Doki Doki Literature Club (Zero Punctuation)

Alright, laugh it up, you bastards, you wore
me down. You and the January release schedule. Okay, a little background, as my masseur said
when they found clods of earth between my shoulder blades – a while back I wanted to
make the point that there seem to be an awful lot of anime dating sims sprouting up on Steam
the way looters show up on a ruined battlefield, and I illustrated this point with a screenshot
of the first one I saw on the listing, which happened to be Doki Doki Literature Club. And the response in the comments was like
I'd accidentally rested my beer on the gravestone of an abuse victim. "Ho ho ho ho! If only you knew what you'd done!" sang my
correspondents. What? What have I done? "Oh we can't tell you! You have to play it for yourse-" Parody game,
got it, don't care, now get off my fucking lawn. Then I started noticing a couple of words
floating around the steam tags and the reviews, words like "psychological horror" and "disturbing",
and I was like "Oh right, it's one of those Five Nights At Freddy's arrangements, a game
designed not to be played and enjoyed but to be reacted to on a stream or hilarious
Youtube video, 'cos god knows it's hard to amuse five hundred baboons at once without
investing in a banana truck. But no one could stop banging on about it
so eventually I thought, fuck it, it's free. And having played through it I can now confidently
state that free was the perfect price for it. I don't intend that as the kick in the miniskirt
it sounds like – it's just that it feels more like a concept game than a complete product,
and besides, it goes out of its way to not drop the facade of being a bog standard anime
dating sim all over the store page, so if they actually charged money for this clever
prank they risk first the class action lawsuit from a platoon of the world's most depressing
men, and second the cost of having the courtroom fumigated. So I played it, but with the understanding
that the moment it played the jumpscare card I was fucking out. That was the main concern I had, because I
love horror but cheap jumpscares are the used tampons in my sherry trifle, so if it's a
concern you share, rest assured Doki Doki Literature Club's on a much slower boil than
that, it descends gradually into madness and you can see most of it coming, like wading
slowly into a cold sea and knowing that there's going to be a bit of a lurch at the moment
the water reaches bollock height. Most reviews that I've read say at this point
something like "Ooh I'm not gonna spoil what happens you gotta see it for yourself, waggle
waggle eyebrows." But fuck that, I've got points to make, so
from now on there be spoilers. Just play it if you give a shit, you might
as well, it's free. Yeah there's a time investment but let's face
it, you weren't going to use the time to compose the anthem of a generation. So if you're still here, Doki Doki Upskirt
Club begins as a bog standard anime dating sim and keeps the act going for a surprisingly
long time. You are Faceless Generic Japanese High School
Boy Man Creature, and through some contrived circumstances meet a small group of anime
girls – I believe the collective noun is a 'jailbait' of anime girls – covering all the
common fetish bases who all instantly fall in love with you at first glance or possibly
from the sound of your footsteps coming down the hall, and you must make branching decisions
to court one of the girls in the hope of helping her overcome her inevitable massive sexual
repression and get some lovely kisses and/or plough her up and down the garden path depending
on what specific kind of visual novel we're dealing with. And you do have to enjoy visual novels to
some extent to get the best effect from the game, it's like the Spec Ops The Line thing,
you have to like war shooters so that you can play the war shooter long enough to get
to the bit where it punches you in the face for liking war shooters. So it's doing the visual novel thing, you
have extra scenes with the girls you're actively pursuing, you could accidentally lean on the
skip button for fifty lines and not miss shit because the dialogue is ninety percent flustered
reactions to sexual arousal. But then some odd details start popping up,
the one girl offhandedly mentions she's manically depressed, another turns out to collect knives
and secretly cuts herself, and you think, OK, all these girls have serious mental health
issues, but hell, still no worse than characters in other visual novels I've played, you've
got to be a little bit fucked in the head to enjoy guzzling cum that much. Hey, if you're surprised by fucked up things
happening in visual novels then you probably haven't played very many. The real turning point comes when the depressed
girl commits suicide. That's the definite point of bollock descent
into icy water, although her depression had been portrayed with a slightly uncomfortable
authenticity so it wasn't creepy in an enjoyable psychological horror kind of way, it was just
really fucking sad. It happens regardless of what choices you
pick, which in itself might be an effective premise for a game about depression – constantly
reliving the same few days trying to save her and failing every time because her problems
are too deep seated to be fixed just because you accidentally felt her up on day 3. Anyway, after that the game restarts except
this time the dead character is mysteriously absent, no one remembers them and your old
saves don't work, and I guess that sounds pretty creepy in a walking into a familiar
bathroom with all the mirrors covered up kind of way, but I might as well give away now
I think the game's already peaked by this point. It's already thrown its skirt up and flashed
you its knickers with "subversion of dating sims" written on them and the game has been
given away, so all it can do now is try to psych you out by drifting into the faintly
lame territory of the video game creepypasta. So of course graphics start fucking up and
characters start bleeding from the eyes and doing that thing where their pupils go really
small and they smile a bit too widely which is of course anime shorthand for someone being
two gratuitous panty shots short of a Sailor Moon episode, and if anything this all made
me less creeped out. "Phew, I'm glad you started bleeding from
the eyes, 'cos things were getting a bit harrowing back there for a while with all that slightly
too real depression and suicide business, and then there was all that anticipation leading
up to it playing the happy clappy standard dating sim shit waiting for the other shoe
to drop but now I can relax because I see we've entered silly horror town. Yeah, you go ahead and stab yourself, missy. Couldn't hurt, could it." We also take a leaf out of the Undertale playbook
by fiddling about with your save files and the way the game works, it even has essentially
the same open quotes "final boss" thing where the villain hacks the game so you have to
face them whenever you start up, except instead of trying to kill you they just want to make
moony eyes at you all day. In Undertale I was invested in the world and
the story enough to want to foil them, and in this case there doesn't seem to be much
of a world left to be invested in. Plus I was free to quit at any time so I didn't
exactly feel in danger of anything worse than losing a staring contest. To finally end the game you need to go into
the actual game folder and delete a file. Which sounds like a clever subversive puzzle
but the game seems terrified of leaving anyone behind. "Boy," says the character. "Sure hope you don't right click the game
in the steam list, click Properties, click Browse Local Files, and then delete pleasedeletethis.txt,
that'd be a pisser and no mistake." Which rather took me out of the whole experience
once and for all. So in summary, Doki Doki Literature Club is
a nice little idea with a memorable moment or two, but doesn't really have anywhere to
go once the rabbit's out of the hat. It's not wise to stick around for too long
after the big punchy moment. I learned that in a pub in Bratton Flemyng.

