It might not be on your radar now, but it definitely should be: Dungeons of Hinterberg combines two addicting game genres into one potent combo. Half action role-playing game, half social sim, I can see myself sinking a lot of time into the game's world after my press-only preview session from PAX West 2023.
Dungeons of Hinterberg takes place within the Austrian Alps, a beautiful and diverse area filled with different biomes, people, and... monsters and magic? In this fantasy version of our own world, players take control of Luisa, who aims to conquer all 25 dungeons found within the chilly slopes surrounding the village of Hinterberg.
Dungeons of Hinterberg and Luisa's Tools of the Trade
My demo for Dungeons of Hinterberg is quick to display its ARPG, hack-and-slash style combat. You'll be taking on a variety of foes inspired by Austrian folklore; in the case of this demo, there were some goblin-like creatures that acted as easy fodder for Luisa's powerful abilities.
Luisa's armed with a sword, and you can choose between light or heavy attacks -- pretty standard stuff, though you're also armed with magical abilities. Players can unlock more abilities as they progress through various dungeons and biomes in Dungeons of Hinterberg, but for my demo, I used a pretty unique set of magical abilities.
These magical abilities were a ball and chain, which I could throw at enemies from a range and deal damage. I could also create a bomb from the ball at the end, exploding enemies with proper placement. Footage from the game found on Steam shows even more magical abilities at Luisa's disposal.
Everything already felt satisfying to use, so I'm excited at the prospect of even more abilities. Of course, magic is a finite resource, so you'll need to use it wisely. It's best to alternate between your sword, magic attacks, all the while dodging enemy strikes. It's not a Soulslike, but the combat definitely feels like a lighter version of that. Not quite as hard, but definitely just as fun.
Dungeons of Hinterberg's Puzzling Adventures
While I certainly liked Dungeons of Hinterberg's combat, most of my enjoyment stemmed from one of the 25 dungeons you're supposed to conquer. I'm told dungeons can range from being more puzzle focused, combat oriented, or something in between. The introductory dungeon I partook in felt a bit like something in the middle.
Combat encounters were sprinkled throughout my foray into this dungeon, which took the form of a mine. The puzzles revolved around this theme, utilizing minecarts and mine tracks. Using my ball and chain to explode certain debris of flipping switches to change the direction of tracks were just a few elements to this dungeon.
In many ways, it felt a bit like a God of War: Ragnarok puzzle in design. Overall, this one dungeon had simple but gratifying puzzles. I'm definitely looking forward to future puzzles, which I expect will be quite diverse based on the four different biomes, magical abilities, and more in Dungeons of Hinterberg.
Dungeons of Hinterberg PAX West 2023 Preview | Final Thoughts
There are, of course, the social sim elements (think Stardew Valley) I mentioned earlier. This was seen at the tail end of my demo so I can't speak to the depth of these mechanics, but I can say I am very intrigued by them. Essentially, you spend your day going through the Alps and spelunking in dungeons and at night, it's time to socialize.
There's a cast of characters to discover and benefits gained from interacting with them. I had a short conversation with a photojournalist character, but it's hard to gauge his personality based on just one interaction. Nevertheless, if developer Microbird Games can nail this aspect of the game, it'll serve as a great complement to Dungeons of Hinterberg's combat.
This is shaping up to be such a charming title. The comic book visuals and polish to its combat and puzzle mechanics gives me hope that Dungeons of Hinterberg will be a game to keep your eye on next year.
Dungeons of Hinterberg was previewed at an off-site location during PAX West 2023.