Doki Doki Literature Club! is a free-to-download game that belongs to the genre of psychological horror and is intended for mature players. In Doki Doki Literature Club the player assumes the role of the literature club member. In the game, in addition to exploring the secrets of how to craft poems and choosing the style which suits you best, you will also make friendships and initiate romantic relationships just like in anime dating simulators. However, this is not a game for children…
How to Download Doki Doki Literature Club!
The game is free and available for download. You can also get a paid DLC, which contains music tracks that constitute the soundtrack of the game. To start the download, click on the Download button at the end of the review. Check out also our review of Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!, which is a new extended version of this free game (and it is paid).
The Characters in the Game
There are just four characters in the game (all of them girls). The fifth one is you. The girls are:
- Sayori, who values happiness and smile the most, and has a lot of empathy for everyone. She spreads around joy and she’s like sunshine;
- Natsuki – a charming girl, but for some reasons not very nice to you. But maybe it’s just a pose?
- Yuri – a shy and very mysterious member of the club, who finds consolation in the world of books and literature;
- Monika – the president of the book club, she’s a very popular person.
The Story in Doki Doki Literature Club!
Doki Doki Literature Club! is an anime visual novel but contrary to its appearances – it is a gruesome horror underneath. It is not suitable for kids or sensitive people. The game should not be judged by its cover or by what’s happening at the beginning.
During the game, it will turn out that the Doki Doki club is in fact quite an intimate and private place, and its members hide secrets but that better should not see the light of day.
The game at the beginning seems to be innocent and sweet, but at the same time the sweetness contained in it turns out to be just a slow introduction to a real nightmare. You as the new member of the club after familiarizing yourself with the girls, are given a task. You should compose a poem. To do so you just choose words from a list. The choice of words is important. They will be responsible for the style of the poem. Moreover, each style will appeal to a different girl. So if you want to hit on a specific one you should try to imitate her way of writing. You select 20 words. In the game, you will have an opportunity to create several poems in this fashion. You will also read what the other girls have written. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever, and the poetic meeting will soon turn into a nightmare.
Doki Doki Literature Club! is a psychological horror that is designed for people with strong nerves. This game is not what it seems to be for the first few dozen minutes. You must not be fooled. DDLC! introduces a disturbing theme of breaking the fourth wall.
You can play the game for free. The developer and publisher of this title is Team Salvato studio, which was established in 2017 and is owned by Dan Salvato.
In summary, Doki Doki Literature Club! is a perfect example of the fact that you cannot judge a book by its cover. Sweet animation, seemingly innocent heroines, as well as mysterious friendship, does not mean that the game will have a happy ending, and everyone will live happily ever after. It’s good to know however that depending on the player’s actions, the title offers different endings. Due to its incredible playability, MadDownload.com in its review gives this anime game a rating of 10 out of 10.
The Review and Walkthrough
A free game released on Steam back in September 2017 by Team Salvo, digital novel Doki Doki Literature Club! is a subversive experience that upturns player expectations in a game that is at turns horrifying, suspenseful, and hilarious. It’s also surprisingly fun.
And the game isn’t only about having fun, but also about how game designers can present a game’s world in unique and challenging ways. Take the barebones style of a choose-your-own-adventure tale, combine it with elements of a romance game, and present it all in an environment laden with anime tropes and Japanese school girls and you have one of the most unique games currently available on Steam or elsewhere.
Delivered in the style of an interactive visual novel, Doki Doki Literature Club! plays with the player’s expectations about what this type of game should be. Not only does it combine elements of a love story with horror but also takes familiar Japanese anime tropes and twists them in bizarre, sometimes terrifying ways.
If you are familiar with classic PC adventure games like Return to Zork or Myst then you will be familiar with the game even if you have never watched an anime or played a romantic love interest game. Presented as a kind of dating game or, even more luridly, as one of those sex games from Japan, this anime horror revels in having more to it than meets the eye.
A unique combination of adventure and horror, this anime adventure is a unique take on both genres that also relies heavily upon breaking the narrative fourth wall. What this means is that the game’s characters, plot, and action-consequences will come to affect the real world – as in, the game deletes files and, in general, manipulates the player’s experience of playing the game.
