This Twisted Anime Game Gave Multiple People PTSD And Here's Why: DDLC
If you were active in the gaming sphere around 2017, there’s a chance you’ve at least heard of Doki Doki Literature Club (DDLC). From YouTube play-throughs to the trending tab on Twitter, this game was practically everywhere then. But if you’re not familiar with the contents of the game, you must be wondering why this particular game was so popular. After all, it looks like a generic anime game for teenagers, right? Well, not really...
Spoilers for DDLC below
You see, DDLC is actually a horror game. You wouldn’t be able to guess that at all if you’ve seen the promotional material of the game, and that’s because this is a very different type of horror game. DDLC doesn’t scare you with ghosts and demons; instead, it scares you with psychological horror and anxiety-inducing storylines.
The game looks cheery and happy and requires no parental permission to download, so no one suspects anything at first. It does give some trigger warnings at the beginning, but people do not pay much attention to that and go on playing anyway. To give you an idea of what the game is like, it starts off with the player discovering a girl hanging in her room. And it only escalates from there. This tweet gives a rundown of the type of subject matter this game features:
If you’re gonna get DDLC+, Trigger Warning:— 🕰🥀Mys. Jack🥀🕰 (@Gin_Hyrule) June 11, 2021
Suicide, gore, flashing lights, jumpscares, depression themes, themes of domestic abuse, glitches, hanging, unsettling imagery
And that’s barely even scratching the surface. Because the real reason DDLC is so popular to this day and considered one of the most notorious horror games ever made is because it does something extreme: it breaks the fourth wall. This game blurs the line between fiction and real-life by doing some shady things.
For example, one of the characters named Monika goes fully insane because she’s in love with you and becomes sentient. She figures out your real name by reading your computer files and makes it seem like your computer data is compromised. The game is designed to make you feel like Monika is taking over your computer and will not leave until she 'has' you. For people who came into the game blind, this could be a terrifying experience. The game also shuts down at one point and restarts with a different story, as if the things that happened during your first play never happened. This can (and has) lead impressionable players to question their own sanity.
Although the game does offer trigger warnings at the beginning, if someone who suffers from any kind of derealization-inducing disorder decides to ignore them, this could really impact them mentally. While the game was at its peak, it came out that a child actually committed suicide because of this game (although the validity of that claim is unsure). People who’ve been disturbed by the game in the past are now urging people online to use trigger warnings for simply even talking about the game.
the people being dismissive of ddlc trigger warning posts by saying "the game starts with a warning" NEED to develop critical thinking. yes people want to be (vaguely) warned about content they might be unable to sit through AFTER they spend $15 on the game. thanks for the help!— venus/aqua (@idealistside) June 12, 2021
going in blind is cool for some games but like. playing ddlc blind was a really bad choice for me. i appreciate the trigger warning posts going around. if you don't think you can handle that stuff, do not play it. but if you can, try not to look up stuff about the story— malewitch (@jiiggIypuff) June 12, 2021
Given that most people playing are under the impression that this is a casual anime game about high school girls, we can also see where the above users are coming from. Deleting the game is also complicated: you need to leave the game, open the "My Computer" folder on your desktop, go to the game's files, scroll through until you get to the "Characters" folder, find Monika's file, and find a way to delete it from your computer. It feels like deleting a scary malware and you might still find yourself checking multiple times to see if the game is actually gone.
However, if you haven’t played DDLC and believe you can handle everything we mentioned, you should give it a try. Although we’ve spoiled some of the later parts of the game, the beginning plot is still mostly unspoiled. Just make sure to play it on PC and not on consoles if you want to fully experience the psychological dread this game induces. We would love to hear what you think of the game. Follow us on Facebook for more!