Ikenfell is a magical college in its seemingly pure state: peril. Students have gone lacking, unusual bushes are cropping up, and different magical anomalies plague the land. As Mariette, the non-magical but nonetheless frightened sister of certainly one of Ikenfell’s college students, you embark on a journey via this pixelated 2D RPG journey to save lots of her, the varsity, and possibly the entire world. A variety of fascinating concepts in each story and fight make Ikenfell an interesting prospect, however since some show stronger than others in execution, in the end it is a journey with various bumps within the highway.
As the sport begins, Mariette nearly instantly positive aspects supernatural pyromantic skills because of unusual magical occurrences. It truly feels a bit at odds with the message of not needing to be magical to be heroic, which throws the vibe off kilter proper from the start. The conceit does make sense throughout the context of the story, although, and units out one of many first mysteries within the recreation. New types of magic are cropping up, and even some who beforehand had no magical powers instantly discover themselves wielding elemental magic. Mariette can use her new hearth energy to tackle the assorted magical enemies of Ikenfell in flip-primarily based isometric grid battles, with a little bit of a twist.
Combat is a reasonably large a part of the sport and is usually flip-primarily based. Turns are break up between a motion part, the place you place your group on the battlefield, after which an assault part the place you choose from fight choices which have their distinctive ranges and harm, and generally added results. Starting out you’ll have primary assaults which do average harm to a single enemy in entrance of you on the grid. As ranges are gained, social gathering members added, and strikes are unlocked, extra methods and types open up.
The technique actually will get fairly versatile as no two strikes from any social gathering members are the identical; they every have their very own talent units which go well with their characters. The impulsive electrical wielder can teleport out and in of hazard shortly, whereas the timid alchemist has restricted vary and does greatest at therapeutic or poisons. Even although I finally discovered myself selecting the social gathering of three I most popular, I nonetheless discovered myself utilizing the complete collection of their strikes in several battles. This is because of the wide range of enemies which all may be approached in a wide range of methods. I tended to make use of poison and regeneration spells in lengthy fights towards excessive-HP enemies, for instance, quite than bombarding them with direct harm. For heavy hitters I’d make notice of their assault patterns and place my crew accordingly, which might change the possible assaults. The mechanics are easy however current sufficient strategic issues and alternatives to maintain the system feeling comparatively contemporary over time.
The twist to the battles is that, whereas flip-primarily based, they incorporate timed parts. Each assault and even every defensive maneuver could have its personal distinctive animation and timing. Despite being comparatively easy pixel artwork, a few of these are simply attractive and full of persona. Hitting the button in time with the animation and sound will decide how profitable your assaults are. Some might do extra harm, whereas others may have stable timing to inflict standing results. When defending, timing a button press to the block will cut back your harm.
In the start, I actually loved this method. While the early battles have been straightforward, merely having one thing to present me a lift made me really feel a way of mastery over the fight. Timing one thing proper simply feels good, nearly such as you’re flicking your wrist within the last second of casting a spell or actively bracing for protection on the essential second. It additionally makes spells you’re constantly good at actually really feel like your individual, like your apply has paid off. However, timing one thing badly is irritating and with so many alternative assaults from either side to study, it may be difficult to get it proper constantly. The timing parts imply you at all times have to concentrate on what’s occurring on the battlefield and never having the ability to pause throughout battles requires a excessive degree of diligence.
The affect of how profitable you’re at timing is immense, which makes it a bit double-sided in that failing them can work towards you as a lot as success can work in your favor. The clutch mechanic, which lets you survive a deadly blow on profitable protection, means it’s actually a life and dying distinction. As I went additional via the sport I ended up swapping the choice within the settings to semi-auto, giving me a bit extra leeway, and I a lot most popular it. This change removed among the extra unfair-feeling losses from timing that I swear I had nailed and it inspired me to experiment with out the worry of shedding outright. You can even flip it utterly off, and whereas I did not want that choice, it is an necessary one to should make the battles extra accessible.
