Raptor Boyfriend Review

07/15/2021 - 11:00 | By: Dashiell Wood
Developer
Rocket Adrift
Publisher
Rocket Adrift
Release Date
July 15, 2021
Platforms
PC
Purchase (Some links may be affiliated)
Steam
A Summer to Remember

Following the journey of Stella Starosta, who moves to the fictionalized Ontario town of Ladle in her final year of high school, Raptor Boyfriend: A High School Romance is an episodic romantic comedy with a dinosaur themed twist. Despite its conventional visual novel style gameplay, brilliant artwork, excellent writing and a cast of memorable cryptid characters cement Raptor Boyfriend as anything but.

Picture Perfect

One of the most striking aspects of Raptor Boyfriend’s presentation is its distinctive art style. With beautiful hand-drawn backdrops, each of the environments you encounter throughout the game’s roughly six-hour runtime is consistently stunning. Good attention to detail and a palette of pastel shades keep even the most mundane scene, like a dingy school corridor or the side of a deserted country road, easy on the eyes and a visual treat to explore. The warm color scheme is comforting, perfectly complements the abundance of characteristic 1990s objects, like chunky TVs and antiquated answering machines, helping to create a tangible sense of nostalgia. Visually, everything exudes an indescribably inviting sense of small-town charm, with small buildings and plenty of trees littering the landscape, and I found myself quickly drawn in by the setting.

A screenshot from Raptor Boyfriend showing a transition effect
The occasional side-by-side visual effect is stylish and refreshing

The character art is similarly superb, with each of the three romanceable characters being particularly impressive. Although their animations are limited in a conventional visual-novel sprite-based style, the sheer amount of personality packed into each expression, outfit or pose is remarkable. Each still from the game wouldn’t look out of place in a full-color comic book and the fact you can tell a lot about each of their characters by simply looking at them makes it much easier for players to choose which romance route they want to pursue. The supporting characters, who occasionally appear on screen, are admittedly a little more basic in their designs but this was likely a deliberate choice so as not to distract from the central cast. Alongside character mouth movement as text appears on screen, there are a number of stylish on-screen effects, like smooth side-by-side transitions, which add a little variety in the presentation to help keep interactions feeling fresh.

The Raptor in the Room

Judging solely by the title ‘Raptor Boyfriend’, I was half-expecting the game’s writing to be the typical self-aware satirical visual novel fare. What I found, however, was one of the most earnestly written, heartwarming, and enjoyable stories I’ve experienced this year. Narrated by Stella, who is recounting the year's events to her therapist/teddy bear, it presents an intimate portrayal of teenage friendships and awkward high-school romance. Despite the obvious implausibility of dating a dinosaur, or the other members of this supernatural society for that matter, dialogue is surprisingly ground and very believable. After the chaos of the last two years, I very much appreciated reliving many of the staples of high-school life through the comforting nostalgia of numerous awkward romantic encounters, a handful of sleepovers, and, of course, that one pointless group project.

 
 
A screenshot from Raptor Boyfriend showing the main cast in car
I wish my high school friend group looked like this

Where comedy is present it’s used sparingly and effectively. Comedy may be subjective, but I found the occasional in-character sarcastic remark or well-timed situational joke far more amusing than the bombardment of self-aware shock humor that I was expecting. This approach helped the genuinely heartwarming moments, of which there are many, land without a total tonal dissonance. I was also impressed by the frank and believable portrayal of social anxiety, from which the protagonist suffers, and it quickly had me invested in her success.

Reasons to Revisit

From a gameplay perspective, there are three possible routes to completion, each centered around one of the romanceable characters. Robert the raptor, Day the fae, and Taylor the sasquatch were all equally compelling options for me, and on replays, I found each of the potential avenues presented a good level of variety. Even if you’re not the kind of person to play a game more than once, each of the characters has their own troubles and secrets which are hinted at in other routes to almost irresistibly entice you in. For completionists, the presence of collectibles in the form of comic strips, cassette tapes, and poems, which can be gained from picking dialogue options based on details you have remembered about characters, also provides a good justification to jump back in.

Unfortunately, in the 15 hours, I spent with the game completing the three routes I found that the music, despite being excellent in isolation, became a little repetitive. Thanks to the strength of the writing and visuals you generally don’t feel the game’s long length but I would have still appreciated maybe one or two new background tracks here and there to add a little auditory variety to repeat runs.

Raptor Boyfriend Review - Everything I Could Have Wanted 

Raptor Boyfriend: A High School Romance was definitely not the game I was expecting, but it was the one I needed. Packed with great characters, fantastic writing, and a constant nostalgic 1990s charm Raptor Boyfriend is a breath of fresh air and a visual novel that fans of the genre should not miss.


A copy of Raptor Boyfriend: A High School Romance for PC was provided to TechRaptor by the publisher. The game is available on Steam and Itch.

Review Summary

9.0
Surprisingly sincere, wonderfully heartwarming and beautifully drawn, Raptor Boyfriend is a charming visual novel which strikes the perfect balance between comedy and coziness.

Pros

  • Charming Writing and Beautiful Artwork
  • Memorable Setting and Diverse Cast of Characters
  • An Excellent Length with Reasons to Replay

Cons

  • Music Becomes Repetitive with Extended Play

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Topics | Indie
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A writer based in London, England, when I'm not playing videogames - I'm working behind the scenes on TechRaptor's social presence . Catch me hanging out in the official Discord server and if you've ever seen any of our highly unfunny posts on Twitter dot com, chances are I was the one behind it.