Hey hey folks, and welcome to my critique of Doki Doki Literature Club. Just a friendly reminder that if you haven’t completed the game, there might be spoilers in this video. If you wish to avoid them, please press pause, and go play the game before returning. For everyone else, let’s continue.
The idea of the dating sim is kind of gross. In Doki Doki Literature Club you can tailor the poems you write towards the girl you have an interest in, and are rewarded with scenes of the two of you becoming closer. As the game continues, and the horror of the situation reveals itself, that gross feeling is turned up a few notches as the needs of these characters towards you as the player becomes disturbing. Sayori has lived with crippling depression and hates herself, Natsuki does whatever she can to escape her abusive father, and Yuri cuts herself for pleasure and spends too much time in her own head. Spending time with the player is a healing salve, or at least it’s supposed to be. Their increased attachement to the player has disastrous effect. The point is that if this was a standard dating sim after finding out about the darker aspects of their nature, I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be able to choose just one, knowing that I’m not able to help the others. I guess you can’t save everyone, but that was definitely on my mind as I played, especially during the ending.
The ending when you finally get rid of Monika. The game resets without her. Sayori seems happy, Natsuki and Yuri start to form a friendship, and the game is wrapping up. It doesn’t seem like any of them actually need the player at all anymore. I felt happy that they were happy and that the game would end amicably. Then Sayori faces you alone. She knows all that’s happened. She knows about Monika and all the horrors that she put everyone through. What’s more, she wants to keep you all to herself just like Monika did. Funnily enough, it’s Monika that stops this nonsense. She’s cured of whatever malevolence possessed her before you forcibly removed her file from the game directory. Sayori is cursed with it now. Before deciding to delete the entire game, Monika says that “the literature club could not bring happiness”. This caused me to think that it was the club itself that was the corruption. That the president of the club was affected by its malice. Which of course lead me to think if the club was a stand-in for the game, and for the idea of dating sims in general. These games can’t bring happiness, and the only way for any of the characters to truly escape this hell is to never have existed in the first place.
Non-existence doesn’t seem to matter. If Monika is deleting the girls, how did they show up after you delete Monika, and how did Monika return herself? In that last scene before having to delete her file to move forward, she talks about how she’s always been aware of her sentience, even on the game’s download page. This suggests that Monika is more than just a character in the game, unless of course the others are aware and just choose to ignore it. Sayori surely knows what’s up at the end, and perhaps this lends credence to the game itself being a malevolent force. Another point is if Monika is sentient, if she has known exactly what she is from the beginning, if she’s been behind all the glitches, if she truly amped up the negative personalities of the other girls in order to be alone with the player, and if she’s so special, why is she a file in a folder marked ‘characters’, easily deletable like all the others?
After rescuing you from Sayori, Monika speaks to you. She sings you a song as the credits roll, deleting all the pictures that appear, and deleting the framework that makes the game possible. To replay the game, you have to re-download it. It feels like in the fiction of the game, everything played out exactly as it was supposed to. Monika’s sentience was just another game construct. It’s just the game making her think she had control. She was as vulnerable as the others. In Doki Doki Literature Club, like most dating sims, every girl is in love with the player and we get to choose which one’s affections to validate. These characters can’t choose to not be in love with the player. This is all they can be. Monika for all her supposed free will is also in love with the player, and her actions are all justified in order to get you alone together. The game is cruel however. The player cannot write a poem for Monika. The main idea of the game is that in a dating sim, you’re choosing the girl, but what if there was a girl who chose you? Taking this idea further, what if the game was set up in a way that this girl wasn’t a possible choice for the player, and what if the game let her know that, before giving her power? While Doki Doki Literature Club could easily be a condemnation of playing this type of game, the player is not at fault for not choosing Monika. The game is, and that it let her think she had free will, I find that all the more horrifying.
Thanks for watching. How did you feel about Doki Doki Literature Club? What are your theories as to what’s going on? Do you blame Monika? Do you think there’s something else at play here? Let me know in the comments. As always if you enjoyed the video please show your love with a like, a share, and subscribing if you haven't already, and I hope you’re all having a wonderful day.