Doki Doki Literature Club initially seems like yet another PC visual novel game. Starring a cast of four schoolgirls each vying for the player’s affections, its tale of idealistic young romance follows tropes that fans of the genre will find immediately familiar. There’s your childhood friend who has not-so-subtle feelings for you; a cute but abrupt girl whose steely exterior masks her softer side; a shy and socially awkward girl with self-esteem issues; and finally the popular, Prom Queen type who’s also president of the Literature Club you’re attending.
Everything seems perfectly serviceable as far as visual novels go, with you performing a simple poetry mini-game that sees you selecting words based upon the personality of the girl you wish to impress, showing that poetry to said girl and then progressing in your fledgling relationship with her.
But what was that warning that was displayed when I first started up the game? Why did this seemingly innocuous and inoffensive visual novel inform me that it was not suitable for “those who are easily disturbed”? And why do these girls each seem like they’re hiding a secret that I’m not supposed to learn?
The key to getting the most out of Doki Doki Literature Club is to go into it without knowing too much about it. Everything is not as it seems in the game, but to elaborate upon this in further detail is to spoil what is certainly one of the more surprising releases of the year.
Doki Doki Literature Club is free to download on Steam, so I’d strongly suggest that you play it. Be sure to check back in here and let me know your thoughts in the comments section, as I’m currently desperate to talk about this weird little gem with anyone who will listen.