Boyfriend Dungeon Review
Do you play a lot of dating games? The answer is of surprising relevance when it comes to Boyfriend Dungeon. If you don’t, then this game will have some serious twists in store. They might even be too much, if the initial content warning gives you pause. If you’re an old hand at this simulated dating biz, you might find the whole thing a bit provincial. From a distance, BD sits in a sort of Goldilocks zone. Too much for some, not enough for others, maybe just right for you.
You play the newest arrival to Verona Beach, a seaside town focused on romance and also dungeons. Your pronouns and appearance are pretty fluid, giving you more freedom to play the game from ‘your’ perspective. This is slightly deceptive, as you’re still a version of you that’s been dragged into a bizarre world where nothing is more important than dating. Like Karate Kid, Roadhouse, or Over The Top, Verona Beach spins on a slightly different axis. Every meeting is a date, and every single holiday is a romantic one. Rather than a criticism, this is an observation meant to manage your expectations. Said expectations will likely differ depending on your experience with dating games.
Love Is In The Air
For example, dating games can get pretty intense. This medium is an opportunity to live out your fantasies, after all. Conversely, sometimes dating is uncomfortable – even scary. The content warning tries to give you a heads up (it’s even been modified since release day), but still! I’ve little experience in the wilder incarnations of these games, but cursory research suggests they can get pretty dark. So much so that some people would consider Boyfriend Dungeon sort of tame. Pardon the coy language, narrative games like this are just so spoiler sensitive. Beyond the mild content warnings, the stories of BD are better experienced than explained.
As I’m more well-versed in dungeon crawling, let’s dig into that. You’ve got nine different weapons to discover, which come with a wide variety of fighting styles. Sort of. Every sword slashes in a similar manner, but they each come with different bonuses and effects. The weapons do get stronger, but only as your relationship with them deepens. Thankfully, your own strength increases no matter who you hit the dunj with. Moreover, there’s no serious consequences for falling in battle. So you can just smash your head against a given problem until it’s solved. The story advances with your progress through the dungeons, so you always know what to do next. If you’re truly stuck, there’s a goddess shield option in the settings that boosts your defense by 50%. It’s super handy if you just want to focus on kissing swords.
On the kissing front, you’ve got a lot of options available. Some are nice, some are nasty, and all of them are beautiful. My playthrough was mostly focused on a single dagger, but apparently some of the weapons are poly? You can go on dates with everyone, but it eventually gets serious enough that dual wielding feels weird. I want to follow every path eventually, however. There’s so many sordid pasts to dig up, hands to hold, and blades to sharpen. This is the summer of love, after all.
Guys, Gals, and Nonbinary Pals
Any game that mixes genres like this has to make cuts somewhere. In this case, a little depth is traded for accessibility. While this isn’t the most complex dungeon crawler or dating sim, the final result is still quite satisfying. You’re given ample space to explore your violent and romantic impulses. The dating pool is both expansive and inclusive, with excellent writing to match. Though the combat gameplay loop is simple, it offers an engaging challenge with narrative relevance. On the other hand, each half of the gameplay can feel like a distraction from the other half. Maybe this is the price required when smashing two disparate systems together. Even if you end up missing the absent depth, the laid-back pace is a rewarding compensation. If only one-half of this mashup premise appeals to you, what you’re looking for may lie elsewhere. But if you’re looking to blend hacking, slashing, and smooching, Boyfriend Dungeon will be a perfect match.
***A Nintendo Switch code was provided by the publisher***
- Inclusive romance options
- Smart, snappy writing
- Intuitive combat controls
- Combat lacks depth
- Dating sim elements feel safe
- Gameplay loop almost too relaxed