Ladies, gentlemen, and birds of the audience, I tried to take the remake of Hato Moa’s infamous visual novel, Hatoful Boyfriend, as seriously as I could, I really did. But this game is weird and a little disturbing. You play as a HUMAN girl attending an ALL BIRD school. It sounds like the description of a bad anime. To make matters worse, the goal of the game is to fall in love with one of the many birds you attend school with. I draw the line at inter-species romantic relationships. It’s creepy. The developers did try to give players some assistance by imagining what the birds might look like if they were human (see image below). Which, to be honest, did help make the game a bit easier for me to digest.
Here is what the pigeon on the right would look if he was human. You only see this image once in game. Note: This guy is a perv.
As far as gameplay goes, Hatoful Boyfriend plays out like a classic dating sim. You have three basic stats: charisma, vitality and wisdom. You raise these stats by attending various classes such as art and gym. Once your stats are high enough, you can more easily woo (or should I say coo?) your one true bird. As a fan of dating sims, this aspect of the game felt familiar. Even in this odd universe, I felt very comfortable raising stats and buying various gifts (or in this game, bird feed) in order to win the heart of my love dove. It’s the story where things get weird.
If you put inter-species dating aside, Hatoful Boyfriend could play off as a normal dating sim, until you delve deeper into the world that is St. PigeoNation Institute. Devolver Digital, the game’s developer, describes Hatoful Boyfriend‘s unique storyline the best: “Not everything is as it seems at St. PigeoNation’s Institute! Uncover dark conspiracies, unexpected twists, and hellish fiends bent on bringing on the apocalypse. Pick your dates wisely, and you’ll flap off into the distance with your one true love. Take the wrong turn, and you might just end up murdered in your bed.”
Did you catch that? MURDERED. IN. YOUR. BED. This game’s plot has so many dark twists and turns, you’d think you were playing a murder mystery. I just want to date birds. Maybe settle down and build a nest one day. Have a couple of eggs, you get the picture. Not fight for my life against “hellish fiends” and bird biker gangs (see image below) trying to bring on the apocalypse. They get an A for originality, but I really don’t need such an intense plot in my dating sim.
One thing I did appreciate in Hatoful Boyfriend is the replayability. In most, more traditional, dating sims, you cater your stats and decisions towards the person you’re pursuing. Y’all fall in love and have a unique and usually happy ending based on that character. In Hatoful Boyfriend, the endings can vary significantly, from being part of a final boss fight in an RPG to going on a quest to pursue pudding. These quirky endings will entice you to boot up the game a second, third and even fourth time.
Bird Biker Gangs.
Another thing to Hatoful Boyfriend‘s credit is that the game could suddenly be over. If you haven’t made any major headway with a birdie by a certain point in the game, game over. That’s right, the game will end. Devolver Digital forces players to get over their fear of commitment and pursue a serious relationship. You can’t just fool around with every chick that walks by. It forced me take the game seriously (well…as serious as I could). I fought it at first and raged when my game ended, but eventually accepted it.
Grab Hatoful Boyfriend for a truly unexpected dating sim that still has that classic dating sim charm and gameplay. Fly over to Steam and pick it up for both Mac and PC for only $9.99. Or if you really want to ruffle some feathers, purchase the Hatoful Boyfriend “Summer of Dove” Collector’s Edition for $14.99. The collector’s edition has enough feathered swag to make “anybirdie” jealous (I can’t make this stuff up). Learn more about Hatoful Boyfriend and all of the game’s fowl shenanigans on its official website.
Coo-coo! (<– The best pick-up line)
Better than it looks. Still weird though.
Eight birds out of a flock: - 8/10
The only pigeon I like is Pidgey. But I wouldn't date one. You shouldn't either. Especially after playing Hatoful Boyfriend. But if you're into that sort of thing...you gotta check this game out.