Hatoful Boyfriend – PS4
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Release Date: (NA) July 21st, 2015
Nerd Rating: 9/10
Hello, everybirdie, and welcome to my review of Hatoful Boyfriend! What wonders welcome you today at the St. Pigeonation’s Academy? What kind of interactions will you have? And most importantly: WHICH BIRD WILL YOU FALL HEAD OVER HEELS FOR?! That’s right folks, we’re dealing with a dating simulation game where you date birds! With how comical this concept is, how serious could we even take this game? Well, I’ll let you know right…NOW! Ruffle your feathers and try not to poop on my windshield, its time to review HATOFUL BOYFRIEND!!
Just from the concept alone, you could probably guess that we’re dealing with some sort of parody. (Well, unless you assumed this was some sort of weird fetish game.) Let’s go with parody though, because that’s really what this is. There are so many stabs at cliches in dating simulator games in this game that it is rather comical. The writing is basically the first thing that we really can touch upon anyway since it is mostly a visual novel-type of game. The writing is absolutely brilliant! Honestly, I’ve never been too into dating simulator games. I’ve played a few just for the novelty, but strangely enough, the one about birds seems to be the best written. From the dark humor, to just how each bird is characterized, I was honestly left quite impressed.
The birds in the game all have some sort of personality or quirk that makes them charming in their own way, but they’re also written to make fun of the tropes of traditional dating sim games. It really is quite clever, and the charm and dynamics of the characters really had me impressed from the getgo. As for the story itself, the standard game story is really just a series of events. To the game’s credit though, it does come together very entertainingly. The only complaint I have is that, in the standard mode, you do have to go through the same scenes over and over and over again, which can get repetitive as time goes by.
In the standard story, much like any other dating simulator, Hatoful Boyfriend has a few different birds you can choose from to romanticize, all with some funny, and some touching results. Honestly, the story of this game did make me want to tear up a few times, but also made me smile and laugh a lot more times than that. I never really thought a game in this respect could entertain me like it did, but man, did this game’s standard story mode really have me going. Each character you can go after has their own likable traits and choices you must make to get their endings. Some characters even have multiple endings, so finding a character’s second ending also adds a level of depth.
Some of the character’s endings are funny, but others are very emotionally driven. As I said, it does impress me the amount of emotion they were able to inspire out of me when their main characters were a bunch of freaking birds. Without going into too much detail, the main story involves you as a human girl being a part of some project to include humans in bird schools. Apparently in this world, birds became the dominant species in the distant future, and for some odd reason, you have to show romantic interest in the birds. It’s subtle, it’s funny, and it’s quite imaginative.
Now, you may have noticed that I keep saying “standard story.” That’s because, after the main story mode is completed, and you achieve all the endings, the true story of the game unfolds. Coming right out of left field, this emotionally charged mode left my jaw on the floor with how interesting, sad, and dark it was. I won’t spoil too much, but I will say that the writing and character especially shined here. I definitely would say that even if you don’t like dating simulators or funny games in general, you should play this game for this story mode alone. It will have you on the edge of your seat in awe, and will make even the toughest person want to cry.
As for the rest of the game, there isn’t much to say, since most of this is just a visual novel with a few choices here and there. The music is quite nice and atmospheric. I really enjoyed the choices they made for each respective character’s music track. The look of the game is quite nice. Very bright, colorful, and well drawn. Each bird looks much how you would expect a bird with their personality types to look. Overall though, most of this game hinges on it’s writing, which of course is spectacular. You will be forming a bond with each and every one of these characters, and even the amusing main character.
For all of it’s weirdness, Hatoful Boyfriend succeeds at not only being a great parody, but a great dating simulator in its own right. While perhaps being a little too niche to recommend for everyone, I still have to say that if you like weird experiences, you’d be mistaken not to give this one a try. Giving this game a rating is quite difficult, but for what it is, I have to give it a 9 out of 10. The game is great at what it does, and will rip at your heartstrings and your laughbox at every turn.
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