Dungeons of Hinterberg Steam demo offers chilled-out dungeon-crawling | Hands-on preview

by on June 17, 2024

Dungeons of Hinterberg has taken me by surprise. Not many things do, these days – but Microbird Games’ adventure was not what I expected going into the demo. To be fair, I didn’t know what to expect at all, really. It’s twee to look at, brightly coloured, kind of cell-shaded like something from the mid-noughties, and in fact it kind of maintains that vibe throughout.

It doesn’t feel “modern”, but doesn’t feel retro, either. It exists in a world where tourists can visit deadly dungeons as holiday destinations, packing swords and magical spells along with their socks and aftershave. You’re not racing for the best poolside loungers in the morning, but the best gear to help you survive the challenges ahead.

Dungeons of Hinterberg

As you wander around the initial area before the action starts you’ll meet NPCs who tutorialise certain elements, like how to enter the dungeons or what your light and heavy attacks do. Each area, you’re told, has its own signature spell and method of traversal designed to help conquer the local dungeons.

In the demo, that’s a cool-af hoverboard and a laser beam spell. After activating some magical grind-rails you can get around the place super fast, like it’s a less obnoxious version of Sunset Overdrive. In the first mini dungeon itself, laser beams allow you to make platforms out of hanging stalactites by cutting them down, or activate switches to raise and lower gates and ledges.

Dungeons of Hinterberg

There’s nothing overly taxing, though there’s also little sense of a coherent atmosphere or living world. I didn’t get the impression that anyone had been here before, or that there was any real peril. People just kill monsters and solve dungeon puzzles for fun and loot. I wouldn’t say it creates a disconnect, but you definitely have to just enjoy the ride without thinking too hard about it.

Thankfully this is easy to do once you reach the first proper dungeon, which is a visual spectacle and genuinely had me grinning like a child for the first few minutes. It defies the laws of physics, space or time, presenting like something from a kiddified Destiny Raid, with you hopping and grinding between separate orbs like tiny moons, hitting switches to progress and solving a large puzzle involving laser barriers and moving platforms.

Chests scattered around contain various items of loot, such as armour and swords, though only the weapon you use seems to have a visual effect on your character, which is a tad disappointing for someone who pays a lot of attention to the fashion of an action RPG.

Dungeons of Hinterberg

I didn’t notice much of a difference to combat regardless of what I equipped. It’s a simplistic affair with a heavy and light attack, a dodge evade and a pair of special moves tied to said attacks that can break enemy shields. Monsters appear, you’re ringed inside a small arena, and you kill them to move on. The combat is far less interesting than the exploration so far, but this is only a demo.

Regardless, Dungeons of Hinterberg has my attention. It’s a lovely-looking, wholesome dungeon crawler that feels just challenging enough to appeal to all ages, and presents a world that really wants you to explore it. Full of action, puzzles, loot, and pretty, pretty visuals, it’s fair to say that Microbird Games has a potential hit on their hands.

Dungeons of Hinterberg will be available on July 18, 2024. You can currently download the Steam Next Fest demo for free.