I’d actually missed the Kickstarter for Kitfox Games’ game Boyfriend Dungeon, and was eagerly waiting for the game to be released. I had all but screamed out loud when the game dropped and I had the chance to write about it.
When you land in Verona Beach for the Summer, you are a person that isn’t very close to anyone. In a bid to help you, your mother has sent you to your cousin Jesse’s to make connections, and perhaps find love. Jesse immediately sends you into the game’s first dungeon (“the dunj”) — to meet a friend that will assist you in training.
Boyfriend Dungeon gives me the ability to customise my character: clothes, pronouns, and name. What I loved about this was the ability to change any of these at any time I chose — an exploration of gender and clothing.
The trip into the depths of the mall leads to another sword-person — the Talwar, Sunder. He has no clue as to why he’s several floors underground, passed out. He leaves me and Isaac, and once we’re done dunj-ing, Isaac transforms back into a human. Each sword-person has a transformation sequence, no doubt reminiscent of Soul Eater. With Valeria the dagger, I soon catch glimpses of her human life — late-night graffiti as part of a famous trio.
My personal favourites were Seven and Pocket the cat. The former — a K-Pop star turned lasersaber — drew attention on dates, and Pocket was simply a joy to be around. The writing for Boyfriend Dungeon is smart and snappy, with a liberal sprinkling of puns. What’s more is the character of “Mom”, whose task is to send me supportive text messages. There is the option to turn off her messages in the beginning of the game, and I think that’s an important addition in showing the nature of consent.
The battle system in both dunjs was pretty simple and intuitive, though it got a little repetitive after a while. Breaks with my chosen sword-person were the highlights — I got to play the arcade game Moon Hunters (a Kitfox Games release) with Seven, and bat a ball around for Pocket. These gave glimpses into their personality and lives, which was further emphasised by the dates we went on.
As I dove deeper into the story, Jesse had since set me up with Eric — a handsome bespectacled blond who runs the shop Naked Steel. I had no prior knowledge of him being a villain, so his good looks set my heart aflutter. Only when I had left his shop, was I reminded that evil could manifest in more ways than one. His oddly incessant texts were reminiscent of certain people I’d known, and right then I knew that his role in the story wouldn’t be a pleasant one.
This only escalated further at a BBQ that Jesse had invited me to. Alongside Seven, it soon became apparent that Eric’s obsession for me was morphing into stalking. The writers did a great job of writing his rather slimy purple prose.
Being able to turn him down then felt good, but hitting the climax of the story meant that I had to deal with him sooner or later. After refusing to kiss him and smile, I am treated to a scene that women face far too often in real life — the man who won’t take “no” for an answer. At this point, I only hoped that my character could scrape past without being hurt.
Although the latter half of the story was extremely uncomfortable to play through, the final arc made me feel a certain sense of satisfaction. You’d rarely get such a degree of closure in real life as my character did in Boyfriend Dungeon.
All in all, Boyfriend Dungeon is a weirdly wonderful game — wonderful character design, quirky dates, a solid soundtrack (Verona Beach Nights, anyone?), and the core message: Learning to overcome our fears. I look forward to seeing more from this game and its creators.