What is Hatoful Boyfriend?
Hatoful Boyfriend is a visual novel/dating sim, along the same lines as similarly obscure games Hakuoki and Sweet Fuse, which sees you playing as the only human female in a school full of birds, about to embark on your second year at the institution. Following you through three hectic terms of extra-curricular activities, festivals and of course, dates with the eligible avian who sets your heart aflutter, you'll achieve pudding-related enlightenment, solve a murder and befriend a cross-dressing dove - and that's only scratching the surface.
What do you do in Hatoful Boyfriend?
Hatoful Boyfriend is, essentially, a "choose your own" adventure novel in digital form. With lots of reading to be done, and little beyond it, you're whisked away on an adventure, with a whole cast of crazy characters to interact with. From stuck-up noblebirds, to reliable childhood friends, and a sexy and suave ladies man, each key bird has their own unique ending, and while it may only take an hour or two to play through each tale, seeing each and every available ending will take much longer, particularly in the case of the alternate, darker and much more sinister 'Bad Boys Love' path. Getting to the bottom of the mystery of St. Pigeonation's school, and why precisely you're the only human enrolled in the exclusive avian school, Hatoful Boyfriend takes on a bit more of a murder mystery vibe, tying up the lose ends from all the character-specific endings in one foul swoop (ho ho).
What age is Hatoful Boyfriend suitable for?
As it's essentially a choose-your-own-adventure-book, but in game form, there's a heck of a lot of reading to be done here. A solid reading ability is a definite must, as there's no voice overs whatsoever - but in terms of accessibility, that's pretty much the only requirement. Definitely not a game for the impatient folks who prefer a lot of action, Hatoful Boyfriend is a much more slow-paced, story-driven affair, perhaps making it a bit of a marmite adventure.
Although it's a dating sim generally created with an older audience in mind, Hatoful Boyfriend plays it fairly safe with nothing too questionable inside. There's the occasional utterance of words like 'sh*t', and one path through the story deals with a bit of a gruesome murder, where the victim is dismembered and sent to different classes in boxes - although you don't see, or even read, anything particularly grisly, with the occasional picture on screen of a blood spot on a box, or a bird with a blood-stained wing. Sex references are limited to infrequent and generally tame innuendos (like a pigeon saying he's getting excited by the wet, clinging feathers in a swimming lesson), and 'boss battles' see you attacking birds and weird robotic scarecrows via a list of moves, with no contact shown whatsoever - merely accompanied by an impact sound.
Format Reviewed: Playstation 4