You have to play Doki Doki Literature Club

I feel morally obligated to start this article by saying the absolute best way to experience Doki Doki Literature Club, is by going in completely blind. Read nothing. Don't look for screenshots. Just jump in. I heavily recommend it.

Still here? Well, I'll add that although the game is a visual novel - a high-school dating visual novel at that - it is definitely not what it seems on the surface.

 I've carefully chosen screenshots used in the game's marketing, to avoid spoiling...

I've carefully chosen screenshots used in the game's marketing, to avoid spoiling...

OK, you have chosen to read on. I'm not going to spoil the game, I'm merely going to try to convince you to play it. I have to confess that I'm also writing this article to try to exorcise the demons that are haunting my mind since playing.

One of the tags on the game's listing on Steam gives the game away slightly - the game is a psychological horror game. It also confesses on boot that the game is not suitable for children, nor for anyone suffering from anxiety or depression. Sounds like a marketing gimmick, but I'd be nervous to dispute these claims. Be warned.

I'd like to think that fans of the visual novel genre won't take much convincing here. The game plays on common tropes and plays on your expectations. Subversion and surprise are both definite goals of the game here.

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For others, I understand why convincing somebody to play a visual novel may be a tough sell. Instead, I'll try to play to fans of horror games. If you have played games like Eternal Darkness or Illbleed, you may be familiar with their unique efforts to make the player feel unsettled.

For those unfamiliar with what I'm talking about, think of how Hideo Kojima has characters address the player directly, rather than the game's protagonist. DDLC uses this technique in very effective and compelling ways. When you finish the game, I highly recommend you check out YouTube to see what other players experienced, as there are some unique and entertaining triggers that can occur.

DDLC is available for free both on itch.io and Steam. There are minor differences in each version, but neither is better than the other. Simply pick your poison.