Want to play an openly queer game that’s set in a school of magic, and doesn’t have a TERF author associated to it? Then you’re in luck, because Ikenfell may be just the thing you’re looking for!
I admit that Ikenfell truly was a sleeper hit for me. It was only until I saw the overwhelming support for it during the nomination process of The Gayming Awards 2021 that I realized that maybe, just maybe, I should be taking the time to play Happy Ray Games magical RPG over the Christmas week. And so I did, and uh, it’s the best decision I’ve made in 2020. And I decided to stop eating sweets, for gods sake.
Ikenfell draws on a lot from a certain magical series that you may have read about, but isn’t afraid to actually include diversity and inclusion – already making it a much more interesting place for players to spend their time in. You’ve got cats who can shoot ice from their eyes, mice who collect information, and even a door that likes to play pranks on people in order to feel something. Whatever quirky thing you can think of to include in a game like this, Ikenfell most likely has it.
But what makes Ikenfell special is how, much like Bugsnax, it shows the natural joys of being queer. The fuzzy feelings, the overwhelming emotions, the racing of the heart… Sure, all of it is natural in romance, but almost every queer person will tell you, it’s more than just romantic feelings. It’s the euphoria of acceptance too – and it’s something that Ikenfell conveys extremely well with its cast of characters who are all part of the LGBT+ community in some way.
How LGBT+ characters are conveyed in this game may feel very ‘in your face’ but in all honesty, that’s some narrow-minded BS. It’s pretty obvious that the characters are queer, with wild and zappy Gilda hitting on the main protagonist almost every time they meet, as well as young wizard couple Ibn Oxley and Bax Twiford openly blushing and flirting whenever they have a spare moment together. It may feel like ‘a lot’ but to me, to other queer players out there? It feels nice to be in a world where everyone is different yes, but also like you, too. These characters don’t make a huge parade or a fuss about their sexuality or gender – they just are, and that’s what makes Ikenfell so fun and comforting to just play in. It doesn’t need to have a world that hates queer people just because they’re queer – we’ve got more than enough of that in real life thank you very much – and that’s comforting.
There’s more to Ikenfell than just a cast of queer characters, but we won’t spoil it too much. Instead, consider giving the game your time by buying it yourself on PC, Switch, PS4 or the Xbox One and finding out first-hand what makes the game so great.
Gayme of the Week is a weekly column by Aimee Hart about indie LGBT+ games that she’s played and what she loves about them. If you’ve got any recommendations, be sure to contact her on Twitter (@AimemeRights) or email (email@example.com).