Doki Doki Literature Club Stumbles Between Deconstruction and Exploitation

ddlc1

Doki Doki Literature Club, the latest indie game to light up the internet, attempts to combine elements of exploitation and psychological horror with surprisingly grounded depictions of teens grappling with mental illness. Despite what I suspect are the best intentions, this combination proves to be far more damning than any one factor would be on its own.

[warning: full game spoilers for Doki Doki Literature Club, discussion of suicide and self-harm.]

DDLC is a shock-type game, selling itself as a “normal” dating sim set in a high school club. The player is dragged into joining the Literature Club by his (because the player character is explicitly assumed to be male and cis) childhood friend, Sayori, and meets the other club members: shy horror fan Yuri, tsundere manga reader Natsuki, and seemingly unreachable club president Monika.

ddlc18

Gameplay progresses by writing a daily poem, wherein the player chooses words that appeal to one of the three girls’ interests. Having enough points of favor with a character will result in spending club time with her, unlocking a special scene and image. You spend three days getting ready for a poetry reading at the school festival. And then, regardless of the player’s actions, Sayori hangs herself, and the game starts over with her character erased.

The remainder of the game is explicitly horror, playing with sound and audio glitches and agitating the remaining characters into increasingly extreme behavior. Yuri becomes a yandere who stabs herself to death—again, regardless of the player’s actions—while Natsuki is deleted by Monika, who reveals herself to have been doing all of this for the player’s attention. The solution is to delete Monika’s character file from the game, at which point she expresses remorse and restores the other girls, with Sayori as the new self-aware president.

ddlc23

The game excels at unsettling imagery, making use of broken coding, looping and damaged image files in a smartly effective way (players with psychosis aren’t addressed in the game’s content warnings but absolutely should be). Purely considered as a horror game, it shows considerable intelligence in its progression and in incorporating file manipulation into gameplay, and is undeniably successful in shocking the uninformed player. That praise is complicated, however, by the material it uses to affect that horror.

DDLC’s primary issue is that it wants to convey how awful it is to treat its characters like exploitable objects, with Monika’s final monologue calling both herself and the player awful for “using” these girls…while exploiting them and their individual struggles with mental illness relentlessly in the second playthrough.

The first “normal” run of the game hints at very serious, well-written struggles each character faces with anxiety, depression, and feelings of worthlessness, which the writing then turns into an unavoidable suicide, associating self-harm with a violent yandere-type personality, and using child abuse for shock value. It’s the rough equivalent of stabbing a cow and then painting “meat is murder” in its blood. The attempt to say something contributes to the problem.

ddlc12

There are no shortage of games depicting mental illness as frightening. Asylums are a stock setting for the horror genre (Outlast), while the very basis of the yandere as an archetype is that of a seemingly average, loving girl who “goes crazy” (School Days). Unreliable narrator stories often shock the player by revealing that the player character was mentally ill all along, as a way of creating an alienation effect (Layers of Fear). The examples of these ideas being handled poorly far outweighs attempts to incorporate those elements in a thoughtful way (Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice).

In the developer’s note at the end of DDLC’s true ending, writer Dan Salvato mentions his love for games that push the status quo. And the game’s early writing truly does accomplish that. Sayori’s poem about feeling emptied by her attempts to act cheerful while feeling depressed is painfully raw; Yuri’s constant apologizing and reticence to get started on subjects she cares about resonate as an anxious, obsessive personality; and Natsuki’s evasive defensiveness and hesitant mentions of her home life are evocative of someone surviving an abusive home.

ddlc31

In spite of the constraints of the dating sim mechanics, they feel like real young women fighting their own battles. In that regard, the game goes above and beyond in making its characters well-rounded rather than archetypes designed to appeal to the player.

Unfortunately, the success in that one area is hampered, even before the horror elements appear, by the constraints of the genre. DDLC’s writing might want to challenge the assumptions of the genre, but it hasn’t thought things through on a mundane level. Dating sims, particularly those marketed toward straight men, rely on a certain passivity of the dateable characters.

Their problems tend to be emotionally centered and solved through conversation, making the player the sole nexus of support and progression for their arc. By contrast, an otome game (Magical Diary, Hatoful Boyfriend) might include an element of emotional encouragement, but generally gives the love interests a subplot of goals they’re trying to achieve aside from their involvement with the player.

