First and foremost, I feel I have to mention that I’m not much of a visual novel guy. It’s less of a preference issue, and more of an “I can’t read the fucking text 90% of the time” sort of issue. If there’s a trendy visual novel making its rounds, I usually check YouTube for a Let’s Play. Or I guess Let’s Read would be more accurate, since visual novels barely qualify as video games.If I had 20-20 vision, I’d probably be checking these things out myself, but as it stands, I lack that ability.
Another thing I feel I need to get out of the way is I fucking hate dating sims. I’m no neoliberal social justice retard, proclaiming that the concept of the dating sim somehow demeans women by reducing them to mindless fuck toys or whatever, but I just don’t get any enjoyment out of it. Dating sims just remind me of how lonely and/or miserable real life is. They remind me that women are a lot harder to please in real life, and how horribly inaccurate these cartoon women are to the real thing. They remind me of how I got ghosted yet again by someone I really liked recently, and how I fucking HATE IT when people ghost me. It doesn’t make you a strong, empowered woman to just disappear off the planet and leave me hanging, it makes you a bitch. Men don’t like bitches. Well, MOST of us don’t. The ones who DO like bitches are the male equivalent of women who like bad boys. In any case, it thoroughly annoys me, and it annoys me even MORE when I know I’m paying $15 a month for a service to set us up, only for you to be an absolute bitch, and just disappear, and never return any of my texts, and…
I’m pretty sure I was talking about something else a minute ago.
Oh yeah, Doki Doki Literature Club! I’m not shouting that, by the way: it actually does have an exclamation mark at the end of the title.
DDLC is a visual novel, and it’s a dating sim. Two strikes right out the gate. And yet, I soldiered through the videos. Admittedly, my first viewing came from The Game Grumps, and every other line had something to do with potatoes, or one of the characters being a robot, etc. It made that first couple of in-game days more bearable. Then, out of nowhere, the first shocking moment happens in the game, and the entire mood of the VN takes a complete one-eighty.
I won’t give the twist away here. Instead, I STRONGLY urge you to go to STEAM, and pick the VN up for yourself. Seriously, don’t worry about the price tag. It’s free to play, I’m told.
I will say this much, though. When that shocking moment happens, DDLC takes a SERIOUS left turn at Albuquerque, and becomes the single most fucked up thing I’ve seen in a long time.
Believe me, when it comes to horror, I’m pretty jaded. I plunged myself into the world of horror films when I became old enough to go to R-rated movies without an adult. I already owned, and practically masturbated to the Resident Evil games (RE2 in particular). I was even WRITING horror when I was a second-year-senior in high school. To put it bluntly, I’ve seen just about everything, and it takes a lot to scare me.
I was fond of Five Nights at Freddy’s at one point, and even then, I didn’t find it scary. I found it intriguing, I found the story fascinating, and I found myself wanting more and more until somewhere around Sister Location. But I never really found it scary. Sure, the jump scare in every game takes you off guard and panics you, but The Spoony Experiment said it best: “That’s not scary, that’s startling.”
I feel horror has been a very misunderstood genre over the years. People like Eli Roth took the horror genre, and transformed it into the torture porn fad popular throughout the 2000s. Movies like the work of Eli Roth fail as horror because in all the movies of his I’ve seen, every character is an unlikeable douche that you actually WANT to see die. This is not how horror works. That moment when the character dies is supposed to be an absolute gutpunch, not a moment to sigh in relief and thank god that he’s dead. You DON’T want to see that character die, and when that character does die, it’s a shock to the system. When the obnoxious prick who won’t shut the fuck up dies, it’s a relief. Or at least it doesn’t have as much impact as it should.
The horror scene in the 2010s thankfully departed from this concept… Unfortunately, horror in the 2010s is either defined by Tom Six’s Human Centipede movies, or by Paranormal Activity and the countless amount of spooky ooky ghosty ghoully Ouija board horror. The Human Centipede isn’t scary for the same reason Eli Roth movies aren’t scary: you don’t give a fuck about the humans stitched together into the human centipede. Paranormal Activity isn’t scary… Though that just might be more of an opinion based on my belief that Ouija boards are fucking stupid.
Doki Doki Literature Club! is effective horror. I’m a jaded, cynical prick when it comes to horror, and that visual novel ruined my fucking weekend. This is because DDLC introduces you to characters, and gets you invested in them. They aren’t perfect people, you find out the further you get in, but you end up liking them, and you want good things to happen. Which is why when the first real twist of the game ends up happening, it’s such a thorough dick kicking. The fact everything goes completely off the rails from that point onward only adds to the unsettling feeling.
After the first twist, the VN starts glitching out, and nothing can be trusted. The world of DDLC set up rules and established them very early on. But after the first twist, everything is broken now. All bets are off, and you have no guarantee that anybody is safe. It leaves you on the edge of your seat, wondering what is going to happen next.
This, my friends, is how horror should be! I’m glad I watched those playthroughs, but that first time I sat through it… I tell you what, man, DDLC was the kind of experience that left a dent in my soul. It thoroughly ruined my weekend… And I thank Dan Salvato for doing it.
Of the four girls in DDLC, I found that Yuri was my favorite. And to my surprise, it seems like I’m in the majority for a change, but I digress. Yuri is quiet, introverted, prone to losing herself in the fantasy world of whatever book she’s reading, not really much of a people person… Basically, she’s ME. Except I’m not a high school girl. I’m also not a cutter.
Yeah, I’ve already given too much away with that one.
I strongly, STRONGLY urge you to pick up this visual novel, and read through it yourself. You can get it off STEAM. And like I said earlier, it’s absolutely free. Download it for yourself, or hell, do what I did and watch someone else play through it. If you’d rather go the latter route, I personally recommend Pro Jared’s playlist.