Review: Hatoful Boyfriend
Love is in the air, everybirdie! Initially released in 2011, Moa Hato’s Hatoful Boyfriend is a quirky visual novel set in a world where pigeons rule the roost (so to say). It wasn’t until just recently that Hatoful Boyfriend made its way to Steam, the well-known digital distributor for PC games, thanks to Mediatonic and Devolver Digital. While dating sims and visual novels are not for everybirdie, Hatoful Boyfriend could be a fun title. But just how much fun is it?
You take the role of the only human in a world populated by birds. You’d think it’s a lonely life but your character fits in so well with the population of birds. Despite the building ruins you can see in town, your character resides in a cave. But this doesn’t stop the young sophomore from enjoying her second year at the prestigious St. PigeoNation Academy. Education is important but it seems to be placed on a back burner in hopes of bolstering your relationships with your birdie peers.
The story does come off as light-hearted with a few hints of a more sinister plot sprinkled in. But those who put in the effort to play multiple times and unlock more than a couple of the endings will be treated to a more serious storyline. While you don’t have to unlock it, going through this storyline is definitely worth doing. A thing worth noting is how the story doesn’t change much through out your playthrough outside of a few small changes depending on the choices you’ve made.
Hatoful Boyfriend plays out like any other visual novel would. Other than the occasional choice you have to make, the story unfolds just like a regular book. When presented with choices, each one helps move the story along one of many paths. From time to time, you will need to decide what elective to go to which increases one of three stats ( Wisdom, Vitality, and Charisma). These stats are helpful in ensuring you reach the ending you aim for.
Those who played Hatoful Boyfriend when it was first released will not notice any real changes to the graphics. The dialogue is easy to read and you can’t help but adore the images of the birdies used in the game. There are some mistranslations that were present in the original which could leave you scratching your head though the overall dialogue is pretty well-written. It’s not the best story out there but I have a feeling that Hatoful Boyfriend isn’t hurted too much by this. The menu is accessed by clicking the small folder icon in the bottom right-hand corner. There aren’t many options in the menu. You can save your game at any point expect when you are needed to make a choice within the game.
There are no voice actors within the game so those who dread having to do a bit of reading will be turned off by this. One thing that I really loved with Hatoful Boyfriend is the soundtrack. Some musical choices (Shuu’s, for example) do feel out of place but it’s compositions that most have likely heard at some point in their life. Those who have purchased the Collector’s Edition can get the digital soundtrack which I think is a good fit for anybirdie who likes to have video game soundtracks.
Outside of obtaining each ending and getting all the Steam achievements, there isn’t much reason to return to Hatoful Boyfriend. Given that a playthrough takes only a couple hours (unless you decide to fast forward through the dialogue), this is a game that can easily be completed within one session. Unlike the original that was released in 2011, the Steam version does offer a little something new in terms of a scenario and ending which brings the total ending count to 14.
Hatoful Boyfriend is not for everybirdie. Visual novels and dating sims are considered niche genres and Hatoful Boyfriend‘s quirkiness can alienate some fans from those genres. Is it worth the $9.99 price tag? Yes, but only for those who enjoy odd little titles or already established fans of the title.
Genre: Visual Novel, Dating Sim
Developer: Mediatonic, Mato Hoa
Publisher: Devolver Digital
ESRB Rating: N/A