By 5 pm final Sunday, after two days of Summer season Game Fest demos and a 3rd day of bouncing round Xbox appointments, I used to be able to go house. I didn’t anticipate my second-to-last cease to finish up being the game I might preserve occupied with all week, much more so than Armored Core 6. Dungeons of Hinterberg simply obtained its claws into me.

I did not see it coming, as a result of at the least by the bullet factors Hinterberg is an actual “been there, achieved that” assortment of videogamey stuff: 

  • A blatantly Moebius artwork model a la Sable, which threatens to be overused any day now
  • Traditional Zelda-style dungeon puzzle-solving
  • Motion RPG sword fight in walled-off arenas that appears respectable, however not, like, Satan Might Cry-caliber
  • Rail grinding, which Sonic made cool, after which kinda un-cool, 20 years in the past
  • Character relationships with the townsfolk to stage up

I like all of these items in video games, particularly artwork impressed by Moebius’s comics—one have a look at Hinterberg pulled a reflexive “ooh, fairly” out of me. However that was solely sufficient to hold me by the primary few hours of Sable, and the essential parts of Hinterberg I’ve seen in so many third particular person motion/journey video games that they do not actually seize my consideration anymore. The way in which the items are put collectively needs to be one thing actually particular.

Or, apparently, actually Austrian.

I used to be in love with Hinterberg a couple of minutes into its demo, as soft-spoken indie studio co-founders Regina Reisinger and Philipp Seifried began speaking about how the game is rooted within the historical past of small resort cities of their house nation. The premise of the game is, primarily: what if booming tourism was eroding the tradition of a historic small city? However as an alternative of snowboarding, persons are displaying up to take a look at the native magical dungeons.

If Shigeru Miyamoto had set The Legend of Zelda in his childhood model of Kyoto and tossed in a bunch of clueless vacationers bumbling round outdoors its historic temples, you’d have one thing like what Hinterberg goes for. There’s fast humor in magic being actual, however form of passé. Your character Luisa has burned out on company life and as an alternative of going off to begin a farm, she’s determined to slay a bunch of goblins within the Alps and discover ways to magic hoverboard. Feels like an ideal trip, to be trustworthy.

Luisa is dressed like she could possibly be going to yoga class, besides with a candy sword strapped to her backpack. Certainly one of her first acquaintances on the town is a hipster journalist who hates being caught out within the boonies reporting on, ugh, all this magic stuff. Boring! Dude cannot wait to get again to Vienna.

Hinterberg itself is pleasant, although: as an American, the Austrian city sarcastically seems like a extra unique videogame setting than a pure fantasy world would. You are not the chosen one: you are simply somebody renting a room in a mattress & breakfast and hanging on the bar at night time, with a hearty day’s adventuring within the center.

Dungeons of Hinterberg

(Picture credit score: Microbird Video games)

The Persona-inspired relationship system means, in alternate for granting an interview to the too-cool-for-the-Alps journalist, Luisa will get a bit of substances to spice up her fight aptitude a bit. Regardless of this typical life sim system, it is way more amusing for me when the man complaining in regards to the nightlife is asking me why I selected to primary sword for my goblin slaying. He actually would not admire how good the dialog is right here in comparison with the typical bar.

The theming alone makes Hinterberg seem to be a enjoyable cling, however the adventuring and fight additionally look surprisingly sharp for a game began by simply two builders, now with a grand whole of 10 on the challenge. They estimate it is going to take a superb 20-25 hours to play by, so it is a correctly meaty journey.

Every area round Hinterberg that Luisa can go to has its personal magical appear and feel with several types of magic you can use to traverse that space. The countryside is pockmarked with portals that take you into dungeons, which may vary from bite-sized fight encounters to elaborate multi-room puzzle gauntlets. I obtained extra excited the extra of the world I noticed, because it appears to be like to be pretty freeform—you possibly can work your method as much as a excessive spot and go searching for all of the dungeons within the space, tackling them within the order you select. The swordplay was on the easier hack-and-slash facet, however extra importantly you possibly can creatively combine in magic for what looks as if a promising diploma of selection. 

There are infinite indie video games at this time impressed by Zelda and Persona, however perhaps none that reinterpret them with such a transparent, private imaginative and prescient. Dungeons of Hinterberg is not out till someday in 2024, however I hope a demo lands on Steam a lot before that.