Top Critic Average
If you think you're up for it, go ahead and enroll at St. Pigeonation Institute and start looking for the bird of your dreams. The experience will be even stranger than it sounds.
Hatoful Boyfriend tells an endearingly crazy story that will have you smiling, laughing, crying and feverishly turning the virtual page. It takes some buy-in, but pays off if you're looking for something way off the beaten path.
Hatoful Boyfriend makes fun of the dating simulator genre by turning it on its head, making it weird and outrageous. The witty dialogue and absolutely bonkers scenarios are genuinely fun to discover, and the handful of different storylines make repeated playthroughs worthwhile. It's not groundbreaking material, but it's laughable — in a good, entertaining way.
There's no getting around it; Hatoful Boyfriend is weird. Even if we were to ignore the fact that you're pursuing romantic encounters with various kinds of birds, the story and endings still make Hatoful Boyfriend an unforgettable experience.
It probably goes without saying, but Hatoful Boyfriend is most definitely, 100% not for everyone. If you're looking any kind of serious gaming experience, want a mechanics-heavy title full of action and adventure, or just Aren't That Into Pigeons, Hatoful Boyfriend really won't be your cup of tea. However, if you want to experience what might just be one of the most ridiculous, hilarious, and extremely well-written visual novels this year, Hatoful Boyfriend brings the funny in spades. You might not know what on earth you're experiencing, but chances are you'll be thoroughly entertained.
If you're looking for a dating sim on Vita or PS4, you're not exactly spoiled for choice, making Hatoful Boyfriend a no-brainer. But even if you're not really into the genre, this could be worth taking a look at - just make sure you stick around for Bad Boys Love.
Don't let its strange premise fool you, Hatoful Boyfriend delivers a masterful satire on the dating sim genre and a thoroughly enjoyable experience all the way through. Underneath its absurd setting, Hatoful boasts a well thought out world, enjoyable characters and clever writing that give the game its quirky feel. Plus, birds in maid outfits.
Hatoful Boyfriend may be a bonkers twist on the traditional Japanese dating sim, but its surreal 'boys are birds' premise is more than just a gimmick. Courting your potential feathered suitors is rewarding and frequently hilarious, while eventually unravelling the story's darker elements bring the real heft and value to the experience.
But those disappointing moments are ultimately rare. Hatoful Boyfriend earns almost everything else it does. Like those fantastical and ridiculous movies and novels, it demonstrates an ability to rise above its base, absurd concepts and weaves several stories that last. It's much more than it seems, and begs for you to play it and discover its depth.
So yeah, enjoy the comedic art aspects of this game and don't expect it to be what it portrays itself as – a real dating sim about birds. The overall short experience is a bit disappointing, but I'm uncertain just how much pigeon dating one person can take.
Yes, Hatoful Boyfriend is a dating game with a bird gimmick, and that alone will be enough to keep many players at arm's length. But to pigeonhole your time at the St. Pigeonation's Institute as a mere gimmick would be a grave misjudgment of a game that is far more delightful and unexpected than even its bizarre premise would suggest.
Overall, Hatoful Boyfriend gets most things right. The true BBL story is gripping and an absolute must-play for anyone with an open mind who is a fan of visual novels. The game doesn't make things obvious, though. I had no idea this route existed until I actually put in the effort to do more endings, and I'd recommend you do the same. If nothing else, it's nice to see Devolver and Mediatonic bringing something so new and unusual to Steam.
You're not getting a refined game in Hatoful Boyfriend. Surely you already knew that, right? If you were looking for a refined game, please ignore my score below. Otherwise, I'll just let this scene from Friends starring my good friend Chandler do the talking, because, amazingly enough, it actually mirrors the experience I had playing Hatoful Boyfriend:
Hatoful Boyfriend is light hearted and definitely something designed to make you smile. It's not going to set the world on fire but it can be picked up for a small amount of money and is something that anyone can play due to its simplistic controls. Its style of humour may not be for everyone, but for those that do find the absurd hilarious it is definitely worth considering picking it up.
