When it comes to creating a fantasy world it’s almost unavoidable that at some point the subject of magic will come up. Be it Wizards and Witches, Shamans and Sorcerers or Priests and Druids there is almost always some figure that wields a mystical and otherworldly power. But how did they come to wield such power? were they born with it? was it bestowed upon them by a spirit or deity? Or did they, like modern day computer wizards and mathemagicians, study at school?
The subject of magical education is something that has been discussed in both page and picture for years now, be it Harry Potter’s Hogwarts or the school of spell slinging students in Little Witch Academia, but aside from the occasional movie spin off or pay-to-win MMO the setting of a school for magical learning has rarely featured in gaming in spite of the genre’s enduring popularity. Fortunately a small team of 4 are set to fill that niche with the announcement of their brand new RPG.
Ikenfell is a retro-styled role player set within the titular school for witches and wizards which tells the story of a young girl by the name of Maritte who in spite of her lack of magical ability has come to the school in search of her missing sister Safina. Solving the mystery of her sister’s disappearance will mean exploring the magic and mystery of Ikenfel, navigating the many secret passages and interrogating the many students and teachers along the way.
Of course no journey through a school of magic would be complete without a duel or two and programmer Chevy Ray certainly isn’t one to disappoint. Taking cues from titles such as Paper Mario and Earthbound, Ikenfell combines a mix of traditional turn based combat with timing-based battle mechanics allowing skilled players with keen reflexes to punish their enemies with a barrage of magical attacks. Scattered throughout the school players will be able to find both hidden spells and powerful equipment to help them deliver a supercharged beat down on their opponent.
Despite being their first project as a team each member working on Ikenfell brings with them a dearth of knowledge and experience. Heading the project is Writer/Programmer Chevy Ray who has spent over a decade in the industry creating a variety of games encompassing many genres. Animator Hunter Russell is an accomplished and experienced pixel artist with an expansive portfolio that includes games such as the collectible tactics game “Duelyst” and the first person roguelike “Delver”. Last but not least is the composer duo of aivi & surasshu who are perhaps best known for their work on the critically acclaimed “Steven Universe” for Cartoon Network.
With a diverse cast and a heavy focus on story and character Ikenfell presents a touching tale of friendship, rivalry, mystery and love both familial and romantic. The character summaries are compelling and their designs are attractive with elements reminiscent of some of the more light hearted anime from the 1980’s. The game’s overall visual presentation is solid and there is keen indication that the soundtrack is going to prove a highpoint based on the composer’s previous work. While a release isn’t planned until January 2018 Ikenfell is a game that I will be keeping a close eye on in the future.
While their initial goal was reached on June 27th, Chevy Ray is continuing a Kickstarter campaign to raise additional funds to go towards the games development. A release for both MAC and PC is currently expected however further platform released may be considered subject to available funding.
Chris Senz is a freelance journalist and contributor to PN2.