Game Review: Doki Doki Literature Club Plus! (Xbox Series X)

You will have many thoughts flying through your head come the end of Doki Doki Literature Club Plus! However, the overriding one is sure to be something along the lines of: what the fuck did I just play?

Developed by Team Salvato and originally released in 2017 as freeware for, and later on Steam. Doki Doki Literature Club! was so popular and beloved, an expanded and paid for version called Doki Doki Literature Club Plus! was released on modern consoles in June of 2021.

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A visual novel, it’s no secret that Doki Doki Literature Club! is not the game it is initially presented as. One look at it, and the first hour or two of gameplay would have you believing you’re playing a dating sim. That’s how it is presented, as your character unenthusiastically joins a school literature club made up of a few cute and pretty anime girls. You have the option of wooing three of the four girls in a cheerful way, with multiple endings and unlockable cutscenes for each. The whimsical music, the cutesy and cliché dialogue, the anime tropes… it all seems to be designed for a specific audience.

So, if you’ve got no interest in dating sims, the initial pitch of Doki Doki Literature Club! is off-putting. However, it’s not what it seems and in fact the game is a psychological horror that takes pleasure in breaking the fourth wall. To call it a surreal experience is to underplay just how unique it actually is. It’s also one that is best experienced with little knowledge. We won’t be giving you plot/story spoilers here but you should probably stop reading and go play it.

You have been warned.

Doki Doki Literature Club! tackles some heavy subjects, such as mental health issues, while also delivering compelling and clever commentary on video games, anime and people in general. It is a psychological horror game that comes with a warning at the start. One that tells you it is not for children nor the easily disturbed.

While that warning seems a stretch at first, eventually it rings true and even the most grounded individual will feel uneasy, uncomfortable and a bit frightened. Such is the intense power of Doki Doki Literature Club!’s story-telling. What is so impressive about the tonal shift is how subtle it is and how things increasingly go off the rails. The payoff is so good, you’ll immediately want to start again to see what you missed.

For a game with almost no actual gameplay, Doki Doki Literature Club! does a standout job of keeping you invested. At most, you’re clicking through dialogue boxes with a sporadic word association mini-game here and there. However, the narrative and how all of this is weaved into the story is simply too engaging to complain about. Doki Doki Literature Club! sells itself as a visual novel so don’t be surprised when that is what you get.

S what’s so special about the added ‘Plus’? Well, it comes with much improved visuals and things do pop off the screen. There’s also a ton of unlockable images, concepts and wallpapers, as well as 26 music tracks. Hardly reasons for those who played the original Doki Doki Literature Club! to pick this up. That reason comes with several side stories which take place before the events of the main story and focus on the game’s women before the player joined their Literature Club.

Those hoping for more of the same unsettling Doki Doki Literature Club! horror they experienced in the main game might find themselves disappointed with these side stories though. They’re a good accompaniment to the main story and add some flesh to bones of the characters.

There is no doubt that new players should immerse themselves in this world via this updated version though. Doki Doki Literature Club is a revelation that stays with you long after its end credits have rolled. With multiple endings, multiple paths and cutscenes to unlock, there’s reasons to go back time and time again. Provided you can handle the experience again and again.

Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!
  • The Final Score - 9/10
User Review
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