Cooking and synthesis: Atelier
Atelier is a niche RPG series, but it’s a good match for Rune Factory 4 because you can do tons of synthesis — not only cooking but also forging, crafting, and mixing.
“The more you use any of the utilities, the more proficient you become with them, meaning you can learn more recipes and spend less [Rune Points] making said recipes,” said Avery. “It’s a complete reward system for your efforts in gathering the ingredients, and trust me, you won’t be running out of new recipes to learn for quite a while. There are dozens of recipes per category.”
Players can purchase various equipment, like a steamer or oven for cooking — or even a refrigerator. Prepared food is helpful in battle and in wooing characters, who each have a favorite meal.
Forging enables players to create and upgrade farming tools, weapons, and battle gear while crafting produces armor and accessories.
“What gives crafting a unique flavor, however, is that all headgear crafted is visible on your character model,” said Avery. “If you want to craft some cool glasses and wear them, you’ll see them on yourself as you run around town. You can also give hats, glasses, ribbons, [and more] to your neighbors; if you give them more than one type of headgear, they’ll wear different ones throughout the week. I had the entire town of Selphia decked out in top hats once!”
(That’s a lot like fashion in the new Pokémon X and Y.)
Mixing is basically tinkering with a chemistry set for pharmaceutical purposes. “You can gather natural ingredients and plants from nature and mix them to create potions, antidotes, fertilizers, or really cool stuff like Wettable Powder, which protects your farm from typhoons; or Giantizer, which helps your crops grow so big they’ll combine into a whole new crop altogether.”
Players can learn new recipes for all four utilities by eating Recipe Bread, which Porcoline (a flamboyant character and one of my favorites) bakes daily at his restaurant.
Princess/Prince Points: Little King’s Story
I want to give special credit to Avery for thinking of this one when I didn’t. Explaining Princess and Prince Points in Rune Factory 4 isn’t easy, but real-time strategy/life-simulation RPG Little King’s Story is a great comparison.
“While you’re not expanding a kingdom [in Little King’s Story] physically outside of shops and farming land, you are earning ‘gold’ for deeds that would naturally be done in the form of points, which can be spent on benefiting your immediate area as well as yourself,” she said.
Princess and Prince Points enable players to use the special points they accumulate to develop the town, upgrade their farm or personal items, schedule (or cancel) festivals, and so on.
“Let me just say, this system is awesome,” said Avery. “As Prince or Princess, you have a duty to the people of Selphia. By talking to them every day, fulfilling requests from them, participating in festivals, shipping crops and items, defeating monsters, progressing through the story, and more, you’re rewarded with Princess/Prince Points. Those points are a symbol of the town’s trust in you, so you can happily then spend those points at a stand called the Order Symbol in the castle and order new things. Lots, lots, lots of new things.”
That includes a bigger backpack, new farms or monster barns, original festivals, and better shop selections.
“Many actions in the game that you would do naturally reward you with points, so you’ll never be at a loss for how to get more. There’s an endless amount of ways to build up yourself or Selphia through this system, so you won’t be at a loss for things to spend those points on, either.”
That’s enough for Rune Factory 4 to keep you busy for a long, long time.
What makes Rune Factory ‘Rune Factory’?
“All of these features sort of seamlessly weave themselves into each other, so nothing feels very separate — which has thankfully been noted in reviews and seen very positively!” said Avery. “It’s all of these things that make Rune Factory what it is.
“If I had to pick the most important thing, however, I’d say the relationships are what make the game. This is a game that doesn’t shy away from a large cast, yet because it’s largely doused in character interaction, you won’t see a single one of these characters lacking in development.
“Without the massive amount of scenes of characters chatting or shooting the breeze in any situation — just living their lives together with you instead of living as is necessary for the plot alone — this game just wouldn’t be the same game.”
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