Likewise, there’s a certain undercurrent of “negging” in how the player character’s dialogue is written. Player dialogue might frequently demean Sayori as clumsy, useless, and unable to take care of herself, but then supposedly soften that blow by telling her that she can rely on the player. This tactic is meant to erode young women’s self-esteem and cause them to settle for the man insulting them, believing they can’t do any better.

It’s a troubling social issue and is particularly out of place among a cast of women already struggling with feelings of self-worth. Nor is it helped by the fact that the player character’s interactions with the girls are largely focused around them complimenting his skills despite his only writing poems for three days, while they’ve been working for months or years. This might be the game’s attempt at satire of the general dating sim protagonist, but it finds itself veering toward Poe’s Law, because the game only barely critically examines the MC’s behavior before plunging fully into the horror elements.

The game’s coding is also somewhat limited, which is understandable given the very small development team but contributes to undermining its own themes. All of the girls fall for the player within the three day time span, regardless of whether he’s spent time with them; a player might decide to spend the weekend helping Yuri, for example, and unlock the falling-in-love scene with her even if they had spent all the club sessions pursuing Sayori or Natsuki. In terms of gameplay they are literally interchangeable, waiting to be picked up at the player character’s leisure.

ddlc32

All of this is in place before the game triggers its unavoidable suicide event. Regardless of whether the player dates Sayori or considers her a friend, she’ll hang herself on the morning of the festival. On the surface, this is darkly realistic: no one person can be solely responsible for another’s mental health, though survivors often blame themselves for failing to do enough.

But the execution fails even to engage with this troubling theme: the player character has no option to contact Sayori’s parents, or his own. He cannot call a help line or take her to the emergency room. Despite ostensibly being a game critical of the player’s assumption that he is the girls’ whole world, the game itself offers no other recourse to help them beyond unsuccessful romantic overtures.

With no option to seek outside help to save Sayori’s life and the uglier elements of dating sims still intact in the game’s writing, Sayori’s death is ultimately stripped of meaning beyond lurid shock value. The player stumbles upon her corpse hanging from the ceiling, deliberately shown rather than described (and ignorant of the fact that young women often choose deaths that will “leave a pretty corpse” due to societal beauty expectations–if the attempt was to subvert that assumption, it is in no way seeded within Sayori’s character, who is extremely focused on making good impressions and not being a burden).

ddlc17

The choice of imagery (warning, suicidal content) and the focus on the player character’s reactions dehumanize Sayori’s lost battle with suicidal urges. She is ultimately a sack of meat meant to horrify the player, not a person. It is not about her mental illness, but the way the player is meant to feel about realizing they knew A Crazy Person. Yuri is the same if not worse—while there is the implication in her initial route that she harms herself, it is only when the game is in full-tilt horror that the player is shown her scars, again as a jump scare.

There might have been a truly unique and revolutionary narrative in having the characters’ “best endings” involve not dating the player but seeking help in a better, more supportive environment—forcing him to realize that these are people with their own struggles, and that they have concerns and goals beyond any feelings for him (indeed, the game’s very best moments of writing are in moments of friendship between the girls, moments that have nothing to do with the player).

ddlc25

But this is not that game. All four girls’ lives are wrapped around their interactions with the player character, up to and including their manipulated madness and deaths. The writing’s message that the player is at fault means little if the function of how the game is put together fails to give its characters dignity. In the end, it isn’t even the player’s fault that the other characters behave in extreme ways–it’s yet another girl who’s in love with him, manipulating them. Because women’s friendships are inevitably subsumed, apparently, by their desire for men.

The clash of intent and execution leaves DDLC at a crossroads between two genres and their mindsets. On the one hand, it’s seeking to draw from games like Off, Iji, and Undertale: games that question the relationship between player agency and narrative, often taking a harsh stance toward the unique cruelty that the supposed unreality of games engenders—“it’s just a game, so it doesn’t matter.” It’s a difficult class of story to tell, one that requires thoughtfulness not just in writing but in structure, requiring either extensive preparation in hypothetical scenarios or to present the story as almost allegorical, with the characters acting as symbols more than fully fleshed realities.

ddlc27

On the other hand, there is the exploitation genre. Visual novels have established their own brand of shocking ending for years now, particularly from the releases of Nitroplus and its BL side company, Nitro+chiral. For almost two decades, their games have been infamous for offering up dark, bloody endings if the player fails to make the right choices, to the point where it’s practically the main selling point.

