Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Doki Doki Literature Club

Posted by Rampant Coyote on November 8, 2017

I played Doki Doki Literature Club near the end of October. This game was not what I expected. Oh, I know it was kind of a fourth-wall breaking horror story masquerading as a dating sim / visual novel. That’s why I got it. But as they say, it’s all about the journey, not the destination, and Doki Doki Literature Club takes you on a pretty twisted little trip.

For one thing, it’s a game you don’t play once. When you get to the “end” of the game and go back to the main menu, things have changed. The game … or a character in the game… is playing you. It’s going outside the box, and you’ll have to go outside the box to “win” (or… fully complete) the game… at which point, there is no more re-playing the game without a full reinstall.

The core story sounds like a staple of manga, anime, and dating sims. You select a name and play a kid  in High School who gets roped into a school club by the girl next door. While your character isn’t much of a reader, there are three cute girls in the club, and so there’s opportunity for friendship and maybe more. The cast is kind of predictable… there’s the mature introvert intellectual, the girl who prefers cuteness and light, the slacker girl-next-door, and the driven, ambitious club president. While you are there, you may learn a bit about writing, poetry, and literature. You’ll write poetry (kind of), possibly to impress the available young lady of your choice. You may get the chance to spend extra time with one of the characters of your choice preparing for a club fair day at the school.

But what you soon discover is that the girls have layers, and much deeper motivations behind their surface personalities. These underlying motivations can get cranked up to eleven as a full disorder because of your presence, or because somebody the ulterior motives has their finger on the dial, and the results will be deadly. Graphic and deadly.

Game Over, Try Again. Only this is permadeath, and the dead character has now been written out of the game. Except… whoever wrote them out of the game isn’t very good at it, or only has access to the data files, because they do a poor job of it. So their mod ends up looking glitchy, like the game is full of bugs as it replays around the missing character. The second play-through is different in more ways than that. The feeling is that someone is re-writing the game in real-time to force you into a certain set of decisions.

The game is dark. It explores obsessive character traits and personality disorders. It subverts tropes. Some imagery and story may be disturbing. But in the end… it’s a darkly clever little horror story. Or… is it? There are several different endings, and some only come about on subsequent play-throughs.

Best of all, it’s free (although you can support it through a donation or buying the fan-pack). You can get it on Steam, or direct through their website.


Filed Under: Adventure Games, Free Games, Indie Horror Games - Comments: Read the First Comment

  • Tesh said,

    Horror isn’t one of my interests. At all. Still, this sounds clever, so I’m glad to see that it exists.