Love & Literature REVIEW (Pt. 1)


“Don’t I think enough at school Sayori? My voice is dripping with sarcasm. I stroll to a row of vending machines and pull out my billfold. Woah, hey, what? A billfold? What is this protag a fucking 19th century English aristocrat? A billfold? What, are you gonna call Sayori a pleb while you’re at it? By the way, don’t look up where ‘billfold’ originated from, that part is not important… Love and literature is a fanfic. Well, no, it was. Someone made it into a full-fledged mod. Ok, well, no, that’s not true either. It’s an as of yet unfinished demo release, which is not as cool sounding. As of right now, the fanfic has 15 chapters and the mod has two releases which cover five chapters each– –so two-thirds of the fanfic are available as this! For the sake of brevity, I’m only gonna cover the first demo-release. So, yeah. Just keep that in mind. At a time where a surprising amount of DDLC mods seem to be begging the player for his or her investment– IBy any means possible– and this is usually done by starting off with Sayori attempting to hang herself– (SALVATION.) Or worse, having her succeed in hanging herself. (We Are the Literature Club.) Hell, I know a dude that’s making a mod right now– Where the main premise is that instead of dying, Sayori hangs herself, becomes comatose, and loses all of her memories. As If Dan Salvato himself didn’t give Sayori a rough enough time, The DDLC mod community continues the legacy of torturing her. (Dan Salvato laughing) –Look, you can start a story on a boring note. DDLC did. It starts with you walking to school. Why the hell do so many modders start off the story to their DDLC mod like it’s a thriller movie or something?! I do get it, you want your mod to feel different, you want it to stick out– But at a time where legit the last three mods I’ve played, Exit Music, We Are the Literature Club & Salvation– All started with tense sequences –all involving Sayori as well– It just doesn’t feel so distinct. This is your innovation upon the formula? Torturing Sayori in a new, different sort of way? There definitely seems to be a certain fear to change things in a way that actually matters. Thot Club, It was this dumb comedy mod, it didn’t take itself seriously. It was also a breath of fresh air! At this point, there’s probably like 20 mods based around that specific modders vision of– Of– “Guys, get this! Instead of Sayori hanging herself at the end of act 1– herrresss what happens instead…” “Uh, she tries to, but she fails… And we’ll go on from there”. Sometimes they don’t even bother to start you at the end of Act one, instead They make you play through to that point first. (shots fired at purist mod) Love & Literature, even from the first scene, the writing style is different– I mean look at that flavor text! It’s even telling us what time it is when the protag wakes up. Love & Literature actually feels like a visual novel. It’s a bit more detailed, yeah, but it knows what it’s doing. It’s verbose enough to get you really gripped into the world, and make it feel that much more realistic– But it’s not trying to be a book, which I could see being a problem without self-restraint. As a side bonus, being this detailed also makes it stand out more from its peers. In general, I do think that most DDLC mods are a bit too brief in detail. I don’t think anyone’s ready for, like, say this in a mod This is an excerpt from a writer that I know and this is all an internal monologue. This is amazing for a traditional story, but would it translate into a visual novel very well? I wouldn’t count on it. Point being, no-one expects THIS level of detail, and I don’t know if anyone even wants this level of detail. I think at that point, you should stop playing DDLC mods and maybe just pick up a novel. And then uh… admit that your spirit animal is Yuri– –or maybe better yet Hanako because Yuri SUCKS and nobooddyyy likes her…. But, one last time we don’t necessarily need this But we do need more than the pool scene from We Are the Literature Club where we just go to the pool Say that we’re at the pool and then change the topic DDLC itself was a bit light on detail, but Dan himself said that DDLC was made to be, and I quote, D. SALVATO: Playing this like, super generic moe like dating sim. …So he was going for the sort of generic, tropey, easy-to-consume Visual Novel sort of thing. And, despite being kind of brief in detail, Dan clearly put a lot of thought into the characters and themes in DDLC– So there’s certainly some sprezzatura there. But, back to Love & Literature– Despite being a standalone story, Love & Literature felt like it understood itself far better than the average mod I’ve played. It felt more like it was made in a vacuum, sort of insulated and protected from the community around it Which I’m sure is part of why it feels so unique to me. I also appreciated that it doesn’t cake on the edginess too much– While I’m sure that with later chapters, the story is gonna get progressively more dark. Oh no, she– She flinched at the MC doing a fist pump! I wonder what this means? Has a DDLC mod ever done the ‘Natsuki’s dad is an abusive asshole’ thing before? HEH Maybe I’m just a mind reader, but