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Dungeons of Hinterberg’s mix of Zelda-like combat and puzzles with Persona’s social links looks irresistible

The art style is gorgeous to boot

Dungeons of Hinterberg hero Luisa chats with one of the town's residents
Image credit: Microbird

Dungeons of Hinterberg popped up during Xbox’s not-E3 showcase over the summer, revealing a beautifully cel-shaded blend of dungeon-crawling, puzzle-solving and relationship-building. Having had a bit more of a look at the game’s social sim aspects via this week’s Xbox Partner Preview - yep, it still looks gorgeous and sounds fantastic.

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Developers Microbird have blended together the dungeon puzzles (in other words, shooting convenient targets to make platforms move and that sort of thing) and action combat of Zelda - with bombs and grapples at your disposal alongside a trusty sword - with the out-of-dungeon social maintenance of RPGs like Persona and Shenmue.

That social aspect got a deeper look during the latest preview, showing off hero Luisa’s conversations with the inhabitants of the Austrian alpine village in-between her delves back into Hinterberg’s 25 dungeons. Like Persona’s freeform approach to deciding how you spend your time, you can tackle those dungeons at whatever pace you like - whether that’s trying to do one a day, or taking a bit more time to get pally with helpful companions before venturing back in.

Making friends will be very helpful, as increasing your relationship level with different characters can unlock a bevy of benefits, from offering new items and unlocking new ways to play - including a photo mode and the ability to clean up gear looted from chests - to boosting your stats and abilities, whether it’s increasing your dodge stamina or gaining MP slots. Each character may have multiple different perks as you grow closer, making it worthwhile to spend time with those that fit your play style.

Dungeons of Hinterberg hero Luisa runs towards a pool of poison
Image credit: Microbird

On top of the passive benefits, it seems Luisa will have plenty of active ways to make her way through dungeons, with the trailer showing melee combat combined with what looks to be tornado-powered traversal and more. You’ll also be able to hop on a snowboard to get around at some point.

It’s all rendered in a gorgeous pastel-coloured, cel-shaded art style, matching the colourful cast of characters. Yes, there’s a dog in there, too.

Assuming it doesn’t also borrow Persona’s 100-hour-plus playtime, Dungeons of Hinterberg looks like it’ll scratch that itch between hands-on combat and laidback socialising. The fact it looks so striking is a cherry on top of that particular shared sundae.

We’ll hopefully see more of Dungeons of Hinterberg ahead of its release in early 2024 - with a day one Game Pass launch already confirmed - but I’m already completely charmed by everything we’ve seen so far.

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