Parent Reviews For Doki Doki Literature Club!

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During the fall season, I spkết thúc a lot of time searching for fresh scares. I’m immune to lớn haunted houses và horror movies, because neither one force me out of my comfort zone. I know that movies will progress without my input; even if I’m shrinking back a bit in my seat, it’ll keep moving, & I can live out the full experience. As for haunted houses, with the exception of a few “intensified” experiences, ghouls can’t touch me, and the scares are predictable. I can round a corner &, well, gosh! It’s … a dude in a costume & usually some pretty cool makeup.

I often feel the same sense of ease when playing horror đoạn phim games. Gore doesn’t irk me, & monsters are so yesterday. I"ve sầu already seen my fair chia sẻ of Resident Evil 7 Let"s Plays without feeling much in my gut. Like I vì chưng with haunted houses & horror films, I always know that none of the scares are real.

But a thắm thiết visual novel, of all things, petrified me recently — just by completely subverting my expectations. It exploited my confidence in the visual novel genre và turned that inkhổng lồ a twisted game of its own. It taught my nightmares new tricks.

(Some light spoilers follow below; here’s your spoiler warning.)

Although it looks lượt thích a dating sim, Doki Doki Literature Club is a free-to-play, psychological horror game, produced by indie studio Team Salvato. Since its release, the game has earned a reputation as an innovative sầu scare. It’s a slow burn that begins with you and group of dễ thương girls who must prove that their literature club is worth becoming an official school organization. Of course, your protagonist is hoping khổng lồ forge new bonds with some of them along the way. The game encourages you lớn pick a girl lớn write a poem for, và depending on your choices, you may draw closer to lớn the club’s charming, sweet members.


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A typical scene from early on in Doki Doki Literature Club. Team Salvalớn
Eventually, true to lớn the game’s advertised nội dung warnings (which you should take seriously, by the way), Doki Doki Literature Club leads you down a dark path, leading to the shocking & emotional death of one character. But in the same moment that it rips your heart open, the game instantly takes a much more unusual twist.

After this initial playthrough ends và the main thực đơn restarts, the dead character’s image is pixelated and warped, as if her death affected the game client itself. The save sầu files become inaccessible, forcing the player into lớn a new game. If & when the player moves ahead to begin this new file, the game seems lớn react at any hint of this former character, và the client loudly glitches & morphs until it seems satisfied with its outcome.

Soon inkhổng lồ the next run-through, the client repeatedly takes control of itself, speeding through text và tacking on unusual images to create grotesque jump scares. But the reality of a sentient game client becomes nightmare fuel on its own.

To make matters worse, in the moment of the character’s death, keen eyes will notice that the game directs the player outside of the client by naming a specific game file, alluding khổng lồ an outside force changing the game’s universe. It becomes a terrifying mystery, weaving in và out between the in-game plot và the game files’ cryptic implications: What happened to lớn Doki Doki Literature Club?

As I crawled into lớn this “second run,” I wasn’t just horrified; I was mentally trapped in the game"s world và its antics. But I still wanted khổng lồ dive sầu baông xã in, and I spent time with myself to lớn underst& what I had to lớn overcome in order lớn continue the game. In the process, I realized how Doki Doki Literature Club utilizes an underrated aspect of the horror experience: control, or the laông xã thereof.

On a basic level, the fear of fear (the anticipation, in a word) is what makes horror as a genre so difficult for many people. In interactive media, you’re especially aware of how you’re prompting the horrors by progressing through the work. Worse, a game can mask the world around you in highly efficient ways, bringing down your guard before a good scare. You can start crawling into a space before getting dragged out, or you can open a door that seemed safe before và encounter a new Boss. The point of many games becomes, then, that fear often makes you lose control, and just as often, loss of control makes you lose the game.


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The game looks like your typical dating syên ổn ... at first. Team Salvalớn
The “action-adventure horror house” is an effective sầu & proven genre, with tactics such as jump-scares, claustrophobic encounters và high-adrenaline chases that work despite their tired use. Developers have learned how to lớn capture the traditional horror atmosphere và drive tension in such an efficient way that even the aforementioned classic methods are amplified in these settings.

Doki Doki Literature Club uses many of these same familiar concepts, but not in the way you’d expect, và that’s mostly thanks to its breakdown of the fourth wall. Known as “metafiction,” this genre of work is explicitly designed lớn restructure the dynamic between the work and the person interacting with it. In this case, it almost entirely removes control from the player.

It’s worth noting that metafiction already has huge potential in horror games, because of their inherent nature of directly interacting with the player. This isn’t supposed khổng lồ happen in a đoạn Clip game, right? The window isn’t supposed to exit, that tệp tin wasn’t there before, is that character addressing me? It creeps into lớn & mocks our imagination và ideas of what that game is supposed lớn be, & that quickly gets under players’ skins. Much lượt thích horror, a primary theme is control.

As a work of horrific metafiction, Doki Doki Literature Club quite literally overwrites that control, taking the tropes of metafiction, horror và visual novel genres and amping them up a few notches. It builds moments based on what is assumed to be your understanding of the genre’s tropes & the fundamentals of interactive sầu media. There are ominous text files appearing out of nowhere; a “bonus poem” unlocked by the player in this new run-through can either be a sweet “I love you” or a dark regret of our former character. “Scenes” I expected lớn be xinh đẹp are overlaid with static & blacked-out eyes, và characters sometimes zoom in with uncomfortable closeness. The game knew that I knew this wasn"t normal, & it used that as a tool khổng lồ make me uneasy.


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Team Salvato
More importantly, it kills a character, then explicitly prevents you from doing anything about it. I expected lớn return lớn your save sầu tệp tin khổng lồ rescue her or maybe date another girl, but I was not allowed lớn. She was gone. When the game restarts, it constantly mocked my decisions và regrets. I wasn"t given any idea of how fix the universe, short of a hard rephối on the game altogether — which would only bring me back to lớn square one.

In sum, this is what’s horrifying about Doki Doki Literature Club: You, as a player và a character within the game’s world, are helpless.

As I dug inlớn the game’s newly-warped world, extra poems & the suddenly-appearing game files, my grasp of the game slipped further. The quest to lớn discovering the game’s secrets becomes a paradox, because as much as I wanted khổng lồ know more, the process untangles the universe further và further. And, when that realization sunk in, I became less sure what the goal was. All I could vì chưng was move sầu forward and find some light at the over of the tunnel. (Well, hopefully.)

Team Salvato lớn has unearthed a new way of terrifying us by ripping apart our expectations of how interactive media should work. Doki Doki Literature Club is a game that played me, and somehow, I"m content khổng lồ let it take control.