Doki Doki Literature Club! is an iconic indie visual novel game. It takes your basic dating sim and adds a unique horror twist. The game launched on September 22, 2017, for PC. It was published and developed by indie studio Team Salvato. The creator, Dan Salvato, was inspired to make this game due to his “love-hate” relationship with anime and its overused tropes, like “cute girls doing cute things”. He reuses these cliches in a new and dark way to lure the player in.
In the game’s first four months, it received over two million downloads. It has overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics and players alike. It is praised for its cultural impact, unexpected plot twists, cute designs, and “demented and deconstructive form”. It won IGN’s “Best of 2017 Award” as well as the “Matthew Crump Cultural Innovation Award”. Nerd Much? even included Doki Doki Literature Club! on their 2020 list of the “50 Scariest Horror Games of All Time.”
Warning — the game touches on many sensitive topics, including mental health and self-harm.
Doki Doki Literature Club! Premise
Since the game is a visual novel, the emphasis is on narrative choices, and there are few gameplay mechanics. The Protagonist is invited to join the school’s Literature Club by his childhood friend, Sayori. There he meets several cute girls and participates in poetry writing exercises. The game soon takes dark and unexpected turns at several points. Depending on your choices with the girls, you can reach several different endings. Some are definitely darker than others. But the twists in this game are too good to spoil here.
Doki Doki Literature Club! Main Characters
The main character of the game is a member of the school’s Literature Club, primarily because he wants to be around cute girls. He is an underachiever who likes playing video games and watching anime instead of applying himself in school. The player gives him a name, but his appearance is not changeable. While the player may control the Protagonist, the player is still a separate entity.
The Protagonist typically wears the standard male school uniform of a gray blazer, brown sweater vest, white shirt, red necktie, and dark blue pants. Outside of school, he wears a black T-shirt. The Protagonist’s face is not shown in the game, we get glimpses of his back. But in Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!, an expanded version of the original game, his face is revealed in a piece of artwork that can be obtained.
This pink-haired Deredere is the Protagonist’s childhood friend. She is also the Vice President of the Literature Club. The player can write poems for her. Sayori obsessively starts new hobbies almost as soon as she drops them, but writing poetry and reading literature help her explore her feelings. On the outside, she is your typical Genki Girl, over-bubbly, clumsy, and lovestruck. But underneath the surface lies serious mental health issues. Throughout everything, Sayori is the mediator who is the best at keeping the peace between her friends.
Yuri is another member of the Literature Club. She struggles to talk to people but showcases more maturity and sophistication than the others. While she often comes across as shy, she can act patronizing and condescending to mask her insecurity. Her main interests are literature, horror, and surrealism. Outside of her literary interests, she also collects knives. This purple-haired gal goes from Deredere to Yandere throughout the game. Throughout the game, her negative traits become amplified into obsession and unsettling behavior.
This pastel-pink-haired Tsundere may seem brash at first, but on the inside, she is a major softie. Her passions are slice-of-life anime, manga, and baking. Unlike Yuri, Natsuki prefers poetry with few, simple words. While she might seem childish, Natsuki has a rough home life and uses Literature Club as an escape. Throughout the game, she goes from being flirty-mean to jealous.
Monika is the founder and President of the Literature Club and is the game’s driving force. It is not long before players can tell she is not as she seems. She has a passion for piano and, of course, literature. Monika comes off as mature, passionate, and intelligent.
She is the only one who does not have feelings for the Protagonist and instead is obsessively in love with the player. Is it really the player controlling the narrative? Or is it Monika?
Doki Doki Literature Club! Series
Doki Doki Literature Club! currently does not have any sequels or prequels, however, there is an expanded version of the game called Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!. That version includes the main Doki Doki Literature Club! game as well as new achievements and secret unlockables.
Keep a look out for future titles from Team Salvato. They currently have three projects in the works, one will have a similar way to weave interactive elements into the storytelling like Doki Doki Literature Club! did.
If you are interested in more visual novel games or games with similar atmospheres to Doki Doki Literature Club!, check out this list:
- Yume Nikki – In an interview with PC Invasion, the creator of Doki Doki Literature Club! personally recommended Yume Nikki and cited it as one of his influences. He was inspired by the game’s atmosphere. Yume Nikki is a dark game about a girl who cannot leave her apartment and has nothing but a dream world to escape to.
- I Woke Up Next to You Again – This game is a short and bittersweet visual novel. It is about the protagonist’s connection with their one-night stand the next morning. It has gorgeous and surreal graphics. There are four different endings, like Doki Doki Literature Club!.
- Missed Messages – Missed Messages leaves a haunting impact on the player. This visual novel may not break the fourth wall like Doki Doki Literature Club! but it still has a beauty and heaviness to it. This game also has both romance and dark elements to it. It has four different endings.
Doki Doki Literature Club! Cheat Codes
Unfortunately for players, Doki Doki Literature Club! does not have any cheat codes or cheat trainers. This also applies to the expanded version, Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!. Visual novels typically do not implement cheat codes. Since the game is a series of narrative choices, there is no need for unlimited health or extra health.
Doki Doki Literature Club! Unlockable Endings
The game has four different endings to unlock. If you’re curious about how to get them, check out the chart below!
|How to Unlock
|Complete the game having viewed all ten character cutscenes.
|Early End 1
|Start a new game. Save immediately. Close the game. Go into the “Characters” folder in the game directory and delete Sayori’s file. Restart the game.
|Early End 2
|Before starting a new game, go into the “Characters” folder in the game directory and delete Monica’s file.
|Complete the game without having viewed all of the cutscenes.
Be careful after you achieve the “Normal Ending”. The game will now be rendered unplayable until it is re-installed or the “firstrun” file is deleted. Don’t worry, it is not an issue with your computer and will make sense with the plot.
Doki Doki Literature Club! Cheat Code FAQ
Does Doki Doki Literature Club! have cheat codes?
No, both a built-in cheat code system and downloadable cheat trainers are unavailable for Doki Doki Literature Club!. Many modern games have abandoned the concept of cheat codes and they have no place in the visual novel genre.