‘Doki Doki Literature Club:’ The game you can’t judge by its cover


Courtesy Dan Salvato

By Brooke Nicholson, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Original publication date October 24, 2018.


This article may contain spoilers from “Doki Doki: Literature Club”

There are so many indie games on the market that they almost get lost within each other. Some indie games, though, have been lucky enough to shine amongst the rest: “Five Night’s at Freddy’s,” “Undertale” and “Plague, Inc.”, have all been examples of games not made by a triple A company that have made it through to the top of the ranks concerning popularity.


But no one could have ever imagined that something as innocent-looking, seemingly stereotypical, bright and happy could have broken through the typical algorithm of games to become one of the higher-rated indie games in the industry today.


“Doki Doki: Literature Club” (DDLC) was developed and published by Team Salvato, and first appeared on the PC platform, Steam, in late Sept. 2017. The game featured four Asian girls, all striking stereotypical, anime-like poses with a colorful bright pink background illuminating behind them.


Overly cutesy and innocent descriptions such as “The Literature Club is full of cute girls! Will you write the way into their heart?”were plastered all over the games’ page on Steam. It screams typical playable visual anime novella, or dating simulator.


It’s fairly easy to imagine the confusion people faced when they found the game under the horror section, riddled with warnings and tags labeling it as ‘psychological horror.’


Once people began playing it, they quickly understood why it was labeled that way. Swarms of overly positive reviews flooded the Steam page, telling people to play it themselves instead of judging it by the cover and dismiss it completely.


The game, right off the bat, is presented with the usual anime art style everyone is familiar with. You, the player, play as a typical boy attending a Japanese high school. The player gets to choose what name he’ll have, and soon after, is introduced to a petite girl named Sayori, who we find out has been the players’ best friend for a long time.


After walking to high school together, the player meets a girl named Monika, who is looking to recruit people for her new club she is creating. The character is hesitant, but eventually joins when he finds out there are other cute girls in it. From there, the player will talk back and forth between the four members of the club, eventually leading down the predictable path of falling in love with one of them.


After a few hours of simple mouse-clicking and filtering through dialogue options to get to know the characters on a more personal level, the game suddenly turns on its head. Players can do nothing but watch in horror and wonder what they did wrong, and end up suffering the consequences throughout the entire game.


Avoid spoilers at all costs. Don’t even read the reviews on Steam. Play it yourself, and then watch others play it. Instead of watching a horror movie, play this game. It has successfully subverted people’s expectations and took them to a whole other level.


This is not the typical monster or gore formula that most people expect from mainstream horror. This game has managed to separate itself entirely from other forms of horror and created something unique that one can only imagine how someone could have thought to conjure this up.


Just remember to keep your game files open!


“Doki Doki” is available on Steam for PC, Mac and Linux.