HATOFUL BOYFRIEND Review
Have you ever looked at the vast array of dating simulators available to the discerning dating simulator fan and thought to yourself, “But what about birds?” Well, developers Mediatonic and St. Pigeonation’s have a solution for you. HATOFUL BOYFRIEND on the PSN is a dating sim that finally dares to blend what we’ve all hoped for: post-apocalyptic adventures and pigeon dating.
Strap in kiddos, it’s only gonna get weirder
(Note: Many refer to HATOFUL BOYFRIEND as a visual novel along with/rather than a dating simulator. I’m referring to it as a dating sim because of the existence of actual choices one can make. Visual novel implies endless clicking to bring about more dialogue, and while this element is present in HATOFUL BOYFRIEND, the game does require player input beyond that element.)
I stumbled upon HATOFUL BOYFRIEND by accident, truly. I found a Lore video on Youtube featuring the game, and I was confused by my own unfamiliarity with it. Usually they featured games that were pretty popular or new and that had people interested in them, and I’d never heard of this strange bird game. My thirst for discovery growing, I quickly learned the game’s dark secrets, albeit probably a bit prematurely. Nevertheless, I was interested. The game was about five dollars on Steam at the time, so I immediately downloaded it and fired it up.
Oh c’mon, who wouldn’t click on this?
HATOFUL BOYFRIEND looks like an average dating sim: the colors are all bright and cheerful, and so is the music. So much so that I was worried about what I was really getting myself into. The only thing I had to go off of was the picture of all the assembled pigeon characters at the start screen. Would I be forced to watch a digital representation of myself bang a pigeon? Will any sen-pigeon notice me? It was too late at this point. I had paid money for this thing.
Money well spent, as it would eventually turn out
I have to admit that I’m not a seasoned dating sim player, so the intricacies of HATOFUL BOYFRIEND’s relationships are to an extent lost on me. But I am a fan of clever writing and humor, which HATOFUL BOYFRIEND accomplishes pretty well. The plot, as I’d learned, centers on the player, who is the first human to attend St. Pigeonation’s, the most elite school for birds in Japan, as well as the world. Once there, the player has the option to romance various characters and also uncover the dark secret of St. Pigeonation’s and the world of HATOFUL BOYFRIEND.
He’s referring to Brian the Pigeon, who turns out to be a big fucking deal
The game has many branching endings, and is clearly designed for multiple playthroughs. While the replays can get repetitive, the surreal humor that stems from the birdy premise, resulting in the protagonist counseling a pigeon to forsake his destiny so that he may become the head of his noble household and become a musician, keeps things interesting. I mean, there at least three things in that last sentence that are worth exploring further. This is a main factor of the game’s appeal, as it starts out as an average dating simulator/visual novel, just with pigeons. You meet your friend that you’ve known “since he was barely hatched”, and then slowly the game’s cast of characters reveal themselves. Do you pursue your best friend or your stuck-up noblebird classmate with secret artistic leanings? His suave half-brother? The pudding-obsessed, yet athletic, pigeon who communicates solely through translated coos? Or perhaps the school’s unsettling sparrow doctor, who may or may not have had a hand in the near-destruction of the human race and your genesis? The choices are endless!
That’s a French-ass name, Sakuya
The game’s tongue-in-beak sense of humor is also an important part of the game’s appeal. At the town’s annual wishing festival, the game gives you options of what you want to wish for. Do you want to find a relationship? Be a famous artist? Or maybe you just want to secretly conquer the world and rule from the shadows? All are valid options. As the player protagonist is also the only human character you ever hear of, many jokes are made related to the player’s hunter-gatherer instincts and their lack of feathers to keep them warm in cold weather. Also, you live in a goddamn cave at the edge of town by yourself. No wonder it’s a big deal you’re going to school.
HATOFUL BOYFRIEND starts out good for a laugh then quickly develops into a nest of intrigue that is also very good for a laugh. It’s all very pretty, looks very nice, and is more or less the most fun you could have while trying to win the affections of a rock dove. I found it worth several replays,and while they tended to grate, the new avenues they took were worth it. Pick it up if you’re in the mood for a surrealistic dating experience.
HATOFUL BOYFRIEND is available for Steam and downloadable on the PS Network