Doki Doki Literature Club is an absolutely terrific medium-subverting, genre-defying, interactive visual novel, which despite minimal actual gameplay, can still easily be described as one of the best emotive story-driven experiences in gaming’s recent years.
After opening with a fairly blunt mature content advisory / trigger warning - which is, honestly, very neccessary - the story begins with your otherwise-nameless, faceless, backstory-less self-insert player character going about their day life in a vaguely-Japanese style high school.
All witnessed through some lovingly drawn background and character art, to the sound of an original, plinky-plonky upbeat piano soundtrack that comes together to really create a touchingly way-better-than-real-high school aesthetic viewed through a filter of just the slightest Americanised anime influence.
The storyline gently meanders for a few hours with pointed discussion between the MC and the four lovely young ladies of the eponymous literature club. [spoiler] Who are all definitely, canonically, over the age of eighteen. So it’s not weird to be this infatuated or anything. [/spoiler] However, even if you pause for a moment after each girl’s lines to really appreciate the attention you’re receiving like a true VN connoisseur, after a certain point, events of the story begin to warrant that trigger warning from the start.
If one is really dedicated to reading through all of the available text in even a single playthrough of this (completely free!) game, then you could be looking at around a dozen hours or more of high-quality content, which is certainly a very pleasantly-sized story - even if it doesn’t come close to some of the longest in the medium.
The story isn’t just long, it’s also very well written. If not a little bit painfully and relatably on-the-nose for us lonely, perpetual-façade, depressive types. And in typical romance VN standards, the four girls of the literature club - Sayori, Natsuki, Yuri, and Monika - each have very anime/manga trope-y, yet grounded, characters, and can all be romanced by the player. Except you don’t get to romance Yuri because she’s mine. Just mine. And not yours.
All of this for the low, low, asking price of zero dollars. And that’s not all - if you play this game, you’ll almost certainly come out of it with an irrevocable love of not only your choice of clubmate, but a newfound place in your heart for the immense DDLC fandom and its immense masses of tribute art, music, game mods, cosplay, the respectful discussion to be had between likeminded fans.
Absolutely recommended to all who feel they’re up to the challenge of the game’s “mature themes” of realistic social issues and maybe just the slightest hint of saucy flirtatious dialogue.
Yuri best girl.