The final Steam playtest for fantasy extraction game Dungeonborne attracts thousands of eager adventurers

Image for The final Steam playtest for fantasy extraction game Dungeonborne attracts thousands of eager adventurers
(Image credit: Mithril Interactive)

Dungeon-crawling extraction game Dark and Darker has company: An open beta for the very similar Dungeonborne is underway now on Steam. An exact duration for the playtest hasn't been set, but the plan is for it to last a week or two, after which Dungeonborne will launch in early access. 

It's one of those betas you can join by hitting a button on the Steam store page to request an invite. You won't have to wait, though: The playtest is open to everyone, and I was let in immediately and automatically after clicking the button.

Dungeonborne's playtest hasn't overtaken Dark and Darker on the Steam concurrents chart, but it has peaked at a respectable 14,448 simultaneous players, so it's definitely competition.

I like the Diablo-like inventory and methodical first-person melee combat, although I'm becoming resigned to the fact that I truly suck at extraction games. I'm so nervous about finding an escape portal without being humiliated by a low-level monster that I'm totally helpless against more confident players who just chase me down like it's a deathmatch. 

At least my character, a skeletal cryomancer that I named BartSimpson, looks pretty cool. Dungeonborne's eight classes offer the usual trade-offs—speed or health, damage or healing—and come with unique abilities, such as poor BartSimpson's moveable, area-of-effect Ice Storm attack. I haven't made great use of that spell yet on account of spending so much time running away from small bats and other things that are trying to kill me.

(Image credit: Mithril Interactive)

My favorite thing about Dungeonborne right now is how quickly I can get into a match. On the casual Clouseau Castle map, it only takes about 20 or 30 seconds between me clicking "Start" and the game starting. I think that really matters, especially in games that can end as abruptly and disappointingly as extraction games—quick restarts save it from feeling totally hopeless.

Granted, I may actually be hopeless. It's not even players killing me anymore; I just got cornered and chomped to death by a mimic.

Meanwhile, after a legal fight got it booted off Steam in 2023, the original first-person extraction dungeon crawler, Dark and Darker, returned to the platform in June. Its free-to-play model was not received well—it's more of a free demo—but the developers say they plan to "make amends," and it seems to be doing pretty well, with positive user reviews and a spot among Steam's top 50 most played games.

Tyler Wilde
Executive Editor

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the '80s and '90s, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on early PCs. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now, and PS1 classic Bushido Blade (that's right: he had Bleem!). Tyler joined PC Gamer in 2011, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.