Review: Hatoful Boyfriend
In Hatoful Boyfriend you are the lone human in a school full of pigeons. Most probably know this to be a pigeon dating simulator. A bit of a parody of other dating sims on the market and generally just an absurd and hilarious concept. The phrase ‘looks can be deceiving’ has never been more true. Hatoful Boyfriend is so much more than just a goofy parody of a niche genre of games. There’s something far crazier hiding in St. PigeoNations. To get there you’ll need to get through a fair amount of repetition, but believe me when I say that everything in this game is worth it.
Hatoful Boyfriend features 14 endings, a bad ending, and a special unlockable mode. Pigeon classmates (as well as a few other pigeons) have their own specific storyline that you can follow by making specific choices throughout the game. For instance Okosan is a star track player who has a crazy obsession with pudding. Joining the track team and spending time with him will build your relationship and perhaps one day he’ll teach you the truth about pudding. Each pigeon that you can “romance” has a really interesting and funny storyline. A couple of the endings are weak, but for the most part each path is really enjoyable.
There’s a fair amount of stuff to do throughout each playthrough as well. Some scenes will only show up on specific storylines, you can get a job that opens up a whole new chapter of the story, and you can choose which classes to attend which will impact your overall stats. (Stats that are sometimes required for a character’s true ending.) Ultimately there’s a lot of reading and while different choices will lead to different scenarios it’s hard to overlook how much repetition you’ll need to get through. You can press triangle to fast-forward through all of the text you’ve seen, but it still takes a decent chunk of time to clean up the remaining endings. Luckily it’s completely worth it.
Completing a specific set of endings will unlock Bad Boys Love. In this the school year starts out like normal and then, about half way through, takes a very sudden and unexpected shift. BBL is a 4 hour epic that sheds light on why you’re a human and creates some context for the world of Hatoful Boyfriend. There were moments where fast-forwarding through repeating scenes got tiring, but I’m so happy that I did because the final scenario is completely nuts in the best way possible.
What I love about Hatoful Boyfriend is that it is so completely confident in its insane premise. This is a game that switches from happy, dark, depressing, and insane at a moments notice and somehow it completely works. My best friend is a pigeon with a sick mom and I felt for him and his need to work multiple jobs to support her. The school doctor is super creepy, but having him backed by the music from the Nutcracker just works for reasons I can’t explain. For that matter the way in which Christmas carols continue to show up in this game (when it’s not even close to Christmas) feels like an inside joke that I don’t quite understand.
Hatoful Boyfriend is enjoyable enough for just being a weird pigeon dating sim. The truth about the reality of St. PigeoNations is what elevates this beyond what I ever expected. Learning that truth takes time and every second is completely worth it.
A copy of this game was purchased for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Amazing concept for a game
- Each storyline is satisfying
- Okosan, Shuu, and Ryouta specifically have really great stories
- The random Christmas music
- The Bad Boys Love mode is mind blowing
What I Dislike:
- Some repetition in getting each ending