33 thoughts on “Doki Doki Literature Club (Zero Punctuation)

  1. 'it was just really fucking sad'
    Summed it up perfectly there. I managed to play through the game blind and Sayori's suicide made me stop playing because of how much it had effected me. I guess it induces guilt in the player due to how it makes you care about the character. I didn't know there was an act 2 and when I clicked start new game and all the glitches replaced Sayori, it was actually one of the scariest moments I had experienced in a horror game.
    That said, the second half does feel like it delves too deeply into creepypasta territory and while the Easter eggs and hidden story within the game files are creepy, it had a very minimal effect on me compared to the main twist in the game.

  2. Coming back to this a year later, and I can agree with Yahtzee here. DDLC seems like a solid proof of concept, but far from a full game, still, curious to see what else the developers do.

  3. You hit the nail on the heah about these types of games being made to be Let's Played and streamed. Monika even has exclusive dialogue if the player is streaming.

  4. "It happens regardless of what choices you pick, which in itself might be an effective premise for a game about depression – constantly reliving the same few days trying to save her and failing every time because her problems are too deep-seated to be fixed just because you accidentally felt her up on Day 3."
    I have a feeling that Yahtzee took MC-kun's "This isn't some game where I can etc. etc." line seriously.
    Or at least, he reloaded a previous save before he completely finished the scene's dialogue, before eventually giving up and moving on to Act 2. Not that I blame him, of course. 😛

  5. You know what's funny though (or maybe not depending on how you look at it..) is that I learned how depression REALLY is like to a person in visceral level through this game.

    I always had sympathy, yes, but I saw the similarity the character shared with my good friend who also suffered from depression and I learned what might go through their minds and learned to be more respectful/tactful with my word choices around them.

    I actually liked that pastry of this game and honestly wished the game delved more deeper into such aspects.