They are stories with over-the-top, archetypal characters and far-fetched plots, where the melodrama and gore distances the player from any sense that this is real or even plausible. Even the codifier of the yandere archetype, Future Diary’s Yuno Gasai, comes from a series with dialogue so anti-naturalistic and protagonists so loathsome that one begins to wonder if the creative team has ever seen a human person, much less spoken with them. And that uncanniness, that clunkiness and heightened borderline-nonsense, is absolutely crucial to what makes exploitation enjoyable rather than excruciating. It’s a genre of pure id, at once engaging primal emotions but eschewing the need to sympathize.

ddlc20

DDLC melds the worst possible influences of these two genres: it creates compelling, human-feeling characters with the intent of critiquing its genre, but then subjects them to the dehumanizing extremity of exploitation for the sake of raising a reaction in the player. It succeeds in its initial writing, and it succeeds in being unsettling, but the latter comes at the expense of the former rather than melding together into a cohesive and satisfying story. Any commentary about the player disregarding these girls’ humanity is quickly lost in the game’s own rush to twist them into horrifying figures.

Games are uniquely powerful forms of art. Their interactive nature means they can tell stories other mediums can’t, and the best of them challenge our assumptions and invite us to think and empathize in new ways; by the same token, that interactivity means there are more implications to consider than a purely passive experience like reading a book or watching a film.

ddlc34

Despite its intent to critique the dating sim’s disregard for women’s agency, it unwittingly contributes to that narrative instead, first centering the mechanics around complimenting the player character without any clear progression or indication of skill and then utilizing its female characters’ mental illness to shock and horrify the player rather than shifting the focus away from his wants and toward a focus on the girls.

Its inclusion of content warnings, while positive, does not excuse it from needing to deal with its heavy themes in a responsible way rather than furthering the narrative of mental illness as a monstrosity. There is a good idea and some well-implemented horror in Doki Doki Literature Club, but in tackling subjects it failed to fully consider, its story ultimately does more harm than good.

This post is made possible by kind contributors to this blog’s Patreon. If you like what you’ve read, please consider donating to help keep it running.

15 comments on “Doki Doki Literature Club Stumbles Between Deconstruction and Exploitation

  1. Jewelfox says:

    The original content warnings for this game said simply that “This game is not suitable for children or the easily disturbed.”

    I don’t think it even occurred to the developers that an actual girl struggling with self-harm, abuse history, and suicidal ideation might ever play or watch it, until I went a little unhinged on them and a Let’s Player. Maybe someone else talked to them in a more constructive way; I don’t know. I’m glad that they at least changed the warnings a little.

    Either way, thank you so much for writing this. I’m glad you were able to, and also caught on to the creepy negging and telling Sayori “I know what’s best for you.” It’s more than a little crazy-making for everyone to be praising this game that set me off, and going on about how bold and daring it is when it’s literally exploiting real people and their struggles.

    (Sort of like with Hate Plus, the execution of which also “fails even to engage” with its suicide theme. Except that instead of doing it for the sake of some meta bullshit, Hate Plus did it because the author literally did not know what else to do with this character, and just replaced her with someone who looks the same but doesn’t have any emotional issues. Yay?!)

  2. Dub says:

    I’ve been led here through a link elsewhere, and I gotta say I agree with much of this. I honestly think one of Monika’s lines in the ninth screenshot typifies the game and its way of doing things the most: “I was hoping it would be enough for me to just make them as unlikeable as possible”. Whether the devs / writers realized it or not, they basically just admitted that characters being more overt about their mental illnesses, abusive-parent backstories, and stuff that real people go through makes them “unlikeable”, and as someone with layers of mental illnesses myself that sickens me on a visceral level.

