a blast figuring out the best items to give all the Bachelorettes, seeing their reactions to them, and watching their stories unfold. The combat here is a ton of fun, and I can certainly see myself wanting to take on the extra dungeons and challenges at some point down the line. The game is well worth the $39.99 asking price, and I think any fan of the series should jump on this day one. If you’ve never played one of these games you should give them a chance. I didn’t think this would be up my alley, but I was mistaken. I look forward to checking out Rune Factory 4 Special sometime in the near future.

Review Score

Game was provided by the publisher for review.

Steve Baltimore
Steve started with oprainfall not long after the campaign moved from the IGN forums to Facebook. Ever since, he has been fighting to give all non-mainstream RPGs a fair voice. As the site admin, he will continue to do this and even show there is value in what some would deem "pure ecchi." He loves niche games and anime more than anything... well, except maybe Neptune.