I’m gonna put my flawless reputation on the line here– And I’m just gonna I’m gonna put a guess out there that that’s what they’re SO SUBTLY hinting at here… Is… is the ‘Natsuki dad’ thing. Hey, I mean, at least it had some subtlety to it. At least Natsuki didn’t hand a note to the protag that says– “My dad is an ass and I hate him.” In the first like twenty minutes of the story. (sardonic laughter) SALVATION did that, didn’t they?! ..Why?! Why did they do that? Why’d she sign the note?! If she was just gonna hand it to him herself, which- what- was she afraid of the protag would forget? “Shit, who gave me this note again…?” “Who, always, in all of these alternate universes, without fail, ALWAYS has an abusive father?” ” Damn, I don’t know!” A lot of DDLC mods fall into the trap of being too iterative. They follow the same bullet points– Oh, Natsuki is tsundere for all of like two scenes before it’s reduced to all but playful teasing… Okay, so, Natsuki has a conflict. Okay, make it her dad. Yuri has a conflict? Either she self harms or she’s just legitimately insane. Uh, throw in Monika. Monika did it. Monika made her insane, whatever It’s all just so samey, sometimes as I’m playing a mod I can just like I can feel the gears turning in the writers mind– but in spite of that, Let me be clear when I say this– even the most iterative, Generic story that follows all the beats whether it’s Natsuki’s dad or Sayori’s depression… Even if you follow the most generic trope-y parts of this community You can still make a very interesting and really good mod But, Love & Literature, I think acidentally, by virtue of being a fanfic– Ended up doing what few mods dare to and it took more of a risk It changed things in a way that mattered more and made it feel more distinctive from the way it handles detail, to the way that the characters act.Love & Literature starts off with a brief introduction that sets itself apart and then sadly falls into the trap of Repackaging DDLC, which is okay, if it’s well done. But even if it is well done, It’s still pretty bland and this mod is no exception There are some pretty boring places in the introduction where we’re just going through the motions: Ah, Sayori, my childhood friend that’s always happy! Monika…? Ah, I don’t know her. Wait, yes I do. She’s a star student and everyone– Shut up, okay? I know. Even before you’re faced with the inevitable pain of going through the same story beats that you’ve seen like dozens of times before Love and literature at least has the common decency to introduce itself on a more positive note And I think that without this intro section that you’re seeing right now this mod would have been a lot harder to like Love and literature, very much so, wears its heart on it’s sleeve. And within the first two scenes, I already knew what I was in for. Speaking of I mentioned earlier that many mods seem to be afraid to lose the players attention And that they do some pretty dumb stuff to get it. Love & Literature starts out with Waking up on a monday, the beginning of a new school week. Pretty mundane, but that’s okay. I’d rather a mod have a confident and calm beginning than a shaky one That seems to be begging me to care about what’s going on by cheaply starting off on touchy Subjects or edgy stuff before I even care about any of the characters Let’s talk a bit more about the core parts of the mod, though. For starters, only the focus of the mod, Natsuki gets new poems. I guess it makes sense I mean why goes through the effort of giving Monika– — I mean Yuri, a new poem? She’s not that important to the story. Also , It’s Yuri. The protag is a character instead of being a blank slate His Canon name is Kazuma And he’s just a normal teenage guy, really. At first, Kazuma seems identical to the protag from the original game as they’re both into manga and anime and sorta anti-social But even from the first 10 minutes, I was already convinced that Kazuma makes for a more interesting story He’s got an interesting dynamic going on not only within himself as the flavor text covers throughout the story But he also makes for more interesting dynamics with the other characters whether he gets bored at Yuri for talking about literature in detail, A topic that he’s barely into to begin with or being sarcastic with Sayori. It just felt more interesting to me Okay, but back to the introduction of the mod. In spite of having what is in my opinion a really good first few scenes It’s a bit of a roller coaster. It goes from being really fresh to just barely tolerable and then back to really good Enclosed is an artist’s approximation of this phenomena. Also before I get cut off the story is really good Other than that and there’s a lot of really cute moments and it’s–The characters are a bit shaken up in love and literature It’s a bit on the subtle side but I think most people would end up noticing it. You might think that, after Thot Club made my waifu into an Sjw I would be a little skeptical of changing characters around but somehow I still Enjoyed love and literatures fresh take of the characters, even if the differences were rather easy to miss I’m really looking forward to the rest of the story mostly