HATOFUL BOYFRIEND: HOLIDAY STAR Review
Grab your eggnog, because the holidays aren’t quite over yet. And while you’re at it, grab the birdseed, because the creators of HATOFUL BOYFRIEND are back with a sequel and damn it all if it isn’t a festive holiday affair. HATOFUL BOYFRIEND: HOLIDAY STAR brings back all the characters from the original HATOFUL to explore how Japanese birds deal with Christmas in a post-human world. And apparently the answer is “they do it up right.”
HOLIDAY STAR’s most notable feature is a complete departure from the earlier HATOFUL released on Steam; instead of a single game capable of multiple playthroughs, the stories are presented in an episodic manner with four main episodes to unlock. Each episode features Christmas hijinks amidst the game’s signature blend of humor and delicate hints of apocalypse-bringing super-science.
An explanation for this screenshot could surely only serve to frighten you
HOLIDAY STAR also removes quite a bit of player choice from the equation, as the episodes play out more like the visual novels they were compared to in my review of the previous installment. While there are segments within where the player chooses how to advance, they merely offer slight variations of the same experience and don’t have any effect on the overall storyline. No, Virginia, you can’t exactly romance a pigeon in this game. I’m sorry.
It would seem, however, that developer Mediatonic sacrificed versatility for content, because good Lord there’s a lot more to offer here. In addition to the four main episodes there’s a variety of short stories to play that are more or less individual dates with each character in various locations. These stories serve mainly to flesh out the characters a little bit more, which is a nice addition if you didn’t get your fill from the first game. There’s also a new feature wherein one of the characters hosts a St. Pigeonation’s radio show that answers fan questions about the game’s universe and characters. It’s real handy if you didn’t progress through the entire first game but want to understand the various plot points of this one, which definitely baffled me.
Ah, yes, a scene which I understand. Yes, of course.
While many of the aspects that made the original great are done away with, HATOFUL BOYFRIEND: HOLIDAY STAR succeeds because while it is now pretty much a visual novel with birds during Christmas, that fact alone makes it worth a playthrough. Fortunately the game still retains its signature bizarre humor and excellent writing that made the original such a pleasure to play and experience in the first place. For instance, the special edition of the game that includes bonus materials is referred to as the Dove, Actually edition. While Crossfader has previously stated our feelings toward Love, Actually, I encourage you to pick up the game if you’re in for a giggle and want to know the true meaning of bird Christmas.
Reviewed on PC, also available on PS4 and PS3