Developer: Happy Ray Games
Released: Coming soon!
Price: TBA, Demo available on June Humble Choice
Ikenfell is a tactical RPG about children learning magic and enchantments in an expansive magic school. The game is currently available as a teaser demo on for Humble Choice subscribers this June, featuring a tutorial and Chapter 2. Because the game doesn’t start from the beginning, it can be a little bit hard to understand what’s going on or who the characters are, but we are shown a segment of the plot, how the gameplay works, and the presentation in Ikenfell.
The two girls Maritte and Petronella are looking for the powerful witch Safina in the Ikenfell school of magic, which is full of large thorny vines, aggressive flowers, large and gross egg-laying flies, and shifting rooms and hallways. The game manages to feel like Earthbound through its relatively normal setting intertwined with magic, such as regular apparel being armor while including ghosts and illusionary rooms. The plot of Ikenfell is intriguing with its cast of characters, the mysterious school, and especially the much more elusive motivations of the protagonists, so I cannot wait for the finished product!
It is worth exploring the available areas of the Ikenfell school for treasure and monster encounters, allowing you to stock up on healing items among other things. During battles, you can change the position of your characters and select spells or other actions. For spells, pressing the attack button at the right moment (ala Paper Mario) is crucial, as it will either mean an effective hit or a 1HP attack, and the same goes for defense. Positioning your characters on the grid adds a layer of strategy since your attacks are ranged, though there is little room for movement, with only three-block wide battlegrounds throughout Chapter 2. This may change as the full game is released.
In practice, the combat shows a lot of promise but suffers from slow pacing. The mechanics are fun and engaging without being too stressful but remain challenging so you can’t just breeze through the game unscathed. There are no random encounters in Ikenfell and you can see monsters before they attack you, allowing you to abstain from battles entirely, and also the frequency saving and healing points in the form of adorable cats means the game is a decent challenge without being too harsh.
Ikenfell boasts a unique pixel art style with very expressive characters. It’s very easy to figure out how they’re feeling just from their expressions, although the battle sprites are primitive in comparison. The school grounds enjoy a lot of detail without using too many pixels, and the floating leaves were a nice touch. Better yet is the music, composed by aivi & surasshu of Steven Universe fame. The music all throughout has a magical feel to it, greatly enhancing the setting. Particularly the battle theme which is a cheerful and motivating tune.
While it doesn’t show a lot of story or content as of the writing, what’s available of Ikenfell is promising and worth a deeper look at its full release. The demo should take roughly one hour to two, depending on how much you explore the school before concluding Chapter 2, so do give it a shot!