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This gorgeous new indie RPG is the Zelda game PC is missing

Dungeons of Hinterberg is a stunning new indie game that’s an action RPG meets social sim set in the Austrian Alps, coming to Steam in 2024.

Dungeons of Hinterberg is the Zelda game PC needs, with a little Persona on top - A red-haired woman in a teal jacket sits in a cinema seat.

The likes of Genshin Impact, the upcoming Zenless Zone Zero, and of course FromSoftware’s mighty Elden Ring all draw big inspiration from Zelda, but that classic mix of action RPG and dungeon exploration with the coziness of wandering around a friendly village is something the PC landscape could benefit from more of. Set in a version of the Austrian Alps packed with magic, Dungeons of Hinterberg is a new game that delivers all that in a delightful, reasonably-sized package that’s a feast for the eyes and won’t consume your whole life. Ahead of its launch, PCGamesN spoke to franchise director Kristian von Fersen of publisher Curve Games at GDC about the upcoming indie game.

The most immediately striking thing about Dungeons of Hinterberg is its visual style. Protagonist Louisa, who’s stepped away from burnout in her everyday life to find new adventure in the magical destination of Hinterberg, boasts bright red hair and a modern, teal outfit, and the locations she visits are rendered in beautifully bold, flat colors that help make it one of the most visually distinctive RPG games we’ve seen this year.

It’s an “arresting visual game,” Von Fersen agrees, saying that one of the biggest responses to the game is that “people see it and say, ‘Wow, that looks different,’ with the handcrafted feel of it.” He says he hopes its broad appeal is matched nicely with the level of difficulty, too: “It’s challenging enough, but it’s also casual enough that you can get drawn in.”

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Each of the areas and the 25 titular dungeons you’ll tackle feature unique mechanics. In its icy locale, for example, you’ll have a hoverboard to help you get around and an energy beam that helps you solve puzzles, which is not found in other environments. The team hopes that this will make for a substantial but manageable game (estimated to last 20-30 hours) that is packed with plenty of variety.

Along with exploring dungeons, a big part of Dungeons of Hinterberg is spending time with the people you’ll meet, many of whom can offer you advice for ways to get into dungeons, unlock new moves, and so on. This, von Fersen explains, was heavily inspired by the Persona series, and much like the Atlus games you’ll have to be careful about where you spend your limited time and which relationships you’d like to pursue.

With its contained runtime, Dungeons of Hinterberg is also a much more approachable prospect than the vast expanse of Elden Ring or Genshin Impact’s endless live-service nature. As for whether there’s a marked trend towards contained experiences, von Fersen says, “I think people are looking for a bit of a mix. You have people who maybe like playing those long-term games, but this is almost a break; a refreshing change where you’re not constantly trying to progress or grind anything.”

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Thematically, that feels very fitting. So if, much like protagonist Louisa, you’re feeling a little burnt out with the endless grind of live-service games, then Dungeons of Hinterberg might be exactly what you’re after.

Dungeons of Hinterberg is set to release in the third quarter of 2024. While there’s yet to be a public demo, von Fersen says it’s something the team would like to offer eventually. He notes that the reception from playtesting has been “fantastic – I’ve heard comments from people saying, ‘This is a game I didn’t really think I needed but for some reason I’m drawn into it.’” It’s certainly caught my eye, and I’m eager to find out more.

Until that happens, we’ve picked out all the best indie games you need to play in 2024, along with more of the best single-player games on PC.

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Interview conducted by Ed Smith for PCGamesN at GDC.