Hatoful Boyfriend is not the pigeon-dating sim you're looking for: It's more than that. Curb your enthusiasm for branching storylines after playing through the early romance portion of the story. After you cross the point of no return, the game is out of your hands, and you're left with an on-rails storyline progression. Regardless, it will subvert each and every one of your preconceived notions of what Hatoful Boyfriend could even remotely be about.
Even spread out over about 9 hours, there were times when the plot was a little too outlandish, and I say that fully understanding the absurdity of criticizing a pigeon dating sim for implausibility. It draws a clean line: if you prefer plots that are weird to begin with and just get weirder, you will be extremely happy with Hatoful Boyfriend; if you don't feel excited by every single Japanese pop culture trope re-enacted by pigeons, Hatoful Boyfriend might not be for you.
Hatoful Boyfriend is a unique experience, one that goes well beyond its bonkers concept and intentionally strange visual presentation. I was expecting to simply giggle at a nonsensical game in which I tried to woo feathered men, and what I received instead was wholly and wonderfully unexpected. Anyone with a taste for the unusual would do well to enjoy the company of these fetching fowl.
If you're into the crazy Japanese stories that eventually lead to some even crazier madness, this is the game for you. If you think cutesy pigeon dating is not for you or if you're not much of a reader, stay away. Stay far away.
Overfall, Hatoful Boyfriend is a joke game that's elevated above its peers thanks mostly to its writing. It will certainly elicit some laughs, especially when played with other people, and while play sessions are usually short it has enough unique endings to both warrant many visits to the academy and justify its relatively low price. Those who decide to get all endings should prepare to use the fast-forward button quite a bit, since many events repeat in every plathrough.
It's a strange series of lives, each one containing many of the same events and conversations, but each offering some sort of fulfilment, separate from the rest. They build up, and put together like jigsaw pieces, they flesh out the denizens of this nation of birds. I came for the promise of pigeon romance, but I stayed for the surreal world these fowl reside in.
In simple terms, Hatoful Boyfriend is an infectiously bizarre dating simulator about choosing a partner from a particularly fanciful flock of pigeons. But when all the birds come home to roost, your enjoyment of this comical curio is almost entirely dependent on your ability to truck with its utterly insane premise. Indeed, if you don't take umbrage with a bit of pigeon-on-human romance, you're likely to be taken on a riotous and remarkable romp.
If you can swallow (heh, bird puns) the basic idea, there are a lot of weird and wonderful stories to be uncovered in Hatoful Boyfriend. Just don't expect to do much actual playing.
Occasionally, it doesn't feel quite weird enough to carry the whole concept of a human schoolgirl at an all-bird high school, but there's still plenty of laughs to be had for a brief experience that you're going to have to play through multiple times to fully enjoy.
Hatoful Boyfriend is a straightforward dating simulator where all of your suitors just happen to be birds. If you're not drawn to your potential boyfriends, the early game can be a bit of a drag. While the second half of the game is worth the price of admission, many players will have a problem getting there. Proceed with caution.
Hatoful Boyfriend is a colourful title that utilizes a blend of photography and anime caricatures to tell its story. Animations are few and far between, with its style being more reminiscent of an elaborately crafted picture book than a conventional videogame title. This may disappoint some who will prefer a more thrilling experience, but it does well to set the game apart.
Hatoful Boyfriend is exactly what it professes to be, and little more than that. The reality of a pigeon dating sim is infinitely less entertaining than the idea, but it nevertheless has its moments.
Maybe it's because I'm not Japanese or familiar with Japanese culture, but these otome games, I'm sure they have a place in Western society, but I don't quite know where to put them. What I do know is that writing something like "getting to know birds on an intimate basis" used to be something akin to a red alert, warning all bystanders that Ryan is quickly losing sanity. Instead, I eagerly await my beloved pigeon San Oko, as we cleanse this world of evil by dousing it in pudding... glorious pudding!
Hatoful Boyfriend is the food fight of video games. While you can derive a great deal of entertainment from its complete insanity, this doesn't negate the fact that the end result is a total mess.