Doki Doki Literature Club

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Doki Doki Literature Club

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Doki Doki Literature Club (abbreviated as DDLC) is an American visual novel developed by Team Salvato for Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux, released September 22nd, 2017. The story follows a male high school student who joins the school’s Literature Club and interacts with its four female members.

A visual novel is a genre of game, originating in Japan, and as the title suggests, is a “novel” with added drawings and music. Some distinguishing features of visual novels are text-based story-telling, with interactivity from static or sprite-based visuals accompanying dialogue or narrative text of the characters. The characters and music help with the story, helping the reader/player experience emotion they couldn’t experience before if they had simply read a book.

DDLC is a “choose your own adventure” visual novel, most easily described as a dating simulator. Dating simulators, are just as you’d expect, simulators that simulate romance, mainly with anime characters. The goal of dating sims is to choose one of several characters, and to date them, or form a romantic relationship with said character. The main character of dating sims/visual novels is usually a male protagonist surrounded by female characters, such as in the case of DDLC. However, what makes DDLC different is that, behind it’s cheerful and happy-go-lucky anime artstyle, is a psychological horror game.


The first of the members is the protagonist’s childhood friend, Sayori. Sayori is the most upbeat of the four, described as a “ bundle of sunshine who values happiness the most.” She is also one of the only girls you spend time with after school. Once you start talking with her, you’ll find out things you didn’t know before about your cheerful but slightly clumsy friend.

The second girl is Yuri, a shy, but a talented reader and writer. Although Yuri is quiet, if you choose to spend time with her, she’ll open up, bringing out a different side you would’ve never expected. Together, you can drink tea, eat chocolate, and read books. Once you become friends with Yuri, you’ll realize there is an excited, book-obsessed girl behind her timid mask.

The third member of the Literature Club is Natsuki, an assertive girl, described as a “deceivingly cute girl”. Despite her appearance, Natsuki is a fan of manga, specifically Parfait Girls. Because the protagonist likes anime and manga as well, they could get along well, if you’ve chosen to befriend her. Although she may be snappy at times, she cares about all her friends at heart, and would be more than happy to become best friends with the protagonist.

The last member of the Literature Club is Monika. Monika is the club president, and the poster girl of Doki Doki Literature Club. She is the driving force of the game, instructing the other girls and the protagonist to practice writing poems. Monika is the most popular, smartest, most athletic girl in the school (as described in-game) but has decided to branch off from the other clubs in order to relax and create her own club. Although her club is only five members, (including you!) you can help her, and by spending more time, become better friends.

Behind DDLC’s dating sim facade is a masterpiece psychological horror game that won several awards, and became one of gaming 2017’s biggest surprises. The writing shows each girl intricately, and shows how they with deal very real-life problems, such as depression, self-harm, abuse, neglect, loneliness, and most importantly, love. Dan Salvato (Writer, Director, and Programmer) is able to use the common tropes of visual novels and anime characters, and flip them, creating characters that are genuinely fun to talk to and sympathize with.


Even if you disregard the expertly-crafted dialogue, DDLC is a horror game that truly gets under your skin. Not just the subtle foreshadowing in dialogue, the audio and visual elements are not one to scoff at. The audio fluctuates in pitch and volume, getting quieter in serious moments, and becoming jumpy in happy scenes. The sound may even go off-key during disturbing moments, and will continue to, even after the initial jumpscare, making the player more uncomfortable as the game continues. The visuals themselves are done beautifully by artist Satchely, with background art by Velinquent. Although disturbing, they illustrate the visions of Dan Salvato clearly.

If there is only one horror game you play this year, I recommend you play Doki Doki Literature Club.