Doki Doki Literature Club from Team Salvato
Doki Doki Literature Club from Team Salvato is a free to play visual novel for those who don’t typically play visual novels. All of the standard VN tropes are present: dialogue history, the ability to save and load to choose different story arcs, and the ability to skip or automatically progress through story. Be that as it may, it’s all just a clever disguise for what really lies beneath.
A School Club Full of Cute Girls?
Our main character needs to join an after-school club, a common occurrence in Japanese culture and anime. After being convinced by his peppy neighbor Sayori, our main character finds himself surrounded by cute girls in the Literature Club.
This small and intimate club consists of the athletic and popular Club President Monika, shy and mysterious Yuri, cute tsundere Natsuki, and the bubbly, non-confrontational Sayori. Each day our main character gets to pursue a relationship with Yuri, Natsuki or Sayori by writing poetry and sharing it with the group.
The poetry is written by choosing particular words off of a list. If you’re looking to get to know Yuri, stick to macabre words such as “suicide” and “massacre.” On the opposite side of the spectrum, Natsuki will respond positively to cute words such as “kawaii” and “lollipop.” Thus begins our adventure to get to know these individual personalities,b̸̳͚͕ȩ̵̶ͅf̲̟̠͘͡ơ͍̣̭̖͔̗̜ͅr̛͙e̪̞͉̻̼͈͢͡ͅ ̵̼̝̝̱e҉̯̪̬͕̙͕̩͈͡v̷̸̼̟͕͚̞̯̖e̥̹̖̤̤̱̠̞r̡̼̬̬̮̦͓̣y̞̺̺̦ṯ͓͉h͕͈͇̘͖̰i̶̴͙̺̻͕̜̞̻̞̪n̨͉̗g̱̦̩̪͓͠ ̥̤̦͞f̸̳̥a͝҉̳̜̤̤̖̖̲̤ĺ̰͚̳͢l̶̛͔̻̘̗s͉̩͘͝ ̵̗̗̲͎a̴̸͓͚͖̻͖̹͜p͙̣̩̤͖a̸̛̫͕̯̕ŗ̸̛͍̩͓t͙͚̦͎̻́͝.̜̦͈̙͖̮̠͟.͏̴͇̙̘̳̞̖̼̭̪͝.̬͓͠
I Gave You Everything You Wanted…
Doki Doki Literature club starts off with a trigger warning. Before even getting to the main screen, the game states, “This game is not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed.” Pay heed to this warning. This cannot be stressed enough. I thought I would be able to handle whatever this game threw my way. I was wrong.
Before playing Doki Doki Literature Club, it’s recommended to go into it completely blind. That being said – and trigger warning confirmed – stop reading and go play this now if you think you can handle it.
The element of surprise is what really brings this story to life. This well-written tale expertly convinces the player to sympathize with the characters. Unless your heart is completely made of stone, emotional investment in these characters is imminent. If you plan on playing, don’t read any Steam reviews. Don’t look anything up online. Spoilers will ruin the experience.
…You Were Everything to Me
The developer also included a lot of Easter eggs within the local files. Some are easier to find than others; the booming Subreddit devoted to Doki Doki Literature Club seems to have discovered and decoded most of them.
The results are – plainly – shocking. Some files have to be decoded using computer language Base64. Some can only be decoded by converting file types to .png (an image file) or .ogg (an audio file). These have yielded some of the creepiest pictures and stories, some of them downright disturbing. Play this game with the local files open for optimal experience. The game will add or delete some of them for you, and maybe you will have to add or delete some yourself.
That’s it; you’ve been warned. I consider myself a stable and put-together individual, but Doki Doki Literature Club had an adverse effect on my mental health. Even though it made me feel things nobody wants to feel, at least it made me feel something.
This is an experience I will never forget. I want to forget.
Doki Doki Literature Club is available via Steam.
Watch the official trailer for Doki Doki Literature Club below: