Indie Game Spotlight: “What if starting this club was a mistake?”- Doki Doki Literature Club
By Christopher DiBella
Live Wire Staff Writer
Originally published in the December 4th, 2017 issue of The Live Wire
The Indie Game Spotlight is a segment where Christopher DiBella covers games from independent developers which may fly under the radar of most gamers.
- Game Title: Doki Doki Literature Club
- Price: Free
- Platform: Steam, itchi.io
Developer: Team Salvato
- Release Date (on Early Access): September 22, 2017
- Genre: Psychological Horror/Visual Novel
THIS GAME IS NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN OR THOSE WHO ARE EASILY DISTURBED. INDIVIDUALS SUFFERING FROM ANXIETY OR DEPRESSION MAY NOT HAVE A SAFE EXPERIENCE PLAYING THIS GAME. FOR CONTENT WARNINGS, PLEASE VISIT http://ddlc.moe/warning.html
This is the first, and hopefully last time I will have to run a warning before a segment of Indie Game Spotlight. There is little I can tell a reader about Doki Doki Literature Club that would not spoil the experience for those reading this, since coming in totally blind is the best possible experience.
“You know those times games that are clearly for kids are tagged with things like violence and psychological horror? Just as a troll? This is not one of those times.”
-Review by Steam User Benderfloodle Cucumberpatch
I will be honest with you, reader. I am not a big fan of anime. I am not a fan of visual novels.
I have always found visual novels rather… unnerving, and I am glad I am not alone in this. Doki Doki Literature Club was not a comfortable experience to play through, and I doubt it will be for anyone else who checks this game out. What I can say is that this game affected me in ways I have not managed to feel in a while. And yet, I cannot go over much of that without, again, spoiling too much of what the game has to offer. I did go in, knowing some of what the game was like, but in even at my most cynical, even when I saw events coming, that knowledge did not reduce the impact the story had on me. It is a visual novel. It is about several girls all of whom can fall in love with you over the course of the game, it does have characters you will care about, and try to spend time with. There is no hidden game beneath here as with contemporaries like Frog Fractions, or Imscared. Parts of Doki Doki Literature Club even verge on emotionally touching. However, this is a game which touches upon subjects that not everyone will be prepared to face.
“Play this game. Stop reading reviews. Stop looking stuff up. You're only going to spoil yourself. It's about five hours long. It's free. Even if this isn't the type of game you'd normally play, just play it.”
– Review by Steam User Eluniar
Given the game’s subject matter, I completely understand the irony of this article being placed right next to our Anime Spotlight collumn, and I am willing to bet developer Team Salvato would find the humor in it as well. As for criticism of the game, I found that the opening of the game to take a little too long, at least an hour of gameplay goes by before the plot starts to get interesting. Visual Novel gameplay itself is not very engaging, and the length of the game is only a maximum of about five hours. The game is linear, with branching paths, but I wish the game was longer, with more possibilities and even more hidden details. It did however, leave me feeling very, very different from when I started playing.
It is not a perfect game, but Doki Doki Literature club has stayed with me after the credits rolled.
My advice for a first playthrough is to keep the game’s file directory open while you play. You can skip through parts you have an issue with, however it is a good idea to pay attention to what is being said early on.
Recommended for: Those with a thick tolerance for anime tropes, and unpredictable subject matter who are interested in something unique: a game that is impossible to play it twice and see it quite the same way.