HomeReviews3.5/5 ReviewBoyfriend Dungeon: Secret Weapons Review

Boyfriend Dungeon: Secret Weapons Review

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It’s been a year since Boyfriend Dungeon launched, and it’s as fresh in our memory as when we first played it. That’s testament to the character designs and the quality of their writing. Some of our finest gaming moments in 2021 were hanging with Pocket the Cat who turns into brass knuckles, Isaac the suave businessman who transforms into a fencing foil, and Valeria, the feisty artist who converts into a dagger. It was a shame that it all had to end.

It was also memorable to us because it was a game of two halves – the dating sim and the dungeon-crawling – that shouldn’t have complimented each other, but did. Although, one half was far superior to the other: the dating sim stuff absolutely sang, somehow using the weapon-transformation to discuss topics of submission and domination to great effect. But the dungeon crawling was meh. The combat felt slippy, and there just wasn’t a huge amount of variety from dungeon to dungeon. 

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All of this makes the proposition of some new DLC – and free DLC, at that – a fascinating proposition. Would Kitfox Games take the opportunity to address the imbalance, bringing some quality to the inferior stabby-stabby bits? Would there be a chance to spend more time with our favourite characters? And would the new additions meet the quality of the old? The answers are no, kind of, and yes. 

First of all, something of a caveat. Boyfriend Dungeon: Secret Weapons DLC is both well-timed and poorly timed. It’s well-timed in the sense that it’s a piece of anniversary DLC, celebrating one year of Boyfriend Dungeon. It’s badly timed, because, only a couple of weeks ago, Boyfriend Dungeon was removed from Game Pass. If you completed it for free, you’ve now got a decision to make: do you invest in it just to play the DLC? We’re not cynical enough to believe that the free DLC was timed to exploit its ejection off Game Pass (it’s the game’s birthday after all), but that doesn’t stop it from being unfortunate timing for a lot of players. 

On our shopping list for Boyfriend Dungeon DLC, right at the top, was a desire for combat improvements. To its credit, Boyfriend Dungeon: Secret Weapons does come with a new Verona College dungeon. It’s full of aggressive and animated pianos, pens and staplers (gah, the frigging staplers!), and it abides by the Boyfriend Dungeon template of a long sequence of mob-filled levels, punctuated by elevator levels (so that you can skip to those floors on a subsequent playthrough) with a boss at the end of it all. 

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But try as we might to find an improvement or reinvigoration of the combat, it’s just not there. This is more of the same, when, arguably, we didn’t need more. The other dungeons in Boyfriend Dungeon are replayable, and there’s very little to distinguish them from Verona College. For about fifteen minutes, Verona College feels new. Then it merges into the rest.

On the plus side, it did let us mop up some old achievements. The College allowed us to discover our final recipes and clothing in its many treasure-chest-like safes (it might be us, but the College feels both more difficult and more rewarding), causing some hefty achievements to pop. That’s on top of the new achievements that the Boyfriend Dungeon: Secret Weapons introduces. Our Trueachievements score has never looked so healthy. 

So no band-aid for the game’s biggest flaw, then. Which moves us onto our next question: does Boyfriend Dungeon: Secret Weapons DLC represent a chance to re-meet the team, perhaps woo them all over again? As mentioned, kind of, not really, a little bit. There’s no level cap increase for your characters, which would have made this DLC a doozy. As a result, there’s no real reason to dive into the new dungeon with old amores. They are capped out, and it’s far more efficient and sensible to bring the DLC’s three new weapons with you. 

As a half-apology, there are Conversations. When you’re in the game’s map mode, you might spot two of the cast next to each other on a given location. You can approach them and get a little, nicely observed chinwag between the characters – enough to remember why you loved them in the first place (there’s a surplus of Pocket the Cat, which we will not argue with). But they quickly get exhausted and they don’t really do anything. They hand you additional relationship XP, but – if you’re like us – you will have maxed that out long ago. 

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Luckily, Kitfox Games haven’t forgotten how to make a lovable character that you might want to snuggle up with and share a hot chocolate. Our favourite is Leah the Hammer, an ice skater with a career-scuppering injury, who’s scrabbling about in an attempt to find a new vocation. Her character artwork is great, and her writing even more so. We were goading her on to find a new career, and had a great time wishing her luck. Jonah the Axe is probably our second favourite, let down by slightly out-of-proportion art and a propensity for self-deprecation. It’s all horses for courses: you might connect with someone completely different, like the end-of-game boss and final character, Dr Holmes the Whip. 

They have their own attack styles of course, with Jonah dabbling in some stun-based attacks and Leah pummelling enemies into walls, but we found them to all be a tad slow. Perhaps it’s us, and how set in our ways that we are, but we found ourselves returning to our old favourites to defeat Dr Holmes. We weren’t going to complete the fiendish new dungeon without them. 

But what disappointed us most about the Boyfriend Dungeon: Secret Weapons DLC is that we ended in much the same manner that we ended the main game. We found ourselves at an end, wishing there was more. There’s nothing in the DLC that opens Boyfriend Dungeon up to repeatable, infinite play. It’s as finite as before, and we found ourselves at the end after a few hours, wishing there was a slab more of it. We just wanted a few more moments with some old friends. 

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There’s a voice in the back of our heads, calling us entitled for griping at some free DLC. This is more than we possibly could have expected, and Kitfox Games should be celebrated for not slapping a price tag on (even if there’s no Game Pass presence to sweeten the deal). It must have been tempting to cash in. 

If you love Boyfriend Dungeon, this is a no-brainer. It’s more of what you might want: more characters (all as well-observed as the others), a new dungeon, some new cosmetics and some conversations with old friends. And it’s free! 

But ‘more of what you might want’ is part of the problem. Boyfriend Dungeon needed surgery on its combat, and fans would have bitten Kitfox’s hands off for a level cap increase or something – anything – which made it more replayable. 

There’s a reunion feel to Boyfriend Dungeon: Secret Weapons. It’s an evening or two of reacquaintance; a celebration of what made the game so fun in the first place. But we hoped it might have been the rekindling of a longer, deeper relationship. We got a tear in our eye all over again, as we deleted it – for a second time – from the hard drive. 

You can buy Boyfriend Dungeon from the Xbox Store. The DLC is entirely free.

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