I said I wanted to ramble about games I play this year, as well as play more of them, so here we go!
I will start by saying this will obviously contain spoilers about Doki Doki Literature club, and I highly recommend you go into this game as blind as you can if you haven't played it already.
I will also give a general content warning for everything the game warns about such as themes of depression, suicide, etc.
Anyway, here we go!
I was trying to think about why this game has been on my mind since I've beaten it. It's another game in the "4th wall breaking" category, and I've seen the same things this game has done in other games such as Im Scared, Undertale, Pony Island, even Bioshock. I don't even think it did those "better" exactly, but still the game has stuck with me, and I think I'm now able to articulate why.
The game starts off as a typical low budget dating sim. Characters have limited numbers of sprites on top of low numbers of environments, while being inside a plot of no real consequence. Even with hints dropped here and there that something isn't quite right, the games atmosphere does little to make you feel any tension at all. But this isn't a critique, I believe this was done very deliberately.
Miles Luna once said that he liked writing comedy because it got people to let their guard down, and this is exactly what the developer was doing. It's so unassuming that I think many people would drop it before getting to the "good" part.
Once Sayori hung herself, I jumped a little. I knew it was coming, but yet I really wasn't expecting it. The sound was so strange and imagery was so intense... and then the game snaps back to normal, as if nothing happened, without Sayori.
From there, the world starts to fall apart, slowly but surely. Now I'm incredibly tense and expecting something big to happen again, but it doesn't. Just blips and glitches, small bursts of intensity. Since I'm already on edge, everything I notice makes me feel more anxious, but everything I notice at this point is still working within the logic of what I know of the engine. Glitchy filters, image errors, cryptic text. My choice of female slowly going insane, often just staring at me. Natsuki, begins to notice and attempts to get me to help Yuri, but it's far too late.
The moment where Yuri stabs herself hit me hard, since I was used to images being still, and if there was creepy animation, it was a repeating gif. I really wasn't expecting there to be a fluid animation at this point.
And then you just, stare at her body rotting away for two days. I used the skip function, but it was interesting that a let's player I watched attempted to load a previous save. It only works as another way to pass the time.
After this is what was the weakest point of the experience for me personally, though I'm not sure I can say it's bad since a lot of people liked this scene the most as I saw. But now Monika is speaking directly to the player, in a world she created for herself. It wasn't much of an impact for me because everything in the scene worked within the logic of the game already. The environment was still the classroom (albeit with an animated effect in the background), and Monika herself was a flat sprite that didn't change. I really wish she was animated in some way, something else that would separate her from the typical graphics of the game, especially since the "speaking directly to the player" scene isn't a new idea, either. But this is probably the most negative I can be about the game. Moving on!
I deleted Monika, so she gave me a world without her, but in the end, there was no happy ending to exist in the Literature Club, as anyone who becomes president of the Literature Club becomes aware of the world they exist in, and would choose to manipulate it to become closer to the player.
Monika thus deletes everything, and plays the song she's been practicing in the background.
I really liked this game, and was glad I avoided spoilers as much as I could. I wish I didn't know "something" was coming, but I may not have kept playing past the first hour if I didn't know that much. The let's player I watched (Jacksepticeye!) also mentioned that it was cool that it turned the dating sim trope on it's head in that usually the player is in total control of the story, because all of the character will make decisions around the player's decisions. But now, that control is taken away, and your along for the ride instead, giving yourself up to the whims of the girls.
This wasn't meant to be super organized or anything, just wanted to blog really. Let me know if you had any thoughts, I'd love to hear it!
Plan to play the new Dangan Ronpa next, so that'll probably be the subject of my next post.