Doki Doki Literature Club!
Doki Doki Literature Club! is a psychological horror game under the guise of a camp romance visual novel. The game is the first made by Team Salvato, a game development studio headed by Dan Salvato. Salvato is very well known in the competitive Super Smash Bros. Melee community as a semi-retired Link player, the developer of several popular mods to enhance tournament experiences, developer of FrankerFaceZ for Twitch, and a massive weeaboo. "Doki doki" as seen in the title comes from the Japanese onomatopoeia for a beating heart (Japanese: ドキドキ, Hepburn: dokidoki).
The game follows the main character's experiences in his school's literature club. Its president, Monika, is aware of her existence in a game and sabotages every other member of the club in order to be with the player.
Doki Doki Literature Club! appears to be set in Japan. Its title includes Japanese, Natsuki makes a Japanese pun in Act 1, and two of its four characters have real Japanese names while the other two have names that--though not traditional--fit phonologically with the Japanese language.
However, this is brought into contention by Monika in Act 3, where questions if the game truly does take place in Japan, citing the "classrooms and stuff kind of weird for a Japanese school" and that "everything is in English." Despite this, there's at least one background which contains clearly-visible Japanese text. Additionally, all of the backgrounds are very consistent with real-life Japanese houses and schools.
The game presumably takes place in 2017, evidenced by a calendar on Sayori's wall being labelled "Calendar 2017" in English. The text is not readable in the in-game version of the background, but a full-resolution version can be found on background artist Velinquent's Pixiv account.
Doki Doki Literature Club! is structured as a visual novel, a genre of game which typically involves a player reading dialogue and occasionally making choices to influence to progression of the story.
The existence of the project was only directly revealed on 8 September 2017, when Dan Salvato that he would “begin to reveal information about [his] never-before-seen next big project” along with an image of four colored squares. These four squares corresponded to the eye colors of the four characters.
On 16 September 2017, Team Salvato’s Twitter account made its first tweet, revealing that the project was a game, but the nature and title of the game were only made public on 22 September 2017, the day of release.
On 22 October 2017, Salvato posted an article on Team Salvato's blog regarding translations, among other topics. The article announces plans for the release of a "Fan Translation Kit" to allow users to create their own translations of the games to other languages. On 10 November 2017, Salvato tweeted about localization of the game, stating that the only planned translation would be to Japanese.
Though the game was initially not well known due to the absolute lack of information regarding it prior to its release, its release through Steam on 6 October 2017 was met with critical acclaim, garnering over 30,000 reviews within two months, 98% of which were positive. Several gaming-focused outlets featured articles praising the game, including Rock Paper Shotgun, PC Gamer, Polygon, Kotaku, and Siliconera.
On 1 December 2017, Team Salvato tweeted that Steam game ranking website steam250.com listed Doki Doki Literature Club! as the fifteenth highest-rated game of all time. At the time of the tweet, the game was also ranked as the highest-rated game of the previous quarter as well as the previous year. Furthermore, it was both the highest-ranked free game as well as the highest-ranked visual novel on all three lists.
- Salvato, Dan (dansalvato). “In one week, I will begin to reveal information about my never-before-seen next big project. Stay tuned.” 8 Sep. 2017, 1:01 PM. Tweet
- Team Salvato (teamsalvato). “Team Salvato is born. We are a game development studio. New info will be shared each day until the final game reveal on the 22nd. Stay tuned” 16 Sep. 2017, 12:13 PM. Tweet
- Team Salvato (teamsalvato). “After nearly 2 years of hard work, Team Salvato presents:” 22 Sep. 2017, 10:01 AM. Tweet
- Salvato, Dan. “DDLC Store, Translations, & Fan Work.” Team Salvato, 22 Oct. 2017, teamsalvato.com/blog/ddlc-store-translations-fan-work/.
- Dan Salvato (dansalvato). “I'm going to release a translation kit that makes fan translations possible. As of now, the only planned official translation is Japanese.” 10 Nov. 2017, 09:05 PM. Tweet
- Josuweit, Amy. “Doki Doki Literature Club Is a Hidden Horror Game for the Internet Age.” Rock Paper Shotgun, 31 Oct. 2017, 5:06 PM, www.rockpapershotgun.com/2017/10/31/doki-doki-literature-club-horror-game/.
- Wright, Steven T. “Doki Doki Literature Club! Hides a Gruesome Horror Game under Its Cute Surface.” PC Gamer, Future Plc, 26 Oct. 2017, 10:00 PM, www.pcgamer.com/doki-doki-literature-club-hides-a-gruesome-horror-game-under-its-cute-surface/.
- Rose, Victoria. “Doki Doki Literature Club Is an Uncontrollably Horrific Visual Novel.” Polygon, Vox Media, 22 Oct. 2017, 11:54 AM, www.polygon.com/2017/10/22/16512204/doki-doki-literature-club-pc-explained.
- Jackson, Gita. “Doki Doki Literature Club Scared Me Shitless.” Kotaku, Gizmodo Media Group, 11 Oct. 2017, 12:10 PM, kotaku.com/doki-doki-literature-club-scared-me-shitless-1819361548.
- Jackson, Gita. “Doki Doki Literature Club's Horror Was Born From A Love-Hate Relationship With Anime.” Kotaku, Gizmodo Media Group, 20 Oct. 2017, 4:48 PM, kotaku.com/doki-doki-literature-clubs-horror-was-born-from-a-love-1819724999.
- Couture, Joel. “Get To Know Your Fellow Lovers Of Writing With Doki Doki Literature Club!” Siliconera, Curse, 13 Oct. 2017, 2:00 PM, www.siliconera.com/2017/10/13/get-know-fellow-lovers-writing-doki-doki-literature-club/.
- Team Salvato (teamsalvato). “According to http://steam250.com/ #DokiDokiLiteratureClub is the 15th highest rated game of all time on Steam! Maybe if it catches up to Portal, Monika and GLaDOS can become friends...” 1 Dec. 2017, 06:44 AM. Tweet