because I’m curious how the characters flesh out in more detail By the way, the character that changed the most was Yuri, — — BUT FIRST — Let me talk about what Yuri is. Yuri is the ketchup of DDLC; not everyone likes ketchup, But no one hates ketchup. It’s very sugary. It’s designed to be as likeable as possible If someone tells you they don’t like ketchup they’re signalling to you They’re trying to tell you that they have more refined tastes than ketchup and that they’re better than that I’ll confess my first-ever playthrough of DDLC, I picked Yuri. Yuri is unintimidating, she’s timid, she’s polite, and she’s pleasant! Oh, she’s a little obsessive and a tad bit pretentious when it comes to literature but not really to an annoying level. Point being, she doesn’t really have any negative traits.– There’s nothing so strong – and pronounced about her personality that would actually make someone dislike her. So, if there’s a ‘Mary Sue’ to be found in DDLC, it’s Yuri, she’s the ketchup You don’t need to have refined tastes to like her. She’s the one you pick when you don’t have any refined tastes– Now, I’m not saying that you have bad taste if your favorite doki is Yuri But I am saying that you have the taste buds of a child and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with that I’m sure that the day you turn 7 years old You’ll find that you’re more of a Sayori person. But no, on a more serious note, Love & Literature Yuri is a more balanced character. She’s more timid and awkward– In fact when she’s introduced she sort of immediately outs Sayori As talking about the MC behind his back Which is something that a socially awkward person would absolutely do without thinking about it She also doesn’t really speak to the MC except explicitly to talk about literature So it fits the idea of her being this reserved bookworm so much more Her pretentious side also rears its head a bit more and as it should be it’s more of a source of conflict. It even ends up bugging the protag and like any reasonable person would do– He ignores Yuri! All jokes aside, I really did enjoy this interpretation of Yuri so much more. She came off as a more interesting character with actual flaws and setbacks Instead of being ‘this cute anime girl that stutters when she talks but otherwise has -absolutely no negative traits- other than maybe being a little bit timid’, She comes off as a more realistic Introverted person that is rough around the edges when it comes to social Interaction sort of like Hanako from Katawa shoujo but not quite as intense Better yet, I think that this is a win-win because — it still seems up the alley of the sort of person that likes Yuri’s character It’s not so large a change as to really cause any culture shock, at least While as I said Yuri had the biggest change in personality Without going into too much detail each character felt a bit less fanservice-y, which was a welcome change.Now we venture into the rougher parts of L&L– They’ve got new sprites and new backgrounds many of which I think are all new They go from being pretty good like this background or the cafeteria background, or some minor changes to the sprites to like… … this background … The first time I saw this I won’t lie. I had to chuckle a little bit Is… is that is that supposed to be rain? Jesus Christ that’s rain, isn’t it? Some of them actually look like you took an unfired round and traced it and then made it slightly gray. .. In spite of that rain. I still appreciate the effort You don’t have to be a professional artist to get the job done despite at first laughing at this scene By the way, this is supposed to be on a rainy, dark, cloudy sort of day (Hmm….) Despite poking fun These backgrounds do their job which is to give a scene a different tone And if you can look past the fact that the new graphics are a little goofy, then they’ll end up really adding to the experience Another issue is the spelling and with it being a fanfic retrofitted into being a mod and all that this created an interesting situation Some errors were corrected in the transition from fanfic to mod and others were created ‘I tried to find Sayori through the tsunami of students’ was wrong in a fanfic and corrected in the mod But ‘Each of us is doing something that fits our defining interests’ is correct in the fanfic but made wrong in the mod I only mention this because I was originally gonna blame the modder for all the spelling errors But this is not the case. .. A billfold? Seriously, a fucking billfold? You put a billfold in your doki-doki literature club fanfic? One last issue I’ve gotta point out, the poem showing choices are a bit broken, during poem time You always pick Natsuki last, so you’re faced with the three other girls You would think that upon trying to pick the same girl twice you’d get like an error message or something and then get thrown back in to the choice screen But no you get three choices in this section before you move on if you really like Monika you can share your poem With her three times and get the exact same dialogue three times Perhaps the only positive effect of this is that you can avoid dealing with Yuri all-together, instead picking Monika twice or Sayori. But