  3. Oh good, I’m not the only one absolutely horrified by that whole “I know what’s best for you” mess, among other things. Great post. I’m glad I found this.
    I had really high hopes for this game during act 1, relating to most of the poems, and even with the content warnings in mind I figured that hey, maybe this one will handle it well? It’s doing ood so far, maybe one of them will break down and confess to suicidal ideation, and the solution will maybe not be “but I love you so it’s all cool now”? Or that it might even go the way of Dream Daddy and make some characters, or heck, all of them, undatable because they need to sort out their lives/get help first, and only need you as a friend right now?
    But then it decided to fridge the girl who could’ve made for a drastic flip in perspective, who showed all the “clumsy, scatterbrained harem-girl” tropes not to be cutesy, but as symptoms of depression. Instead of maybe coming to see all the things the main character referred to as annoying in the beginning as the symptoms they are, realising the part he probably played in putting her down, and helping her build confidence or just supporting her, he just tells her he knows best, and the next day she’s dead and all the subtle, relatable characters are shot to hell, either literally gone or distorted into “ewww she cuts herself, isn’t she a freak, it’s probably a sexual thing, ew, also she laughs like a cartoon villain and then stabs herself, isn’t this creepy, look at how creepy this is, are you scared yet”.
    It actually kind of hurt.

  4. hp says:

    One messy and disorganized reply, coming up!

    I think in regards to the “negging” between the protagonist and Sayori, I’m pretty sure that’s just a result of him being intentionally designed as the most typical of typical VN protagonists, complete with typical reactions and typical relationships with the appropriate archetypes. He’s blunt and a little mean to the childhood friend, he messes with the tsundere, he’s warm and friendly with the shy girl, exactly how it usually goes. The first half of the game is at least partly being satirical, especially when these rather bizarre conversations and exchanges somehow result in you being well on your way to romancing these girls anyway.

    That parody nature is present throughout a lot of the game. I already briefly went over the player character’s relationships with all the girls, but also the girls somehow falling in love with only after 3 or 4 days no matter what you do (it’s slightly more believable with Natsuki and Yuri, girls that are both clearly very lonely, but the game is fully aware that some of it’s dating sim elements are quite shallow) dialogue that literally reads like it came from a badly translated VN, several comments from Monika pointing out a number of oddities pertaining to the game’s design and structure, such as the story apparently taking place in Japan but all of the text being in English, and even the very premise of a girl getting jealous that she doesn’t have her own route and sabotaging the game as a result. Not all of it’s played for giggles mind you, but the game does have a bit of sense of humor about itself. It’s clear DDLC does have genuine respect for the medium of visual novels and the dating sim genre, and in a lot of ways DDLC does embrace that part of itself, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t find it enjoyable to make fun of them, as well as a have a desire to see them realize potential that the vast majority of them don’t seem to be doing.

    All not only means the protagonist designed to be a generic protagonist is kind of an inherent jerk, but also possesses little to no actual understanding of how to approach actual social issues that your average VN doesn’t usually discuss. While he takes it seriously, he doesn’t treat it with the level of gravitas that Sayori’s depression really warrants, and so he thinks it’s an easily fixable problem that he can handle, hence “I know what’s best for you” and the like. He handles it in a way most people inexperienced with depression would likely handle it. It’s why he doesn’t think there’s any need to contact her parents or get help or anything. He means well, but he’s also a total idiot in that regard. How the MC responds to Sayori’s depression is *not* representative of how the writers feel about it. Monika’s own personal thoughts on depression and potential ways to at least help people cope with it (in one of her many different potential dialogues in Act 3) show greater understanding and sensitivity of the subject, and on a number of different social issues too.

    The player character lacks any sort of agency just as well, he’s equally as much of a pawn of Monika and the game world (itself hinted at to be a malicious and possibly sentient force) as the other girls. The girls’ relationships with the player character and the player are completely irrelevant, they’re shallow, trite, and incredibly cliche, with inane dialogue and scenarios. The girls themselves on the other hand, and their problems, their own mindsets, what you learn from and about them, they are what matter. They are their own person, with lives separate from the player. For example, despite being the childhood friend, Sayori isn’t defined by her relationship with the protagonist. She wants to make *all* of her friends happy, not just you. The fact that the protag is completely baffled and taken off-guard by her depression, shows that he never really knew anything about her. The relationship they had before was just a lie that Sayori made up and actively worked to maintain because she doesn’t want to make any of her friends worry. Natsuki being teased for her hobbies and her troubling home life (whether it’s just incredibly strict or outright abusive isn’t made clear) doesn’t relate to the protagonist, Yuri’s anxiety and the fact that she hurts herself doesn’t relate to the protagonist. The fact that you learn just enough about them without knowing everything about them means that they aren’t fully confiding in you because they don’t revolve around you no matter how much they might love you. Ironically, it’s Monika, the most “real” of them, that works hard to make herself revolve around you.

