This review will contain very mild spoilers including the reveal of some of the mechanics. This is also in honor of Valentine's Day with the bloody and horrific origins in mind.
Doki Doki Literature Club is a PC/Steam visual novel game that places you (as a self-insert protagonist) into a small school club occupied by four eccentric girls. However, as you get closer to the girls, especially with who your poems center around, things start to get out of the ordinary on the days before the school festival...
Storyline The game purposely has a slow start as all of the characters are introduced, followed by three of the girls ending up having separate routes that further develop them on some of the days, depending on how the player does in a mini-game. The game happens to come in multiple acts and from a point onward, many strange and horrific events slowly, but surely pop up involving you and everybody else and it also reveals the darker side to the girls as well as at least one disturbing thing that has affected them. Once the reason for all of the strange happenings gets revealed, it turns out to not only develop at least one character even further than imagined, but also ends up making the main endings of the game worth all of that trouble (and mental scarring in case of some poor souls).
Characters Most of the characters about have been well done in this game in terms of development and personality even when noted that most of them were also given trope-like personalities by the game itself. Also note that some characters won't get much screentime after a point in the game or until much later into the story.
To start off, Sayori turned out to be very well done as the happy-go-lucky person of the group up until a point and her development when aiming for her only furthers her personality alongside her inner struggles later into the story. However, some may not be fond of her personality or for her jealousy getting to her in some parts. Her writing style may be hit-or-miss for some as well. Yuri is also among the good eggs for her opening up to you as she gets to know you if you center your poems around her and goes from being very shy to being more calm after some time with her. She has more detailed and atmosphere-like material in her writing style and it ends up being a fitting part of her personality. However, there are some red flags that turn up later into her development and they come into play further into the game, which depending on if the player likes certain tropes could either be more enjoyable or outright disgusting. Either way, she does end up being a very fun character and is among the best of the cast alongside one other person.
While Natsuki happens to have a cute air to her at first thanks to her writing style and the parts where her cooking is involved, she is the token tsundere of the group and also ends up being the worst of the cast due to having more of a toxic personality than a good one despite being more merciful in some parts than in others if the player goes for her routes. Among some of her deal breakers was one that earned her a permanent place in Evil Town where she nearly accuses you of being a pervert in hopes to get you thrown out of the club. Natsuki is also affected by the strange happenings later in the game, which does reveal more about her than it seemed. At first there wasn't too much to Monika at all at the starting points despite being the Literature Club's president, but much later on, she ends up being revealed as quite the charismatic person as well as the other girl among the best of the cast despite the involvement of the more strange and shocking events involving her to a point of greatly affecting the player's views on her throughout the game at first glance. Her writing style happens to be abstract, but is also seriously more than it seems.
Gameplay (and Visuals)
This game happens to use illustrated images and backgrounds, including CGs and animated images and they are all very well-made, especially in the cases where things go dark and the specific character CGs from Act One. The sole minigame that goes on as each day progresses lets you choose words that can affect which girl you will target your poems to with an indication on the target every time that a word is chosen. In addition to the poems that do show up in the story, there are also a few easter eggs as well as some hidden poems when certain conditions are fulfilled. The main endings also involve fulfilling certain conditions and involve the game's files, which are toyed with by the game itself alongside some other functions like skipping dialogue as the story moves forward. Like many visual novels, the player's choices that show up can either affect the story or not. Many parts appear to be glitched as a result of messing with the files, but the "glitches" are meant to be there by design and end up even making the game both more fun and even boosted the creepiness of many scenes.
Other Pros and Cons In addition to the clever use of the game's very own files, it shows off any notes in case of any conditions are missed through a playthrough and it also gives off hints to move forward in case of events that look seemingly unsolvable, even if some of them are pretty small. Another small and clever note is that the game can also be restarted by deleting the "firstrun" file to avoid having to re-download the game from the source in case anyone wants to go through it again. The music also happens to be atmospheric and affects the mood of all the scenes alongside sounding extremely nice on the most part.
As the game kindly notes you, this is definitely not for the young or easily disturbed and involves very dark themes, including suicide, abuse and depression. Those that are squeamish must also be careful of the bloody scenes that happen as well later on. Although this isn't an eroge, there are also some suggestive events with a few of the gals for those that aren't into such things either. Lastly, this game is actually best played either fully blind of what happens or with at least some knowledge of the game since those that have been fully spoiled (especially due to meme-related shenanigans) won't be able to enjoy the game as much.
Final Verdict After getting bamboozled and having to go through some torture a few times and a little mental scarring, I'll have to honestly say that this game is Absolutely Nice on the high scale. Definitely check this one out if you're morbidly curious or want to see what this is all about for yourself. Just be very careful if you decide to play this in the dark, though unless you want your sleep schedule all messed up.
Dream: Will post a little later what the next voted anime will be that I will watch and review.
Jan 18, 2020 19:48:38 GMT
Dream: Next anime up to cover will be Dance in the Vampire Bund. Suppose a short anime will do for now following Chobits.
Jan 18, 2020 21:32:36 GMT
Dream: Concluding things at episode 2 with Vampire Bund for the night. Hoping to get back to Basquatch tomorrow, as long as I'm not swamped with anything.
Jan 19, 2020 3:00:33 GMT
Dream: Geez, it's really quiet. No activity in the forums since I posted my review from yesterday.
Jan 19, 2020 15:57:41 GMT
Taka: I'll email the receipts. The best anime and manga of 2019 will be extended to Wed. I don't get time off for Mon because of community service. Please vote if you haven't yet. Thank you!
Jan 19, 2020 20:44:07 GMT
Dream: Hmmmm... looks like the version of Vampire Bund I'm seeing on Funi's YouTube channel's an edited version. A couple minutes of episode 2 were clearly removed with Mina in nothing but underwear battling human assassins. Then again, recall there was a good...
Jan 19, 2020 22:49:15 GMT
Dream: ...deal of controversy with the series a decade earlier thanks to the seemingly underaged nudity of Mina while in her younger form.
Jan 19, 2020 22:50:13 GMT
Dream: Not sure if I should be donning the nostalgia goggles or not giving a damn. Looks like the original Digimon Adventure series is getting a reboot airing starting in the Spring season.
Jan 21, 2020 3:21:13 GMT
Taka: I'll watch it if there's nothing catching my eye in Spring. winter 2020 was a weak anime season for me.
Jan 22, 2020 18:29:46 GMT
Dream: Wouldn't say it's all bad for me. Have a few titles holding my interest. Just it typically doesn't have as many major titles of note that would hold me over.
Jan 22, 2020 23:54:44 GMT
Dream: Done with Vampire Bund. Will be working on a review of it before I hop into the next Funi series. Hoping to get it up either tonight or tomorrow, depending on how lengthy my thoughts get.
Jan 24, 2020 1:44:49 GMT