Boyfriend Dungeon is a game I have had my thirsty little heart from the moment I learned that you can romance everyone with pretty much no consequence. But while I started my playthrough focused on romancing every dang anthropomorphic sword I came across, I ended up holding back, learning from the characters, and learning about myself in the process. Developed and published by Kitfox Games, Boyfriend Dungeon is equal parts dungeon crawler and dating sim. With the option to date up to seven weapons—and the encouragement to (we’ll get to that later)—Boyfriend Dungeon pushes the envelope when it comes to romance, inclusivity, and ultimately love.
In Boyfriend Dungeon, your character has gone to live with your cousin. Perpetually single, and have never been on a date, your cousin plays matchmaker as he helps you explore a world of dungeons in the process. And that’s it! The premise of Boyfriend Dungeon really isn’t all that complicated. That said, it’s the execution and thoughtful choices in storytelling and immersion that help make the game stand apart in a genre largely focused on banging.
While I very much want to dive into the game’s unique mechanics, we have to talk about the premise and the deliberate choices to make this dating sim, dungeon crawler work for players from different identities. Right off the bat, there are no gender restrictions on who you can romance, and the roster of characters is not only diverse in race and gender but body type as well. But before you start your journey through dunjs (dunj is the in-game term for dungeons) you have to create your character. While simplistic in nature, you have the choice of name, skin and hair color, and pronouns. Offering players to express their gender as they see fit and be referred to as such in the game.
But the next choice Kitfox Games made is one that you may not have thought of—it lets you turn off messages from “Mom.” While this may not seem like a big deal, very quickly, Boyfriend Dungeon creates a level of intimacy and closeness between you and its characters by communicating directly through text messages and giving the choice to respond from preselected texts. This isn’t just a present from mom, but a connection to the character. In truth, the texting mechanic is one of the strongest elements of Boyfriend Dungeon, with dialogue that was crafted to create character types that we all have either dated or told our friends to ghost before. While it is true that the more you romance each weapon, the more they level up their power in battle, which means you should probably pick one to focus on, it wasn’t my playstyle in combat that dictated who I kept romancing. No. It was the text messages.
Like real people, the way characters treat you when you’re face to face with them can be different from texting. While you have good conversations in person and thirst over their designs, when that text message comes through, things can change. And that was my experience with Eric specifically. A character that exudes possibly cute guy you might corrupt on his first meeting (he looks like a character in manwha I’ve read who was just that), the moment he begins texting you he becomes the epitome of a fuck boi but with even more sinister intentions. He’s aggressive, doesn’t know when to back off, and badmouths your cousin. He is frustrating, to say the least, and I dropped my goal of romancing everyone by the wayside after the second texting situation because he made me angry. And that’s the beauty of Boyfriend Dungeon. Sure, the beauty is also quite literally the extremely thirsty character designs, double entendres, and magical girl transformation from sword to human. But it’s really the thoughtful way that Kitfox Games has focused on delivering the thirst and a player experience that pushes towards connection.
This connection is also a stunning achievement for the game because it isn’t all about romance and a summer fling. In fact, you can play through Boyfriend Dungeon by seeking out strong platonic love just as much as the sexual kind. You can be friends, lovers, and push back against characters you don’t like. While this works to make the game and its characters dynamic, it also offers a vital inclusivity element for Ace players, the same way it allows for same-sex and non-binary romances as well.
Additionally, your phone is just as vital as your weapons. Through texts and communications with your cousin Jesse, you receive story updates. But that also means that if you get distracted by all the selfies of swords in your DMs from Sunder (oh I love that man), you can easily fall off of Boyfriend Dungeon’s main plot’s progression which is facilitated by communicating with Jesse.
Moving into combat, there are multiple playstyles you can choose and they’re each tied to a weapon. While the game doesn’t punish you for dying, and at some points encourages it to scale properly, finding out the most effective way to play is important. Being a dungeon crawler, the rouguelite elements can become frustrating if you’re not accepting it—like I was at first. That said, as you find new weapons, saving them from abductions mostly, you get to see what works best for you. While you may be pursuing one weapon, their style of combat may not work well for you which will push you into a choice. Continue the romance, or focus on a weapon that does. Thankfully, I was attracted to every character (except for Eric, who isn’t a weapon anyway so nothing lost there) which at least made exploring those initial connections easy to do.
Additionally, with procedurally generated action-combat, the dunj stays engaging and never feels repetitive. And when you want to take a break, you can just start your character interactions up which offers the player a nice reprieve. This is especially important for those who may pick up the game for the dating sim elements and not the combat ones. That said, the hack-and-slash combat is fun for the most part and the weapon and combat variety also balances the game for players looking for good dungeon-crawling mechanics as well.
Overall, Boyfriend Dungeon is the perfect combo of thirsty and thoughtful. Whether it’s the deliberate decision to embrace an inclusive gameplay experience or the choice to use the characters you meet to explore insecurities and then fight those fears in the dunj, this game succeeds in hitting the feels. With beautiful art and animated sequences (I reiterate, these swords have magical girl transformations), the game visually succeeds. And with a story that pushes connection and empathy, the narrative content also earns a perfect score. Boyfriend Dungeon is a hybrid game that works from start to finish.
Boyfriend Dungeon is available now on Nintendo Swith, Xbox, and PC.
- Rating - 10/1010/10
Boyfriend Dungeon is the perfect combo of thirsty and thoughtful. Whether it’s the deliberate decision to embrace an inclusive gameplay experience or the choice to use the characters you meet to explore insecurities and then fight those fears in the dunj, this game succeeds in hitting the feels.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.