Doki Doki Literature Club was recommended to me by an Engineering friend, who pitched it to me as ‘a bit creepy’. It follows the main character, played by you, as he is influenced by one Sayori, another fundamental character, to join the literature club. You accept, thinking it will be a chilled way for you to meet some lovely-looking ladies. The club members are Sayori (your childhood friend), Monika (the secretive president), Natsuki (the typical teenager full of angst), and Yuri (the tender, yet severely problematic love interest). The girls initially ask you to write poems and share them with the club.
The plot thickens when it is revealed that both Sayori and Yuri both like you. You must pick between Sayori, the girl you have known forever, and Yuri, the girl you really like. Whether you pick Sayori or Yuri, both girls kill themselves, either out of sadness that you rejected them, or out of happiness. That leaves Natsuki and Monica. This is when the game gets weird, if it isn’t weird already.
It is revealed that Natsuki’s experienced a terrible upbringing from her father, who abuses her heavily. When the game begins to turn dark, Natsuki’s head cracks to the side, and she swoops towards the screen. Moreover, Monica becomes self-aware and starts talking to you as the player behind the screen. Safe to say I was not happy sleeping in an old house after this.
After Monica deletes the files of the other girls, she rips a hole in the space time continuum so you can spend eternity together, because she also likes you. The game ends by Monica deleting the game from the laptop, after you let her down ‘gently’.
Not only is this game a complete twist on the conventions of a typical literature club, it also uses poetry as a key aspect to unlocking the plot of the game. This manga game takes a simple idea and distorts it, playing on the idea of character and player, which is both interesting and complex as the game unfolds. Although one or two ‘surprises’ may become clearer as the game continues, and the plot becomes a little far-fetched at times, when asked to make a decision that will influence the direction of the plot, it is never easy to decide what to do. This game is emotionally investing and addictive, which are two qualities of a great game.