Doki Doki Literature Club is undoubtedly a bizarre visual novel. The format is typically reserved for romance and drama, but anyone who plays Team Salvato's surprise hit will be quick to tell you how much more dark and surreal it gets compared to its peers. The story quickly changes from lovely social situations to moments of brutal, gory terror.
If you’ve never played the game before, you should be ready for both extremes, as the shift from pleasant to horrifying can be extremely sudden. It can be easy to be misled, considering how much innocent fanart there is online. Here are some of the scariest moments that you’ll encounter in the game.
Content Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Doki Doki Literature Club's story, as well as descriptions of events that may not be suitable for all ages. DDLC deals with several dark themes and subjects, including references to self-harm and abuse.
Updated October 31, 2021, by Cameron Roy Hall: Doki Doki Literature Club Plus, an expanded and enhanced version of the original game, came out earlier this year. Between the resurgence of popularity that inevitably comes with DLC for well-known media and the general spookiness of the current season, we decided that we could give this article something of an expansion pack, too. We've added a few more moments that we feel deserve their time in the horror spotlight, although, unlike DDLC Plus, we didn't add a music player function. Sorry, folks.
12 Natsuki's Dark Home Life
Although it is never directly stated, it is heavily implied that Natsuki deals with physical and emotional abuse from her father. In the first act of the game, her dialogue is sprinkled with references as to something happening behind the scenes. For example, when pressed, she states that her father believes that manga, her favorite media to read, is childish and that she's afraid that he might catch her reading it.
In the second act of the game, when Monika amplifies her darker character traits, Natsuki outright states that her father would beat her if he caught her reading manga. Again, since it's never directly shown to be true, Natsuki's possible abuse at the hands of her father is left to your imagination.
11 Yuri and Natsuki Fight
While there are much more vivid and frightening moments later, one of the most stressful events is so draining just because of how socially uncomfortable it is. While preparing for the cultural festival in the second half of the game, your clubmates all want to work with you and force you to choose who you want to pair up with.
This results in a lot of hurtful things being shouted between Natsuki and Yuri while you’re stuck watching, with Natsuki even loudly mocking Yuri’s self-harm. This dark oversharing and the pressure it puts on you is intense, and it’s hard to watch but you’re stuck as static starts filling the screen. It's one of the first indications that Monika is messing with Yuri and Natsuki's personalities since they wouldn't have fought in other circumstances and certain text is blacked out, as though Monika is hiding something from you.
10 Finding Sayori
Going to check on Sayori at the end of the game's first act is a much more upsetting experience than anything else so far. After worrying about her lack of attendance all day, you come back to her room to find her body hanging in her room.
This is the turning point for the game, where this romance with underlying serious subjects shifts to a more genuine horror game. Finding a body is a huge step away from the slight social discomfort you might have experienced earlier, and while it’s not fully unexpected by how it’s set up, it’s certainly the most troubling visual image.
9 Fighting Monika's Control Over The Cursor
The game's "Act 2" begins after Sayori's suicide. This is the point where the game reveals its true nature as a psychological horror, not a fun, innocent dating sim. Among the choices, the player must make under these new circumstances is which girl they want to spend the weekend with.
As you try to make a choice, your cursor will be forcefully pushed towards Monika. Even if you force the cursor to select someone else, the screen will just fill up with Monika's name until you choose her. No matter how much you resist, Monika is the god here.
8 Natsuki's Suspicions
In the latter half of the game, while you're writing poems (a familiar activity for you at this point), Natsuki hands you a letter saying how she’s scared about Yuri’s unusual behavior.
It's entirely unsettling to realize that the other characters have some understanding of a problem in the game, just like you, even if they don't know exactly what it is. It's hinted that Monika has been messing with the other character's files, so she has some level of self-awareness as a program - what do the other girls have?
7 Finding Secrets In The Game Files
There's plenty to do in the game, even if you've already played through it once. For example, now that you know the game's files are relevant, you may start digging through them at various points during the story. Doing this will uncover some disturbing Easter Eggs.
One example is an image file called "monika.png" which reveals a barcode that can be translated into binary, then into Base 64, then into English. Another document, named "traceback," only appears in the files just after Sayori's death. These text documents hint at something sinister and suggest that maybe Monika isn't the true antagonist of Doki Doki Literature Club.
6 Yuri's Confession
While finding Sayori's corpse is horrible for your mental health, Yuri takes it a step further by forcing the player to watch her self-harm. The game gives you an option as to whether you want to express feelings of love for Yuri or not. Regardless of your choice, Yuri escalates with her own confession of love that ultimately ends when she brings out a large kitchen knife...
This moment is tense, as the music gets louder and Yuri’s expression warps into a twisted version of the excitement she's shown throughout earlier conversations. Oh, and as icing on the cake, you're forced to stare at her lifeless body for an entire in-game weekend before the story continues.
5 Monika's Jump Scare
There are lots to be freaked out by during the finale of Doki Doki Literature Club, but one aspect is unique to people who backseated the game. If you experienced Doki Doki by watching a streamer or YouTuber play the game, you may remember a critical scene at the end of the game.
Monika is shown to be much smarter than the player anticipates she is. The game can detect if recording software like OBS and XSplit is running on your computer while you play. If it is, Monika will confront you about recording her and then jump-scare you.
4 Natsuki Glitches Out
Natsuki is a relatively underdeveloped character, compared to the other girls - indeed, the creator actually said he wished he could have developed her character more. However, she does have more randomized glitches compared to other characters.
Natsuki is programmed to glitch out during the game's second act, assuming the correct conditions are met. First, if she hates your first poem, there's a 1 in 3 chance that her eyes will pop out of her head and be replaced with black voids. Second, when you talk to Yuri near the closet on your third day in this Act, there's a 1 in 4 chance that Natsuki's eyes will turn become censored, her mouth will be replaced by an animated picture of a real woman's mouth.
3 Messing With Game Files
There’s one point at the end of the game where you have to access the game’s files on your computer. Trying to get around Monika's intended plans will only end in creepy messages and failures.
If you want something exceptionally frightening, though, you can also try deleting Monika’s character file right before the game starts. If you do, the game will start normally, but Sayori will start freaking out over how things aren’t right, making for some of the scariest dialogue in the game. Doing this will immediately close your game, too. Reopening your game will instantly trigger an end screen with Sayori's suicide cruelly visible.
2 Monika Speaks
One of the most powerful moments in the game is right at the end when things appear to be resolved, and you get one last moment with Monika. In it, she breaks the format of the text-based visual novel and a voice comes up, to both talk and sing to you directly.
While many horror games involve frightening images, this moment proves that fear doesn’t have to only come from gore or serious subject matter. By adding sound to an otherwise entirely visual game, Team Salvato excellently shows exactly how much power Monika has over her environment, and that's terrifying.
1 Sayori's Big Reveal
Doki Doki Literature Club features multiple endings, one of which follows the standard horror film set up perfectly. In one of the endings, after Monika frees you and removes herself from the equation (read: deletes herself), the game restarts without her in it. In this version of the game, Sayori is the president.
For a brief, shining moment, it feels as if all is right in the world... until Sayori thanks you for getting rid of Monika. In a gutting reveal, Sayori begins to display full knowledge of her status as a fictional game character, as well as several of Monika's more obsessive qualities. In this particular ending, the "normal ending", she decides to do exactly what Monika wanted to and states that she will keep you with her forever.
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