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Xbox X018 Recap: Everything You Need to Know

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As part of a global celebration of all things Xbox, Microsoft’s 2018 fan event was held in Mexico City this weekend and featured plenty of exciting announcements. Perhaps the biggest news of the two hour live event was Microsoft’s intent to acquire two new studios with storied histories. X018 also featured a lineup of upcoming titles including a first-look at Crackdown 3’s multiplayer mode, and new content from Just Cause 4, Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2, to name a few. Here’s a full recap of every announcement made.

Blockbuster Games

Microsoft debuted a new trailer for Battlefield V highlighting Xbox One X enhancements, provided a first look at Devil May Cry 5’s Void Mode, revealed two new fighters joining the Jump Force roster, debuted a new CGI cinematic trailer for Just Cause 4, and revealed the return of Winnie the Pooh in a brand-new Kingdom Hearts III trailer

Crackdown 3: Wrecking Zone Multiplayer

X018 provided a first look at the over-the-top antics and explosive gameplay of Crackdown 3’s Wrecking Zone, an all-new multiplayer mode where environmental destruction is your secret weapon to take down your enemies. Developed by Microsoft Studios in collaboration with Sumo Digital and Elbow Rocket, Crackdown 3 will bring super-powered Agents to New Providence, an action-packed open-world, to take down a criminal corporation using an explosive set of weapons and abilities.

Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment Join Microsoft Studios

Matt Booty announced Microsoft’s intent to acquire two game development studios – Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment. According to Microsoft, “These two creative teams will continue to operate autonomously and bring their unique talents, IP and expertise to Microsoft Studios as they build new RPG experiences for our players and fans. You can learn more about Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment in our full announcement post here. 

Also revealed was the One X enhanced versions of Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIII-2, and Final Fantasy XIII, mouse and keyboard support for Xbox One and the Xbox Adaptive Controller will launch in new markets worldwide.

View the rest of announcements from Microsoft’s official press release below.

Take a Trip to Fortune Island in Forza Horizon 4

Ben Thaker-Fell, Chief Designer of the Forza Horizon series, announced the first expansion for Forza Horizon 4, “Fortune Island”, which will release on Dec. 13 on Xbox and Windows 10 PCs. “Fortune Island” takes players on an all-new adventure in the remote northern reaches of the British Isles, where they will encounter extreme conditions including fierce lightning storms, perilous cliffside dirt roads, and sweeping paved mountain switchbacks under the mystical glow of the aurora borealis in search of hidden treasure.

Forza Horizon 4 players will also be able to drive all five of Ken Block’s high-powered, custom-built Ford vehicles from the upcoming GymkhanaTEN, the 10th installment of the award-winning, Gymkhana viral video franchise. These rides began rolling out in Forza Horizon 4 earlier this month for Car Pass members with the release of the 1977 Ford GymkhanaTEN, F-150 Hoonitruck and the 1993 Ford Escort Cosworth Group A. Coming in November for all players are the 1965 Ford Hoonicorn Mustang V2 and the 2017 Ford Fiesta RS and arriving in December is the 2016 Ford GymkhanaTEN Focus RS RX.

Forza Horizon 4 “Fortune Island” will be available as part of the Forza Horizon 4 Expansions Bundle which provides players with two game expansions at a reduced cost of $34.99 . Owners of Forza Horizon 4 Ultimate Edition and  Forza Horizon 4 Ultimate Add-Ons Bundle will receive Fortune Island at no additional cost. Xbox Game Pass subscribers, who do not already own one of the bundles, are eligible for 10% off a bundle or 10% off an individual purchase of Fortune Island.

