Home Indies Love is in the Air: A Review of Hatoful Boyfriend

Love is in the Air: A Review of Hatoful Boyfriend

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SheAttack has done a few articles on Hatoful Boyfriend, but we’ve yet to do a full review! Hatoful Boyfriend is a highly popular Japanese otome game, and it also happens to be one of my all time favorite visual novels. 

In Hatoful Boyfriend, you play as the only human in a school for birds where you befriend and date one of the game’s eight available pigeons. If this sounds difficult to imagine, the pigeons also have human portraits to help you imagine what they would look like as a member of your own species.

At first glance, people may think that Hatoful Boyfriend is a strange game, and they would be absolutely correct. The game unabashedly embraces its weirdness, showing that being weird isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Hatoful Boyfriend has a surprisingly compelling narrative with lively and relatable characters that offer a worthy visual novel experience.

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Hatoful Boyfriend began as a parody of dating simulators, which is why the game is so nonsensical. At first, each of the eight date-able birds even seem to follow common character types.

  • Ryouta Kawara is a rock dove and the childhood friend who’s hopelessly in love with the protagonist.
  • Sakuya le Bel Shirogane is a fancy fantail pigeon and the snobby, tsundere rich boy.
  • Okosan is a fantail pigeon and the dumb jock.
  • Yuuya Sakazaki is another fantail pigeon and the flirty lady’s man.
  • Nageki Fujishiro is a mourning dove and the quiet book-worm.
  • Kazuaki Nanaki is a button quail and the kind and lovable teacher.
  • Shuu Iwamine is a chukar partridge and the mysterious bad boy.
  • Anghel Higure is a Luzon bleeding-heart dove and the eccentric and delusional manga lover.

However, these characters grow to become more than mere stereotypes as players move through the story routes. They become relatable characters that you grow attached to as you learn about their hopes, dreams, and secrets. Believe it or not, these birds will make you laugh and cry. Even the player character has a unique personality. She’s fierce, plucky, optimistic, and outspoken, but she’s also kind.

The game then takes a serious and twisted turn in the Bad Boy’s Love route, which is the pinnacle of the game’s narrative. This route is unlocked only after completing certain routes first. Turning from a whimsical dating sim to a dramatic story of mystery and suspense, the darker side of the game’s universe is revealed, which answers many of the player’s questions about the game’s universe: why are you in a school full of birds, why can these birds talk, and why are you dating these birds?

While Hatoful Boyfriend is an enjoyable game, it isn’t the game for everyone. The game’s over-the-top strangeness may be too much for some people to handle. Then there’s game’s odd stat-raising system, which seems pointless and confusing. Stats are only important for achieving the “true” endings for a few of the characters. Because it isn’t exactly clear what the stats are for early on in the game, it’s easy to completely miss those certain endings.

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Overall, Hatoful Boyfriend is a unique game that aims to surprise players with an impressive narrative filled with dynamic characters and plot twists. The game has great re-playability because of all the different character paths. If the game’s silliness doesn’t bother you, it’s definitely worth playing. You’ll be in for a pleasant surprise.

Review overview
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