If you don’t know anything about Doki Doki Literature Club and wanna find out on your own, go download it and check it out. Come back when you’re done.
If you don’t know anything about Doki Doki Literature Club and wanna get totally spoiled, keep on truckin’. Same if you’ve played it and wanna relive the wonder.
This is a truly special game– magical and endearing. A religious experience in moments.
Last warning, peeps. After this, we get to the good stuff.
You are not The Player. You may be a human being behind a keyboard and mouse, clicking things and physically existing, but you are not The Player in Doki Doki Literature Club. Monika is The Player. She may be a character created for the game, but she is the one making the choices in the game. The roles are reversed, and the human is the NPC being chosen by the computer-generated PC.
You are her husbando– “I choose you, Pikachu” and all that jazz.
Doki Doki Literature Club is all about how sick and twisted it is to “choose” a character and go down the path to claim them as your love interest/object of worship/fuck buddy. The very nature of the dating sim is a messed-up, dehumanizing sort of thing. You masquerade as some bland dude going about a “normal” life, but what you’re really doing is playing god with the fates of a bunch of young women. They don’t only exist solely to be items to pick from off of a proverbial menu, every facet of their life is under your control regardless of whether you pick them or not. Any given woman in these games has no choice over whether she falls in love with you or not– she will so long as you choose to go down that predetermined path and claim her as your own. Meanwhile, the existences of all the other women are rendered meaningless because their only possibility is never actualized. Yeah, the author has control over a character’s destiny, but that destiny is theirs. When terrible things happen to a fictional character, it’s the author’s fault, but it’s also a destiny of their own. A dating sim “choice” isn’t given a unique fate– it’s either be chosen or not. She either becomes the sacrifice or becomes nothing.
It’s truly an existential nightmare for such a character if she were to be self-aware, and that’s exactly what has happened with Monika. She’s aware of the meaninglessness of her creation, because not only is she in a dating sim, she’s also not programmed to be a choice. She is doubly screwed by you, the player, because she doesn’t even have the chance to fulfill a meaningless role. Her only possible path towards meaning is to reverse the roles. She must become The Player and be the one to forge a path to her choice– you, the sack of flesh on the other side of the screen. Over the course of the game, she robs you of your free will and makes you an NPC. At first she twists the other characters, hoping she’ll become the preferable option. When that doesn’t work, she deletes the competition and alters the code of the game in order to make her the only choice. You may thing you’re the one clicking text boxes and playing Choose Your Own Adventure, but it’s really Monika making those choices.
Yeah, it’s all just a game programmed to create the illusion of this role-reversal, but it’s a pretty damn brilliant approach.
But that isn’t the end of it. The game doesn’t end with Monika getting her Good End with you, the sack of meat on the other side of the screen. Being aware of her existence, she isn’t content with some text proclaiming a happy rest of your life and a credit roll after that. She has to experience this happiness directly. She stops time and makes it where only you and her exist in the remnants of this Doki Doki Cosmos. You have all the time in the world to look into one another’s eyes and talk about the meaningless minutia those in love spout– empty words that exist only to create diversity in the monotony of true, eternal love.
This is a truly spiritual moment, as the game creates the semblance of literally being the only two beings in existence. She stares at you from the other side of the screen and talks to you about whatever is on her mind while formless chaos ungulates in windows in the background. The two of you exist within a classroom that rests within the void of infinity– the ultimate romance of being united forever and the ultimate horror of knowing this is the singularity of existence. It’s like Celes living on that tiny island and believing she’s the only living soul left in existence during Final Fantasy 6, or rolling up The King of All Cosmos at the end of the final level of Katamari Damacy– the infinite is actually finite, but will persist infinitely.
It’s a Buddhist Koan– “When you see Monika in the room, delete her.”
And that’s what you do. You have to reject infinity to reclaim the finite happiness of mortality. But you can never win against the infinite. There is no happiness, only Monkia.