Saturday, July 13, 2024

BOSSGAME: The Final Boss is My Heart review – Fighting capitalism with queer love

BOSSGAME: The Final Boss is My Heart caught my attention the moment it hit my inbox, and not just from how tight and to-the-point the PR email was. The colorful pixels popped out at me because it starred two queer girls as the heroes, an uncommon sight in most action games.  But BOSSGAME doesn’t just have queer girl representation. It also has witches in love dealing with literal devils in magical battles, and realistic problems you’d expect to see in a queer relationship. Before the magic’s wrapped, tears have fallen, and bosses have been wiped, BOSSGAME somehow still finds time for meaningful dialogue that melds everything together in simply the sweetest way.  

Screenshot of text messages between Anna and Sophie in BOSSGAME
Image Source: Lilycore Games

BOSSGAME stars two witches named Anna and Sophie, and they live in a bullshit world, just like ours. One where work is tied to survival and religion and politics enjoy a cozy relationship that doles out power to few and struggles to many. Anna and Sophie are part of a church that fights devils, purging their threatening presence from city streets or anywhere else they shouldn’t be. The couple start off fighting against these devils before a lack of payment forces a change. 

The two witches find themselves at odds with the mayor after being snubbed on pay for a job. This battle sets them on a path of discovery, pushing both into places of uncomfortable growth, and against the religion they’ve always known and served. 

Screenshot of a boss fight in BOSSGAME: The Final Boss is My Heart
Image Source: Lilycore Games

Battles are rhythm and timing based, but to enemy movements, and not the beat. Tap the right attack or hold to defend while keeping a close eye on the battle strategies of enemies. You can’t defend forever though so it’s important to wait for the right moment before you hold down your defense.

Anna and Sophie’s attacks can build up, combine, and stack too, just like uh, lesbian love, which is why they’re such a powerful duo. If one falls in combat then you have the option of reviving the other but that also requires time and some of your attack meter. 

Everything pulls from the meter, including when you defend against attacks, so it’s easy for things to get chaotic if you’re not careful. The enemies and their attack patterns are always delightful, especially in how meaningful everything feels in the way it ties into the story. 

Screenshot of Anna and Sophie fighting Devil Knight Emily
Image Source: Lilycore Games

BOSSGAME: The Final Boss is My Heart has an Invincible Mode too! I wish more games had this feature. 

I love the gameplay and am pretty good at moving my thumbs back and forth, to the proper places and for the proper times, activating attacks, dodges, and healing saves. But I sure do think it’s special that the game’s combat and package overall are still exciting and fun. That’s a long topic I could go on for awhile but that’s good game design and accessibility, refusing to hide behind ‘High Score’ chasing adrenaline. 

The battles themselves are thrilling but it’s the conversations between the characters, all of them, not just Anna and Sophie, that lift BOSSGAME above the clouds and beyond. The struggles and triumphs and quips in between it all ground everything and make it feel more human. 

Sophie texting Anna asking if she's been fighting other women without her.
Image Source: Lilycore Games

I’m a lesbian that’s been married to a queer woman for years, and with her even longer, and listen, this dialogue is not only warm and perfect: this is how women in love talk to each other, through life’s good and bad moments, and seeing that in a video game was just so special. 

There’s a wonderful story in BOSSGAME that everyone should experience though, and it’s really easy to do, regardless of your abilities or play style. 

It’s very rare for me to play a game that I love this much, and it’d be easy to say it’s because of trans lesbian representation – but it’s so, so much more than that. BOSSGAME is special not just in what it says but how it says it The biggest reason BOSSGAME: The Final Boss is My Heart speaks to me is because the game begs players to choose an authentic life in a world determined to squeeze you into a status quo mold. BOSSGAME manages to blend an authentic and meaningful story into pixel-pounding music and exciting and addictive gameplay. 

Score: 5/5

BOSSGAME: The Final Boss is My Heart code for iOS was provided by the developer.

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