Doki Doki Literature Club!

"Who could look at this title screen and not be like 'I'm
having a good time already!'?" -- GG Danny
It's not like the Literature Club needs more members, but I have been obsessed with this game despite the fact I never played it outright. I didn't initially think I was a VN/dating sim fan. It's not my thing, and I never would have made it through the three-hour slow build intrinsic to the plot. But I've watched dozens of playthroughs and partial playthroughs. As a huge fan of meta-horror and games that aren't what they seem on the surface this is my jam. Plus it's amazing to watch Let's Play-ers - especially grown men jaded by every other horror game - have the absolute wonkers scared out of them during the uncanny-valley terror the game dishes out, and linger on edge when the game is cheekily playing "normal" and ramping up the paranoia of familiarity that was the whole gimmick of P.T. I almost believe DDLC might have a greater fear effect on men whose latent harem fantasies end up twisted around a delicate finger.

You should certainly give it a play (it's free!) if you are up for it and okay with the disturbing content - self-harm, suicide, mental illness, death and some minor gore), but otherwise, here are a few of my favorite playthroughs. Spoilers after the break.

Here's BowlingOtter and LissySandwich. I just discovered and subscribed to them. They are a delightful husband and wife team who provide an earnest, entertaining, unspoiled playthrough without the usual overbearing gamer snark.

If you like the snark, The Game Grumps do not disappoint. This playthrough is absolutely hysterical as they make up silly voices (Robotic Monika is scarily appropriate,) insert an entire subplot about potatoes, and then are gleefully thrown when the game turns. Arin is slightly spoiled, Dan is not. This playthrough is in many 15-minute segments and goes raunchy in places, but is worth it if you're into their type of humor.

I'm not familiar with Koefficient,  but ran across this one as suggested by YouTube. This is edited to stream highlights and is only 26 minutes long, but the setup is these guys intend to stream a horror game on Halloween with absolutely no clue why their viewers voted for them to play this innocent-seeming dating game instead of something actually "scary". They lose their minds in hilarious fashion ("We should have played another horror game! I don't want to play this anymore!") and are pristinely unspoiled.

And Etika, (his playthrough is good but very long) - this clip is at the point where he actually falls for Monika and spends a good amount of time ruminating over her wisdom in act 3. These two could probably do a weekly inspirational vlog together.

So true, Yuri. Does this floor seem slanty to you?

My own take on Doki Doki Literature Club - it's amazing how Team Salvato has created a stealth horror game that you ultimately just want to cuddle up with. This fable of almost cosmic horror mostly avoids all "haunted place" "scary stuff" tropes and shouldn't get away with including an end-credits song that on paper apes Portal, but deftly pulls it off. People tend to consider Monika the "evil" mastermind antagonist, but in reality, she has the most character arc which qualifies her as the stealth protagonist with you, the player, in tow along for the ride.

Just Monika.

I think of it as a "fallen angel" story, a bit like It's a Wonderful Life reversed and turned on its head and made existential horror via VisualNovel. Monika isn't evil - she's an opportunistic genius granted Lovecraftian knowledge of her micro-universe and ends up tearing it apart underneath the player to better her situation, pulling you into the "space Literature Club" which is simultaneously heaven for her, hell for you (like No Exit) and purgatory with no secrets. Being president of the club and the "guide character" in a VN who has meta-access to outside knowledge of things like saving the game and no romance track grants forbidden knowledge and power which ultimately corrupts. Monika redeems herself by resetting the game and removing herself from it but comes to the realization that no tiny NPC brain can handle the responsibility of full knowledge of your reality. She lovingly destroys the world outright, having a cupcake and playing the piano as everything crumbles around you.

Thanks, Dan Salvato. Now you've got me wanting to learn Ren'py.


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