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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
The dating element offers a progressive outlook, with potential for relationships to span various sexualities and participants with a range of gender identifications. The story also touches lightly upon timely concepts such as consent and stalking, with one date showing caution and hesitancy, and another seemingly not knowing how to take a hint to stop texting and flirting.
Positive Role Models
The protagonist can be customized in terms of gender, pronouns, and skin tone, and optional starting outfits include a turban and a hijab, which should make it fairly easy for most players to create an analogue of themselves should they desire. The protagonist's personality is left up to the player, who can choose to be flirty, friendly, rude, or off-putting around others. Other characters include a mix of personality traits that include humility and egotism, bashfulness and overconfidence, caution and bravado. They're all pretty well rounded and relatable.
The player can select skin tones, pronouns, and specific cultural garb such as a hijab or turban when creating their avatar. Other characters in the game, including key romantic interests, are visibly diverse in both race and gender identity.
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Ease of Play
Combat is mostly a matter of jamming a couple of attack buttons and dodging, so it never gets too tough. If/when you do perish in battle, you don't lose much progress and you get to keep everything you earned. There's no failing the dating side of things. Players simply choose responses from a limited list of dialogue choices which can take conversations and relationships in a variety of directions.
Violence & Scariness
The player's character uses a variety of bladed weapons to attack unusual fantasy creatures such as living cell phones and TVs (they're meant to represent the hero's insecurities). Action is viewed from a raised perspective, and there's no blood or gore. Enemies simply disappear once defeated.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The player's character dates several other characters -- male, female, and non-binary -- many of whom have the power to transform themselves into weapons. Dates involve light flirting, dancing, shopping, drinking, gift giving, and combating monsters. Clever double entendres run throughout, and some dates end with sex implied ("…the next morning"), but nothing explicit's discussed or shown. One of the male beaus likes to show off his chiseled abs.
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Spoken and text dialogue has infrequent profanity, including the word "s--t."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The player's character can craft vodka and give it as a gift to potential suitors. Some scenes take place in a nightclub, and characters discuss "going for drinks."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Boyfriend Dungeon is a downloadable dungeon crawling dating sim for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows PCs. The fully customizable protagonist is spending the summer in a new city going on lots of dates with people who can transform into swords. They also occasionally venture into dungeons inside a mall and a nightclub where they wield their dates in weapon form, fighting manifestations of their insecurities in the shape of animated cell phones and TVs. There's no blood or gore, and the player's character is never killed, just knocked out. The dating sim elements are designed with inclusivity and diversity in mind, allowing players to choose the hero's sexuality, gender, and pronouns, as well as access culturally aware clothing -- such as a turban and a hijab -- right away. It also touches on important topics such as consent (one date is wary of being unexpectedly touched) and stalking (another doesn't stop texting and flirting after being told explicitly to stop). Beyond dungeon dates, romance includes going dancing, shopping, and drinking at a nightclub, with some rendezvous ending with the implication that sex happened, though it's never shown or described. Parents should also be aware that text dialogue includes occasional profanity, including the word "s--t."
Is It Any Good?
Despite a valiant attempt to combine genres, this one feels better suited for fans of dating sims than dungeon crawlers. Boyfriend Dungeon's combat is merely serviceable, lacking much in the way of creativity or variation beyond the fact that weapons are also dates. While each of the game's nine weapons has its own speed, range, and flare, combat basically comes down to mashing the light and heavy attack buttons and then occasionally dodge-rolling when things get too hairy. Dungeon levels are blissfully short and combat is pretty straightforward, but that doesn't stop the hacking and slashing from feeling pretty same-y. After an hour or so, battles become less about the thrill of the fight and more about whatever rewards you may reap, such as experience, item recipes, and crafting supplies.
Combat is, of course, also a way to level up relationships with the people-weapons you're dating. That said, it's generally more fun to grow these romances the old fashioned way, by going on dates with the weapons in their human form. You'll get to know them and they'll get to know you based on the choices you make in dialogue, and there are some compelling and potentially conversation-starting metaphors made along the way, such as the difference between being a weapon or being a wielder of a weapon. The progressive themes regarding gender, sexuality, and consent, and the game's focus on cultivating relationships rather than simply donning sexy clothes and hooking up help elevate the dating simulation part of the experience above what we tend to see in most such games, though there's a bit of a disconnect in that your dates don't seem to mind you seeing as many other romantic interests as you like. Boyfriend Dungeon may not completely deliver on the second half of its name, but the romance is fun, creative, and doesn't venture into anything explicit.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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