Sometimes, a return trip can be comforting. Players of the dungeon-crawling visual novel Boyfriend Dungeon have a chance to experience that comfort firsthand with its Secret Weapons expansion, heading back to Verona Beach to hang out with weapon friends/suitors. Are the new additions from this free DLC worth more time with the game? If you enjoyed playing Boyfriend Dungeon previously, then the answer to that question is a resounding yes! Even for relative newcomers, this update certainly adds more-than-welcome content to peruse during a first playthrough.
In Boyfriend Dungeon, you completely customize your character, including preferred pronouns, as you visit cousin Jesse in the sleepy beachside community of Verona Beach. The game’s world is pretty similar to our own, save that some people are born with the ability to transform into living weapons. A few others, while lacking this transformative ability themselves, are capable of wielding said living weapons. These individuals can enter dunjs, the game’s term for dungeons. Dunjs become monstrous representations of the fears connected to a specific place. You just so happen to be a wielder, so you explore the various dunjs of Verona Beach for quick cash and resources while building up rapport with the weapons you come across, potentially developing deeper friendships or romances with them. In my review of the base game, I found the crafting and dungeon-crawling elements to be a bit on the simplistic side, but I adored the game’s creative premise, its various VN elements, and the believably likable characters you come to know when playing. Simply put, Boyfriend Dungeon is a charmingly clever dating sim roguelike with a great cast.
The Secret Weapons expansion adds two new potential suitors to your living weapons arsenal: Jonah the Axe and Leah the Hammer. Jonah and Leah both join your dunj-exploring adventures in the same way as other suitors, alongside a brand new optional dunj to explore featuring a final boss and potential confidant: Doctor Holmes the Whip. With both Leah and Jonah, this means taking them to dunjs to build up your bond, going on dates when prompted, and giving them gifts they might like to increase their affection levels. By doing so, they’ll gain new abilities/attacks for their weapon forms. You fight Dr. Holmes in a boss fight at the final level of the new dunj to begin a bond with her. Afterward, you can initiate a date and gift-giving with her similar to the other romanceable characters. You just can’t bring her into battle.
The expansion exists as a side story to the main plot. You can begin it during a new playthrough of Boyfriend Dungeon or by continuing from an autosave after you beat the game. This is because you can play through the final battle of the main storyline with any character you’ve achieved Rank 6 affection with after having beaten the game once. Jonah will contact you about meeting up again sometime after Jesse’s barbecue event, and your cousin’s fiancée soon gets in touch with you about a missing professor and the local college becoming a dunj as well. When exploring the new area, you come across Leah in her hammer form. Playing through the optional dunj to the final level gives you a few new reasons to celebrate too!
The Verona College dunj has nine levels, with the ninth devoted to the boss fight against Holmes. Because of the academic setting and the boss’ occupation, the dunj’s enemies all have a scholarly design: grading pens that constantly throw failing grades at you, projectile-shooting staplers, and chomping desks — everything creatively fits into the university aesthetic. The challenge shouldn’t be too daunting if you’ve already completed the game or cleared some of the other dunjs. Fortunately, advancing as far as you can each dunj run is as helpful as always in that you acquire all sorts of resources and experience points without really having to worry about the penalty of a game over. It makes for an oddly calming dungeon crawl experience, giving you plenty of time before and during runs to bond with your weapon friend/suitor of choice. Teleportation spheres help you strategize and get to different points on the map quickly, while the final boss fight against Holmes is a two-stage affair that charges you with surviving against drones and lasers and fending off quick whip attacks. Avoiding heavy damage during the Holmes fight does require tactical thinking, but overall it is a fun boss battle that you can repeat as many times as you need to fully clear it. Doing so also helps if you’re interested in increasing your bond with Holmes in particular.
After completing the Verona College dunj and seeing all the extra story content associated with it (I will refrain from saying more to avoid spoilers), you progress through the main plot as normal. Once you acquire Jonah and Leah, you can bring them to explore other dunjs or even fight the final boss battle of the main story if you’ve reached Rank 6 with one of them, allowing you to view an expanded ending that adds them and even Holmes (if you’ve unlocked her). I reached the conclusion wielding Leah, but I felt that all three new weapon characters were wonderful additions to the roster with neat storylines to see developed.
Aside from the added story content with the three new characters and dunj, the expansion also includes extra conversations you can view between all of the weapons characters. Not only does this add further insight into the cast as a whole as they interact with one another, it also slightly increases affection levels for the people involved. This can help you unlock even more date scenes with characters you might not yet have maxed out affection with. Since I’d beaten the game beforehand with Seven and Valeria at Rank 6, I saw date scenes I hadn’t for Sawyer, Pocket, and Rowan while maxing out Holmes, Leah, and Jonah’s affection levels. This serves as a great reminder of how much I enjoy the individual character arcs in Boyfriend Dungeon! Speaking of Pocket, this DLC marks the first time players get to actually meet his owner, Tank, face-to-face! I love the designs for all three of the new weapons, as well as Jesse’s fiancé Samantha, Leah’s former skating partner Carlos, and Tank too. They blend in wonderfully with the rest of the game’s characters and art direction. The new music for the expansion is as excellent as the rest of the soundtrack. I especially like the new vocal track “Whipped into Shape” that plays during the boss battle against Holmes.
If you previously enjoyed playing Boyfriend Dungeon, I feel that the Secret Weapons expansion is a no-brainer. Not only is it free, but it adds three new interesting and likable characters to the cast while providing excellent extra story and dunj content. It’s an excuse to lose yourself once more in a colorful, fun world, even if only for a little while. That said, this DLC certainly won’t convince anyone who wasn’t already a Boyfriend Dungeon fan to think any differently of the game. For those who just want an excuse to go see some old (and new!) friends in Verona Beach, though? Secret Weapons is sure to bring a fond smile to your face.