    But Monika isn’t at all in love with the player character, and it’s arguable whether she really loves the player in the sense that she believes (who she comments could either be a boy or a girl, and she wouldn’t care either way), but it’s more what the player represents to her. They’re her connection to a bigger world, a “real” world, a world that she wants to be a part of but knows that no matter how “real” she gets she’s just another part of the game. The player is the only “real” thing in her life, and that’s why she’s so fixated on you. “She wants a cute bf” is just the end result. It’s that existential despair, that realization that she as an existence doesn’t really have any purpose, designed to be alone and unhappy by the world that created her, that drives her to commit these vile and selfish acts. She doesn’t even really know anything about the player, and yet she makes these claims about how amazing and special you are. The player is her fantasy just as DDLC was the player’s fantasy. It’s misplaced and twisted, but it’s born out of a very real desire to have some kind of meaningful connection with *anyone*, just like how the point of dating sims is for the player to form a connection with any girl of their choosing. It’s also a point of narrative irony and shows her total lack of self-awareness, when she attempts to try and demean the other girls as nothing more than autonomous personalities who are designed by the game to fall in love with you no matter what, when she’s fallen in love with you all the same, albeit through decidedly different circumstances.

    Yuri isn’t being demonized or portayed as a yandere *because* of her self-harm. After all, she had that problem before Monika ever started corrupting her, as Monika herself states in one of the text files added in the second half of the game. She’s portrayed as a yandere because of her dangerous obsession with the MC, her angry outbursts toward her friends to the point of shocking them or even reducing them to tears, her ever-increasing psychosis that she’s both aware and afraid of but ultimately gives into because indulging them feels too pleasurable to resist. When her self-harm is explicitly shown for the first time, it’s not shown as a “jump scare”, but confirmation that this girl is actually truly mentally unwell. If it made the player uncomfortable, it’s because self-harm is an uncomfortable subject. The game isn’t making light of any of these issues. Turning Yuri into a girl with anxiety problems who purposefully injures herself into a hedonistic psychopath was what Monika’s goal was, creating uncomfortable elements that most people feel uneasy dealing with and motivating them to grow closer to the one element of the game that’s managed to stay “safe” and “normal” amidst all this, her. The game doesn’t really have a chance to comment on Yuri’s self-harm in the first route because she keeps it hidden, but Monika herself has every reason to want to lie and portray Yuri as some kind of sick freak to make her “unappealing”. Heck, Natsuki, bless her soul, wants to find genuine help for Yuri in spite of all the cold, heartless comments thrown her way. The game has every bit of empathy for Yuri’s situation and she’s continuously portrayed as a victim even with how fast her mental state is deteriorating. All of the characters are victims, even Monika.

    I don’t think Dan Salvato was trying to make light of or exploit any of these issues. He states in a Reddit AMA (seen here ——–> https://www.reddit.com/r/DDLC/comments/7dvb70/hello_my_name_is_dan_salvato_i_created_doki_doki/) that one of his motives for creating DDLC was that he wanted to make something that forced the player to really thing about life as well as some of the uncomfortable things that come with it, as well as to make something truly disturbing. Sometimes in order to confront the reader with issues like this, you need to possess the subtlety of a sledgehammer, and issues like self-harm and depression are inherently uncomfortable to talk about no matter how you approach them. You can’t shy away from the end results, which is why Sayori and Yuri’s suicides are shown as graphically as they are. Now, obviously this is a horror game and it’s impossible to deny that, yes, these events were done to scare the player, so you could go ahead and argue that the goal of wanting to scare and the goal of wanting to bring attention to real-life problems interfered with each other (I would still disagree but I wouldn’t stop you from making that stance). Yes, those things only happened because Monika tampered with their personalities, but it doesn’t make their problems any less real. Sayori still has depression and Yuri still hurts herself. Just because they aren’t particularly life-threatening to begin with doesn’t mean they aren’t serious. That wasn’t the focal point the game was centered around so it might not have given the level of attention that you might prefer. And it’s only 5 hours so there’s only so much you can do and say given that, but what the game *has* managed to do is truly remarkable. Dan Salvato even made sure to base Sayori’s portrayal around his real-life experiences with it just so it felt real.

