I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from Hatoful boyfriend, a dating sim involving a human girl in a high school filled with talking pigeons. Half of me went in expecting something retarded, and yet after playing the brilliant Katawa Shoujo (which I also assumed to be a joke game at the time) I thought Hatoful Boyfriend might be a genuine game at heart with a silly exterior.
And then before I knew it, I was getting harassed by pigeons with mohawks.
Hatoful Boyfriend then, plays almost exactly as you would expect it to at first glance, a ridiculous visual novel filled with nonsensical plot and characters, and a handful of bird puns. The characters are all pretty individual with their own personalities, some more lovable than others, and the dialogue is quirky and funny (despite being absurd most of the time). There is music, but it is fairly spartan and not worth mentioning, sounding like some sort of midi from a geocities website back from back in the day (and not a particularly good midi either).
I was admittedly enjoying the game a fair bit, until things started to get interesting and the game decided I had seen enough, and rolled the credits.
What the hell?
I started again and tried a different route to make sure I hadn’t picked some sort of dud route with no end, but alas, the second ending rolled just as the characters were starting to get close again.
And therein lies Hatoful Boyfriend’s main problem, a route is maybe 45 to 60 minutes long, and bare in mind that once you’ve played through once, much of the text becomes skippable the second time round. That’s the full route we’re talking about, HB feels like a teaser to the full game, the introduction chapter for a more interesting game, and yet the game is already finished and complete. As a comparison, I turn to Katawa Shoujo, the first act in that is a few hours long, at the end of which you become close with 1 girl and then the game progresses to act 2 through 4, where you learn more about that girl and build your relationship, the first act is literally just the opening of the game, yet hatoful boyfriend feels that it’s done enough, and ends things there and then.
Hatoful boyfriend’s second largest problem is the lack of a skip unread text option, given that you’ll blow through a whole route in under an hour, the option to stop skipping when you get to new text would be great, but bizarrely HB omits this important feature, rendering subsequent playthroughs a chore.
Hatoful Boyfriend is overpriced, essentially a flash game in terms of content, it’s funny for an hour or so, but don’t be expecting a proper game out of it.
Approximate Game Length : < 3 Hours
Actual Worth / Steam Price: £1.50 / £7 = 0.21
Should you play it : Probably not? Watching a let’s play is probably cheaper and easier.