Boys Love

NaNoRenO 2020 Review – Flour Hour

It was only a matter of time before I unearthed another boys love title from among the NaNoRenO 2020 submissions. I’ve said this before, but it deserves repeating—boys love games tend to fall into one of two categories—comedy or angsty drama. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part if you take any given boys love title you can pretty much place it neatly into one of those two categories.

Sayumi101’s boys love visual novel, Flour Hour falls squarely into the latter category—even the synopsis describes it as a “light-hearted (probably unnecessarily drama-heavy) BL”. And I’m not going to lie, Flour Hour reads like an angsty, drama heavy 90’s boys love manga, touching on just about every cliche in the book and yet I couldn’t help but get invested in story and characters Sayumi and their team created.

Flour Hour 1

The game follows Yuki, a reserved baker who has taken over his ailing grandmother’s flower shop and turned it into a moderately successful bakery. Things are going well for him until a Lawyer informs him that he owes a considerable amount of money and that if he can’t pay, he will have to turn over the property. But, with the shop’s meager earnings, he isn’t sure he will be able to come up with the money in time… to add insult to injury, his ex suddenly bulldozes his way back into his life stirring up feelings Yuki thought he had long since buried.

Flour Hour is surprisingly tame for a boys love game, so if you’re expecting lots of sex, this is not the game for you. But, if you’re a fan of angsty drama, Flour Hour has it in spades… I will admit that I wasn’t enthusiastic about this game at first, the overly dramatic plot was at times clunky and unnecessary, but I stuck with it and I was treated to an entertaining if not slightly cliche experience.

The protagonist, Yuki is a kind, but damaged young man, still reeling from his split from Souma, a leather clad bad boy, while “good guy” Izumi waits patiently in the wings ready to shower Yuki with love and adoration. It’s not the most original set up, but I can’t say the developers didn’t commit, taking players on a wild ride that depending on your choices can spell disaster or success for the characters. Flour Hour has genuine bad endings, and not just the kind where the protagonist doesn’t achieve his romantic happily ever after—but the kind where shit gets real. And, depending on your tolerance for drama and angst, you will either roll your eyes at the over the top antics of the characters or lose yourself in a wave of feels (I was somewhere in the middle). Mild spoiler, but one of Izumi’s bad endings gave me some serious Ukyo vibes… so be on the lookout for that.

The writing was pretty solid, though there was an awful lot of “teen speak” which kind of took me out of the story a bit, but it was easy to overlook. The romance is enjoyable, both love interests are well developed and it is clear to see their intentions towards Yuki. Though, with that said, I can’t help but feel like Souma is the “canon” LI—he and Yuki have a history and there are clearly a lot of unresolved feelings tied up in that, and their interactions just felt more genuine. That’s not to say that Izumi isn’t a viable love interest—he is a lovely character and his romance with Yuki was really sweet—but, he felt more like a second lead in a K-drama.

I did like that the game included two female side characters, since boys love games tend to be sausage parties and in the off chance you do see female characters they’re either easily overlooked or wholly unlikable. Mei and Rei are a breath of fresh air, often bringing some much needed levity to overly angsty story. There are even some hints that the pair may have feelings for one another, but due to time constraints their romantic relationship isn’t explored.

The art is nice, very clean and neat for a NaNoRenO game. Most of the characters sport an anime inspired art style—narrow angular faces and thin bishounen body types—however it is clear that some of the sprites were open source while others were created by the developers and while it’s not too jarring, it is worth noting. Since the developers didn’t have the same artistic control over these sprites, they used these cute emotion animations to fill in the gaps, which was a nice workaround. There are three CGs, and unlike the sprites, there is a distinct difference between the sprite work and the CGs. I found them cute, but out of keeping with the rest of the art assets, but given the one month development time I can’t fault anyone for that.

So, the final verdict—Flour Hour is a cute game that offers an entertaining, if not, overly dramatic story that fans of the BL genre will enjoy. The characters are well developed and with a run time between 3-4 hours, this is definitely one of the more polished games to come out of this batch of  NaNoRenO submissions.

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