Doki Doki Literature Club ~ An Obviously Worthless Game

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Dan Salvato, the person who helped engineer Super Smash Bros. Melee's 20XX practice mod has went to the shadows for the past few years in forming
Team Salvato. Breaking the silence of secret development was the announcement of a cutesy visual novel. What a surprise!!! Perhaps mostly due to
his involvement in the well-known 20XX project, Dan Salvato's announcement of Doki Doki Literature Club quickly generated a lot of attention and
curiousity. In fact, its success is essentially on the same level as Undertale. Is it deserving of this reputation?

Obviously, I highly disagree. First of all, as a Yandere enthusiast, I was excited for this game because I knew that a Yandere character was
a high possibility in such an artificial game/visual novel/dating sim announced so unexpectedly. Nothing else could capture people's attention
more than making a Yandere character in something mysterious and widely spread. I wasn't too sure though, so I played the game. Even though it was
obviously very shallow, I found it somewhat calming in the beginning. The music was quite nice, the art was very well done - not looking like art
from the West - and the theme of poems got me thinking about writing my own poems for fun, even though I always disliked poetry. The poems are not
bad, which is where this game starts to fail....

Story 3/10

Obviously, Doki Doki Literature Club is a horror game. It is also a supposed satire of other visual novels. I don't feel like Dan has actually
played many visual novels. He seems way too pessimistic about how people view visual novels, but of course, there are some really low quality people
out there, especially men online.... He makes his characters get intimate extremely fast. I guess this was funny maybe once, but overall, it was
painfully forced. However, the characters don't really appear to be as one-dimensional as they are designed to be. They have problems with bullying,
family and loneliness, some which sounds quite genuine.... Unfortunately, much of this is presented as if it was supposed to be scary.... What???
Is there some second-level joke that nobody mentions?

This game is also primarily jumpscares. Surprise, surprise!!! If you want to make something everyone will talk about, of course you have to make
the best jumpscares. The irony is - it feels like Doki Doki is a parody of jumpscares more than it is a parody of visual novels. They are so badly
done and frequent that it seems like only the first one was setup to mean anything. This being the traumatic event that happens at the beginning of
the 4th day. However, this was still done far too early in the story and it really feels like it just signified what would be shown to you in a few
minutes - these characters are not meant to be real in-game.

The major issue with this game is that the rest of the information may as well be thrown away. The game shows you a lot of evidence that nothing
matters except for the ending. However, I haven't seen the true ending so perhaps that might not be true.... But the fact is that you still get the
clear impression (if you are thinking) that nothing matters because they are just programs or machines designed to love you (which was basically what
could be guessed by looking at the video for the game or the first few minutes). Additionally, you are treated with repeating a bunch of monotonous
moments with not much else than that previously mentioned truthful text that is meant to be scary, as well as glitches, one which is designed to almost
feel like you can't go any further in the game. That scene would almost feel kind of powerful if it wasn't presented by the fact that the characters
could just be brought back since they are just programs.

The only good part about this game was the iconic scene at the end with Monika (obvious antagonist) at the table. She basically served as a way to
vent all of Dan Salvato's (or perhaps his team's collective) revelations and concern's about society and the nature of life. There was also some cool
references to the real world at this point, just to hit it home. This is basically the most empowering part of the game, especially since it teaches
you a new game mechanic... But the game is such a slog to go through that I didn't want to play to get the true ending anymore. It just didn't feel
worth it with the characters being everything I expected.

Music 7/10

As I said before, the music was pretty good... However there are only two or three songs that play throughout the game and the game should take you
what feels like two hours to complete with just one of these songs playing constantly. It is the best song and it gets some nice variation programming,
but it makes the game twice as monotonous to play through and experiment with new ideas. The inevitable distorted versions of the song, oddly enough
didn't really work too well to make a scarier mood and just didn't sound right as a distortion.

Gameplay 2/10

It might seem unfair to give this thing a rating for gameplay, but for visual novel, I guess gameplay would be immersive choices and such. Events are
decided by both the most arbitrary and most direct ways possible. Making poems is convenient, but terrible even as a parody mechanic. You simply pick
words and never get to see your work. It would have been a much better experience if you got to see your poems... Heck, it feels like the game was
designed for being able to see your poems even though you don't get to see them.

Now onto choices... Poems decide which girl you will spend time with in the first arc of the game. The girl who hops up the most will choose to
spend time with you. I guess that would be funny if it was just described, but in practice, it is once again, a bad design even for a parody. In
addition to poems, you get to make choices in context with dialogue, but they don't matter, JUST LIKE REAL VISUAL NOVELS! Lastly, you are
given a power at the end of the game, but it seems that it doesn't do much except when an obvious moment presents itself. Instead, there is a fourth
option to making choices (I'm just going to spoil this) and it is game saving!!! Yeah, I'm sure you would naturally think to do that. This game was
basically designed just for you to research the answers to things. There was a hint in the credits sequence, but it isn't a fair hint because it just
doesn't follow the logic of a visual novel. I guess the reason why someone would try to do this is just to get revenge at Monika, who honestly isn't
really bad in any way.

Art 10/10

This is probably why this game gets a free pass so often besides the person behind the game. The art is basically professional Japanese visual
novel quality. Additionally, character designs are really solid and the school uniforms look nice. Lastly, the glitch art is very impressive and
perhaps was a big focus in developing the game. It would be nice if there were some pretty outdoor environments, but I won't subtract a point since it
does not seem like something I would put in this game either.

Overall 43%

This game is definitely a product of some hard work, but it really failed at basic storytelling and I can't appreciate it. Game Design Moral of the
Day:If you want to make a good surprise or plot twist, it has to maintain impactfulness. You can do this by creating danger and maintaining it.