Minecraft Marketplace Gets Bigger and Better

Helen Chiang, Head of Minecraft, dropped in to talk about Minecraft’s record-breaking year – a new game announcement, releasing major vanilla game updates, and surpassing 91 million monthly players. On top of all of this, Helen shared insight into the ever-expanding Minecraft Marketplace, bringing Marketplace partner PixelHeads along with her. PixelHeads, one of the most popular official Minecraft partner teams, stopped by to talk about their creations and how they got their start in game development and the Marketplace. During the show, the Minecraft team was proud to announce that the Marketplace has reached 77 partners who have driven more than 13 million purchases for their creations since it launched last June! Viewers also got a very special look at the history behind Cats and Pandas in Minecraft, which will release next month.

Battle Rival Crews in The Arena in Sea of Thieves

Sea of Thieves is changing in a big way with its fifth free content update since launch, ‘The Arena.’ Releasing in early 2019, ‘The Arena’ is an all-new competitive game mode that allows players to test their pirating skills in fast-paced matches against rival crews. Each match is a fun, frenetic and action-packed race to find treasure that brings together all the most exciting elements of Sea of Thieves – on demand. ‘The Arena’ also includes a new-tavern area together with a new Trading Company – the Sea Dogs – which will offer new goals, rewards and opportunities to progress to Pirate Legend. Sea of Thieves is available on Xbox One, Windows 10 and Xbox Game Pass as an Xbox Play Anywhere title.

Unveiling the Zedhunter Pack in State of Decay 2

Today, we got a first look at the next content pack for State of Decay 2 launching November 16th, the Zedhunter Pack. This new pack adds the powerful and silent crossbow as a new zombie-slaying weapon along with additional melee weapons, facilities, blood plague consumables, and gameplay updates like the ability to respect your skills all into the main game. As part of our continued commitment to supporting the four million players in the State of Decay 2 community, Zedhunter will be free for all players – owners of either Standard or Ultimate Edition along with Xbox Game Pass members. Looking forward, we also announced that we are working on a more challenging player experience coming in 2019. Stay tuned for additional details on this difficulty setting and more.

Shoot Your Way to Safety in Void Bastards

Premiered during Inside Xbox and inspired by BioShock and System Shock 2Void Bastards is a revolutionary new strategy-shooter that will test your wits as well as exercise your aim coming to Xbox as a console launch exclusive. Can you lead the misfit prisoners of the Void Ark through the derelict spaceships and myriad dangers of the Sargasso Nebula? Will you make the right choices about what to do, where to go and when to fight? Master combat, manage ship controls, scavenge supplies, craft improvised tools and much more! Void Bastards will also come to Xbox Game Pass coinciding with its launch on Xbox One.

Battlefield V

A trailer was debuted highlighting the Xbox One X enhancements for the highly-anticipated title, “Battlefield V,” coming from Electronic Arts and DICE. Featuring 4K Ultra HD and HDR support on Xbox One X, leading to enhanced visuals allowing you to lead your squad to victory in the highest fidelity Battlefield title ever. It’s the best looking console experience launching worldwide on November 20, but EA Access members can jump in to the Battlefield V Play First Trial beginning November 9.

Our First Look at Devil May Cry 5’s ‘Void Mode’

Devil May Cry 5 producer Matt Walker joined director Hideaki Itsuno from Capcom’s head office in the vibrant city of Osaka to show off the rich culture of the city and share how the team draws from their surroundings. Itsuno provided insight into how Capcom’s action games are influenced by the Osaka area, before giving Inside Xbox a first look at the comprehensive training mode he’s created for Devil May Cry 5 – dubbed ‘The Void’. As a first for Xbox fans, Itsuno gave a personal tour of Nero’s Devil Breakers, including the bonus Devil Breakers available in the Deluxe Edition content of Devil May Cry 5.

Two Highly Anticipated Fighters Join the Jump Force Roster

Bandai Namco gives Inside Xbox an exclusive first look at some never-before seen special moves of two of the most anticipated characters slated to appear in Jump Force. Bandai Namco Entertainment America’s LATAM Community Manager Diego Paramio will give us a play-by-play to accompany the world debut of the Awakening Transformations of two legendary Dragon Ball characters that will be playable in Jump Force: SSGSS Vegeta and Golden Frieza! This is the first time fans will be able to see these two highly anticipated characters going into their respective super-powered modes and showing off their mightiest special moves!

As another special treat, Bandai Namco also premiered the first footage of SSGSS Goku in action in Jump Force! You won’t want to miss it!

Just Cause 4 Brings the Thunder

The new Just Cause 4 CGI cinematic trailer sums up the blockbuster action Just Cause 4 delivers. Rico Rodriguez faces his biggest challenge yet in Solís, leading the Army of Chaos against the ruthless Gabriela Morales.  Just Cause 4 is the biggest, most varied and creative Just Cause ever. Everything you love about the series is back and beefed up: insane physics, unmatched levels of destruction and the player’s trademark parachute, wingsuit and grapple. This December, Just Cause 4 brings the thunder on Xbox One and Xbox One X.

A Closer Look at The Forge in Shadow of the Tomb Raider

You may have already experienced Lara Croft’s defining moment, but Shadow of the Tomb Raidercontinues with The Forge – the first of seven, monthly DLC adventures. Join Narrative Director Jason Dozois and Senior Associate Producer Jo Dahan as they take Lara and her newfound friend, Abi on a co-op journey through the fiery tower of The Forge on Inside Xbox.

The Xbox One Backward Compatibility Catalog Continues to Grow

Today, we shared that on November 13, four, new Backward Compatible titles will be getting enhanced for Xbox One X. Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIII-2 and LIGHTNING RETURNS: Final Fantasy XIII will be entirely new to the Back Compat catalog, while Civilization Revolution will be receiving an (Xbox One X Enhanced) update to take advantage of the world’s most powerful console. To date, gamers have enjoyed playing well over 1 billion hours of Backward Compatible games and we look forward to continuing to grow the collection including more than 500 Xbox 360 games, 25 Xbox One X Enhanced Xbox 360 titles, and 32 Original Xbox classics.

Play Your Way with Mouse and Keyboard Support

Support for mouse and keyboard input on Xbox One will arrive next week, with select titles enabled at launch for Insiders and even more coming. On today’s IX episode, Epic detailed how Fortnite will be one of the first titles to offer mouse and keyboard input alongside previously announced Warframe in today’s update, with Bomber CrewDeep Rock GalacticStrange BrigadeVermintide 2War Thunder and X-Morph Defense adding support in November, and Children of MortaDayZMinion MasterMoonlighterVigorWarface, and Wargroove adding support in the future. When the update launches next week, all developers will have the tools they need to create tailored mouse and keyboard experiences for their games as they see fit to ensure a fair and fun experience for fans.

Additionally, we shared that the best mouse and keyboard experience on Xbox One will be available through Designed for Xbox mice and keyboards. These are created for living room or desktop scenarios, come equipped with a dedicated Xbox key, and support the new Xbox Dynamic Lighting feature – enabling immersive in-game lighting effects. Razer will be the exclusive partner to ship a Designed for Xbox mouse and keyboard and will formally introduce the product at CES in January.

The Xbox Adaptive Controller Launches Worldwide

We’re very proud to announce that the Xbox Adaptive Controller is launching in 17 new markets in 2019, including Mexico. New countries to offer the acclaimed controller include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Hong Kong, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Slovakia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Taiwan, Turkey and UAE. We’ll be bringing you more details on the worldwide launch of the Xbox Adaptive Controller soon.

#givewithXbox

We also announced #givewithXbox, a holiday-timed campaign from Xbox that aims to bring the joy of gaming to everyone. Beginning today and ending December 9, Xbox will donate $5 USD of Xbox products, up to $1 million, for every photo shared on social media about what gaming together means using the hashtag #givewithXbox. The donations will be split amongst four inspirational charities who help bring gaming to everyone: Child’s Play, Gamers Outreach, SpecialEffect and Operation Supply Drop. Xbox is committed more than ever to gaming for everyone and making Xbox a place where everyone has fun. So, jump in with Xbox to help even more people play this holiday season.

