Dating Is Hard: Hatoful Boyfriend Review (PS Plus September 2017) PS4/PS VITA

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Disclaimer: I KNOW THIS REVIEW IS EXCESSIVELY LATE, BUT I REALLY WANT Y’ALL TO READ THIS AND PLAY THIS GAME. IT ISN’T FREE ANYMORE. SORRY I DIDN’T GET THIS REVIEW OUT IN TIME. I’M A FAILURE. Ok, now let’s get to the review!

You know how you walk into something with certain expectations and then you leave with all of your expectations violently shattered? This was my experience with Hatoful Boyfriend. No previous knowledge of dating SIMS/visual novels could have prepared me for the utterly disturbing nature of this game.

Hatoful Boyfriend follows you, the player and human, as you traverse a school built specifically for birds. Ridiculous? I know, but it all makes sense in the end. Seemingly, the goal is to get these birds to fall in love with you. Simple enough. You watch the text closely and make decisions using context clues. Each bird is different but kind of a cliche, so they’re pretty easy to romance (yes, I romanced various birds).

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Gameplay

Hatoful Boyfriend plays like all other dating SIMS where you read text and select answers based on context clues to make certain decisions. These choices lead to branching story lines that give the game tons of replayability. So, the gameplay is very simple. However, there are also certain stats that your character has like vitality, charisma and intelligence which you can increase by going to certain activities on your free periods. Choosing certain activities while pursuing certain birds give different endings. And while the stats may seem useless, they can come in handy depending on the route you take.

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Music and Visual

There isn’t much to critique in this category. Visually, this game isn’t very appealing and doesn’t do anything unique to dating SIMS/Visual novels. There are regular, drawn, still visuals of the background and scenery but with real photos of various birds plastered on top of them. It’s a bit of an eyesore to look at, but you get used to it very quickly. The music of the game isn’t bad, but it certainly isn’t good. If you’ve played through the game multiple times and are just trying to skip scenes to reach certain path breaks, the music gets a bit off track. Also, Christmas music played quite frequently when the setting was not, in fact Christmas.

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Story

This is by far the most interesting story I’ve ever played in my life. When first booting up the game, I was utterly confused as to why I, a human girl, wanted to attend a school built for advanced birds. There were so many questions: How did I get here? Who are my parents, and why did they allow me to join this school? Why are the birds so advanced? Why do I want to befriend birds anyhow? And all of my questions were actually thoroughly answered. The game boots up and it seems like a cute, but odd, love story is unfolding. However, there is always a sense of something way more sinister and dark lurking in the background that you can’t quite put your finger on.

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Overall

Play this game if you have time. The story is compelling and honestly, I didn’t want to stop playing until I got all of the possible endings. Games of this nature aren’t really for everyone (certainly didn’t think they were for me), but you won’t be disappointed at the mysteries you uncover as this game progresses. It’s bizarre, heartfelt, and full of conspiracies. So play it!

Here is a video of some of my gameplay! (Spoilers)

bio picAbout the author – Elaine C. Kern:
She is a nerd. That is all.

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