Date your weapons and dungeon crawl in this earnest and promising game.
Long before it was confirmed for Switch, I had an eye on Boyfriend Dungeon. The premise is high concept and crazy. This is a dungeon crawler mixed with a dating sim. You adventure around isometric dungeons while wielding weapons that can turn into humans that you date. You date your weapons. That’s what happens in Boyfriend Dungeon.
I felt like that gonzo idea was in the right hands, though. Developer Kitfox Games has a good track record with Moon Hunters and The Shrouded Isle, both games with out-there concepts that work well on a fundamental level. Moon Hunters is essentially a co-op personality test. The Shrouded Isle is a cult simulator. They’re both cool. Check them out on Switch (though when I played Moon Hunters, the Switch port was rough around the edges).
I finally sat down to play Boyfriend Dungeon’s demo at PAX East 2020 and what I played was a solid dungeon crawler with shades of promising gameplay variety. I had access to three weapons/suitors during the demo. There was Sunder, the eternally shirtless club owner who wields a curved sword, Valeria, the artist wielding a dagger, and Isacc, the wealthy guy wielding an epee. I also ran into Seven, a K-pop idol with a lasersaber, in my exploration, though sadly I did not get to wield the lasersaber. There’s also a cat who turns into brass knuckles, which is the platonic option if that’s more your speed.
Each of the three weapons I used had a specific and simple move set and combo system that appeared to upgrade as I leveled up. You crawl down floors in the “dunjs” (the in-universe slang term for dungeons) and at each floor, you can change weapons. Using weapons will increase your connection with the person that weapon is.
Outside of the dungeons, you go around a beachy locale from point to point to go on dates and talk with characters. While most of my time during the demo here was spent visiting Sunder at his club and stumbling into the bizarre moment where he turned into a sword while we were dancing until I responded with a confused reaction and he turned back into a humanoid being, the ease of moving about this area and engaging in a variety of sequences and conversations was pleasant.
What I enjoyed most of all out of Boyfriend Dungeon’s demo was how interconnected the dating sim and dungeon crawling appear to be. Both systems feed into each other. Going on successful dates will make dungeons easier; plowing through a dungeon with your beau will make the dates better. The ecosystem of this game seems to be well thought-out and interesting.
Boyfriend Dungeon will always be a preposterous concept at face value, but the earnestness that Kitfox Games is giving this idea is what makes me so intrigued. It’s a mashup of two genres both of which the developers seem to love, and that love transcends into the presentation and gameplay. It’s almost like, maybe, the team at Kitfox Games is romancing their own game while making a game about a player character romancing weapons.