Doki Doki Literature Club Plus – Review
Follow Genre: Visual novel, horror game
Developer: Team Salvato
Publisher: Serenity Forge
Platform: Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC
Tested on: Switch

Doki Doki Literature Club Plus – Review

Site Score
Good: Genuinely unsettling horror
Bad: Text is difficult to read due to the tiny font size
User Score
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.5/10 (2 votes cast)

Way back in 2017, the world was introduced to Doki Doki Literature Club, a free visual novel horror title on Steam. The game was a critical success, but the disturbing nature of the events of the title also stirred up quite the controversy. Four years is an age in video game time though, and the biggest hype surrounding Doki Doki Literature Club has died down since (although there is still a dedicated subreddit that is frantically digging for hidden clues and missed secrets). Doki Doki Literature Club has now received a new lease on life in the form of Doki Doki Literature Club Plus (DDLC+), an extended version of the game aimed at consoles, although there is a PC version available as well. The kicker here is that this version isn’t free. Is the additional content worth pulling out your wallet for? And how does the console version fare, given the way a specific part of the core game interacts with your PC interface?


When it comes to visual novels, we typically attempt to avoid spoilers as much as possible when talking about the story. In the case of DDLC+, avoiding spoilers is both incredibly important and incredibly difficult, as this is a game that sets up things in a familiar way, then proceeds to knock everything down and subvert your expectations in some of the most clever and devastating ways than we’ve ever seen in the genre. Rest assured that we’re not going to give away any of the twists that earned the game its reputation, because this is a title that is best experienced going in blind for the first time, before revisiting it over and over again as you carefully uncover more secrets.

The game starts out simple and familiar enough, with a story that masquerades as your typical Japanese high school dating sim game. The story begins as you meet up with your childhood friend, Sayori, who is roping you into joining the school’s literature club. You reluctantly agree after you meet the other club members and realize they are all -in the words of the protagonist- incredibly cute girls. Apart from Sayori, there are three other girls: the pink-haired Natsuki, who has a tsundere personality, purple-haired Yuri, who is shy and soft-spoken, and literature club president Monika. At first glance, each of the four girls embodies a stereotypical personality, but as you dig deeper into their backstories, you’ll soon find out that there is more to them than meets the eye.

We can’t really give away anything else, but what follows is one of the more immersive and shocking horror games out there. When you first start the game, you’re greeted with a slew of warning messages, reminding you that this game is not intended for children or those who are easily disturbed. We can confirm that these warnings are legit and that DDLC+ does not shy away and instead confronts the viewer with explicit and disturbing imagery. The game does not rely on cheap jump scares either, but carefully crafts a situation that is unsettling and uncomfortable, but is also incredibly difficult to tear yourself away from.


We all know the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” and we can’t think of any example where this applies more than with DDLC+. For the first hour or so, it’s nearly impossible to distinguish between DDLC+ and your typical Japanese dating sim, with cutesy girl designs and pastel colors. For what it’s worth, the game actually nails the visuals it attempts to emulate, with well-drawn character portraits that could’ve come straight out of a “serious” dating sim. One of the downsides of sticking this close to these aesthetics is that text is displayed on a pink background, and that it can be quite difficult to read some of the time, especially given the tiny size of the font.

The out-of-game “virtual machine” that runs the title mimics these aesthetics as well. Even after the first major twist, when the game starts “glitching” out, the core experience commits to keeping everything cheerful and cute for the most part, adding to the disturbing nature of the events that unfold. This commitment contrasts with the disturbing imagery that you are confronted with during specific key moments of the story. DDLC+ isn’t afraid to slap the player in the face with explicit depictions of the fates of certain characters, which is part of what earned the game its reputation in the first place.


Composer (and game creator) Dan Salvato’s OST continues to hammer home the atmosphere of a cutesy visual novel, with a theme song that sounds cheerful and bubbly. The happy-go-lucky tunes also deliberately continue to play at inopportune times, again contributing to the game’s twisted atmosphere, although once the game’s true nature is fully exposed, the mood of the OST shifts appropriately. There is no voice acting during the game itself, although there is a small snippet of voice work during the game’s end credits.


DDLC+ starts out as a run-of-the-mill visual novel/dating sim-type game, and even after the first twist that reveals the true nature of the game as a horror title, it continues to stick to this style of gameplay. While we won’t dive into the actual narrative twists, there are certain aspects of the console version of the game that we cannot fully explain without giving away minor spoilers, so be warned. During your “first” playthrough of the game, things work exactly as you’d expect from the visual novel/dating sim genre. Things play out as usual, as you read through most of the game and make choices that influence the outcome of the story, in this case, which girl will end up being your future girlfriend. At the end of each in-game day, you’re tasked with writing a poem, which is done in the form of a mini-game.

You can grow closer to any of the girls -bar Monika- by making certain choices during the narrative, as well as through the poem mini-game. Here, you’ll pick words from a list, with each word netting you points with one of the girls. It’s fairly easy to cheat in the Plus version of the game, as you’ll be able to find a list of the words and their corresponding score with each girl in the game’s menu. No matter which girl you go for; right before you can seal the deal, the game’s first major twist will happen, abruptly ending your first run.

Upon restarting DDLC+, the game will begin to glitch out. Continue playing and the true nature of what is going on will be revealed. It is at this point that the PC and console versions of DDLC+ will start to diverge somewhat. You see, the PC version of the game actually requires the player to go into the game’s directories on their hard drive and start to manipulate some of the files in order to complete the game. Naturally, this isn’t possible on the console versions and this is resolved by running the core game in a virtual machine of sorts, on a custom OS. While this isn’t as effective or immersive as actually going into your Steam game data folder, this still works fairly well, and as the virtual machine also houses the titular ‘Plus’ content, this particular setup works well enough.

Speaking of the ‘Plus’ content; this is what you are actually paying for if you’re getting the console version of the game, as the core experience is free on PC. While DDLC+ doesn’t exactly break the bank, it’s still fairly important to know what you’re getting here, since you might not feel it’s worth paying the extra dough if you can simply get a legit free version of the game from Steam. Nonetheless, we’re going to still recommend picking up DDLC+ instead of the free version, if only to show some appreciation to the developers. Apart from visual upgrades, ‘Plus’ presents you with a series of side stories that delve into the backgrounds of the four girls, fleshing out their character and ensuring that the core game becomes even more of a gut-punch when you replay it. No matter which version you pick up though, this is a title worth playing -and replaying- if you’re a fan of horror games, because the feeling of dread you experience after finishing the game will linger for days after experience what this game has in store for its player.


Even four years after the original release, DDLC+ hasn’t lost any of its luster, and the game still manages to create a feeling of dread. Some compromises were made in bringing the title to consoles, particularly in requiring a virtual machine instead of going into your actual game directory, which does decrease the immersive nature of the game’s final chapter somewhat. Luckily, the additional content makes up for this. The Plus version is well worth shelling out for, because when a game is this good, the developer really deserves every penny. The new additional content is the icing on the cake.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.5/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Doki Doki Literature Club Plus - Review, 9.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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