Alongside battling, there are additionally puzzles to resolve. Most are pretty customary in that you just would possibly have to flick a sequence of switches, push rocks round, or collect particular gadgets. They’re often the correct quantity of difficult to make you assume with out leaving you caught, they usually present a pleasant break between battles. However, some simply really feel purposefully obtuse. Once I needed to search for books within the library and I simply ended up interacting with all of the cabinets till I discovered them–there didn’t look like a marker or technique to assist. Sometimes there are invisible paths with little to sign them apart from, “I guess I’ll just try walking through this wall.” In that means, Ikenfell can generally really feel as complicated as it’s magical.
Battles and puzzles happen everywhere in the college grounds and the encompassing areas of Ikenfell. Each space has its personal beautiful chiptune themes to match the surroundings. The battle music doesn’t have a tendency to alter, although, and as you’ll enter into so many of those it might probably get repetitive–except when it transitions into a couple of voiced songs for particular character moments to indicate off their personalities and intentions. Unfortunately, these aren’t excellent and may be extremely jarring when it occurs mid-recreation. I usually discovered myself turning the quantity down throughout these sections.
The story has you discover completely different dungeons within the type of lessons, dorms, libraries, and extra as you attempt to discover your sister and work out what’s occurring. All the completely different areas supply new backdrops, enemies, and puzzles to resolve. I really feel like each time I used to be becoming bored with one place, Ikenfell would usher me into one other with a contemporary set of exploration alternatives. The selection is beautiful but it surely additionally has a really “Sorry, your princess is in another castle” really feel, the place I at all times felt strung alongside pondering the story was near ending but it surely simply saved going. Naturally, this began to really feel tedious at instances. The drip-feed of story development drifts into sluggish and unrewarding to your troubles at instances.
The story itself is simply form of odd. It’s undoubtedly a direct parody of Harry Potter, although considerably gender-swapped and queer as all get out. But the identical plot holes that plague the halls of Hogwarts are nonetheless current right here. Students are in some way as highly effective, or generally greater than, academics and interact what’s described as unbelievable feats of magic. Teachers allow them to and don’t appear to have any want to be significantly useful, regardless of the tip-of-the-world stakes. They could also be supposed as humorous nods, however in impact come off as incongruous.
Despite this, Ikenfell has some fascinating takes. It explores the form of toll the actions of a heroic group of do-gooders, not not like the trio from Harry Potter, is sure to tackle a college. What concerning the those who get harm for his or her brazen actions? How a lot stress does this sort of fixed hazard placed on all of these meant to take care of these college students? What does a very progressive, queer-optimistic fantasy world like this even appear like? And how does it really feel to be excluded from this magical world as an unusual individual? There’s some unexplored concepts to the magical fantasy that deserved , and Ikenfell does its greatest.
Ikenfell made me really feel prefer it wished to essentially care about these necessary points, but it surely does nothing to discover them.
Unfortunately, the execution struggles at instances, with issues feeling a bit compelled. For a recreation all about caring for one another, all you’ll be able to actually do is struggle issues and beat the crap out of them. A number of instances characters will even say issues like “I’m so gay” after the story has already plainly proven us they’re and many of the different characters are drawn to the identical intercourse. Why is being homosexual an enormous deal on this world? Was there queer oppression? It’s ripe with queer web tradition however with no actual anchor to the context throughout the fantasy world. This makes it really feel tacked on as an afterthought quite than an genuine illustration of actual folks.
Ikenfell made me really feel prefer it wished to essentially care about these necessary points, but it surely does nothing to discover them. Characters generally break the fourth wall in odd methods to lampshade these beliefs, however with out context or relevance it usually feels shoehorned in quite than true illustration. I can see the beating coronary heart of excellent intentions and concepts, however they in the end really feel fumbled.
Ikenfell is a recreation of excellent intentions. The tackle RPG fight is each satisfying and fascinating with sufficient choices, each with in-recreation tweaks to characters and technique and in addition immediately throughout the settings, to assist tailor it to your preferences. It simply drags on a bit with out feeling like something has truly actually occurred till its last moments. The good selection and healthful vibes current a stunning little world to discover and save. There are simply sufficient little pitfalls within the story and execution that may be fairly grating once I wished to really feel immersed.