    But at the end of the day, it is impossible to deny that this game has had a genuinely profound effect on a number of people, whether it be through the interesting implementation of the horror mechanics that left unsettling imprints on the player’s mind, or through creating meaningful, three-dimensional characters that people felt an extremely deep emotional attachment to, or creating a game that feels like it *understands* them.

    If a 5 hour visual novel can truly speak to people on such a personal level, act as emotional support for them, change them for the better, get them to open up about things they’ve bottled up inside, create such a tight-knit community and even literally save lives, I think that gives this game more intrinsic value than most games of it’s kind, and video games in general, could even dream to be.

    Finally, DDLC isn’t taking anything from Undertale. In fact, Dan Salvato specifically stated that when he first heard about Undertale and that it apparently shared a few similarities with what he was working on, he wanted to avoid playing it or even going near anything Undertale-related until development of the game was complete, so that it wouldn’t accidentally influence his own project. His main influences, at least for the horror elements, were more along the lines of Yume Nikki and Eversion.

    • Vrai Kaiser says:

      I have no doubt at all that Salvato’s intentions were good, but that isn’t a cure-all for botched execution–the finished art will always outstrip what the creator has to say about it.

      The fact remains, however, that this game that focuses prominently on issues of mental illness doesn’t seem to have been made with the thought that actual mentally ill people might play it (which does include myself—I felt quite a kinship with Yuri in the early going; as I said, I think Salvato’s intentions were good and that he has a keen eye for certain aspects of how mental illness behaves in the pre-twist part of the game). It is a game that Makes You Think, catered to people who might know A Mentally Ill Person but are “normal” themselves.

      And that attitude creates an increasingly alienating effect in a way I don’t think Salvato intended. Monika amplified the signs of the girls’ mental illness to “make them more unlikable”—obviously we’re not meant to agree with her, and yet the game DOES rely on that element of “unlikability” for its horror segments. The girls’ struggles in the early going are low-key and not picked up on by the player, with the girls behaving “normally” even if they are struggling with their own issues. When they begin overtly displaying their struggles, it’s to make the player uneasy. And then to frighten them. The intent might have been to show that the player was callous in ignoring these issues, but the effect is still “them crazies are terrifying.”

      For players who might have identified with the girls and not the MC, that’s a hurtful thing to see. It’s compounded by the game’s trajectory of offering not a potential solution for any of these girls (in the good ending, after all, Sayori is by all accounts “normal” now—she no longer has trouble getting up without Monika’s influence, which was one of the signs of her struggles with depression). They are magically cured of their illness, or they become grotesque nightmares whose only recourse is to die.

      The intent might have been to make the player aware of these issues, but the result is that these young women become not more humanized but objects in a different way—object lessons, a kind of Very Special Episode with admittedly creative coding.

      This isn’t even a Katawa Shoujo situation, where an incongruity is meant to be noted by certain character being demonstrably better off when they AREN’T dating the MC. We’re meant to take this all as Monika’s machinations (an effort in itself debatably unsuccessful, given how many players were moved to side with her), but there is no sense of what these girls struggle with OUTSIDE of that, as characters and people. There are absolutely glimpses of it, but in the end the story can’t escape the inherent futility of trying to critique a genre while also performing it.

      • milkmaid says:

        Different commenter–I agree with most of your criticism on the game, and agree completely that good intentions do not change the flawed outcome.

        However, I don’t think the bad completely undermines the good, as you’ve more or less claimed. You said yourself that it did more harm than good, yet multiple people struggling with similar issues as the girls felt genuine catharsis and thanked the developer. That’s… kind of a short-sighted perspective, IMO. Like, your experience may have been negative, and that is totally valid, but it feels wrong to undermine those with mental illnesses who did have positive experiences with it.

