They say love is a many-splendored thing, and there is perhaps no time in human history than right now when love, in all its shapes and forms, can be celebrated by so many people so freely. Of course, love extends beyond romantic love. We’re all capable of feeling deep, intimate attachments to places and songs and Funko pops. The world is made better by love no matter its shape, size, or intended target.
The trouble with loving things instead of people (and pets) is that it’s a one-way street. No matter how much you love your Pizza Hut Xbox One controller, it’ll never love you back. You’ll never know its moods, its personality, how it feels about the way you use it to slay Covenant or escape Hades. Even within games we love our special loadouts and argue fiercely over which particular weapon is the GOAT. But these things can never love us back.
Boyfriend Dungeon from Kitfox Games is an ambitious mash-up of two seemingly disparate genres, dungeon crawlers and dating sims, that lets us do what we’ve always secretly wanted to do: date a sword. It’s a novel concept that tickles your gamer bones right away. Dating sims are fun, dungeon crawlers are fun, let’s dive right in! Boyfriend Dungeon manages to marry the genres in workable fashion, albeit with some rough edges, to deliver something that’s unlike anything else out there.
The premise is a take on the typical vacation romance. You go visit a long-lost cousin in Verona City, a quaint little seaside spot. He explains that some people can transform into weapons (no big deal!), and people like you who carry them around are called “Wielders.” As a Wielder, you’ll take your dates into a dunj (dungeon). There are only two in the game: Verona Mall and La Rosa. But they’re both procedurally generated, so you’ll face some new challenges each time you go back with one of your dates.
There are seven total “swordfriends” in the game (with two more in the works), and you’ll spend a lot of time interacting with them via text messages as you explore romantic locales before heading into a dunj to get physical.
That physically isn’t amorous; It’s violent as you confront manifestations of your insecurities. As you build your relationship with your different dates through a combination of fighting, flirting, and gift-giving, you’ll unlock new skills and abilities to use with them. Eventually, you’ll find a favorite that fits your playstyle and/or your personal taste.
Boyfriend Dungeon does a lot of things right for such a tricky undertaking.
The character animations as they transform from person to sword are amazing. The visual style is terrific. You enjoy 2D postcard-esque scenes as you explore Verona Beach in your looking-for-romance civilian life, then transition into top-down 3D dungeon crawl mode when you hit a dunj. It works really well. So does the dialogue. There are lots of pithy responses and natural flows to the flirty conversations with a heavy dose of deliberately cringe humor to keep you chuckling.
Overall, Boyfriend Dungeon is a delight, but it does have some shortcomings. Namely, an overly aggressive villain whose behavior can be a bit uncomfortable for anyone with a bad relationship history (the game does try to warn you about this with a disclaimer).
It can also be quite short, with a quick playthrough coming in around four hours. However, this is also what makes it a perfect game for Xbox Game Pass. You can dive in on a Friday, spend your weekend romancing the blades, and start your next week with a new appreciation for what it means to live, love, laugh, and stab things.
Boyfriend Dungeon is available now on Xbox Game Pass. It’s also for sale on Switch, Playstation and PC.