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Definitely for the birds…

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    Hatoful Boyfriend

    Rating: 3.0 – Fair

    Definitely for the birds…

    Well, I’ve finally made it. I’ve come to the pinaccle of my reviewing career with Hatoful Boyfriend, an otome game where you try and date pigeons. I can’t make this stuff up. This game is just… weird, which is probably why you’re reading this review right now. Well, after playing through it (multiple times… sigh…), let’s go over what this game is all about.

    In Hatoful Boyfriend, you play a teenage girl who has apparently survived some sort of apocalypse that has wiped out the majority of humans and mutated pigeons to the point where they are the superior race (as in they can talk and function as a society just like humans used to). In fact, you live in a cave and the character gets by with humans "hunter-gatherer" past. Yeah…

    Anyways, things are looking up for you as you are accepted into "St. PigeoNation’s Institute" school for pigeons, the first human to attend. This is where the protagonist will meet (and woo) the male pigeons in the game, with the story taking on whatever path you travel down.

    Most of the endings in the game revolve around whatever pigeon you are trying to date, and there’s quite a few of them (the game has quite a few endings). While this game may seem like your typical "dating pigeon" game, many of these endings actually just go out into left field. One in particular is much longer than the rest and adds in some horror and conspiracy elements. All in all though, Hatoful Boyfriend’s dialog (and endings) really doesn’t take itself too seriously and covers a wide range of visual novel tropes. This could even be considered a parody of the genre, honestly. The writing itself was pretty good, given the setting, but since nearly everything in the various story lines are either a trope or out in left field it is easy to say this isn’t a "must read" visual novel by any means.

    As far as game play goes, this is your classic "visual novel" fare. Pure dialog, with choices scattered throughout the game. The story paths and endings you get are directly based on what dialog choices you make. In short, there’s really no game play whatsoever here, so don’t expect any!

    The graphics in the game are very simple as well. Static backgrounds based on where you are, with um… whatever pigeon is currently talking showing up on screen. Again, pretty standard visual novel fare, but this is as basic as it gets. The character’s are all different types of pigeons of course, and are photo-realistic stills of what they look like in real life. What’s funny is that there’s an option before you start the game to see the "humanized" versions of these pigeons when they are introduced, which is entertaining to see.

    As you can imagine for an indie / visual novel game, there’s no voice acting here (but an awful lot of dialog). Sound effects throughout the game were solid enough. The music in the game is fairly standard too, with a lot of relaxing (and occasionally odd) tracks. Many of the character themes and endings are quite good if you look them up on Youtube, but in the actual game you are changing tracks too often for any of them to be too memorable.

    With so many dialog options, pigeons to date, and endings in the game, Hatoful Boyfriend definitely has some built-in re-playability. The real question is, how much pigeon-dating can you take? The game does have a skip feature, which lets you quickly get to the game’s choices to try new ones, and that’s definitely appreciated and can make getting all of the endings much easier. Being a PlayStation game, there’s also trophies to pursue (but no Platinum). Finally, there’s also DLC to this game called "Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star" which is just some more weirdness, but hey, that’s what you signed up for with this game anyways!

    Overall: 6/10

    If nothing else, Hatoful Boyfriend is unique for sure. It feels weird, but I can tell my wife that I’ve completed "that pigeon-dating game". The writing is solid, even though it’s filled chock-full with visual novel tropes, but some of the endings do throw a wrench in things by taking the story out into left-field and just getting weird (or dark, or confusing…).

    There’s a reason you’ll see this game for cheap on the various stores around the internet (or on your PlayStation): there’s not too much here besides a ton of dialog. If that sounds right up your alley (and you think pigeons are cute, I guess), then this is definitely the game for you. So unless you’re a die-hard visual novel fan (or want to claim you’ve "played that pigeon-dating game" like I now can), you’re probably safe looking for something else to play. I recommend the Phoenix Wright series, or Danganronpa. Either way, have fun and keep playing!

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