(PCM) The most popular game on the Internet may not be Destiny – rather a visual novel called Hatoful Boyfriend. Unlike most Japanese visual novels, this one comes with a catch – all the boys you can date are intelligent birds.
Set in a post apocalyptic world, humans are now living on the outskirts of humanity while the dominant race is birds – specifically doves and pigeons, although we do encounter some sparrows, parakeets, and one sinister partridge along the way. There is a reason for this explained in the sequel, Bad Boys Love, available after completing all endings in Hatoful Boyfriend, so it will not be discussed here for the sake of spoilers.
Hatoful Boyfriend was originally released as an April Fools Day joke by mangaka (one who creates manga – Japanese comics) Moa Hato. The “pilot” was created in half a day using Adobe Flash. Word of mouth through social media caused so much traffic to the site that it crashed twice on the first day. From this popularity the development of a full visual novel went into production. It took seven months from start to finish, with all writing, game direction, human portrait illustration, programing, and scripting done by Moa Hato alone.
Despite original reluctance towards the premise, reviews have given Hatoful Boyfriend overwhelmingly positive reviews, citing the complex storyline and characterization.
It’s not hard to see why someone would be hooked. After the initial playthrough and subsequent giggling over the fact that you are playing a dating sim with birds (although human illustrations are provided during each character’s introduction) you begin to forget the silliness and genuinely get sucked in to the storyline. You start to care for the characters. Sometimes you will be brought to tears, others will make you shake your head, one will disturb you, and at times the visual novel experience will become a 90s turn based rpg. This is, above all, a really good game.
Hatoful Boyfriend is available in HD on Steam for $9.99 for Mac, PC, and Linux. The full game and free demo is also available on the main site, http://clione.halfmoon.jp/hatoful-boyfriend/english.html
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