Ah Doberkogel. Where the mountain air is fresh, the views invigorating, and the monsters a little gooey. I make my way up the steep track in front of me, crushing pop art flowers underfoot. But it’s not long before a horde of would-be baddies manifest to halt my progress in Dungeons of Hinterberg.
This is the first hands-on demo the developer has offered after their game’s reveal at Summer Game Fest, and it plops me down in the path to a dungeon. But it’s not a walk in the park, as just getting to the entrance requires solving puzzles, fighting monsters, and making friends.
The creatures currently surrounding me are impish figures out of Austrian folktales. Though small, they can swarm if I’m not careful. Luckily, I have a handy aresenal of attacks to take them on. Each location mysteriously grants adventurers with magic abilitites, and the two granted me in this mountainous region help me take down opponents with an iron fist.
My first ability summons a giant ball of iron which drops down from the sky. In combat, this crushes any foe in its path. But the real fun part is, by pressing the button again, I can make the whole thing explode, taking out several more creatures. Outside of combat, the hefty chunk of metal makes for a convenient way to weigh down switches.
Not to be outdone, I can also manifest a ball and chain which shoots out like a ranged ability. This works perfectly for puzzles to pull objects toward me or hit targets out of my reach. And like its counterpart, it hurts enemies both when I throw it and when I call the ball back in combat.
If that wasn’t enough, there are several combat-only abilities I can call on by holding the trigger and a face button. I can choose to leap high into the air with my sword, striking a harsh blow on whatever I’m targeting. There’s an option to drop a volley of arrows onto the filed, causing great AOE damage. And, if I’m feeling plucky, I can turn myself into an unwieldy tornado, spinning my blade out around me.
There are some restrictions, however. My combat abilities are tied to a kind of cooldown which refills as I use normal light and heavy attacks with my sword. Likewise, magic is ruled by the amount of MP I have, but this also refills as I hack and slash through minions.
It’s not all brawn though. Sprinkled throughout the level are environmental puzzles. One of my favorites, and one of the simplest, is a loop of mining track that you can circle endlessly if you don’t correctly steer your cart to the appropriate avenue.
At the end of a twisting tangle of high-speed rail puzzles, a witch-like figure confronts me, and, I’m not going to lie, my time with the demo was growing short. As a consequence, I threw out any pretensions of finesse and tanked every hit just to take down the magical villain quickly. Before I could leave the cave, though, I had to stop by the conveniently set-up stamp kiosk to prove I’d made it through to the other tourists.
Bloody goo trailing in my wake, I head on back to the village for a lovely evening of sightseeing. I pass the rude adventurer from the first preview and stop off at the café for a dessert with Albert. We reflect, hard, on the nature of Austria’s unique culinary arts and mythology. The latter, the professor argues, may hold the key to why these mysterious dungeons suddenly appeared.
The monsters obviously take on the form of the local folktales, but I’ll have to play through more of the game to see what’s really going on. I leave this preview with a MP boost for having made better friends with albert and hit the hay to be refreshed for another adventure tomorrow.