Microsoft went unexpectedly hard with its indie reveals this summer. One of its biggest eye-catchers was Dungeons of Hinterberg, which I was lucky enough to see a little bit more of after the showcase. I didn’t get to go hands-on, but I did get a chance to speak with the developers while they took a few journalists on a tour of their unique world.
Here’s the elevator pitch: twenty-five magical dungeons just poofed into existence around the town of Hinterberg a few years ago. Instead of this causing panic and chaos in the streets, it attracted tourists from all around the world hoping to try fighting in the dungeons before going “back to the village to have a schnitzel.”
It’s perfect. The ten-person development team has struck gold with the absurdly intriguing idea, but didn’t stop there. Themes and monsters are inspired by Austrian lore, and the pop-art visuals are phenomenal.
Our adventure started in a frost-dominated biome. Here, the main character, Luisa, wields her sword against creatures right out of myth, including a creepy long-necked goat monster with resistance to melee attacks. It’s time to break out the magic. Each biome manifests its own type of spells. In this glacial area, Luisa can shoot out a ray of light and also summon a hoverboard. This is not a game that takes itself too seriously and your combat abilities certainly reflect that.
After a hard day’s work clearing out dungeons, it’s time to head back to the titular town. The streets are lined with shops (for souvenirs or potions), cafes, pubs, and attractions — like the boat rental spot that will allow you to enjoy the lake. Standing in front of the thematically named Krampusbar, we spot a chance for socializing in the form of Travis.
Let’s be honest: Travis is rude. A hipster pretending to be over the village’s atmosphere, the journalist finds it necessary to express his opinion that my chosen weapon is “vanilla.” Just rude. Despite the less-than-satisfactory conversation, Luisa’s relationship with Travis levels up after they part ways, gifting her a special combat ability called Meteor Shower. After the night’s entertainment, we head back to the hotel room to prepare for the next day’s adventures.
A very friendly hostess serves not only a hearty breakfast the next morning but also hints an upcoming event — Onion Fest — is coming soon. Tucking that info away, we head toward the forest biome to try out its wind-based skills. Whirlwind comes in handy to incapacitate smaller enemies and travel over the dungeon’s difficult terrain, while a gusty long-range spell helps the player navigate a series of windmill-based puzzles.
Boasting both social and action-oriented gameplay, along with a fantastic visual style, Dungeons of Hinterberg is sure to be a highlight indie when it releases next year.