‘Winter of Arcade’ Returns this December

Last but not least, we’re thrilled to announce ‘Winter of Arcade’, where from December 6th to December 21st we will providing special incentives on select ID@Xbox titles to help you fill out your library. Tune into The Game Awards on December 6 live on Mixer for more info.

Humans by birth. Gamers by choice. Goomba Stomp is a Canadian web publication that has been independently owned and operated since its inception in 2016.

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‘Atelier Ryza’ Warms the Heart No Matter the Season

Atelier Ryza excels at creating a sense of warmth and familiarity, and could be just what you need during the winter months.

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atelier ryza

The Atelier series is something of a unicorn in the JRPG genre. It isn’t known for its world-ending calamities or continent-spanning journeys; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. The small-town feel and more intimate storytelling of Atelier games has made them some of the most consistently cozy experiences in gaming, and Ryza is no exception. No matter if it’s this winter or next, here’s why Atelier Ryza is the perfect type of RPG to warm your heart this winter.

Ryza starting her alchemy journey.

Like a Warm Blanket

Unlike protagonists from other entries in the franchise, Reisalin Stout (or Ryza for short) has never stepped foot in an atelier or even heard of alchemy at the start of her game. Instead, she’s just a fun-loving and mischevious girl from the country who spends her days in search of adventure with her childhood pals Lent and Tao. It’s this thrill-seeking that eventually leads the trio to meet a mysterious wandering alchemist and learn the tricks of the trade.

The entirety of Atelier Ryza takes place during summer, and it’s clear that the visual design team at Gust had a field day with this theme. In-game mornings are brought to life through warm reds, yellows, and oranges, while the bright summer sun beams down incessantly in the afternoon and gives way to cool evenings flooded by shades of blue and the soft glow of lanterns. Ryza’s visual prowess is perhaps most noticeable in the lighting on its character models, which are often given a warm glow dependent on the time of day.

The cozy sensibilities of the countryside can be felt elsewhere as well. The farm Ryza’s family lives on aside, the majority of environments are lush with all manner of plant life, dirt roads, and rustic architecture. Menus feature lovely wooden and papercraft finishes that simulate notepads or photos on a desk. Townspeople will even stop Ryza to remark on how much she’s grown and ask about buying some of her father’s crops. Everything just excels at feeling down-to-earth homey.

The titular Atelier Ryza.

An Intimate Take on Storytelling

Kurken Island and the surrounding mainland feel expansive as a whole but intimate in their design. This is partially due to the readily-accessible fast travel system that Atelier Ryza employs; instead of a seamless open world, most players will find themselves jumping from location to location to carry out quests and harvest ingredients for alchemy. However, there’s still strong incentive to explore the nearby town thanks to tons of random side quests and little cutscenes that trigger as players progress through the main story.

It’s an interesting way to tackle world-building. Instead of relying on intricate dialogue like The Outer Worlds or massive cinematic cutscenes like Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Atelier Ryza lets players get a feel for its world rather naturally through everyday conversations. These scenes run the gamut from Ryza’s parents yelling at her to help more around the farm to running into and catching up with old friends who’d moved overseas. They’re unobtrusive and brief, but the sheer number of them gradually establishes a cast that feels alive and familiar.

The town drunk and Lent's father, Samuel.

Of course, post-holidays winter is also the season for more somber tales. The relationship between Lent and his alcoholic father is striking in its realistic depiction of how strained some father-son relationships can become.

The narrative escalates subtly: An early cutscene shows Mr. Marslink stumbling onto Ryza’s front lawn thinking it’s his. Then an event triggers where the neighborhood jerks tease Lent about being the son of the town drunk. Lent’s house is a small shack pulled back from the rest of the town, and visiting it triggers one of the few scenes where Ryza can actually talk to Mr. Marslink himself. The situation eventually reveals itself to be so bad that it completely explains why Lent is gung-ho about being out of the house whenever he can.

