Doki Doki Literature Club - (Spoilers)


#1

Enjoy a free visual novel about cute girls doing cute things


Spoiler (Open if you dear)

Summary

Seriously this game is fucked up!
Also just Monika


#2

I have not played the game. I also don’t mind spoilers (and the nature of the game is an open secret at this point). I think the creator anticipated that, but I feel like it banks on the player mistaking it for another “anime kawaii girl” game (like the Nekopara games, for instance) for full effect.

I have, however, read this short story he wrote this afternon, and in spite of it being a horror story I was not so much scared or disturbed. The comments claim it’s like a modern Crime and Punishment (a novel I haven’t read, sadly). Would you say he’s moving on to greener pastures with this game so to speak? Is it better written?

Source for this is the Kotaku interview, where he also says his influences are Eversion (a good, short experience), Yume Nikki (which I haven’t played, but definitely will someday), and Irisu Syndrome (don’t know about this one, maybe the people here can clue me in).

For Eversion for instance I feel like that game worked even if you knew it’s “twist” so to speak, does that also hold true for this game?


#3

As someone who did play the game, I think it’s not quite exclusively banking on the “cute girls doing mundane things” thing to get you to play it as much as it is relying on that in combination with the frequent warnings for gore/horror/etc. It does semi-rely on the player knowing/liking some conventions of the Western-made “”“anime dating sim”"" trope for an actual playthrough, though:

Slightly more detailed spoilers.

The first two or three hours, essentially, play a whole lot like a standard light dating sim, even if I haven’t seen anyone go through it who didn’t see the giant warnings screen at the start! In some cases, the game works better if you’re either A) familiar with/a fan of those kinds of games, or B) willing to sit through it without getting so bored that you quit.

I’ve watched a couple of Twitch playthroughs, where a fair few audience members who don’t like those games end up asking when “the good stuff” is coming. I can definitely agree that the buildup is long, but for me, the payoff of the very, very end was reasonably worth it. (But I also play some dating sims, FWIW.)

The Crime and Punishment comparison to that short story is, uh, something – while I think “the modern [classic]” is almost always just hype, I do see the correlation (character-driven stories centering around death/morality/being alive) in what Salvato and Dostoyevsky both write. I’d say that Salvato’s work on Doki Doki Literature Club is probably scarier than his work on the short story, if only for the visual aspect adding on to the horror. And hey, it’s free to try out!


#4

If there one thing that has a interesting element to the game is the idea of how hard coded games are.

Spoilers

Monika has great power over the game but when she changes stuff it mess up the game from character’s lines, transitions, and other elements that keep the game’s world running. Even the space classroom she makes near the end is still being held up by being a cutting off from the game’s script.


#5

I just finished it today. I think it’s a little crude in its execution sometimes, but the ideas are interesting. It was good overall. Not mindblowing by any means, but hey it’s free.

Tons of Spoiler Stuff

My biggest single complaint is that in the second half of the game there’s some “horror” moments that feel completely unnecessary and illogical. It’s creepy enough on its own without Natsuki’s eyes randomly exploding, for example.

Ironically, Monika complains about stupid jump scares in horror movies herself as one of her many monologues when you’re stuck in the room with her (I sat in there for about an hour and a half waiting to see if she’d repeat dialogue but she didn’t in that time).


Anyway, the idea of the character who doesn’t have a route resenting it and trying to destroy the game in order to make themselves viable is interesting, but I don’t think Monika really earns much of anything. I know people who don’t really play VNs and especially people who turn their noses up at “dating sims” (which are actually a different kind of game than this :P) don’t like that it takes like an hour and a half to “get good”, but the whole point is connection to the characters.

Sure, the second half of the game is ka-raaaa-zy, but if you’re just in it for that it’s never going to have the kind of impact that it wants. And to that end, there’s not really any reason to feel for Monika. Ironically, you genuinely don’t interact with her enough for that. So her being so desperate for you comes off as kind of weak. I think they should have leaned more into the existential problem of her apparently being sentient, unlike everyone else, rather than being in love with the player when there’s pretty much no way for the player to care about her at all.

