Doki Doki Literature Club

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Doki Doki Literature Club is a visual novel self-described as "not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed". It has cute characters with distinct personalities and a fun story with many interesting and unexpected plot twists. It is, like most visual novels, a "game" where you mostly click next to move forward in the story. The game itself is free (add-ons cost money).

Doki Doki Literature Club is only available for Windows. The Windows version runs perfectly GNU/Linux distributions if you use Steam to install it thanks to Steam's "Proton" compatibility layer.

The game itself is free as downloadable at no cost. It is not free software. There are many add-ons and a VR pack available for it. Those cost money.

Graphics, story and gameplay

Doki Doki Literature Club - Sayori.jpg
Your childhood friend Sayori is happy to learn that you are interested in joining her secret club.

Doki Doki Literature Club is a well-made visual novel with well-done and interesting graphics. The actual club is full of cute girls.

Doki Doki Literature Club - girl-2 why did you bring a boy.jpg
"Girl 2", who turns out to be named Natsuki, gets upset when Sayori brings a boy to the secret Literature Club.

The "gameplay" is mostly a matter of clicking forward to go on with the story. However, there are occasional choices and tasks to do. As an example, the girls in the literature club are quite interested in poetry. They will ask you to write a poem and you will have to choose what kind of poem you want to share.

Doki-doki-write-poem.jpg
Time to "write a poem". Don't worry, you won't have to actually write one.

Doki-doki-write-poem2.jpg
"Writing a poem" is done by clicking on a word in a list suggested words.

The choices you make the few times you have to make a choice do not seem matter at all; the visual novel moves along regardless of what you pick. However, it does make a difference. The novel can end in several different ways. What ending you get depends on what choices you make. Getting an ending which favors a one of the girls is a matter of picking a favorite girl and sticking with that girl throughout the game. Some choices will be harder to make than others. The girls in the club will, of course, start arguing and fighting (this always happens when there's too many women in a room) and you will have to take sides. This is the kind of choice you will have to make quite a few times throughout the game. Standing up for the same girl consistently is a good idea if you want to "pick" one of the possible endings. It is, of course, possible to walk through the visual novel several times, favoring a different girl each time, to enjoy all the possible endings.

While you may be interested to know what happens at the Literature Club and how the story turns out we are not going to tell you since doing so would turn this review into one giant spoiler. It is suffice to say that it's a fun and interesting story.

Technical details

There is only a Windows version of Doki Doki Literature Club is available at Valve's Steam store. Steam will automatically download and configure it's Proton compatibility layer if you install it on a GNU/Linux machine.

Doki Doki Literature Club uses the very common renpy visual novel framework. There is a native GNU/Linux version of it available so the game could easily be made to run natively on GNU/Linux machines. Perhaps the developers are lazy or just not interested in the less than 1% of Steam users who are using a GNU/Linux distribution. It does not really matter since the Windows-version of the game runs perfectly on GNU/Linux thanks to Steam's "Proton" compatibility layer.

Verdict and conclusion

Doki Doki Literature Club is a fun free visual novel worth playing through if you tend to enjoy visual novels and/or comics books and you have time to waste playing games. The characters are cute, well-drawn and interesting with distinct personalities. The story has many fun, captivating and sometimes shocking elements and it is filled with interesting and totally unexpected twists. It does take a while to play through it since the story is a bit long.

Doki Doki Literature Club is not for everyone. This is obviously not the right game for you if you prefer action-filled first person shooter games and you despise comic books, anime and/or visual novels.

We did not test any of the pay-required add-ons. They are probably not worth it, they never are. Perhaps they are worth it anyway if you really want to buy the game and you want to support the novels creators.

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