Something really amazing about being a new convert to Game Pass is that in a way it is like Netflix, but instead of just scrolling for a few minutes looking for background noise to fold laundry to I can rather quickly try games that I wouldn’t normally check out. Enter Boyfriend Dungeon, a game that was in development for a few years at Kitfox games and depending on the social circles you keep, may have generated some noise around it’s initial launch in August. Now normally it isn’t too far out of the norm to have a review of a game go up after the launch period is over here on Mega Dads. Given the nature of the parenting beast it can be hard to carve out time enough to properly play a game for review purposes and further more put in the work for making a Report Card. A four month old game typically falls outside this normal window for us, but anyway I, for now, get a ton of leeway for what I write and I think this game deserves to have more eyes on it.
Boyfriend Dungeon is your typical Dungeon Crawler in many ways. You make your way down increasingly more perilous levels, slaying enemies, collecting coin and crafting material. The key difference is that when you collect or unlock a new weapon to use you are in fact collecting people. You see the hook of Boyfriend Dungeon is that it is also a dating sim. Set in the fictional town of Verona Beach, where part of the population can transform into weapons and actual monsters wreak havoc in “dunjs.” You start the game selecting your pronouns/gender and customizing your look and are greeted with an option to turn off supportive texts from your in game mom. This I found personally very thoughtful. We often don’t think twice about being exposed to blood, gore, general mayhem and killing in games as its kinda been the meat and potatoes of video games for…ever if I’m being honest. So to take a second and give players the choice to maybe not open up some mental wounds was refreshing. I opted to keep the supportive texts on as I really wanted to see what that felt like. The premise is you are a sort of late in life bloomer, never really dated, a Drew Berrymore in Never Been Kissed type of person. You travel to Verona Beach to stay with your cousin Jesse, who under strict orders from your mom will throw you right into the deep end of the dating pool. Throughout the game you will be meeting new people, seeing what type of weapon they are and weighing their personality against their lethality. That was one of the main things I noticed with the various living weapons I met, the more guarded they were or the more red flags they raised it usually meant the attacks and skills were generally more useful. I don’t know if that was an intentional or I was just reading to much into it , either way I found it was a neat concept. There are two experience levels you will be working towards. One is your own personal XP, this will do the standard things like increase health and damage. Then there is the romance meter. This is raised by giving your date a gift or simply spending time with them in the dunj. When Romance levels go up you will be rewarded with another date and unlocking a new skill with them from a very simplified skill tree. The tree maybe is more like just a trunk though. A romance level of 6 is considered max. While a relatively low number some romances can’t proceed until you’ve reached certain levels in the dungeons. Each character has their own unique form, personality and likes and dislikes. There is bound to be at least one person you mesh with as the I found all of the main characters somewhat likeable. There is even a cat that turns into brass knuckles if that is your thing. At any point you can choose to just be someone’s friend instead of a possible romance and it doesn’t interfere with the ability to use them for killing monsters.
The very first dungeon you enter is the Verona Beach Mall, now over run by monstrous versions of your fears and hang ups come to life. Along the way you will encounter stronger and stronger versions of monsters the deeper you go. You’ll find objects to craft with as well as the recipes for items you can give as gifts, new clothing to change up your look and new abilities. Even money for you to spend on items in and out of the dungeon. On most runs you will most likely come across a spot for you and your chosen weapon to take a moment to relax and get to know each other more. These brief moments offer you a chance to recover some health and give a little bonus boost. Progress is saved every few levels so you can quickly get down to max depths and finish off a boss when you need to. While sometime there can be an overwhelming amount of monsters on the screen it never felt too difficult and the most that happens is you collect your XP and wake up in your apartment, ready to try again. Combat is a relatively simple affair. You have a quick and heavy attack a dodge and a changeable magic attack. Your tactics wont change drastically depending on who you are currently using. Overall I found the gameplay to be an enjoyable side part to the dating sim game.
The graphics and art design are really well done. Boyfriend Dungeon merges pixelated animations in the dunjs and around town while the story beats take a visual novel approach. Dateable characters are introduced by gorgeous hand drawn looking animated sequences showing off transformations. For me personally the stand out of the game was the music. I often times found myself more focused on that than anything else happening on screen and I think that is a big accomplishment. Supergiant games is probably the only other studio in recent memory to make me do that.
Before I go on with my final thoughts, I think I should briefly go over a bit of “controversy” the game had. I mentioned early the option to turn off the conversations from “Mom” as that could be triggering for some folks but upon release many people found themselves being bothered by an actual story element of the game and not being warned by it. Without getting into spoiler territory I can see why some people might find certain behaviors and actions included in the game to be traumatic based on personal experiences, but I honestly don’t think the game works as well without it. The message of the game is getting out there, facing your demons and hang ups and also has an important message about mental health and seeking help when needed. Without the big bad, the message doesn’t come through and the game is just about a bunch of really nice accepting people who happen to be weapons.
Overall I enjoyed my time in Boyfriend Dungeon. It was nice to see writing about people just being genuinely nice and supporting and I think we need a bit more games like that. It isnt a 100 hour epic game but it is one that I think is replay able based on choices you made and weapons who’ve met. I wholly recommend playing this before it disappears from Game Pass. I give Boyfriend Dungeon a 4/5