Doki Doki Literature Club Plus! PC Review

Doki Doki Literature Club Plus! is ideal for diehard fans.

By Fragnarok, Posted 30 Jun 2021

Doki Doki Literature Club Plus! is an updated remaster of the freeware horror dating simulation developed by Team Salvato and published by Serenity Forge. This new edition includes the base game, additional prologue sections, official localization into multiple languages, music player, hidden artwork, and some slight spins on the original’s presentation. New to this version is the Metaverse Enterprise Solutions desktop, a Windows-like interface that allows players to select through various options. This includes a virtual machine launcher for the game proper - dubbed “DDLC”, the ability to select side story chapters, browse through game files, and even receive e-mails from a team of admins.

At its core, players will first embark and spend the most time on the DDLC program, which is simply the 2017 version of Doki Doki Literature Club! in its entirety. The first playthrough behaves as a typical dating sim virtual novel. Players take control of an anonymous and faceless protagonist and are coerced into joining the high school literature club. Among the other attendees are the popular Monika - who started the club and acts as president, childhood friend Sayori, the quiet and reserved Yuri and the spunky outgoing Natsuki. The main gameplay loop is the creation of poems by selecting words that appeal to each love interest. When a poem is finished, new cutscenes with the associated girl will play out.

Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!|Metaverse Enterprise Solutions|Team Salvato|Just Monika|Serenity Forge

This might appear sweet and innocent at first, but as the week goes on it becomes more apparent that things aren’t quite right. There are subtle hints that Sayori suffers from depression, Yuri is fascinated by the macabre, and Natsuki’s fieriness may be due to malnutrition stemming from neglect. Then there is the seemingly flawless Monika, who must be a perfect choice. But this only beguiles how manipulative she is, passively pointing out her friends’ problems and saying just the right things to become the protagonist’s favorite. However, no matter the player’s selections the first run will always end tragically and without a way to rectify the problem - all game saves will become corrupted.

It isn’t until the next playthrough (or Act 2, officially) is when the horror elements start to pop in. Some of these may include jump scares, while others are horrific imagery placed in the background. Characters, even the protagonist, maybe more unhinged and speak with uncharacteristic dialogue. The game will also start to fake glitches, including broken interface elements, purposeful delays, strange sounds, and even “crashing” back to the Metaverse desktop. What makes this the most unsettling is that no in-game characters will acknowledge that anything is amiss, and simply move on to the next section of the visual novel’s narrative. This can leave players uncomfortable and drained as their own trauma is quickly ignored and swept away for something cute.

Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!|Metaverse Enterprise Solutions|Team Salvato|Just Monika|Serenity Forge

What will make players especially on-edge, is that the scares are not guaranteed to always occur. Each playthrough and menu selection may or may not prompt specific events. This can mean those going through a second or third time could brace for something frightening, only for it to never happen, but then a new unexpected terror may suddenly flash and rile up players instead. Doki Doki Literature Club Plus! also has a few shockers that only play during live streams (or at least when the game detects recording software like OBS or XSplit), bringing audiences in on the action.    

As the player completes new poems, Doki Doki Literature Club Plus! will unlock side-story events. Initially, there will only be one for Sayori and Monika, but others will focus on each set pair of girls, yielding six total. Side stories take place chronologically before the DDLC program. This means that the protagonist avatar and player do not appear or interact at all, simply watching a batch of rather long cutscenes. There is also no way to save during side stories, only a means to skip dialogue if players happened to quit out in the middle of one.

Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!|Metaverse Enterprise Solutions|Team Salvato|Just Monika|Serenity Forge

The side stories establish how each member of the literature club met and grew to care for each other. Watching through all of them will unlock a seventh final part, which serves as the real ending of Doki Doki Literature Club Plus! While unlikely, it is possible to view this epilogue before even reaching the fear-inducing Act 2 of DDLC. This can cause strange tonal whiplash for players that bounce between heart-warming moments into grotesque insanity and back.

The Metaverse e-mails shed light on what is going on, but in many ways spoil future details for the uninitiated. Some of them appear after certain events, like completing the first playthrough, while others come from doing particular actions within DDLC or poking through the file directories. Even the current system clock time may grant access to normally forbidden project management files. While the admins aren’t fully fleshed out characters, their notes give some insight into the design of DDLC and the virtual machine.

Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!|Metaverse Enterprise Solutions|Team Salvato|Just Monika|Serenity Forge

For the most part, the Metaverse seems like a way for Serenity Forge to meet console compliance. After all, manufacturers like Sony and Nintendo wouldn’t want a game taking over the system’s native interface, solicit players, or place strange files into hard drives. But making the PC version perfectly match the console experience seems strange, especially when some of the thrill of the original Doki Doki Literature Club! was the notion that the game could control player’s computers. Though understandably, a game can get away with more artistic freedom when it is completely free.

Doki Doki Literature Club Plus! is great for existing fans that want to know more about their favorite characters and possibly the deeper universe. However, the paid package doesn’t offer enough for newcomers. In some cases, like the Metaverse content, could even be detrimental to those with no prior experience. Players that were simply looking to go through the DDLC program without the need for extras should stick with the original free release of Doki Doki Literature Club!

Kurtis Seid, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Publisher(s): Serenity Forge
Developer(s): Team Salvato
Genres: Visual Novel
Themes: Dating, Highschool, Horror, Depression
Release Date: 2021-06-30

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