There’s no small amount of novelty to the enjoyment derived from wandering the corridors of elite all-bird high school, St. PigeoNation’s Institute. As the sole human enrolled in the establishment, you spend your time interacting with a menagerie of different male birds finding the right one to date because, well, interspecies romance is the normhere.


But look beyond Hatoful Boyfriend’s fowl visuals (sorry) and there’s not a lot to differentiate it from most simulators of its ilk, requiring a few mouse clicks to progress through its storyline. Visual novels aren’t known for their complexity and this is no different you cycle through an hour or so of dialogue and make a couple of choices to determine your end path. However, to really complete it
requires playing through the story multiple times in order to fully explore the various narrative paths of the eight prospective bird suitors. It doesn't stop indulging in the bizarreness of its concept fora moment, with static images ofa variety of bird types moving onto the screen to spout some weird gibberish about their lives (not to mention a few atrocious puns), while mysterious documents in the archive further flesh out the details of the world.

Unfortunately, the niche appeal of it's amusing concept is relatively short lived, and while there’s an abundance of knowing humour and irreverent wit to keep laughs regular enough, the uneven pacing makes much of its story a slog.


More so, it struggles further when it tries to be more of a game. The levelling system enables you gain wisdom, vitality and charisma on elective days and during random events, however it’s not made explicitly clear what benefits this has on your playthrough, making the entire mechanic superfluous.

However, those that persevere and plough enough time to complete the main paths will be treated to a darker Hurtful Boyfriend path, which explores the apocalyptic themes merely hinted at in the main story. Quite surprisingly, deeper themes are explored here and the game truly embraces the weirdness of its concept, making for the most gripping and well written portions of the entire story.

However, there’s a lot of bland flirtations to get there that will no doubt put some players off. Unsurprisingly, it’s a game about personality and those that spend time investigating all of the characters will get the most out of it, and even find something much more interesting at the end of it all. However, beneath the feathers there’s not much beyond some funny beats and a bizarre concept, with its pacing issues disrupting the story to a grind. Ultimately, this is a run-of-the-mill dating sim that, while fun, is a hard game to love.

6/10

FORMAT:  PC
ORIGIN:  UK
PUBLISHER: Devolver Digital
DEVELOPER: Mediatonic
PRICE:  £6.99
RELEASE: Out Now
PLAYERS: 1