I’m left with complicated feelings about Boyfriend Dungeon. It’s a game I unequivocally enjoyed for its heartfelt love stories, absolutely bonkers premise of dating people who could change into a wieldable weapon, and that I could use my sword beau to fight my demons in the aforementioned Boyfriend Dungeon. But man, it ended just as I was getting into the groove.
Boyfriend Dungeon is the kind of game that starts out great and confidently gives you everything it said it would in the pitch. But then it ends so abruptly I felt like I had to entertain myself with what I could wring out of it. The dating sim side of Kitfox’s unlikely genre mashup is easily the most fleshed-out side of things, and I found myself falling for characters like Isaac the estoc, and at least found characters who I was less interested in pursuing romantically compelling enough to see their routes through. Whether that be the elusive but magnetic Sunder, or the cryptic Rowan. Even when the game is leaning into its ludicrous premise of baes that turn into blades, the relationships are grounded in the human side of things.
The dating is fun on its own, but I was pleasantly surprised at how it was interwoven with an overarching story that, to my disbelief, leaned into some of the body horror undertones of its shape-shifting premise that was always lingering just beneath the surface. Boyfriend Dungeon isn’t afraid to actually interrogate what might just seem like a silly premise to let you date and dungeon crawl in one game, and I enjoyed the ways it went dark in the midst of all the absurdity.
As I mentioned in my preview, I still think Isaac was my favorite relationship, but there’s still a lot to love on the dating side of Boyfriend Dungeon that makes it a solid enough dating sim on its own. But I was surprised by how much I also enjoyed the dungeon side of things alongside dating the hot weapons I wielded.
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Boyfriend Dungeon is built on the trial and error of the roguelite genre, along with the build crafting that keeps that trial and error fresh. The dungeons you and your weaponized suitor serve a dating sim function as well, as you’ll find safe zones to stop, chat, and build upon your relationship. As such, I ended up focusing most of my build around wielding Isaac, as this was a chance to not just define a playstyle, but also keep the romance alive even in the dark depths of a dungeon made to represent my deepest fears. And man, what’s here absolutely whips. It’s fast-paced, stylish, and all set to the banger of a soundtrack by Marskye, with vocal tracks by Madeleine McQueen that I’m still listening to outside of Boyfriend Dungeon’s city of Verona Beach. The dungeons that are here are fun, Persona-esque spins on capturing a real-life fear and making it into an entire dungeon with enemies that embody those same anxieties.
The problem? There are only two of them. Reaching an actual conclusion explaining why these dungeons exist at the end of the second felt like running straight into a wall with my sword raised, expecting to find something else to fight behind it. I can go back to these dungeons any time I want, and they’re procedurally generated so they’re never exactly the same, but I was hoping to see more of Boyfriend Dungeon experimenting with its symbolism between all the dates and the debauchery.
I thoroughly enjoyed just about everything about Boyfriend Dungeon. It’s sweet when it needs to be, silly when it wants to be, and satisfying in the way it brings together dating and dungeons. But I’m left with a lingering feeling that it’s missing something. I can handle a short game, but Boyfriend Dungeon just feels like it’s throwing in the towel just as things are heating up. Its dating sim storylines stand on their own, but I guess I was hoping for a little more Dungeon with my Boyfriend in the end.