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For our 2018 awards we unveiled a new special award in memoriam of our longtime Editor-in-Chief Michael A. Cunningham and it is an honour to be sharing the winner for 2020. This award holds a special place in staff hearts as Michael loved being an active part of our awards selection process. Choosing a title that represents Michael’s integrity and his passion for smaller titles is often a daunting task and one we take pride in selecting and sharing with you all.
This year’s winner is Happy Ray Games’ Ikenfell, a game that is all about diversity, friendship, and self-discovery. Ikenfell is an emotional game that follows young Mariette, an ordinary girl who goes to the titular magic school to find her sister, Safina. There she meets a group of rag-tag companions, each with their own story to tell. Rich in characterization and story, Ikenfell is both heartfelt and whimsical. Mac would have appreciated this game for multiple reasons: he would have adored the cast of characters, loved how bright and alive the world is, and would have been amazed by the power of the game’s soundtrack. Ikenfell is a game where the marriage between graphics, soundtrack, and story all come together in a spectacular and emotional way. The game also sports a fantastic accessibility feature to help with the game’s battle system, something I feel Mr. Easy Street would have taken advantage of!
Michael loved games with charm and personality, and Ikenfell has that in spades. There is no game in 2020 that would have perfectly captured who Michael Cunningham was better than a game about friendship and magic. Ikenfell offers players an emotional ride that keeps you guessing, asking players to remember that kindness matters — because you never know what someone may be going through.
by Sam Wachter