no, in We Are the Literature Club If you try to be a player and confess to two girls, you get told off and then pushed back to the choice So in this way, you’re forced to pick the right option. In the vanilla game. It just railroads you by removing options That are no longer necessary. And while this is ideal. It also clearly takes a lot more effort on the modder’s side. So a reasonable middle ground is what I will call The ‘We Are the Literature Club’ approach and just sort of force the player to make the choice that you want Last thing I want to cover is how love and literature handles It’s smaller details which can be a double-edged sword at times. Things can be waay too on-the-nose. There are many places in this story where they hurt their own tension by feeding the player too much information To use an example from early on in the story Look at this. This is just there is just the slightest almost barely perceptible veneer of ambiguity here Got the sad face and the flavor text openly Questioning how Sayori feels– and this sort of this frustrates me because it just– It barely falls shy of telling you directly what’s going on. There’s… there’s subtlety– don’t get me wrong, there’s subtlety here– but it’s it’s very small The subtlety itself is very subtle. Sayori feels bad, okay? At this point you might as well just tell me ‘sayori feels bad’. Aww poor Sayori… It’s okay. Just– just, therree… there! You’re happy now. Look, everyone! Sayori is smiling! It even says– it even says that she’s fine! Without going into more examples than that in general the writing would have benefited from Being a bit more vague and open-ended. This story felt like it was holding my hand so to speak And that sorta at best it comes off as silly and at worst you could argue that the writer didn’t have much faith in The people reading their story like… like come on, give us some– give us some more credit! I know I’m being an armchair fanfic writer here But a better way of handling this that would have been more subtle would be like “when I say this, Sayori looks away almost reflexively.” –and you know that way it’s left vague and obviously it affected her in some way Ya know, there’s a better way to write this that isn’t quite as straightforward is basically what I’m getting at Speaking of, Sayori’s dynamic with the emcee felt a bit too-on-the-nose as well You know, sometimes we can be a bit dense and not know when someone is hitting on us Well, let me just say: There is no possible way you wouldn’t figure it out If someone acted the way Sayori does here I don’t care about any childhood friendship BS You would actually have to be blind not to pick up on this. I don’t think even feel like it’s a spoiler I didn’t give you a spoiler warning for this! This is so transparent that you will figure it out in the first five minutes of the story In DDLC the Sayori crush, it was there but it was hidden very well In love and literature Sayori just sort of acts like a spaz all the time Hey Sayori– friends look out for friends, right? Woah, hey Sayori, why do you look like your heart just got crushed? Is something wrong; is something the matter? I swear, your expression almost looks like… unrequited love? But that can’t be, can it? … Yeah. Just end the video already!Eight out of ten. Granted, I give this story itself more like an eight and a half They’re both quite good, but they also have their weaknesses I’d say it’s a fantastic story and an almost as good mod, not perfect But I can easily Recommend it especially if you like Natsuki. And to be honest if this mod makes the story a little easier for people to access, or– –i t helps people get really invested into the story, then that’s all you can really ask for And at least for me, it did its job. There’s also one or two new soundtracks which made it into this version Which I could tell not as much effort went into the soundtrack but it is made up partially by the fact that I think they chose really wisely with the choices that they did include I think maybe the nicest thing I can say about this mod is that I Pulled up one of the soundtracks while making this video and had this nice fuzzy sort of feeling sort of like nostalgia So yeah eight out of ten. Really good The first release was rough around the edges and had all the issues of the story itself plus more Complications added in with the whole modding part but it was still a lot of fun I felt like with just a bit more forethought, proofreading, and time on development This could have easily been my all-time favorite DDLC mod. Definitely looking forward to the rest of the story whether it’s in mod form or in fan-fic form– Thanks for watching. Bye … I remember bringing this mod up with someone and they said isn’t that the mod where the MC is like Obsessed with Natsuki? And I was just like come on dude. You’ve never been infatuated with a girl? That’s it. It’s young love It’s all you can think about it. You act a little goofy like you’re in an anime or something Granted the whole part where Sayori and the protag are walking home And Sayori asked him what he thought of the club and he’s and he blurts out “She’s cute” “NANI?!”

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