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Hexxen: Hunters is a playable Grimm fairy tale that has you turn back the doomsday clock

A Darkest Dungeon-inspired title based on German TTRPG setting HeXXen
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If you needed any more proof that the setting of recently announced Hexxen: Hunters, a RPG being released in 2024 on PC, is quintessentially German, you need to look no further than the fact that in this grimdark – or shall we say Grimm-dark? – alt-history scenario, half of the Netherlands has been sunk due to the summoning of a sea leviathan. That’s what you get for jamming the Autobahn during every holiday season, I suppose.

The Netherlands aren’t the only place in bad shape, a developer from Ulisses Spiele Digital tells me at gamescom 2023: “The Thirty Years’ War hasn’t really ended, because towards the end of it the literal gates to hell opened in the Black Forest, so parts of the world are now overrun by devils.”

That, in turn, awakens lots of fairy tale creatures that add to the chaos. “But this is the German fairy tale – it’s the Grimm brothers’ fairy tales, not the nice ones.” Werewolves, witches, satanic cults, and other mean beasties are let loose on this version of our own planet.

Hexxen: Hunters keyart of four characters surrounded by undead.

Götz, Franziska, Magnus, and Irina are four of the eight playable hunters in the RPG.

However, the world contains a good deal of realism as well: Players will meet historical persons like young Johann Wolfgang von Goethe or Ludwig van Beethoven over the course of the story, which focuses on people resisting the chaos – the hunters. They are people who either have a “special power or are just too stubborn to give up and submit to the devils.” Eight of these people are at your service and each comes with their own backstory, personality, skills, and quests to complete.

Taking a bit of inspiration from Darkest Dungeon, the game features a village acting as a hub for your group in-between adventures, which you can upgrade over time. Your characters’ personal quests will actually influence this development as well. The village enables group actions like the hunt for certain rumors, which unlocks new quests, the training of abilities, or the preparation of specific missions. It’s not all just sitting around in the tavern, of course.

Always present will be the doomsday clock, ticking towards the end of all days – the arrival of Lucifer Morningstar, and not the charming guy from the TV show. Venus, which Lucifer made his home, is drawing ever closer to Earth and obviously the consequences of such an impact would be catastrophic. It’s up to your brave group of misfits to prevent that. There are several ways of doing this, of turning back the doomsday clock – one is to go to church in your village to pray, which is both ridiculous and fitting at the same time.

Hexxen: Hunters map of Europe.

Half the Netherlands are gone and the gates of hell stand open in the middle of Europe.

Another is to interact with some of the devil cults out there, because not all of them relish in the thought of being under Lucifer’s thumb for the rest of eternity: “A lot of other cults don’t like Lucifer running the show, so you can go to Asmodeus or to Baal or other cults, which will help you stop this event from happening, if you ally with them. Not necessarily out of the goodness of their hearts, but because they think their boss should be the boss, and not this boss.”

Missions are between 20 and 30 minutes in length and the developers “expect to have about 40 missions on a playthrough, so about 20 hours.” However, branching narratives and decisions will provide lots of replayability in conjunction with some procedural generation. While the main story and bosses won’t change, things like maps, enemies, and side missions will be generated anew for each playthrough.

The two main elements of each adventure will be exploration and combat as you try to find a path through the map and encounter groups of enemies. Don’t expect to have the freedom of Baldur’s Gate 3 here – Hexxen: Hunters is made by a team of just about 20 people, so there won’t be a gazillion ways of solving each encounter.

Hexxen: Hunters screenshot a female warrior attacking a horror creature.

Franziska is a classic tank, but can specialize in dealing damage or in healing her party.

Outside of boss battles, which are supposed to challenge players to learn attack patterns and figure out their opponent’s weaknesses akin to some JRPGs, you’ll mostly fight hordes of enemies. More often than not you’ll be heavily outnumbered. Combat is turn-based and you can freely choose between your party of four characters when it’s your turn, switching between them to combo their attacks in the best possible way. There are no movement points – your characters move for free in a certain area and will only require resources to make attacks and use skills.

The roster contains a varied bunch of personalities: There is Franziska, a knightly sister of the Marienorder, who uses her rage to empower her in combat or heal her allies, depending on how you specialize her – but be careful, for too much wrath can lead her to run out of control and even attack her allies.

There is the experienced mercenary Götz, who turned to drinking after his family got killed by witches and now uses alcohol as a resource in battle to encourage himself, heal himself, or even use it to spit fire like a street artist.

Irina is a white witch, who so far has withstood the storm spirit from which she draws her powers to possess her, thus keeping her from turning evil – not that Götz trusts her in spite of that. She’s a more traditional magic user, but the more damage she does, the tougher it becomes for her to control the spirit. It may even burst out of her, attacking friend and foe alike.

Another playable character is Magnus, an alchemist who can create all sorts of potions, concoctions, and grenades in the village or on the fly. Each of these characters comes with a unique skill tree and equipment only they can use, allowing you to try out different combinations in your party of four from the eight available hunters.

Hexxen: Hunters village.

You can upgrade and develop your village over the course of a playthrough.

Hitting those potent combos in battle is key to overcoming your numerical disadvantage – there are different damage types in the game you can exploit, for example Magnus has the ability to throw an acid bomb that makes enemies vulnerable to elemental damage, which Irina’s magic can in turn use to deal additional damage.

Crowd control is another important mechanic, allowing hunters like Franziska to taunt enemies and bind them in melee combat to protect the others. Some characters can bind more people than others, making them more suited for a frontline role. Being bound by enemies changes the available skill set of your characters, so positioning is going to be key – ranged characters lose their best abilities, melee fighters may gain potent ones.

Battles and exploration will yield resources, which you can use back in the village to upgrade the gear your characters are using.

For now, Hexxen: Hunters is planned to be a single-player PC game, but “we are looking at potentially having couch co-op,” and console ports the developers tell me. Playing with a gamepad instead of mouse and keyboard will be supported in any case.

“We like to say it’s a mix of Darkest Dungeon and Persona. If we sell as much as either of those two, we’re going to be quite happy,” the developer laughs. “We’re aiming quite high, that’s all we can do.”

Hexxen: Hunters, developed by Ulisses Spiele Digital and published by Hooded Horse, will launch on PC via Steam Early Access in 2024. Find more of our gamescom coverage on