Doki Doki masks itself as a Dating Simulator but in nature it is a haunting experience.
The game starts of like any other japanese dating sim.
You're introduced to the school's Literature Club by your close friend Sayori. After a brief presentation, you get to know the other members and what type of personality they have.
You start to develop your relationship with the one that peaks your interest the most, everything seems normal until you find Sayori hanged in her room. Then everything starts falling apart.
Like the 2016 game "Pony Island" everything starts to glitch after Monika (the club's president) deletes every trace of Sayori (including memories) and now it's only you, Yuri, Natsuki and Monika.
You play the game again but this time Yuri is different, she has a insane look in her eyes and some of her text becomes violent and even graphic (something that totally contradicts the shy personality that she showed in the first playthrough).
After some more obsessive dialogue, Yuri kills herself and you're forced to watch her corpse rot throughout the weekend.
Monday morning Natsuki arrives and starts puking after seeing Yuri's bloody corpse on the floor. Monika arrives shortly after and deletes both Yuri and Natsuki out of the game files.
The game resets again and now its only you and Monika, she explains that she just wanted to spend time with you and not be a side character.
She just couldn't find a "opening" for her with all the dialogue going on between you and the other girls, so she started to enhance the worst personality traits of each of the other members in hopes that it would push you away from them.
All it did was make Sayori's depression worsen and make her commit suicide, Yuki's obsessive personality became stronger and made her become crazy for you and Natsuki became more agressive towards everyone else.
Now you're sitting with Monika inside the classroom. Her "tweaking" with the game files caused both of you to be stranded in some sort of void.
Monika is pleased with this new situation because now she gets to spend eternity with you, just writting poems until the end of time.
You then have to minimize the game, go in the game files and delete Monika's character. When you open the game everything is coming undone.
Monika is nothing but a mess of scattered pixels and she calls you cruel for making her suffer so much.
In the end, she ends up understanding why you deleted her and puts the game back together, but this time she is the only character that is missing.
The game boots and now creating the Literature Club was Sayori's idea. Yuri and Natsuki soon join in too but it doesn't take long for the girls to start acting weird again. It is then when Monika returns, she says that there's no happiness to be found in the Literature Club and that everything must be deleted.
Then you hear a girl speaking, it's Monika again (this is the only voice acting you hear and it really took me by surprise). Earlier in the game she promised that she was going to play a song in the piano for everyone in the Literature Club and she starts doing so. Only you hear it because everyone else was deleted.
The game ends and the credits start rolling. The pictures of the game charactes get deleted as they go by and at the very end there's a letter from Monika thanking you for joining her club.
If you have played any Dating Sim or any Visual Novel then you'll be familiar with Doki Doki's controls.
If not then you can expect a lot of reading and some choice making. These choices will drastically affect the dialogue and your relationship with the rest of the club members so be careful and save as many times as you want, like that you'll be able to come back if you don't like the outcome.
In my opinion this is one of the best horror games that came out this year, i love the way it twistes what seems to be a innocent story and becomes a grim tale about obsession and mental illness.
This new genre of Horror was pioneered by the .EXE creepypasta games like Luna Game and SONIC.EXE. Doki Doki definitely is inspired by them and managed to capture the essence of this new genre.
I really enjoy how it makes you feel like you're revealing something that should be hidden in the game files or how the game seems to have glitched itself into becoming sentient.
I'm glad that indie studios are starting to take interest in this genre, moving it away from 1 person projects will unlock it's full potential and make great addictions to the Horror games catalog.
Doki Doki is definitely worth a play and since it's totally free (with the option of buying the OST so you can support the developer) there's no reason for you to not give it a try.