Posts Tagged ‘Team Salvato’

How Doki Doki Literature Club’s subversive satire explores the power of visual novels

What if your favorite game got removed from Steam, but nobody seemed to notice? That’s what happened to Muv-Luv Alternative, a nigh-hundred-hour visual novel from Japanese developers Age that some have called the magnum opus of the genre. It’s currently the highest-rated title on the Visual Novel Database, barely eclipsing the better-known Steins;Gate. But in January, the censored non-18+ version of the game disappeared from the Steam storefront without explanation, with members of the development team apparently scrambling to get it back up, using the discussion board to document their progress, or lack thereof. Very few sites reported the news, and understandably so: according to SteamSpy, this hyper-niche game with its adoring fanbase has sold just shy of 10,000 copies on Steam, roughly half of its predecessor.

Meanwhile, a newcomer to the genre, that broke many of the rules that epics like Muv-Luv follow, was reaching millions of people. This is the story of Doki Doki Literature Club.

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Doki Doki Literature Club is a hidden horror game for the internet age

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We players like to be in charge of our games. We save before boss battles. We watch how our choices change the story flow. Many of us know how to access game data if needed. Most of all, we like knowing we’ve out-smarted the game. And there’s no easier style of game to out-smart than a dating sim. Right?

Japanese-style dating games often stick to an aesthetic and tone that’s all but synonymous with the genre: bouncy anime blended with air-headed girls, all clamouring to get the attention of the male protagonist. Doki Doki Literature Club slips into that style seamlessly. Only one thing sets it apart – the tagline. “This game is not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed.” Beyond that there are no hints in the game trailer, no secrets in the description.

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