Thursday, May 30, 2024

Raptor Boyfriend is bisexual hijinks wrapped in a high school rom-com setting

Raptor Boyfriend is about a bisexual, introverted 17-year-old girl called Stella Starosta who, after returning to the small town of Ladle for her senior year of school, falls in love with either a skateboarding velociraptor, an awkward Sasquatch, or a studious Fae during her senior year of high school. Did I mention it’s also 1997? If that doesn’t perk up any sort of interest in you then I don’t know what will.

After a brief anecdote of why Stella is in Ladle, we’re introduced to her first day in school and her reminiscing of high school back in the city. What becomes obvious very quickly is that, no matter what choice you pick during this stage, Stella was an outcast in her old high school for reasons that I could very quickly relate to. One of the options was being just plain weird, an absolute death sentence in places where being different only gets you picked one, but there were also options that implied Stella’s queerness was also an issue.

You see, despite Raptor Boyfriend being very much a high school romance game that lets you pick between three love interests… It is also very much a queer game. Stella’s bisexuality is not an option – full stop. There’s no ‘escaping’ Stella casually mentioning that she had a pretend girlfriend to Day, or talking about how a failed kiss left her not only without a girlfriend, but a friend too. Even if you choose one of the guys to end up with, Stella undeniably still has a crush on Day because Raptor Boyfriend and Stella is bisexual as hell! There’s nothing you can do about it! I love it! I love that Rocket Adrift took Stella’s introverted, awkward nature and were like ‘oh yeah, she’s bisexual too’ without making her a hypersexualized stereotype. Hell, even when Stella herself wants to hypersexualize herself in an effort to make herself seem cool, it goes hilariously wrong. She’s trying her best, and I love that for her.

On Stella’s first day she is arrested by the sight of Robert – the titular raptor of the game – saving her from the earthshattering embarrassment of a stinky sock in her locker. He is cool, endearing, funny, and he looks particularly flattering in that cap. It gets even better when she meets Day, a cute Fae girl who literally has love hearts flying aroud her head in Stella’s vision because she is incredibly into Day from the get go. Then after she’s done daydreaming about Day, she accidentally hits her next love interest – and old pal – Taylor Talltoe with her car. Despite the seriousness of the situation, Stella can’t help but take in how tall and handsome he is. After earning all three of their numbers, Stella has a mild panic in her bedroom because she now has three hot people to phone. My girl is so thirsty, but I can’t blame her because I was also terrible at the age of 17. I didn’t get 3 crushes in the space of a single day, but Stella is just wildly more comfortable in being queer than I was back in high school.

Queerness in particular is always front and center when it comes to Raptor Boyfriend, right up until the point that it wholly becomes the centerpiece of Stella’s adventures in Ladle. While Stella herself was an outcast back in the city, her consolidating a friend group full of cryptids in a town of outcasts feels as though Stella has found her place, and explans why she’s so ensnared by Ladle and its inhabitants from the very beginning. If people think you’re a freak or a weirdo in Ladle High School, it’s probably because you keep arguing with your dead ex in the hallway rather than because you like girls, and while that may seem ‘fantasy-like’ and ‘not realistic’, let me remind you that this is a dating novel where you can smooch a Velociraptor.

That’s not to say that Stella and her group of friends aren’t considered ‘weird’ by the people they know at high school, but it’s never because of the way they look. Despite them all being cryptids and looking different from the average human, it’s their personality and how they present themselves – Day is a nerd, Taylor a loner, and Robert is a jock who truly wants the best for everyone – that makes them stand out against their peers. It’s what makes Stella’s attention and affection for the three of them so endearing because regardless of which route you take, it’s clear that Stella’s interest in them really affects how they view themselves. And that makes me feel all gooey inside.

Raptor Boyfriend bisexual
Players need to choose who to call after each school day

One of the ways that you can show your interest is by talking to your friend after each school day. If you’re dead set on a certain person then you can just call them each and every day without consequence. Taylor and Robert aren’t going to be huffy about it if you just call Day each episode, and vice versa. With each phone call, you’ll learn something new about them. For example, Day is really into detective books and, depending on if you remember this information at the right time, pointing it out will show her you care about what she says. It’ll also give you a nice collectible, too.

You can also think about your chosen cryptid when you go sit by the window in your bedroom. Doing so gives you more insight into what Stella feels about Robert/Taylor/Day on that particular day. It usually has something to do with what happened at school that day, but Stella often also thinks about her friend’s future which is a real nice touch.

I personally really like the use of a phone to talk to the cryptid you’re most interested in. There’s something just really comfortable and intimate about Stella lying on her bed, feet up and excitedly talking to the person she likes the most while trying to make it not be so obvious. It’s something I can relate to, and Rocket Adrift has really sold me on their portrayal of not just high school romance, but the hijinks that happen during that time. There are sleepovers, scary stories, terrible exes, and making really bad drinks in an attempt to get drunk like a ‘real’ adult.

The unlikeliest of friends

There’s a lot like I like about this game: its music, its accessible font, its characters and its artstyle. However, there were some issues that I felt could be improved. Mostly it was the lack of some basic features you see in most visual novels, such as ‘Reverse’ and ‘History’ buttons that let you reverse back through the previous dialogue and gives you a full history of what the scene is about. This seems a bit of an oversight considering Rocket Adrift has strived to be accessible before. There were also issues where the dialogue would skip ahead despite me not pressing anything, causing me to have to reload whole scenes at times.

Outside of a few bugs, I also wish that we had more opportunities to just hang around and get to know more about the group as a group at times. I understand that only getting to call one person at a time is useful for replayability, but I still felt pretty awful at times for not getting to see what was up with one character because I was pursuing another. That’s just a personal preference though, and ultimately I feel that the end result (with three different endings by the way) is more than satisfactory.

Ultimately though, Raptor Boyfriend is a game that I need right now to remind me that nothing is inevitable. One of the key themes is change – something which I personally am not very good at handling. Why can’t everything remain the same? Why can’t a day where I feel the happiest just stretch on for centuries? In this game, change is something that all of the characters either resent or wish for. But regardless of how they feel about it, time goes on and change gives them a hand that they weren’t expecting. It’s both exciting and makes talking and knowing these characters – even those outside of Robert, Taylor and Day – feel all the more rewarding.

I beg anyone who thinks they should blow this visual novel off because of its absurdist nature to think again. Yes, Raptor Boyfriend is full of bisexual hijinks with a protagonist who is the lovechild of Max Caulfield from Life is Strange and Bella Swan from Twilight, and yes there’s a ton of cryptids running around… But neither of these things should put you off, because despite the wackiness, the game looks deep into things that we, as people, can all relate to.

And if nothing else… it’s a great, queer game with a great cast of characters. What’s not to love about that?

Raptor Boyfriend is available to play today on Steam and

Score: 4.5/5

A copy of Raptor Boyfriend: A High School Romance for PC was provided to Gayming Magazine by the publisher.

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