  6. DDLC is trash. Probable the most mediocre Visual Novel I've even read. Pls try something actually good like Dies Irae, Gahkthun of the Brightest Lighting, Devil on the G-String, SeaBed, Wonderful Everyday or Chäos;Child.

    At least they aren't a one trick game which tries to make you think it is about something relevant but actually isn't abou anything.

    And Kimi to Kanoujo to Kanojou no Koi did the trick much better.

  7. Yahtzee takes pride in not being impressed by DDLC, I take pride in not being impressed by Undertale as much as the majority of gaming society

  8. This game could have really leaned on the suicide and really just become more of an emotional thing than the rather lame horror it chose. The inevitability of life moving on without someone, the exacerbation of everyone's worsening mental health. The idea of what if you could have done to stop it but you just can't (disabling previous saves would work here)

    Regardless, as someone who suffered from suicidal depression for nearly 20 years, the creepy authenticity of the suicidal thoughts of the girl were very unpleasant and after I finished the game I just had a really, really bad day because of it. So while I do think the whole "don't play this if you have mental health issues" thing is cliche, it was definitely uncomfortable to play this. But after the suicide it did go downhill. Just becoming a chore immediately after it peaks.

    Still, I do recommend it. Even knowing the spoilers, I still liked it for a free game.

  9. Saw this once before, pretty sure I commented on it once before. Watched it again with my wife after she played it (and reacted to it in the best/worst possible way, I mean she seemed genuinely afraid to make choices, it was great), and now I see it come up again. Absolutely worth watching again. I love anime, so hearing this guy take the piss out of it from a perspective that seems part normie, part well informed, and possibly more respectful than anime deserves, is just a real treat. "Anime was a mistake" and "Anime is trash… and so am I" are such accurate quotes for and from fans of the medium, despite anime at times both rising way above and sinking way below its contemporaries. It's just as easy to see a 10/10 anime and overlook some of the worst, as it is to see a 1/10 anime and overlook some of the best. Fans and normies alike are guilty of both. It's "whatever you like" though, but I thank you for presenting it in a way that I think we can all get a laugh out of, if not agree on several points.

  10. i feel realy bad for laughing my ass off on the weak attempt to scarre nor trick me especialy the "not like this is a game that i can replay to save her" i was like yep fuck that

  11. Probably gonna give this one a miss, my last game of "watch depression drag a girl you like down to inevitable suicide no matter how desperately you try to prevent it" soured me on the concept a fair bit

  12. Well, I agree that a lot of the scares are cheesy however I have to heavily disagree with a lot of what you said, firstly I think the way you portrayed the characters and writing is was a bit misleading, the, as you put it "fetish bases" while you're not wrong, you're not fully right either, yes there is undoubtly the standard "kyaaa! Baka, blush blush" personality traits, but thats not all they are, they have depth and fleshed out personalities beyond the initial anime layer, and the stuff about bleeding from the eyes, there is context for why, and interesting diologue to go with the blood and shit, if it was just "boo I'm bleeding, u scarrd" again I would agree.

    I would like to point out I'm simply sharing my opinion, he's as entitled to his opinion as I am to mine. I do enjoy hearing different perspectives on things, but that doesn't mean I have the same one.

  13. It's so refreshing to see someone who doesn't think this game is the second coming. It's neat and all, but people are treating it like it's the cure for cancer and the solution to world hunger all rolled into one package, and it most definitely peaks when Sayuri does her thing, then devolving into what's by this point pretty tired 4th-wall creepy fourth-wall breaky game nonsense.

    So yay, some guy on the Internet shares my opinion on a novelty free visual novel. Cool.

  14. Am I a freak? I have an unpopular opinion;
    Yahtzee was invested in Underlate but not DDLC even if they both use the same concept: Terrify the player by talking directly to them and guilt-tripping them for playing the game they way you did. But for me it's reverse.

  15. I think the end of the game is the best part. The whole thing with Monika had such a huge emotional impact on me

  16. 0:32 That was no accident. It's also not an accident when someone uploads your shit on a different website faster than you can handle the takedowns.

  17. Memo: don’t date girls you don’t know or they will kill them self’s (accept monika) she’s just crazy

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