Ikenfell, released earlier this month on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC, is an excellent little RPG that puts a tactical spin on the reflex-based battle mechanics of the Mario franchise’s role-playing spin-offs. It also uses cats as save points which, come on, of course I’m going to write about.
Cats snooze in every nook and cranny of the vast magic school in which Ikenfell takes place. Some are white, some black, some tabby or orange or grey. But what they all have in common is that petting them heals your party (for free!) and gives you a chance to save your game. Ikenfell isn’t particularly difficult, but it’s always nice to turn a corner and see a cute kitten ready for pets after a lengthy battle has sapped you of your health.
This is part of what makes Ikenfell feel so cosy. Apart from the constant presence of HP-restoring cats, the stakes from battle to battle remain pretty low. This lets the interpersonal relationships of the party take centre stage; adolescents can be shockingly dramatic, especially when they’re able to shoot lightning from their fingertips. I also really love the characters’ casual use of non-binary pronouns — they/them, ze/zir, that sort of thing. Even the bad guys get it!
I’ve spent about eight hours with Ikenfell so far, and while I love the cats, the game’s constant introduction of new plot points and party members is what’s really kept me glued to my Switch. I’ve spent the last week staying up way too late every night just because I wanted to see what was at the end of a dungeon. There’s a lot of charm in this pixelated role-playing game, and I can’t wait to see how everything wraps up.