Trigger warning for suicide, self harm, and other disturbing content.
You’ve read the game tags. You’ve read the warnings. You’ve read the reviews. It’s on Steam for free. Now it’s your turn to experience the psychological horror that is Doki Doki Literature Club!
Don’t let the innocent logo, shades of pink, and the stereotypical looking visual novel ladies fool you. This game made me scream, and never have so many obscenities come out of my mouth while playing a Steam game before. Jump scares? Check! Nightmares? Check! Images burned into my eyeballs? Check! Music stuck in my head for days? Check! Check! Check! As always, buckle up for a spoiler free review!
Brief intro: You’re a high school student in a very typical Japanese style visual novel. You meet the first girl, your childhood best friend named Sayori, on your way to school. You walk together every day. After a bit of pestering from Sayori about what club you’re going to be in this year, you start to consider possibly joining a club. After class is over, Sayori invites you to stop in at her club where you meet three other girls: Monika, the president of the Literature Club and the most popular girl in school, Natsuki, the typical tsundere who loves cute things, manga, and baking, and Yuri, the mysterious and introverted bookworm.
Things are definitely checking off all the boxes for your typical romance visual novel. You get a glimpse of personalities from the girls, you’re pushed into being a member of the club, and after what you’ve seen so far, things are normal. Normal and quiet… You are lulled into a simple choice romance game, picking what you know will get you the most time with a girl. Creating poems to be shared with each girl to get to know her better…
But slowly, you start to see things. Little things. In the dialogue. In the poems. Things that make you take a second look. Things that don’t quite make sense. Things that don’t belong… Things that frighten you.
Review: Hang on tight, because shit gets cray in Doki Doki. I finished this game in 2 days because I just HAD TO KNOW what the F was going on. With a game play of about 2 to 10 hours, it’s short and sweet but leave your heart jumping from your chest. Fans of thrillers and psycho horrors: this game is for you.
Without spoiling the game or ending, this game gets under your skin. It starts off innocently enough and is cleverly disguised as a romance visual novel with your typical high school guy and four girls to “choose” from. Endless dialogue and the usual choices will start to make you yawn (or if you’re like me and actually enjoy visual novels you’ll feel right at home). Then… it starts.
Strange poetry, strange dialogue, strange reactions from the girls, and strange game glitches. You’ll be scratching your head wondering if that just happened. Was it a part of the game? Are you seeing things? Why are the girls acting so weird? You’ll think back to past conversations as the pieces start to fit together.
Speaking of strange poetry, the poems that you share every day with the girls in the Literature Club is a game mechanic I haven’t encountered before but definitely has a place in Doki Doki. You choose from a set of words twenty times to create your poem. These words range from ‘sunshine’ to ‘suicide’ and correlate to each girl. Pick the right ones for the right girl, and you’ll have her attention. Despite never getting to see your poems, it’s still a neat game mechanic
Beautiful and sometimes haunting music accompany the Japanese style visual novel graphics. It’s subtle enough to accompany the story without taking you away, but haunting enough to be stuck in your head for days (just ask my husband). The character art is very well done and up to visual novel standards. There’s static movement with the occasional full size shot of the girl you are romancing. For a free game, it was most definitely crafted with love by Team Salvato. I’m looking forward to any other games they put out on the Steam store.
Doki Doki Literature Club truly belongs in it’s own genre. It’s terrifying, discusses mental health on a highly uncomfortable level, incorporates heavy foreshadowing in an already intricate story, and really screws with you as a player (hello, fourth wall breaking!). You’ll even find yourself digging into the game files to uncover… things. Do yourself a favor, and play Doki Doki Literature Club.
Official Rating: M
Genre(s): Psychological Horror, Visual Novel, Dating Sim
Score: 5 out of 5 stars!