Doki Doki Literature Club

It’s awesome when a piece of media — be it a video game, movie, or even a short film on YouTube — is able to subvert our expectations. That’s what Doki Doki Literature Club does. It tricks you into thinking it’s one thing, it lures you into a false sense of security, and then it turns out to be something horrifying. And even if you’re expecting some sort of twist, there are still plenty of surprises — horrid, disturbing surprises — to be found in this slow burn horror story.

Note: If you want a full, spoiler-heavy look at Doki Doki Literature Club, we recommend checking out our companion piece to this article here. If, however, you want everything to be revealed to you as it happens in the game, read on! Don’t worry, we’ll only touch on the game’s themes, and we’ll avoid getting too into the thick of what it has to offer! 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 Plus

At a glance, you’d think Doki Doki Literature Club is merely a slow-paced visual novel about romance and teenage drama — and it sort of is about those things. But once you peel back the fleshy, bloody layer of skin that it wears on its surface, it’ll expose a messed up tale that’s not afraid to push boundaries and disturb with its themes of mental health, obsession, and harm.

No, Doki Doki Literature Club isn’t a traditional horror game — though you can probably tell as much just by looking at it. Specifically, though, it’s important that you go into the game not expecting things to happen right away. This is slow burn horror that gets weirder and more chilling the further along you get. It’ll technically take multiple playthroughs to get the most out of the game, though even that should just take you about four or five hours total.

If you’re a fan of horror movies, I’d liken Doki Doki Literature Club to more methodically paced films like The Witch or Creep — for clarification, I’m referring to the 2014 found footage movie. Those films took their time to scare you, feeding you bits of eeriness throughout and then ultimately giving you a payoff that felt like a punch in the gut. That’s DDLC, too. This game pulls the rug from underneath you and evolves into a surprise horror game.

Doki Doki Literature Club - Sayori

There are moments when you wonder if the story’s going anywhere — if you’ve been bamboozled by the countless outlets and critics who praised the holy hell out of Doki Doki Literature Club. I know I questioned it myself. But then a thing happens — no spoilers, I know — and that prompts you to dig deeper. You might even ask if one of the game’s big moments is all there is to the story, messed up as it may be, but you then learn that there’s more — more depravity, more turmoil, and more terror.

If you like your horror nice and slow, Doki Doki Literature Club is worth a look. It’s not like other acclaimed horror series such as Layers of Fear, Outlast, or Amnesia, but it exploits quite a few interesting themes to really sink its hooks into you. Then, while you’re still hooked, it yanks those hooks right out of your chest and leaves you a bloody, disturbed mess.

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