Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star
Top Critic Average
Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star doesn't do much wrong, but plays itself maybe a bit too safe, whilst failing to correct the issues that were in the first game.
Holiday Star is possibly the only game that contains a pheasant weaponizing the delusional fervor of otaku. Established birdie lovers will find a lot to love in Holiday Star, but fledglings should start with the prequel.
Overall I enjoyed Hatoful Boyfriend Holiday Star as a fan of the original. It was great getting more back story for several characters that were underdone in the original, as well as meeting new characters all in the holiday mood.
Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star provides more fun for fans of the series, but it's disappointing that the package surrounding it isn't more polished.
A sadly disappointing festive spin-off to the lovably quirky Hatoful Boyfriend; Holiday Star strips back the things that made its predecessor a cult favourite. There's little holiday cheer for this bird, as its wings have been clipped. At least it hasn't been stuffed.
It's sad to say, but I can only recommend Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star if you're either a) extremely bird to death over the holidays, B) extremely drunk over the holidays, or ideally, c) extremely both. Fans of the original game may enjoy seeing the same birds in new situations, but the lack of any choice or gameplay (even compared to the first) is just downright owlful. Those looking for an actual game may want to sparrow themselves the pain.
Fans of Hatoful Boyfriend are still likely to find some fun, emotional moments tucked away in Holiday Star. If you haven't played the original and aren't a die-hard fan of visual novels, though, I can't say this is where you should break in.
The problem I have with Holiday Star as a visual novel is the fact that the storytelling is, unfortunately, pretty weak. I did not feel remotely immersed in the stories and there was nothing to truly ingratiate me as a player – and I use that term literally in the sense of a person sitting down to play a game – in terms of my ability to interact with, influence, or even care about the narrative and its outcome. This, combined with Holiday Star's inability to even attempt to welcome new players into this zany universe, is a pretty major shortcoming. If you enjoyed the original game, this sequel will probably hold a certain amount of interest. For everyone else, I'm not sure it's worth the time.
Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star succeeds at providing base-level fan-service, but in a way that doesn't feel as particularly compelling or essential as the original. If you want more pigeons in your life, it's pocket change for a few laughs – just don't expect more out of it.
Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star isn't a lump of coal by any means. Rather, it feels more like unwrapping a present and getting socks.