From Happy Ray games comes Ikenfell, a surprising turn-based tactical-RPG with a nice pixel-art and some interesting new additions to the genre.
You are Maritte, a girl who goes to Ikenfell, the school for magicians, searching for her sister, Safina. But when she arrives at Ikenfell, the school is affected by strange phenomena, and her unrevealed magic powers, to this moment, manifests in the form of fire magic. During your search, you will know several characters related to the school, as some of Safina’s schoolmates, which help you find her and solve the mystery. During the story, you will discover some dark stories related to her sister and the school, and even some mature themes.
During your quest, you can move relatively free for the school. There are some blocked areas which you will unlock solving some interesting puzzles when you advance in the adventure. Exploring, you will visit school’s different installations (the library, the dorms…), you will meet shopkeepers and other characters, some treasure chests and the enemies, which you can avoid if you want, but I don’t recommend it because they are your only experience source for levelling up.
You will find some cat-save points too (yeah, cats), where you will heal and save your progress. You will receive some weapons, armour, and accessories during the adventure. You can buy more or sell them in different shops. If you want to know how they affect your characters, you have to try to equip them, there is no other way to know their values.
When you approach an enemy, or it catches you, you will start the fight with it. The stages are in 2D, but you can move from one lateral to another. You have the typical grid of the genre to choose where you go or to select a target for a skill. The enemies will move too, the fights usually start with you in the right part of the scenario and the enemies on the left, approaching each other, until the attacks begin.
There are six playable characters, but you will use three in battles, each one with their skills. The protagonist Maritte, is a specialist on fire magic. Also, she has some supportive magic to level up the damage. Your first ally, Petronella, is more focused on supporting your party or healing them. Then your third ally, Rook, it’s focused on offensive magic, even he can steal items from the enemy or put some traps on the scenario. These traps will be invisible, so you will have to memorize where are they if you don’t want to be damaged. Enemies use traps too, tons of traps. Also, you can use items to heal your party or to damage the enemies, as run from the battles if you don’t see them favourable. Other characters have very different magics, like using painted objects or other elemental magic. Also, every character has their background, behaviour, even different sexual orientations, so every one is unique.
The variety of enemies is great. You will fight ghosts, monsters, sunflowers (yes, you’ve read it well), chandeliers (yes, again), cats, sweepers inhabitants, etc. Some enemies are very funny, and some will require some strategical tactics to finish them faster (generally the bosses). The only available attacks, aside from the items, are the skills, there is no problem to use them because you don’t have a limit to use them (there is no PM/Mana or similar factor in the game). Also, if you want to win a fight without fighting, there is an option called Instant Victory. You can activate it on game settings, and then use it on the battles. I didn’t use it, but I suppose that is oriented to the people who only want to enjoy the story.
There is a timing system when you perform an attack or the enemy attacks you. If you pulse the A key (on default config) in the exact moment, just before hit your enemy or receive damage, you will deal more damage or receive less. Of course, if you fail, the situation will be the contrary, you will deal less damage and receive more damage. Also, if you were near the perfect timing, but don’t pulse at the exact moment, the damage (dealt and received) will be slightly major too. If you are not a fan of this system you can skip it on settings, putting this timing in auto.
Graphics, Soundtrack & Other stuff
Ikenfell graphics are detailed and nice pixel art. They look great and create an incredible magical atmosphere. The soundtrack is exceptional, I loved all game tracks, especially the first theme of combats (a great song created with Spanish guitar), even there are songs with vocals. Its duration’s near the 30 h, depending on if you go direct for the story, or you decide to farm exp during the process. The game is in English and it has achievements but it hasn’t steam cards. The game is on PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One.
Overall: 9. Ikenfell is a surprising tactical-RPG with a nice pixel-art and a great soundtrack which will catch you with its interesting story with some funny moments and other dark and mature, with a unique cast of characters and a solid combat system and the possibility of some gameplay modifications in function of your skills or your gameplay approach. Very recommendable.