Kitfox Games’ Boyfriend Dungeon is a dungeon crawler dating-sim, where you can date your weapons. While it does sound like a very strange combination and a bit ridiculous, the different genres combined work well together. But is the game actually good?
The player, during the summer break, is allowed to stay at his/her/their cousin’s apartment as your cousin is moving in with his partner and there is still a month of the lease left. You’re apparently a long way from home and have the option to receive messages from your ‘Mom’ every so often, which simply allows for you to receive sweet messages of a family member checking in on you and asking how you are.
Graphically, when conversing with your romantic interests, the characters are displayed in a hand-drawn colourful art style, however, when visiting the dungeons, your character is seen as a small non-gendered avatar that you can customise with different hair styles, colours and outfits. The art of the romantic interests are stylish and very attractive, plus the animations shown of these characters transforming is stunning. The music is also incredibly catchy and could easily be played on a top charting playlist. The dungeons are pretty simple to get used to and manoeuvre around. You can pick only one weapon to take with you when you initially enter the dungeon, but you are able to change between your weapons every time you start on a new floor.
I did enjoy the idea of being able to turn on and off the option to receive messages from your ‘Mom’. I would have liked an option to change this character to any other family member, because having been on the receiving end of these messages, I understand not receiving them would change the narrative completely. Perhaps one would like to receive a message from their dad, auntie, uncle or sister instead? Because while not everyone has a mom, they also should not receive the short end of the stick when opting out completely because there are no other options.
I wanted to know more about the lore on how only some of humanity had the ability to turn into weapons. Was this limited to Verona Beach, the state, the country or did something happen in the world for things to be changed this way? Is the game set in a completely different universe where this is normal and somewhat hereditary? Boyfriend Dungeon doesn’t go into the details and pretty much just tells the player via the main character’s cousin Jesse, that ‘this is just the way things are’. The concept does seem a bit new to our main character and perhaps the whole idea of dating weapons is something that doesn’t normally happen back at home.
I also found myself in the end left with items that I never got to use and gift. I would have liked to have had some items summon certain suitors for unique dating opportunities, completely unrelated to simply levelling up, which was how one would normally activate a following one-on-one event. Like certain items only matching certain characters and triggering a date, at the opera, ballet or a concert. Instead, while you could buy these things, triggering a unique date did not exist and simply was a waste of in-game money.
While I do applaud KitFox Games for being very socially forward allowing for female and non-binary options to be included in the line-up of romantic interests and weapons, as well as the freedom for the player to choose their pronouns, I must say that I am disappointed that the relationship between all the characters is all surface level and very stereotypical. Just when you think you’re getting started and getting to know your love interest/s on a deeper level, Jesse reminds you that your time is running out and you’re going to go home soon. There is no calendar or time shown to display how many days you have left and game is over just as quickly as you began. Also, for a game focusing on dungeon crawling, there are only two dungeons. That’s right, two. And considering there were various places on the map with titles, I expected more. I guess on the plus side, you can romance every character option without consequence. Are you cheating and dating more than one? Who cares! They will never know because the game never addresses this either.
The game also provides an overall stalky, harassment plot line, and while this is uncomfortable, the game does provide a disclaimer in the beginning to warn the player of this. When the story plays out, it makes sense why this narrative was used, but even so – it could have been done much better. How come our character can wield weapons in the dungeon, but can’t really stand up for themselves when being harassed? Only at the end does this stalker narrative come to a conclusion, but it does so in a way that doesn’t really punish the bully.
The biggest disappointment though, is the narrative for character Seven. He is a K-Pop idol who wants to leave the band to have a solo career or form a duo with one of his band members. It is clear that KitFox Games did not do any research on K-Pop, because normally artists do not have to leave the band to go solo or form a unit. If you have been to a K-Pop concert before, then you would know that they always allow for the members to perform as units or have their turn to perform a solo number. K-Pop groups normally actively release solo or unit performances while remaining in the band. Although it may be usual in the Western Music Industry for those wanting to go solo or form a duo to leave the band, this is not the case at all in K-Pop, and these projects are simply used to help promote the band further, while also letting these individual artists have their creative freedom and chance to shine.
Overall, while Boyfriend Dungeon is indeed fun, it sadly feels more like a demo than a full game. If you’re curious about the game and don’t mind a very short game that doesn’t go into any detail, by all means, purchase it (or you can wait for a discount to justify the price) to help support this indie developer. Maybe you can encourage them to do better. However, for a dungeon crawler dating-sim with only two dungeons and super shallow stereotypical relationships with no depth, one would think that the concept is better than the execution.
Boyfriend Dungeon is available now on Nintendo Switch, XBox X/S, XBox Game Pass and PC via Steam.
A copy of the game was provided as a gift by a reader for the purpose of this review.