Though Lent’s general character motivation is wanting to get stronger and protect the town, it’s the heartfelt insights like these that make him much more relatable as a party member. Atelier Ryza features no grand theatrics or endless bits of exposition, but instead favors highlighting interpersonal conversations as Ryza continues to learn more about the people and world around her.

Atelier Ryza

Cozy games rarely get enough credit. Just like the Animal Crossing series or Pokemon: Let’s Go provides players with a warmth that can stave off the harshest of winters, Atelier Ryza succeeds in being the lighthearted, touching JRPG fans wanted. It’s both aesthetically pleasing and heartwarming in the way it builds out its world and cast of characters, and seeing Ryza gradually grow more confident and capable is a joy unto itself. If you’re in need of a blanket until Animal Crossing: New Horizons comes out in March, you can’t go wrong here.

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PAX South 2020 Hands On: ‘The Artful Escape,’ ‘Foregone,’ and ‘Tunic’

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PAX South

This past weekend, PAX South 2020 brought a huge variety of promising indie games to the show floor in San Antonio. Here are just a few of the most remarkable games I got to try, including a hardcore action game, a classic adventure, and an experience that can only be described as dreamlike.

Tunic

Simply put, Tunic is a Zelda game, but foxier. Tunic takes significant inspiration from the classic Zelda formula, complete with an overworld to explore, puzzles to solve, enemies to fight, and a protagonist clad in green. My demo even began by leaving me weaponless and forcing me to venture into a nearby cave in order to discover my first weapon.

Yet there’s nothing wrong with following such a traditional formula. At a time when Nintendo has largely stopped creating new games in the style of its classic Zeldas, it’s left up to other developers to rediscover the magic of the original gameplay style. Based on my time with the game, Tunic achieves exactly that, reimagining the charm of A Link to the Past for the current generation with gorgeous visuals and modern design sensibilities. The biggest difference from its predecessors is its green-clad hero is a fox, and not a Kokiri.

All, that is to say, is that if you’ve ever played a 2D Zelda, then you’ll know exactly what to expect from Tunic. It starts by dropping the foxy little player character into a vibrant, sunny overworld, and true to form, your inventory is completely empty and the environment is full of roadblocks to progress. Simple enemies abound, and although its greatest Zelda inspirations lie with those from the 2D era, it also includes an element from the 3D games due to its inclusion of a targeting system in order to lock onto specific opponents. What followed next was a linear, straightforward dungeon that focused on teaching the basics of exploration and item usage. It was extremely simple but hinted at plenty of potential for the full game later.

Tunic’s gameplay may hearken back to the games of old, but its visual presentation is cutting edge. It features gorgeous polygonal 3D visuals, loaded with striking graphical and lighting effects, making its quaint isometric world truly pop to life. My demo didn’t last very long, but the little bit I played left me excited for Tunic’s eventual release on Xbox One and PC. It could be the brand-new classic Zelda experience that fans like myself have long waited for.

Foregone

Foregone

These days, nearly every other indie game is either a roguelike or a Metroivdvania. Just by looking at Foregone, I immediately assumed that it must be one of the two based on appearances alone. Yet when I shared those assumptions with the developers, Big Blue Bubble, the response in both cases was a resounding, “No.”

Foregone may look like it could be procedurally generated or feature a sprawling interconnected world, but that simply isn’t the case. The developers insisted that every aspect of the game world was intentionally crafted by hand, and it will remain that way in each playthrough. Likewise, although there is some optional backtracking at certain points in the game, Foregone is a largely linear experience, all about going from one point to another and adapting your strategy along the way. In a generation where nonlinearity reigns supreme, such straightforward design is refreshing to see.

