This one is going to have a lot of pictures in it. Fair warning.
This is for CA, since he wanted to know more about Hatoful Boyfriend. I thought about running through it like a "Let's Play" format, but I'd rather not spoil it. Instead this is going to be more of a teaser with a few funny lines from Sakuya's story.http://jayisgames.com/archives/2012/02/hatoful_boyfriend.php
JayisGames has a lovely page with links to both the demo and english patch, as well as the full version (roughly $5 USD). The full version has an official English translation, but it is identical to the unofficial translation for the demo.
For those who don't know, Hatoful Boyfriend ("Heartful Boyfriend" in Japanese) is a Visual Novel / Pigeon Dating Sim. You play as a human girl who lives in a cave and has somehow come to attend a prestigious school for birds.
No really, you live in a cave and kill animals for sustenance.
After a lengthy introduction where you are introduced to the majority of the cast, you're given the option to join one of several student organizations and then the game starts to give you some control.
You have statistics, but they seem pretty meaningless. You generally just pick the same class each time you get the chance to max out whatever stat happens to matter for the ending you're pursuing. The downside is that there isn't anything to learn to game here, but the upside is that you can just focus on picking the stats you want to see how they influence events later in the game.
This is pretty much the only way you influence your stats.
The "game" part basically involves memorizing where your chosen beau will be during certain choices, or picking them from a list when you have the chance to do so. Just keep hounding the same character throughout the game and you'll develop a relationship with them. A few characters are harder to find than others, and some are not available on your first playthrough (Yuuya, for example, only becomes available on your second playthrough and further).
Okosan is the captain of the track team, and really likes pudding.
The cast is pretty fun and varied. Among your possible mates are Sakuya the noblebird, Ryouta your childhood friend, Okosan the insane track captain, or even Mr. Nanaki your math professor. There are easily a dozen possible characters to pursue, and each has a smattering of character unique events to see. A fast-forward option helps you get through old events quickly, and a few dozen save slots lets you save before major decisions if you feel like save-scumming.
Befriending Sakuya is an exercise in patience.
The writing in the game is only average in terms of quality, but the content is top-notch. There are plenty of amusing exchanges and a few instances of breaking the fourth wall, not to mention more than a few Pokemon references if you choose to court Okosan. Furthermore, the game doesn't fall into a trap of flat character stereotypes. Most of the characters you meet wind up having unexpected background stories that are gradually revealed if you choose to pursue them. As you go along, you'll even learn about some hidden events going on behind the scenes at the school.
You wind up being the only person who doesn't scream at the haunted house.
Despite being a "dating sim", the content for the game is rather tame. There isn't even the implication of sleeping with any of the characters. On the other hand, there is some potential for violence. Ultimately, the whole thing is well within "Safe for work", so if you are hesitating to play it because you're worried you'll look like a pervert, that should not stop you!
Google it, really.
The game has 24 different endings to find (as indicated by the gallery screen), and an archive that contains hints to a deeper plot lurking in the background at the school. Unfortunately, this doesn't change the fact that the game is still a visual novel and as such has an extremely low level of interactivity aside from picking which scenes to watch and hoping to trip the right flags in the background to get a new ending.
The full version contains a gallery and an archive, as well as several new endings.
There is a demo and a full version of the game available. The demo is only in japanese, but there is an english patch. The full version contains several new scenes and characters, including a secret ultimate ending that owners of the full version must swear not to reveal. The full version comes with an official english translation, but it is for dialogue only. The menu options are still in japanese, which is unfortunate. Links to both are available at the top of the page for convenience.
"Carve it into your soul!" is my new favorite phrase.
For the low price, I'm actually pretty pleased with this title despite not liking visual novels. Each playthrough takes roughly 30-40 minutes (less if you skip scenes you've already seen) so I've found it pretty easy to pick up during a break to just see one more ending. The price is pretty agreeable, and the oddball premise is absolutely charming. I'll probably be picking away at this over a few weeks to see if I can find the secret ultimate ending. Everybirdie should give Hatoful Boyfriend a try.