It’s free, it’s amazing, and it’s four hours that will change your life.

I have to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of dating sims or visual novels. So when a friend told me I had to play this game called Doki Doki Literature Club that was both a dating sim and a visual novel, I was not very enthusiastic.

But still, it was free to download on Steam, so I gave it a try. I loaded it it, and these were the first screens I saw:

“This game is not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed.”
Oh God, so it’s going to be some weird fetish game?

▼ …wait, “suffering from anxiety or depression?”
“Safe experience?” What does that mean?

▼ “Highly disturbing content?” I… I’m not so sure I want to click “I agree.”
What is this game about?

▼ And then just like that, the warnings disappear, and the bright, colorful,
happy title screen appears complete with cute animations and background music!

▼ Looking at the Steam page, the game’s genres are “cute,” “anime,”
“visual novel,” and… “psychological horror?!” What’s going on here?!

Steam (edited by SoraNews24)

I was confused but intrigued at that point, so I clicked “new game.”

It starts off like an incredibly generic visual novel: you’re a bland male protagonist with a super-cute girl living next door named Sayori who is always excited, crazy about you, and of course late for school. She convinces you to join the literature club, since you’re a slacker and don’t do any extracurriculars.

At the club you then meet all of the members: Natsuki, the pink-haired tsundere; Yuri, the purple-haired bookworm; Sayori, your orange-haired, overly-excitable and clumsy childhood friend; and Monika, the brown-haired, well-rounded girl who’s always at the top of the class.

▼ All four girls are excited that you’re joining their club. Their conversations and
personalities make it easy to forget all about those warnings at the beginning….

▼ …but then occasionally they drop a few odd lines
here and there that make you stop for a moment.

▼ But hey! No time to dwell on that.
There’s dating to be had!

And so the game continues. You write poems choosing words to gain the attention of one of the girls, talk with them, and the game progresses. But still, those warnings from the beginning are always in the back of your head, waiting and wondering….

I wouldn’t dare spoil any more here. If you’re intrigued at all, then I highly recommend downloading the game (for free!) on Steam or on the game’s official website. You could watch a Let’s Play on YouTube, but the game is pretty short (I beat it in less than four hours), and doing it yourself is part of the experience.

Doki Doki Literature Club has only been out for about a month, so it’s still too early to tell, but it feels like it’s already on its way to becoming a classic of the genre, like Katawa Shojo. I never thought my favorite video game of the year would be a dating sim/visual novel, but here we are, and I will never look at the genres the same way again… for many reasons. Or, at least, four of them.

Images: SoraNews24