Boyfriend Dungeon is unabashedly horny. It's full of leather-wearing lotharios, colorful-haired queer folx, and sexy businessmen - all of whom are specifically horny for you, the new person in town. They're all very interested in what you have to offer, sending you thirsty texts like the water droplet emoji and taking you out dancing at a club that feels like it belongs on True Blood. And you aren't just dating men in Boyfriend Dungeon, but people who exist all along the gender spectrum. As a bisexual woman, it's like a damn buffet.
Part dating sim, part roguelike, Boyfriend Dungeon drops you into Verona Beach, a California-esque city in the middle of hot girl summer. Create your character by choosing your name, style, and pronouns, then meet up with your cousin Jesse, who you haven't seen in a while. Jesse is a horny enabler and is determined to help you out of your shell so you can spread your wings like a slutty little butterfly. A slutterfly, if I may.
Jesse explains Verona Beach's - erm - interesting dynamic: many of its denizens transform into weapons that people wield to fight monsters that have taken over the mall. There's an allegory here for lovers turning into phallic objects that you can wield with relative impunity, but I'm not ready to unpack that just yet. Instead, let me tell you why Boyfriend Dungeon absolutely rocks.
Woman seeking weapon
The first weapon I'm introduced to is an estoc sword named Isaac, who is sophisticated and regal both as a person and as a sword. Isaac is also my dungeon (or dunj) trainer, and while I find the whole trainer/trainee dynamic pretty hot, I'm not a huge fan of the way the estoc handles in the dunj, as my accuracy isn't the best.
Shortly after a training sesh with Isaac, I meet Sunder, who looks like a punky version of the men on the cover of my grandma's smut novels. Sunder's weapon form is a curved sword called a talwar, which is all about doing damage to enemies that cause a slow bleed. However, it's still doesn't feel like the right fit for my gameplay style, and I find myself hesitating to bring him into the dunj.
The beauty of Boyfriend Dungeon is that fighting in the dunj will increase your love rank with each weapon, so your relationship will advance further the more you fight with each individual. Hitting a new love rank unlocks a new date, which will also give you a chance to climb up that love rank ladder by flirting and giving gifts. You can craft gifts like raspberry liqueur, cologne, and jewelry with resources you find in the dunj.
After just an hour or so of gameplay, I have three weapons at my disposal: Issac, Sunder, and a dagger named Valeria. My preference quickly becomes clear - Valeria's quick and sharp personality is how her weapon wields in the dunj, and our Love Rank hits level three before I even advance a single level with either Isaac or Sunder. As you advance along a weapon's five-tier skill tree, you can unlock new bonuses that make combat even easier - and Valeria's got the kind of perks I like. With her, I can roll away from enemies and temporarily confuse them, giving me a chance to jump in and hack away.
For a little while, I'm hesitant to use any other weapon in Boyfriend Dungeon. But then, I get far enough in the first dungeon to discover a new weapon: a lasersaber named Seven, who is also a K-Pop star. Seven's heavy attacks set out a chain of lightning that absolutely decimates the dungeon enemies, and I soon have a new favorite weapon - and boyfriend. (Seven is super hot).
Loving you is war
Boyfriend Dungeon showcases a keen understanding of the modern queer dating scene, which is a rare sight in video games. Even before you jump into the game, the main menu song - called 'Without a Weapon' - is crunchy queer electro-pop reminiscent of Charli XCX that you can't help but nod your head to.
Once you're ready to stop listening to the song on repeat, you create your character by choosing pronouns, but you can also choose whether or not you want to get messages from a person known as "mom," which could be a triggering thing for some players. You're also warned that you'll encounter some less-than-stellar behavior from some of your potential suitors - gaslight, gatekeep, girlboss kinda stuff.
The baggage that comes with these weapons may remind you of some of your past loves. Sunder gives off big fuckboy energy, Isaac has daddy issues, and Eric is an absolute nightmare. Eric is the first date you go on in Verona Beach, and he's a blacksmith. He's also a gaslighting, stalking, privileged little git. As I play through Boyfriend Dungeon, the mere sight of him gets me prickly with anger, so it's no surprise that he ends up being behind some sinister goings-on at VB.
Pretentious douche aside, the dating aspect of Boyfriend Dungeon is great. Most characters neatly fit into personality boxes, but there's an added layer of depth that's handled with a deft touch. Sunder is a womanizer, sure, but there's an internal struggle within him that he fleshes out more and more as you date. Valeria is prickly and a bit twitchy at first, but you discover that she's basically this universe's Banksy and has to keep her head on a swivel to avoid detection. Seven is closed off and at times even cold, but when he opens up about his clinical depression his walls melt away. It's him who I reach max love level with first, shouting "oh my god my K-pop boyfriend is so sexy" out to the living room, where my IRL partner is sitting.
In many ways, Boyfriend Dungeon creates space for players to frolic in a queer dating paradise. So much of my interactions with the various weapons of Verona Beach feel like real beats within a queer relationship. There's awkwardness, uncertainty, boundary-setting, and a fantastic moment when your mother waxes poetic about the merits of ethical non-monogamy.
Boyfriend Dungeon is fun, flirty, and refreshingly forward-thinking, the kind of game I wish I had access to when I was younger. Here's hoping there's DLC down the line because I'm not done fucking and fighting my way through Verona Beach just yet.
Boyfriend Dungeon is available right now on Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PC, and Nintendo Switch.