But then, at the end (especially if you get the “good” ending), Sayori also seems to be sentient by virtue of having become the President. So who knows.


As an aside, there’s some interesting stuff you can do with the character files. If you delete someone before starting a fresh game (but you can’t be left with only Monika or it’ll just fix itself), it’ll have a short scene of Sayori freaking out and then the game will close and whatever characters were left will be deleted. If you start the game like this (whether from the previous example or just by deleting the characters yourself), it goes into a version of Sayori’s death scene that you have to “reinstall” to recover from.

Also, if you restore Monika after the point where you’re supposed to delete her, an error window pops up of her asking you to leave her alone, and she deletes herself again.


#6

Played through it this morning and have a pretty good time. 1st act is actually decent in its own and would work well enough as a straightforward dating sim, but man that first sharp turn had me hooked.

.Middle section is undoubtedly the strongest, but I had a lot of fun trying to “break” the game in the last section too. Warrants another playthrough to try and do things slightly differently, I think.

You can tell it’s a small team and suitably free to play, but they did well with what resources they had. Would like to see what this team can do with more money. Hopefully a lot of people bought the DLC.


#7

DDLC is definitely for the audience that are both play a ton of these and are pretty sensitive.

Spoiler with my thoughts on things

The subjects of depression, sadness, death are more hard hitting to the audience who turn to Japanese products like these for comfort cause of hardships in life. Monika is the only character who is “realistic” compare to the other girls who are just tropes of the genre.

Still it interesting how there many ways to look at DDLC.


#8

Not gonna take a risk here so I’ll just put everything under spoilers:

Honestly, after being hyped up on this game as ‘mind-blowing’ I wasn’t hugely impressed with it. The game is about as subtle as a brick to the face with its foreshadowing, and the combination of gratuitous violence with the use of topics such as depression, suicide, self-harm and parental abuse as 'gotcha’s in the second act felt like cheap tearjerking. I kinda hope people realize that the ‘game that knows you are playing it’ has lost its novelty by now and find some more creative gimmicks.

With all of that said, I think I’m generally more negative on it than most people who will play this game, as I have played very few visual novels and generally have a low tolerance for the tropes that are contained within them. I’m also the kind of pedantic jerk that can’t help but nitpick the logic of this game. Like seriously, how the hell does this world make sense?! Is this game, that apperantly contains 4 FULLY SENTIENT A.I WITH A CAPACITY FOR SELF AWARENESS, is also capable of auto-generating new art assets on the fly? Also, why is Monika in love with you? She has no reason to, as she was created as a tutorial character! In fact, if she got the capability to alter the personality files of the other girls, why not just reduce their attraction to the MC? Why does she even want to be with the player? The game doesn’t give you any form of input to interact with her, so she might as well be speaking into nothing!

Huh, I’m sorry, it’s just that I get hung up on all of the the missed potential in these sorts of stories. Like, at some point we read a poem by Sayori where she repeatedly tells the MC to ‘get out of her head’. That’s a way more interesting story to explore! Having a sentient A.I realize that her feelings for the player were literally coded into her by a developer and having to struggle with that is a really cool premise, and they completely forget about it, instead going for the boring ‘if U R bad in the game U R bad IRL!!!’ boring shit that we’ve seen already with spec ops and undertale. It’s just kind of disappointing

Gee, this came out way too negative. I want to reassure people that I don’t hate the game, and going through it with a couple of my discord friends was actually quite entertaining. It’s a free game made by a tiny team which is a huge accomplishment, and there are far worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon,but I can’t deny I came out of it with a bitter taste in my mouth.
That said, The song at the end was adorable!


#9

Uh, is this text actually getting blurred for you?


#10

No may want to use the hide details for long post like that.

Monika can help you with that :smiley:

Also

Summary

There some hidden messages not only in the poems but also in the character’s files hinting at a Project Libitina. I speculate that these characters were made to be some type of beings but for whatever reason never completed and so we the player found what we see as a VN/dating sim.


