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Gameplay in Hatoful Boyfriend is similar to most other visual novels for the PC, with the controls limited to the mouse and the only interactions being clicking to forward the game's narrative or to choose between multiple plot choices.
The keyboard can also be used instead of the mouse, with the 'enter' key serving the same purpose as clicking.
There are thirteen (fourteen in the 2014 remake) endings in total: one ending for each of the main love interests, three extended endings for three of the love interests based on stat values, one ending for the gaiden-esque Torimi Café storyline, and one ending attained if the player fails to romance any character.
When routes are completed, documents are unlocked that provide insights into the game's overarching storyline.
Ph ET sims are based on extensive education research and engage students through an intuitive, game-like environment where students learn through exploration and discovery.
The in-game date is shown in the top left, and the arrow button in the top right allows the player to skip dialogue.
Hatoful Boyfriend is an interactive text-based visual novel that follows a branching plot line, with the player's decisions determining which of the game's multiple endings they receive.
Choosing to live a normal life will result in a normal playthrough, while choosing to fulfill the promise locks the player into the true route or scenario Bad Boys Love, or BBL (also known as Hurtful Boyfriend), which explores the full extent of the underlying plot alluded to by the documents and various points of foreshadowing in the dating simulation portion of the game.
If the player chooses to fulfill the promise, aside from several dream sequences, gameplay at first appears to continue normally until the in-game date is 2 September.
Hatoful Boyfriend is set in an alternate version of Earth in which sapient birds have seemingly taken the place of humans in society for reasons that are hinted at, but not fully explained in the dating simulation portion of the game.