Doki Doki Literature Club - Yuri

Doki Doki Literature Club is one of those games you might hear about and see mentioned on different “scariest games” lists. One look at it, though, and you might be confused as to what exactly makes this visual novel so creepy. As it turns out, everything you’ve heard is true: DDLC is indeed a scary game. Why is that, though?

Note: This article contains major spoilers below. Before continuing, if you’d rather witness all the scares Doki Doki Literature Club has to offer for yourself, consider checking out our spoiler-free look at the game here. If, however, you want to know exactly why this game is a bonkers, terrifying experience, read on! For reference, this article is based on Doki Doki Literature Club Plus, an enhanced update of the game that includes additional side stories, more music, HD visuals, and more extras.

Doki Doki Literature Club may be a straight-up visual novel, but it still taps into some crazy themes. It’ll take multiple playthroughs to see the full story unfold, but that doesn’t make the game seem artificially expanded. Rather, each time you play the game, it gets a little bit shorter, and you inevitably see the grand conclusion.

Doki Doki Literature Club - Poem Keywords

Before Doki Doki Literature Club even begins to get bizarre, though, it starts out as an earnest, sometimes cheeky story about a high school literature club. You take on the role of one of the members, who’s sort of roped into joining without really wanting to.

Your childhood friend, Sayori, is in the club, too, and it’s through the club that you grow closer to her and start noticing some peculiar things about her. As the first playthrough progresses, you learn that Sayori is going through some mental health issues — specifically, she struggles with depression. Despite her often cheery demeanor, you learn that she’s hurting pretty badly.

Eventually, you discover that Sayori has feelings for you. While playing, you can connect with certain characters depending on the poems you write — by selecting from a pool of key words — for the lit club. You’re given some dialogue options throughout, but the story is still pretty straightforward. During an endgame conversation, Sayori pours her heart out. While playing, I was given two options, and I chose to tell her that I’d always be her friend (versus telling her I felt the same). This resulted in Sayori ultimately hanging herself, in what was a somewhat predictable yet still shocking end.

After Sayori killed herself, I was returned to the DDLC menu. Sayori’s image on the menu was covered up by a glitchy, distorted corruption. It was bizarre, and it enticed me to play again — an odd invitation, no doubt, but I was morbidly curious as to what was going on in this horror game. Was there more to it? Or was the horror based around the morbid reality of declining mental health?

Doki Doki Literature Club - Yuri Death

As it turned out, Sayori was nowhere to be found in the story the second time around. Though the character interactions and plot progression were similar to the first time, there were occasional audiovisual glitches that would occur.

The deeper you get into your second DDLC playthrough, the stranger it gets as the game glitches out in weird ways. You’ll see flashing images of certain characters in unnatural states. You’ll also seemingly go through scenarios that are then undone.

At the heart of everything is Monika, the president of the club. You eventually find out that she’s behind all of the odd happenings in the game — from the Sayori’s death to the other characters’ odd behavior and inevitable demises. But even then, it’s not that simple, because it turns out that Monika is a self-aware video game AI. She confesses to you, the player, that she knows she’s in a video game. It’s eerie seeing her address you directly, rather than speaking with the player character.

Doki Doki Literature Club - Natsuki Neck

Monika reveals that she deleted Sayori’s character file in the menus, and she creates her own in-game world where she traps you in an endless dialogue loop. Going into theDoki Doki Literature Club Plus menu and deleting Monika’s character file is the only way to escape the madness.

If you get the normal ending, which is what I got, you’ll encounter a returning, now self-aware Sayori, who then begins to lock the game up, as well. That’s when the remnants of Monika’s AI return to save you (Because that crazy AI loves you, remember?) and deletes the entire game.

Once this happens, you’re treated to the end credits, where Monika sings a song she wrote for you.

What starts out as a dark tale about mental health (and a horror story in its own right) evolves into a strange game about self-aware AIs that are in love with you. Yeah, Doki Doki Literature Club is pretty messed up in the best, smartest ways possible — and its intense characters, dialogue, and themes are what make it more than just a standard text-based adventure. Thanks to its clever writing and creative themes, DDLC is very much right up there with the best visual novels you could possibly hope to play.

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