#11

Yeah, apperantly my text wall was either too big or too segmented to be blurred all at once. Hopefully I didn’t spoil the game for anyone!

also, I just want to add that this game really made want to play a game that is actually about going to a literature club with a bunch of interesting kids and helping them out with their life problems. Preferably one without romance. I mean, I thought that the actual poems in this game were by far the most realistic depiction of teenage angst presented in the game - they were really good!. Maybe that can be the next game from Team Salvato!

I can hear you

Did you…go look for my steam username to find that? That’s…a biiiit creepy(although cudos for the effort). Also you should be glad I posted it before deleting my last game, in which I named my character ‘asshole’ :wink:


#12

I’ve been kind of musing on some things since yesterday.

Spoiled!

Particularly the concept of sentience and how much the other characters are “people”.

Now obviously Sayori, Natsuki, and Yuri are each a rather common archetype in this kind of setting, but they don’t really come across as flat or unthinking in the end. As things escalate, you realize that there’s more to them, even if Monika is actively making it worse.

Especially in the second half, the way Natsuki and Yuri react to being manipulated is interesting. They’re always immediately horrified as soon as Monika stops controlling them, even when she’s also “amplifying” them.

In particular, I’m thinking of Natsuki’s cry for help “poem”. She’s clearly not unthinking and pre-programmed, she’s concerned for how awful the situation with her friends has suddenly become and she doesn’t trust Monika.

Really, the only thing the other characters seem to lack is knowledge of the fact that they’re in a game, but the ending implies that that comes with being the President of the Literature Club for whatever reason, rather than anything special about Monika herself.


Also, Monika shows a sort of lack of self-awareness in a lot of her room-monologues. She talks about what she’s going to do in college and stuff, even as she’s ruined her own world. Also, she talks about how it feels to “die” every time the game is closed and the fact that memories of events outside the game are hazy and she gets the feeling that they’re not real (like she doesn’t actually know where her house is because you never go there).

If she begins and ends with the game and understands this, how is she expecting to escape the prison that she’s built? Thinking too much on the monologues is probably pointless, though. There’s so many of them that they probably had to reach a bit to give her stuff to talk about :stuck_out_tongue:


#13

There’s also probably some value in not just blurring an entire post. (Without any sort of context to know if un-blurring it is a good idea for potential readers.)


#14

Thanks for the suggestion, Anime. I segmented the post into several unblurable parts. Should that be any better?


#15

News on Translations, store, and thoughts on fan works


#16

I feel sorta conflicted about the game. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the experience overall. But like a few of you I have a lot of issues with how it handled certain things, and more than anything else, I’m disappointed about what it could have gone for but didn’t. Spoilers for the whole game follows, and I think the same content/trigger warnings for the game should apply as well.

hella spoileys

I think my opinion of the game’s writing kinda peaked as soon with Sayori’s sudden confession of having depression, pointing out to the player how the anime trope nonsense they’re used to could also be a sign for concern. But then as soon as Sayori didn’t come with you the next day I immediately knew where things were going, and I was right.

I also don’t think it’s very “fucked up” or scary, in the end. A lot of things are just played for shock value instead of being genuinely unsettling. Even Sayori’s suicide, as I saw it coming, was mostly shocking because of the sudden cut to the CG (especially coming right off Danganronpa V3, where that’d be handled with a slow build to it starting with a shot of the protagonist’s face looking on in horror, etc.). Yuri’s stabbing was unsettling, as was sitting with her over the weekend, but… instead of really driving that horrifying experience in with the text it was just garbled, which kinda minimized the impact it had. Natsuki’s puking was legitimately gross but unfortunately the sprite for it was kinda memey, which hurt that moment.

Then you had the corruption effects, which I thought were actually pretty well done and creepy! But they too didn’t really get genuinely unsettling in the end. Particularly when it used abuse/self harm/depression as cheap shorthand to make things creepier which, reasonably, I was not really a fan of. Monika’s agitation of the other girls made for some good shock value moments (Natuski’s sudden altered text about her dad hurting her, Netsuke talking about Yuri’s self harm, etc.) but it didn’t really have anything to say about that. All in all, people going ~crazy~ isn’t anything new, you know? It’s hard to take seriously when it’s all very stereotypical.

