I never really felt compelled to play Doki Doki Literature Club, a free cutesy looking game on Steam. On the surface it looks like your standard anime dating simulator, and that’s not my cup of tea. Last night it intrigued me with the strange warning on the game’s page, which reads “This game is not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed.”
For the first few hours of DDLC, the game feels like a regular ol’ dating sim. You’re some relatively normal guy who joins a literature club in high school. You read the game’s text, make the occasional decision, and compose poems to exchange with the four girls in the club. That’s about it. It’s all about learning about the girls you’re in this club with, and following along with the interactions they have with both you and each other. Things start to get weird and a bit dark over time, as you slowly realize this game isn’t what it appears.
I’m not going to spoil anything, but this game does a great job subverting what it looks like on the surface. It’s cute but dark, innocent but disturbing, but also meaningful, smart, and extremely well written. It deals with some really heavy shit, but it’s a truly great experience. At about four hours long for the normal ending, it doesn’t feel too long or too short. It was just right. So long as you’re good knowing this game is very dark and depressing at times, you should definitely play Doki Doki Literature Club.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you, though.