Some gamers might find this jarring and that seems to be the goal in Doki Doki Literature Club’s design. The game doesn’t want you to be comfortable and often uses imagery to great effect in unsettling the player character. Very much a part of the game’s world, it is tough to extricate the character – and your computer for that matter – from the game’s clutches. Once you encounter the self-aware AI, it’s all downhill from there in a game that is both thoroughly modern and absolutely a classic all at the same time. If you enjoyed the Psycho Mantis portions of Metal Gear Solid, then you will probably love Doki Doki Literature Club!, a Psycho Mantis sequence transformed into an entirely standalone game experience.
Invited by your childhood friend Sayori to join her high school literature club, the player character then becomes a part of the Doki Doki Literature Club. What is DDLC!? Aside from being free to play choose your own adventure style game, Doki Doki Literature Club! is also about friendship and testing out your writing abilities. You will become friends with the four girls who comprise a peculiar literature club and, together, you will share your writing with each other.
In addition to Sayori, your friend, the club also counts Monika, Yuri, and Natsuki among its members. Founded by Monika, the Doki Doki Literature Club! is her replacement for the Debate Club that she was formerly a part of in high school. All four girls have their own motivations and personality, as well as their reasons for being a part of the club.
Monika, for her part, is dedicated to the club…but perhaps too much so for anyone healthy. You begin to receive messages from Sayori after joining the game and you then find out – spoilers –she has killed herself. This resets the game back to the main menu…or does it?
Here things tend to get a bit creepy in Doki Doki Literature Club! Could you have saved Sayori’s life if you had paid more attention to her? Upon restarting, everything associated with Sayori in the game is glitched out, leaving an eerie and unmistakably odd impression. Other things begin to go wrong in the game, and quickly everything is revealed to you by Monika, the club president, and also the sentient AI.
Monika explains to you that she is capable of altering the files of Doki Doki Literature Club! and in changing how the characters react to you and how extreme their emotional states are in the game. Aside from explaining her state as an AI to you, Monika also discusses how she can manipulate the whole experience to her liking.
It is at this point that the protagonist has to discover a way to get rid of Monika to play the game but how? The method of doing so is not only unique to a PC game but also fourth-wall-breaking stuff at that. To get rid of Monika, you not only have to enter into the game’s directory files, but you might also have to do some deleting there yourself – and who hasn’t deleted a game’s directory files to continue playing?
Doki Doki Literature Club! Characters
Not including the protagonist or player character of the game, there are four main characters: Monika, Sayori, Yuri, and Natsuki.
Monika, the leader of Doki Doki Literature Club!, also serves as the primary foil for the player character. Monika is President of the club until Act 3 when the player character discovers that Monika is a self-aware artificial intelligence that is screwing with the game. After deleting her, Doki Doki Literature Club! passes its leadership role to Sayori. Dressed as a typical Japanese schoolgirl, Monika’s appearance changes gradually as her malevolence is revealed. A former member of the school’s debate club prior to her founding of the Club, Monika is particularly devoted to making the club “famous” and this derangement contributes to her actions in the game.
Sayori, who replaces Monika as President of the club at the beginning of Act 4, serves as the club’s Vice President for Act 1 and is among the three characters for whom the player character can compose poems. Dressed as a school girl in a similar guise to Monika, Sayori’s hair is short and her demeanor is more casual. After assuming the role of the president of the club Sayori begins to show the same signs of derangement that plagued Monika prior to her being deleted in Act 3. Unlike Monika, who was very motivated to the literature club, Sayori suffers from depression and this impacts her leadership as well as her character interactions. Often urging others towards personal happiness and fulfillment, she herself struggles with personal motivation.
