Doki Doki Literature Club released in 2017 for PC and only a few days ago at the time of this review for console. It is 100% not what you think it is. While it is a visual novel game it starts with a literal trigger warning about events depicted in the various run-throughs of the story. It is a thought-provoking, deep, and daring take on the genre. I will keep this review as spoiler-free as possible because this fantastic game is best played with as little idea about what it truly is as possible.
Too Much Knowledge
This will not be a long review. The less you know about this game going into it the better. So let me start with the graphics. Everything (for the most part) is well-drawn 2D art of four different school girls (who are all supposedly 18+ years old of course). Sayori is your best friend, Yuri is a bookworm, Monika is the Club President and all-around popular girl, while Natsuki rounds things out as the manga-loving baker. Accompanying them is a delightful soundtrack that hits all the right notes, shifting in tone when appropriate.
Gameplay is 99.9% reading and .1% making choices. These choices come in choosing 20 words to write a poem that you’ll share amongst the club. The other choices are generally “who will you talk to first”. Though the amount of choice is light, though there are multiple endings depending on which ones you make. There is a trigger warning at the start for a reason, and I would warn those who would be upset at the topics of things such as self-harm or suicide to be careful. I do feel the game does a good job of handling such delicate subject matter. The writing is well done throughout, and it needs to be when approaching such issues.
Setup-wise the game takes place in a virtual machine, and you are essentially logging into it to play the game. There is a file system in the main menu and everything. The game isn’t super long, but the multiple playthroughs are worth it here. You will desperately want to see everything the game has to offer after your first time through, trust me.
The story is fantastic in this game. Do not investigate it beforehand and you will have one HELL of a time. Developer Team Salvato made something truly special. A game that elevates a genre in a way nothing really had before it, at least for me.