Dropping one of the biggest surprises for a game this year, Doki Doki Literature Club! is finally starting to come around to the mainstream audience for its well entangled story line. Developed by Team Salvato, this PC game looks like any other anime visual novel but gamers, that are of age, are in for surprises that most people overlooked in their quest to find something to play.
Many people passed up on Doki Doki when they saw this was a visual novel. Unlike A Cinderella Story, among thousands of others, you get to control your choices through the story but somewhere down the road things start to get very deep. Characters start to break the fourth wall, there is a deep connection to real issues like depression and suicide and that only scratches the surface of what this game shaped up to be.
The Doki Doki Literature Club is a group of four girls, Monika, Yuri, Natsuki and Sayori. Each female has a different personality which rounds out the group, and then there is you, the protagonist. You get to choose your own name but from then on, you’re the only male and you get to dig deeper in to everyone’s personality. In a way, the story line leads the player to believe that he can choose the love interest of his choice, but this has nothing to do with anything when the player gets further in. Specifically, these types of choices during dialogue are just a facade of what a typical stereotyped visual novel would be.
Upon getting to know everyone in the literature club, your character starts to notice some strange things going on. For example, the game seems to glitch. Further down the line, the other characters also start to have a melt down. All of a sudden the depression kicks in and the shared poems that everyone works on becomes dark. Eventually, The game breaks the fourth wall and speaks to you and gives you more detail about what is going on. This can be unnerving at first but for the players that love this type of thing, they are in for a treat.
This game is not for the timid or those who suffer from depression The three, yes three, warnings drive that message home very quickly. On one level, this game is a meta experience where game play is more then what is just going on the computer screen. On another, it seems to be a critique of those dating sims that are all over the place nowadays. When you stop and think, those games are somewhat creepy as you pick the things to make the guy or girl fall in love with you. Some might play these games and pick the choices they would make in real life, but others pick choices that will get them the person they want. Is that not a manipulation, or a sociopath world view? This game makes you think about dating and visual novels in a whole new light.
This review might be a little shorter then some of my others, but part of the fun is finding out the secrets yourself. In both art style and writing, the game is so close to an actual visual novel game that I wonder how many people played it thinking it was just that. If you are in the mood for something really different, give Doki Doki a try. One last word of advice: make sure you keep the game file window open as well when you play it.
Doki Doki Literature Club is available now on PC and its FREE.