If there’s any game that seems like an accurate comparison to Foregone, it would have to be Dark Souls. From the very start of the demo, the world of Foregone is inhabited with fearsome enemies that don’t hold back. If you don’t watch what you’re doing, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and fall under the pressure. Thankfully, there’s a broad assortment of abilities at your disposal, such as a wide area of effect move that can stun enemies within a wide radius, and a powerful shield that can block many attacks. I fell many times during my time with the game, but it never felt unfair. Rather, it merely felt like I wasn’t being smart enough with my own ability usage, and I was encouraged to keep jumping back into the world for just one more run, this time armed with better knowledge of my own abilities and potential strategies.

And it’s a beautiful game too. Rather than featuring the typical pixelated aesthetics often associated with platformers, the world is actually built-in 3D with a pixelated filter applied on top of it. This allows for a uniquely detailed environment and distinctly fluid animations. Foregone looks to be a worthwhile action game that should be worth checking out when it hits early access via the Epic Games Store in February, with a full release on console and PC to follow later this year.

The Artful Escape

Bursting with visual and auditory splendor, The Artful Escape is easily the most surreal game I played at PAX South. The demo may have only lasted about ten minutes, yet those ten minutes were dreamlike, transportation from the crowded convention to a world of color, music, and spirit.

As its name would suggest, The Artful Escape is an otherworldly escape from reality. Its luscious 3D environments are populated with 2D paper cutout characters, its dialogue leans heavily into the mystical (the player character describes his surroundings with phrases like “a Tchaikovsky cannonade” and “a rapid glittering of the eyes”), and its music often neglects strong melodies in favor of broad, ambient background themes. This all combines to create a mystical, almost meditative atmosphere.

It only helps that the platforming gameplay itself is understated, not requiring very much of you but to run forward, leap over a few chasms, or occasionally play your guitar to complete basic rhythm games. This gameplay style may not be the most involved or exciting, but it allows you to focus primarily on the overwhelming aesthetic majesty, marching forward through the world while shredding on your guitar all the while.

This Zenlike feel to the game is punctuated with occasional spectacular moments. At one point, a gargantuan, crystalline krill called the Wonderkrill burst onto the screen and regaled me with mystic dialogue, while at another point, I silently wandered into a herd of strange oxen-like creatures grazing in a barren field as the music began to swell. The demo was filled with such memorable moments, constantly leaving my jaw dropped.

For those who think that games should be entertaining above all else, The Artful Escape might not be so enthralling. Its platforming is extremely basic and its rhythm minigames are shallow at best. For players who think that games can be more than fun, however, The Artful Escape is set to provide an emotional, unforgettable experience, an escape that I can’t wait to endeavor.

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PAX South Hands On: ‘Boyfriend Dungeon’ Wields Weapons of Love

A weapon is an adventurer’s best friend, and Boyfriend Dungeon is focused on deepening that relationship.

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Boyfriend Dungeon

In most games, weapons are straightforward objects. Sometimes they can be upgraded or personalized, but at the end of the day, they function as little more than tools for a single purpose: to cut down enemies and make progress in the game. Boyfriend Dungeon, however, proposes a different relationship with your weapons. They’re more than just objects. Instead, they’re eligible bachelors and bachelorettes that are ready to mingle.

Boyfriend Dungeon is a dungeon crawler and dating sim hybrid all about forging an intimate bond with your weapons and, after demoing it at PAX South, this unique mix seems to be paying off.

There are two main activities in Boyfriend Dungeon: exploring the loot-filled dungeons (referred to as “The Dunj”) and romancing the human forms of your weapons. There’s been plenty of great dungeon crawlers in recent years, but Boyfriend Dungeon sets itself apart by humanizing its weaponry. This concept may sound strange on paper, but Kitfox games director and lead designer Tanya X. Short is confident that players have long been ready for a game just like this.

“A weapon is an adventurer’s best friend,” and Boyfriend Dungeon is focused on deepening that relationship.

“I think the fans of Boyfriend Dungeon have been out there for years, waiting. I remember when I was in university ages ago, I was sure someone would have made a game like this already… but I guess I needed to make it myself!” She adds that “A weapon is an adventurer’s best friend,” and Boyfriend Dungeon is focused on deepening that relationship.