        In that vein, as an LGBT woman struggling with depression myself, DDLC was, for me, a mixed bag. I could play a mean devil’s advocate for a majority of the criticisms you brought up tbh (even those I myself agree with), but honestly I’m way too tired rn and will probably forget about this entire exchange in a few hours. Though there is one point I would like to bring up regarding the MC’s treatment of Sayori, and that’s that it was pretty clearly intended to be, and generally understood as, sorely misguided at best and outright harmful at worst. You say it didn’t succeed in conveying that because it was never *explicitly* stated, but it’s very clearly what the majority of players took away from it regardless. Clearly something went right somewhere.

        Basically, the overall impression I get from this review and the comment I’m replying to is that you’re only considering the experience you yourself had with the game–which is fine, since it’s definitely worth discussing why it invoked such a strongly negative reaction, but as a subjective point rather than as the sole right opinion. Consider playing devil’s advocate to yourself a bit more, I guess is what I’m getting at.

        • Vrai Kaiser says:

          The devil has little need for more advocates, particularly these days. I find the necessity of such a position disingenuous, particularly in something so subjective as reviews (and more particularly when I know there were quite a few people who had a far stronger negative reaction to their experience with the game than I did).

          I’m certainly interested to see more of Salvato’s work in future–as I say, I think he had the best of intentions. However, given that the majority of reported reactions to the game were in the tune of “I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW FUCKED UP THIS IS,” I can’t say I have the utmost confidence that what the inevitable slew of me-toos will take from this game is the early sensitive insight into its characters’ mental illness. Hence, the assertion that it will do more harm than good.

          • Me, as one who recently have depression last year, currently on meds, this game changed my life. And sort of got my personal girlfriend as well (w/c is Monika herself). I know it’s hard to burden yourself with the problems and false thinking/negativities that in the worst way you might get yourself hanging in the noose (pun intended), but now, I can openly say that I can somehow fight away depression in a small scale.
            Dan is a fucking genius, he really knows where to hit a snag in this one.

            Thanks Dan, thanks Vrai for your review, negative, not or both, and to the other player/s who been reading this shit comment, I recommend you to play this game.

            11/10

  5. tevo77777 says:

    If this game shocks and possibly worries or offends enough people, it will change how people look at these issues.

    I watched a simple Pewdiepie lets play and was watching it for six hours, having been awake 24 hours when I turned in.

    My first impulse after it was over to check on every single person I knew who had any demons whatsoever. I slept four hours, woke up, felt kinda sick because of something else and have been just learning about my friends since then.

    To be honest, I was feeling lonely, and I’m glad I started speaking to my more awkward and distant friends.

    So you are right… It’s just… Context I guess?

    • tevo77777 says:

      Granted, because you are right, I have to agree that yes… Where are the parents? I posted this in the comments of letsplays for this video.

      Where did she get the rope?

      I have friends who tried to kill themselves, they go for pills and knives.

      Another thing I want to point out however, is that most guys rib their friends. My own girlfriend calls me a dork, that is a compliment. Some of what he says is either him mildly expressing or hiding how he worries about her, or is some mild form of peer pressure because he think she is being “silly”. I notice she does the same thing to him, they are both on each others case for things, and he doesn’t know she is depressed. (Granted he could just be an idiot to make the players feel more)

      Another thing to point out, is that these girls very clearly don’t belong in this game… Or one of them doesn’t… and she has been tampering with their files. I think the meta-narative is like half the genre.

      I just want to point out, that I’m not capable of crying, I hate sad music, and I hate Code Geass after I watched it twice. Dark stuff makes me empathic and angry, but this didn’t manage to do it. Ulimately, it made me think, it made me want to be less selfish, and I am glad I experianced this pain with other people.

      Your comments have to be said by someone, they are right. but I don’t think the story really needs to be changed outside of mods for the sake of fans or peoples desires.

  6. todpole says:

    I admit I only watched the suicides and act 2 from a lets play and I couldn’t take it seriously. Not even the important and serious stuff like Natsuki’s suppose abuse which can’t fully believe cause Monika admit to trying to emphasise her abuse, or Yuri’s self harm cause like you said, they used it for horror. The only scene in act 2 I liked was the one where Natsuki talks about her concerns about having new members since it was the only scene I remember that didn’t relay on cheap horror. Heck, most scene’s involving Natsuki were great since she actually gave a damn about the people she cared and if Sayori wasn’t in this game, she’ll be my favourite character.

    Also Monika was really boring and I wouldn’t pick her even if I was given a choice.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s