Free-to-play horror visual novel
Doki Doki Literature Club is a free-to-play visual novel from Team Salvato. In this dating simulation-turned-horror experience, you play the protagonist invited by multiple girls to join their literature club to help you meet new people and make friends. Your choices will determine your fate and those of the club.
Based on its graphics and its multiple endings, Doki Doki Literature Club is similar to anime-styled visual novels like CLANNAD and STEINS;GATE. However, while it also has supernatural elements, it also heavily leans toward romance and suspense.
Not for the faint of heart
Doki Doki Literature Club doesn’t feature a lot of animation, as it's a visual novel. It’s like reading manga, or Japanese comics, where your decisions steer the direction of the story. The characters are designed in an anime style, which tells a lot about its target demographic. Each of them is created to stand out from each other, creating distinct characters and making it worthwhile to pursue each story.
However, be informed that this game is not recommended for children and those of the faint of heart. It heavily features violence, gore, as well as mental issues. While it looks like your average dating sim, somewhere along the line, characters start taking out each other. The game doesn’t even warn players about it, make the right in-game choices and you’ll end up with a high-resolution display of something gruesome.
Still a worthy game
Despite the heavy story, players willing to brave Doki Doki Literature Club can find multiple endings. From happy endings to reality-altering ones, there are weird meta experiences if the right conditions are met. One end lets the game developer “speak” to you and tell you the reasons behind creating the game, while another changes an in-game composition when you start a new game. Either way, all endings are worth grinding.
Another feature that pulls players toward this one is its heavy inclusion of literature, as stated in the name. At the start, members of the Literature Club exchange poems with each other. This alone drop hints about the characters and even the secrets they hide, which you can unlock with the right in-game choices. This elevates later on, which ends with you and the developers seeing the universe of the characters as a work of art in itself, and the characters aware of it.
Lastly, its music is worth noting. In a genre where music is not the focus, developers of this game really put some effort into the background sounds. It creates the mood necessary for the scene in the game–if it’s joyful, exciting, heart-tugging, or if it’s something nightmarish. Make sure to pay attention to audio cues because that might be your only warning that something bad is about to happen, something you’re not prepared for.
An anime-style nightmare
If you’re a fan of anime, you’re most likely aware that not all that is cute remains wholesome all throughout, and Doki Doki Literature Club is a shining example. Its anime-style graphics create uniquely cute characters that are memorable. There are different endings, and each sees a different outcome for each of your clubmates. If you can handle the pressure and the mature themes, feel free to try this one.