Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!
The Doki Doki Literature Club Is Now Open On The Go!
Originally released on PC in 2017, Doki Doki Literature Club was a visual novel that quickly became a fad overnight amongst content creators. It was a deceptively simple game, featuring cute and bright graphics, an overabundance of pink, and upbeat music. The game also featured four high school girls, each with a distinct bubbly personality of their own, as the protagonist try to win the heart of each girl. Even its premise is deceptive, as the protagonist joins a literature club at the behest of his childhood friend, Sayori while getting to know each girl in the process.
There is, however, a very dark twist in DDLC that's almost impossible to say without spoilers. To the best of my ability, I'll say that not everything is as it seems. Specifically with
Just Monika the president of the Literature Club herself. Upon its release, the dark shift from a romance to a horror visual novel startled many players who expected the former. Eventually, DDLC became synonymous with "shock value," lulling unsuspecting players to a false sense of security via word of mouth. Due to the nature of the game, there will be light spoilers moving forward.
Doki Doki Literature Club Plus Is The Definitive Version For A Reason
During my first take recording, I wasn't able to get far enough to the big twist where things begin to kick off. Perhaps it was on purpose on my end, as the game pulls no punches with its graphic material. That was one of the core changes made to Doki Doki Literature Club Plus. Upon starting the game, an extensive content warning is featured for console players, imploring those sensitive to disturbing scenes not to play the game. Upon further inspection, with the warning of spoilers, the game goes into detail on what said scenes entail. Scenes involving taking one's life, violence, and abuse are present as well as other psychological themes.
Due to the original game's success as well as the ESRB, I'm certain these warnings were necessary for it to avoid a potential "AO" rating. But it's also helpful for those unaware of DDLC's nature to know what they are getting themselves into. Also included in the "Plus" edition are six bonus side stories, serving as the game's prologues, and gallery content. As the player needs to complete the game to unlock the prologues, it was impossible for me to see the bonus content for myself. That is, until the inevitable Doki Doki Literature Club Plus review (wink wink). The physical copies also include a game OST, stickers, standees, a "membership card," a poem, and a business card.
Doki Doki Literature Club Is A Dark Tale Sprinkled With Sweetness
Following the events of Act 1, Doki Doki Literature Club becomes a horror game, taking the girls' negative traits and amplifying them. Each girl harbors insecurities about themselves that they keep hidden from their peers. Depending on the character's affinity towards the girls, the player can see hints and traces of said insecurities. An example of this is Sayori who appears overly positive and optimistic. In actuality, she's fighting a losing battle with depression, feeling unworthy of love. Her role as a mediator and making others happy is a reflection of this. If she could make others happy, then it would give her a sense of fulfillment after all.
Another example, Yuri, is an incredibly talented writer and lover of books. Her insecurity is that she feels she's too overbearing on others, blaming herself for situations out of her control. As the protagonist says to her at one point, she "treats a light rain as severely as a thunderstorm." Of the featured girls, the only one who doesn't bear her weakness is Monika for good reason. Her mysterious "leader-like" personality is more than just a defining trait, but it is also what keeps the plot moving. Following Sayori's fate, Monika is the one who plays a central role as the curtain slowly unravels itself.
The Power Of Words Is A Thin Line Between Love And Hate
The gameplay for Doki Doki Literature Club is like most visual novels; Very minimal. While most visual novels are determined by player choice, altering the story accordingly, DDLC focuses on creating poetry. After every in-game day, the player will be tasked to create a poem using a set of given words. Depending on the word chosen, the affinities of the girls will raise with some girls preferring certain words over others. Players going in DDLC blind will not know rhyme from reason but eagle-eyed players will notice which words certain girls will favor over others. Brooding words will be more favorable towards Yuri while upbeat words will cater towards Sayori.
Depending on the words chosen, certain characters will dislike the poem with others outright hating them as they feel the protagonist is pandering towards one of the other girls. The poem mechanic is important in this case when it comes to favoring one girl and earning their gallery images. This, combined with saving and reloading your game, will ensure the player won't miss anything as "saving your game is important" according to Monika's words.
Doki Doki Literature Club Is Surprisingly As In Depth As It Is Shocking
Doki Doki Literature Club is certainly not the first to engage in this particular style of storytelling. Involving its twist, DDLC bears influence from games like You and Me and Her. It is, however, one of the most noteworthy games to break new ground in the visual novel scene among a western audience. With DDLC Plus, console players now have the chance to experience the PC game for themselves with some liberties taken into consideration.
The content, shock value, and deceptively outward appearance will deter some players away. Those who stick around to unravel the madness slowly but surely will get a sense of sick enjoyment. It becomes a matter of "What will happen next?" over "Who will I end up with?" Eventually, DDLC begins to fester a personality of its own. One that ropes the player in until the roller coaster ride is over.
Doki Doki Literature Club Plus! is available on PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, and Xbox Series X