And I think a lot of my disappointment ties to the execution of Monika. What Monika does is striking at first, but the game immediately limits how much power she has, and there’s never any implication anything she does can hurt the player and such. The creepiest thing she does is speak before the ending song, or (if you played under a different player name) get your name from your computer account to talk to you directly (and similarly say something about you streaming if you’re doing that). Beyond that nothing she does has any real sense of a threat, since she just has control over the game - and barely that given her loose idea of how much she can successfully edit - so it’s not like there’s any issue with you just walking away from the game. It’s like a creepypasta where someone takes home a cursed game that… just threatens to ruin the rest of the game instead of actually doing anything to the player?

But even more than that, I thought Monika’s goal of just wanting the player to love her was a missed opportunity. Going back to Sayori’s confession, and how the characters talk about what they’re dealing with, it really seemed like Monika was agitating them but that they also dealt with these things originally. Which is to say the “game” before Monika gained awareness was about helping them with through these situations. I really wish they had explored this more - why not have Monika judge the player for enjoying a game all about comforting “people” that are burdened with these situations, and therefore being the cause of these terrible burdens all for their own satisfaction, over and over, only helping one person at a time while creating worlds where the others suffer? The “true end” sorta takes the opposite approach - thanking the player for seeing all 3 girls’ routes, which makes sense but again lowered the threat the “President” could be. I guess I did appreciate the final letter from the dev though, as it seems like they appreciate flawed games for the same reasons I do- which is why I am more or less happy I played this in the end. I just hope their next game thinks through some of these things a bit more.


#17

This game is interesting in a lot of ways, though at the end of it all I feel like I’m responsible for awful things happening to these characters.

Spoilery Thoughts

The ‘dynamic’ way they respond to changes in their scenario and themselves as the game goes on makes them feel more real than a lot of characters in video games- not like they’re real actual people, but that they’re characters who actually ‘exist’ in this limited world we’re seeing. The game hit me hard on some level. Part of this is probably having a lot of depression and anxiety issues myself, and having been in relationships with a few people like Yuri, or who dealt with some of the issues she has. (Though obviously not to the full extent she’s forced through)

The most distressing thing is that the characters seem to know they’re acting incorrectly. Yuri loses control of herself and can’t handle it, and her personality traits being pushed to extremes just makes her handle them more and more poorly until her big final moment.

The “I don’t know why I’m doing this but I can’t control it” thing is a HUGE part of my depression, knowing that I’m acting wrong and need help but not being able to deal with it or reach out. And that just makes you feel worse. And it spirals. Thankfully I’ve got meds and therapy and I’m doing ok these days, but Yuri’s terror at her own behavior hit hard.

That all said, please, take the content warnings seriously. Don’t recommend this game to people blindly without explaining it contains distressing images and scenarios. Some people cannot handle what is depicted in this game and trying to spring it on them as a surprise is an awful thing to do.

I didn’t take the content warnings as seriously as I should have, and honestly I should not have played this game.


#18

There been a lot of people who felt better after experiencing this game from being able to find help, talking to others, and just happy that a game kinda tackles certain subjects. The game isn’t perfect with it skipping certain connection over being more emotional. Like how Monika is so much love with you to tamper with the game but why is she in love with just you.
Dan and his team are looking into adding more to the game or plan to do more games so if there one thing that is coming out from this is a new developer for more interesting games.


#19

If you liked this game(or if you didn’t but feel generous), consider buying the Doki Doki Literature Club Fan Pack, which is the 10$ DLC for the game. It includes several posters, the game’s soundtrack(some real bangers in there!) and an art booklet. Also other stuff. This team has clearly worked very hard on this game and supporting developers is good!

Ok I’ve just not noticed that the referral address of the official DDLC Website is ddlc.moe , which is the worst???BUT ALSO THE BEST???

Video Games


#20

Yeah, I did just that and I hope to get some keychains from the store when it opens.