Impressions: Boyfriend Dungeon

Boyfriend Dungeon is a Kickstarter-funded dating sim/action game from Kitfox Games. Long-time followers of the blog and people who know me in real life probably know I have a bit of an obsession with dating sims, although I don’t often review them. I also haven’t had much time for them lately, so I have been a bit out of the loop. However, I heard a bit about this game and jumped on the chance to play it when I realized it was on Game Pass. I have to say it’s one of the most fun dating sims I have played.

In it, you play your main character (MC) as they move to Verona Beach to live in your cousin’s old place for the summer. Your cousin has heard from your mother that you haven’t ever dated and has one goal, to help you build your confidence and get some dating experience, even if it’s just casual and/or platonic. He also informs you about dungeons, or dunj as they are called in this game, that you, a wielder, can use to make money. After a short intro, he encourages you to meet someone in the dunj to train you how to fight. You get in and find a sword/man because, yep, Boyfriend Dungeon is set in an alternate reality where some people can change themselves into weapons that wielders can use to fight.

Gameplay is a mixture of action scenes when you are in the dunjs. It is fairly straightforward, you have a regular and heavy attack, a dodge button, and you can pick up healing items and zines that represent special attacks. Although each weapon/person changes up fighting times, it is a pretty standard top-down hack and slash. So Issac, your first weapon, plays with a lot of parries and riposte. The dagger is speedy with a shorter range and can confuse as you dodge away (a bit like rogues in other games). And the list goes on from there.

The dating sim aspect is pretty standard fare. You meet up with people, both shifters and non, and have dialogue options to develop your relationships. Some of the people you meet will only give you a handful of scenes for experience with dating, as your cousin says, whereas the actual weapons in the game have longer and more complex stories.

One of the really nice things about this game vs. other dating sims is that you can develop your relationship with all of the main characters in the same playthrough and not always romantically. Many dating sims will really lock you into one storyline at a time, which is fine because they tend to be shorter, and you can replay. In my first playthrough, I was able to max out affection with all of the characters (I had met) and see how their arc ends, even while only “dating” one. You get to decide and rather early on who ends up as a friend and who ends up as a romantic interest, and while the dialogue shifts a little, you still get to see their full storyline. It’s nice to be able to do this because it feels a bit more natural? I mean, I know it’s a game, but in real life, you don’t make friends with someone then abruptly stop caring (developing their story) because you are dating someone else

… well, I guess some people do, but that’s not the point.

I enjoyed being able to be friendly and see completed stories for all the characters is the main point.

I also found the fighting to be compelling if a little challenging. Developing your relationships requires you to go into the dunjs with the weapons because it’s the best way to gain experience with them. The thing is, not all the weapons really fit my normal style. However, the game is not punishing; you can repeat earlier levels and still max out relationships. Not only that, but your character can get quite the decent health bar, so even if you are struggling, you’ll be able to take a beating. There is also a “goddess mode,” which will reduce the damage you take by half. So while it can be hard to master different weapons, the game is not going to lock you out of being able to still max out your relationship with them. Personally, though, by the end of the game, I was decent with all of them. Because the gameplay is not overly punishing, I could have faced the final boss with any one of the weapons and come out okay. In fact, I didn’t take the weapon I was best with into the final part but chose based on how my relationships had developed.

The game is also inclusive. You have different pronoun options, there are a few different gendered people you can pick from. You can also turn off the texts from your mother. Although I am sure this is more about the speed of gameplay, people might appreciate not being bombarded for different reasons.

The story is decent. Someone is taking the weapons and damaging them, and no one is sure why. The longer you are in town, the more whatever is happening to the weapons seems to be connected to you. However, the game can give a bit of whiplash. Overall, it is a cute, lighthearted game, but the story has some pretty heavy themes that can kind of be dropped on you. There are also some unavoidable, fairly sad parts to it. For me, there was nothing too much, and the game ends overall on a positive note, but it can be a bit heavy for some players.

The characters themselves are good. They kind of all fit into certain tropes that people who have played these types of games might recognize. None of them are too trope heavy though, and they each have decent character development and backstories. I was a little thrown by some of the developers’ choices that I can’t get into without spoiling, so I’ll just say not everything lands perfectly.

There have also been a few bug problems reported, but the team has done a lot of work quickly to compensate for that. The game has been out for roughly a month, and the biggest issues so far have been addressed, so good on them.

Bottom line? This is probably one of the dating sims out there that will appeal to the most people, and that is because of the fighting elements. It really does drive it in a different direction and helps keeps the action going. However, if you don’t like dating sims or the more “tropey” aspects of them, it will still likely turn you off. I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoys a bit of fluff in their games, and especially to people who have wanted to try dating sims but don’t think they can just do dialogue-picking gameplay. If you like dating sims, you are likely to enjoy this one unless you hate action games, however, remember if the action part makes you wary, you can really turn down the difficulty. Because of the general strangeness of dating sims (they just have a vibe for lack of a better phrase), I am hesitant to say, “yes, get this.” However, I really enjoyed this game, and I think people should consider it. And heck, if you have Game Pass, why not?

Oh yeah, the soundtrack is excellent!

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