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Ikenfell (Switch): Review

Based on the initial trailers, Ikenfell looked like a game that would be right up my alley with its pixel art aesthetic and turn based rpg combat. Unfortunately I did not notice it was released a good month or so ago. And from what I have played I wished I could have know it came out sooner.

Ikenfell manages to combine a lot of influences from other games and media. With the most prominent being Paper Mario , Earthbound, and Harry Potter. It also manages to combine these in ways where one does not over shadow the other: + Battles are tactical and turn based in nature, with the heavy influence of timed attacks from the Paper Mario series being frequently prominent. It was interesting to see the system used in a grid based environment where I had to focus on placement and strategy as well as making sure to time my attacks right.

+ The story blends the adventure and intrigue of a magical school setting with realistic characters dealing with issues like trauma, insecurities , and self doubt. It was rewarding seeing these characters interact with each other and the world while trying to solve the problems happening in the school as well as among them selves. + The pixel art was amazing to look at, especially in battle where idle and attack animations on both the party as well as the enemies were so active and vibrant. It does a good job showing off many of the character's personalities in each animation frame.

+ Songs were composed by the same people who worked on the Steven Universe Soundtrack, the peppy chiptune, works great with the the whole aesthetic of the game.

- Due to the perspective of how the battle grid maps are laid out, it becomes a bit difficult to see what is going on , especially in situations where your party and the enemies are grouped together. - It is a bit hard to notice certain things in the overworld. I found myself having to squint my eyes a bit while trying to find things. In some cases (like in the library section of a dungeon) I resorted to just pressing the A button on almost every wall just so I would not miss anything. - It is a bit tricky to figure out the right timing on certain attacks. In the Paper Mario games it is pretty obvious when and where you should press a button to attack and block. In here it feels a bit random, with some spells needing to be timed either right before it hits an enemy, or right as it is touching an enemy. It takes some getting used.

Overall: While there are some flaws, the worthwhile themes and interesting combat kept me invested. I feel like there is something here for everybody. 8/10 Review by: Glenn Ray Brooks

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