Ikenfell – RPG Review

Diversity is sometimes a forgotten topic in the world of video games. For many years, developers struggled to simply to push the limits of the medium in terms of graphics and gameplay. That push is still going on today, but not throughout the entirety of the gaming industry. For the smaller studios, they tend to focus on some of the more overlooked aspects of gaming. This can include groups withs little or no representation; different ethnicities, races or sexualities. Ikenfell dives deep into providing a broad swath of representation for the LGBTQ+ community while creating an amazing adventure as well.

The Role You Play

You start off the game playing as a young girl named Maritte. She is, as the students of Ikenfell would describe, an Ordinary: someone with no magical abilities. When she begins her journey, she starts not develop fire magic abilities. Along the way, she is joined by several allies. Among these allies is Patronella who specializes in potion-crafting and healing. Another ally is the book worm and intellectual named Rook.

Plot

The plot begins when Maritte travels to the titular magic school of Ikenfell. She has traveled to the school in search of her sister, Safina who has disappeared without a trace and has been missing for a considerable amount of time. When she arrives at the school, Maritte begins to locate memory shards that reveal traces of her sister’s last known whereabouts. It is uncertain from these flashbacks what Safina was up to in the days leading up to her disappearance. It is up to Maritte to investigate what is happening, where her sister is, and stop whatever potential nefarious plan she may be up to.

Gameplay

Ikenfell is a turn-based tactical RPG. When you begin a battle, you and your party members can move throughout the grid and engage with the enemies. Every character has their own attacks that can attack one or several enemies in a particular pattern, depending on the ability used. This can also apply to healing abilities or support abilities that boost stats.


Ikenfell also uses a timed hit system. With every ability your characters use, you need to hit a prompt in time accurately in order to maximize the skill’s effectiveness. This also applies to defending against every skill used against you by enemies. All of the attack prompts are unique and require different timing so it keeps the gameplay fresh and interesting.

Length

Ikenfell’s progression is pretty straightforward. It is always pretty clear where you’re supposed to go and what you’re supposed to do. There is little in terms of sidequests or extra bosses, and what little there is in the game is obscure and difficult to access. The game is divided into chapters which break apart the story and character arcs. There are eight chapters in total, and with each one being roughly two hours, the game ends up totaling about 15 hours in length.

Music

Ikenfell fully embraces being a retro 8-bit game with a soundtrack to match. It utilizes modern instrumentation and 8-bit chiptunes, often in the same track. some of the tracks can include piano-driven melodies or chiptunes, or any combination of both harmonizing with each other. Not only that, there is a wide variety of tunes to match the wide range of locations you visit throughout the game. There are also several battle themes for each of the different characters who gradually join your party.

Notable Features

Ikenfell has an expansive cast of openly LGBTQ+ characters. There is plenty of open expression throughout the game that takes many forms. Several characters are in same-sex relationships and show affection towards one another to varying degrees. There’s plenty of casual flirting between many of the female characters throughout the game. Additionally, in each character’s status screen, You can each of their gender pronouns alongside their level and other stats.

The Talking Parts

Despite Ikenfell’s clearly simple graphics, it manages to convey plenty through its dialogue. Characters have a broad range of facial expressions to cenvey their tone of voice while talking. There are also plenty of body expressions that are conveyedeasily, despite the game’s low pixel resolution. Characters are fidgety when nervous, they nod in acknowledgement, and they can all display their own abilities to make themselves unique.

Z…We’ve Reached the End. Anything Else?

A lot of the mechanics of Ikenfell feel very unpolished. Everything that comes down to numbers feels like they are need of more refinement. It constantly feels like the character attributes are either too high or not nigh enough with no comfortable middle ground. Money is also very difficult to come across. You often have to resort to selling your old items in order to purchase newer equipment.

Final Summary

Ikenfell is incredibly unapologetic in its representation of a colorful and diverse cast of party members, as it should be. It presents a meaningful story and gameplay that makes every character stand out as an individual. It is a wonderful game that I can easily recommend.

Final Score: 9/10

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