Yuri serves as the club’s vice president for Act 2 and forward after the falling out between Sayori and Monika, the club’s founder and original president. Like Sayori, you can also write poems for Yuri. Somewhat more demure than the other girls, Yuri’s comportment is one of sophistication and worldliness, displaying a maturity that marks her personality as distinctly different from that of the other Doki Doki Literature Club! characters. Mature, eloquent, soft-spoken yet passionate, Yuri is perhaps the most well-mannered of the four girls in Doki Doki Literature Club! Monika’s manipulation of Yuri’s insecurities leads her to become obsessed with the player character in Act 2 showing that even the shyest, most reserved among us can have a raft of problems underneath the surface.
Natsuki is the last of the three characters for whom the player can write poems and is a short, spunky Japanese schoolgirl with pink hair as well as a youthful outlook that marks her as the youngest of the Doki Doki Literature Club! characters. Depicted as an arrogant and unfriendly girl who gradually warms up to the player character, Natsuki perhaps undergoes the most radical transformation in terms of initial personality to final form. Natsuki’s various insecurities form a large core of the narrative where she is concerned and a lot of the player’s choices center on manipulating this insecurity to exploit it or approaching it in a more honest way.
Doki Doki Literature Club! Endings
Because of its choose-your-own-adventure style setting, Doki Doki Literature Club! has a range of endings that are all based upon what kinds of choices the player makes in the game. Players have identified three major conclusions or endings to Doki Doki Literature Club! Again, these endings all depend on the player’s choices in the game and are not part of a set path. Although there are multiple endings, players have inevitably labeled some endings good and others bad.
With only three to describe, we’re not going to do this but instead, let you decide which endings you think are good or bad. The first possible ending, and what some people would call the default ending, Monika is removed as the literature club president and the game resets with the three remaining characters and you the protagonist. Quickly, it becomes apparent that Sayori is now self-aware like Monika was before and Sayori tells you that she plans on doing the same things that Monika did. Monika then intervenes and interrupts the game, telling you that Sayori must be stopped in the same way you stopped her. If you do so, everything will go back to normal so to speak. Monika then deletes Sayori from the game and then begins to delete the game entirely because there is no “happiness” in the literature club anymore.
Another ending is possible if the player character deletes Monika’s file before starting a new game. This starts the game with Sayori as the president of the Doki Doki Literature Club! This, however, does not prevent her from becoming self-aware and, once Sayori does, she begins to panic and hijacks the game’s controls away from the player. More disturbingly, if the player attempts to start the game again after Sayori has hijacked it the player will be greeted to a black screen featuring a hanged Sayori, explaining that now everyone can be happy in the Doki Doki Literature Club! Creepy, much? You better believe it.
If you have viewed all of the optional scenes in the game, you will receive this third ending from Sayori. In this ending, Sayori accepts the nature of her role as an AI and explains herself to the player. After confessing all to the player, Sayori will then begin to delete the game file by file. This ending is also the only ending to receive a thank-you message from the game’s creator Dan Salvato.
Fans of Doki Doki Literature Club! also have a nice selection of merchandise from Red Bubble, most of which is of an adult nature. The website features everything from t-shirts sporting the likenesses of the four girls to manga notebooks and pens. There’s even a t-shirt featuring the noose and “error” message. What many people love about Doki Doki Literature Club is how twisted and macabre the game can be, and its merchandise doesn’t shy away from that at all. There are also clocks and stickers, two of which are Monika themed.
Doki Doki Literature Club! Sequel
One of the biggest questions about Doki Doki Literature Club!, outside of how to beat it, is if the game will have a sequel or not? Things are currently looking pretty good for fans of Doki Doki Literature Club! although nothing has been announced as of press.
Initially, an indie darling that met wild success on Steam, Doki Doki Literature Club! would almost seem, on face value, resistant to the idea of a sequel but the team behind it, including creator Dan Salvato, have made their interests known in continuing the game’s unique storytelling method.
Indeed, probably since some of the early PC adventure games, no other game has tried to combine the unique fourth-wall-breaking gameplay mechanics found in Doki Doki Literature Club! with a modern game. Its choose-your-own-adventure style combined with the game’s cliche narrative with a twist not only makes Doki Doki Literature Club! an experience but also something to be experienced in video games.
Will there be Doki Doki Litetature Club! 2? It remains to be seen.