Boyfriend Dungeon

My demo with Boyfriend Dungeon began simply enough. After a brief character creation phase where I chose my appearance and my pronouns (he/him, she/her, or they/them), I was dropped into the stylish, top-down hub world of Verona Beach. Here I could explore the town and choose where to date my chosen weapon. I decided to head to the public park to meet Valeria, a swift and slender dagger.

“Today I’m writing dates with a scythe, and that’s beautiful.”

Upon reaching the park, I discovered Valeria in her dagger form. When I picked up the weapon, a beautiful anime-style animation commenced in which she transformed into her human form. What followed was a visual novel-style date sequence complete with detailed character art and plenty of dialogue options to help romance your date.

The dialogue is full of witty, self-aware humor and charm – there were more than a few jokes about axe murderers along with other weapon-related puns, for example. Short herself put plenty of love into the writing. “Writing dates with weapons is a joy I never knew could be part of my job, but here we are. Today I’m writing dates with a scythe, and that’s beautiful.”

Boyfriend Dungeon

I loved my date with Valeria, but she’s not the only potential mate in Boyfriend Dungeon. Rather, there’s a cast of five potential partners in the game, each of them hailing from distinct backgrounds and identities. “When I was coming up with the cast for Boyfriend Dungeon, I tried to imagine as many kinds of people and personalities that I could be attracted to as possible.”

Short drew from her own personal experiences in creating the cast. “I was very lucky to meet my partner many years ago, so I haven’t actually dated many people in my life, but I become fascinated with people I meet very easily, and they can provide inspiration. Whether they’re upbeat and reckless, or brooding and poetic, or gentle and refined…there’re so many kinds of intriguing people out there. And in Boyfriend Dungeon, I hope.”

After building up this bond during dialogue, it was time to put it to the test by exploring the Dunj. Of course, this isn’t the typically dreary dungeon found in most other dungeon crawlers. Instead, it’s an abandoned shopping mall overrun with monsters to slay and loot to discover with your partner weapon.  

Boyfriend Dungeon

Combat is easy to grasp, focusing on alternating between light and heavy attacks and creating simple combos out of them. Just like how the dating content aims to be inclusive for people of different backgrounds, Short hopes for the combat to be accessible for players of different levels of experience as well. “Hopefully the dungeon combat can be approachable enough for less experienced action RPG players, but still have enough challenge for the people that want to find it.”

Based off the demo, Boyfriend Dungeon seems to achieve this goal. I loved learning simpler moves and discovering new combos with them. Movement is fast, fluid, and intuitive, making it a pleasure to explore the Dunj. Succeeding in dungeons will also result in a stronger relationship with your weapons, so it’s in your best interest to perform well during combat. Of course, your weapons don’t simply level up – instead, their love power increases.

An arcade environment

“Our approach has been that the point isn’t the destination — it’s the journey you take, and who you choose to take it with.”

Fighting and dating may seem like two disparate concepts, but in practice, they manage to mesh surprisingly well. “The game is mostly about switching from one [gameplay style] to the other,” Short says, “and it’s nice for pacing, since you often want a breather from the action or get restless if there’s too much reading.”

The overarching story and general experience remain relatively firm throughout the whole game regardless of your decisions, but Short encourages players to enjoy the ride they take with the weapon they choose. “Our approach has been that the point isn’t the destination — it’s the journey you take, and who you choose to take it with.”

In Boyfriend Dungeon, your weapons can wage more than just war. Rather, they can spread love and lead to deeply fulfilling relationships. Boyfriend Dungeon is one of the most refreshing games I played at PAX thanks to its engaging dungeon exploration and combat and its surprisingly positive view of weaponry. That’s the mission of peace that Short had in mind with the game: “It feels like a difficult time in the world right now, but that’s when we most need to find love and compassion. Let’s try our hardest to be kind.”

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