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Nightmare Fuel / Doki Doki Literature Club!

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If you're trying to follow these instructions, prepare to fail a lot.

This game is not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed.
Content Warning when starting the game. It's definitely not joking.
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This seemingly cute and lighthearted visual novel is rated M. As the game loads, the player is drawn to a content warning that it has 'disturbing content' and is 'not suitable for everyone.' But how could something this cute be scary and not suitable for all?

There's a very good reason for that. After all, Doki Doki is the sound of rapid heartbeats, and this game is sure to speed up the ol' ticker...


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Game

  • Sayori's depression, how she describes it, and how it has been affecting her life, is a rather realistic depiction of depression, and can hit close to home for those experienced with it. The fact that there are several signs of it in plain sight, while it is still very easy to buy into her Genki Girl act makes it much worse. Some reviewers and Lets Players, like Yahtzee Croshaw and Supergreatfriend, reported to find this part the most disturbing and effective bit of the story because of how raw and accurate it was depicted, and found the "creepypasta" part of the game to be somewhat silly and over-the-top in comparison.
  • The end of Act One. It begins with Sayori's "poem" for the festival turning into a full-on Madness Mantra, and ends with the Wham Shot of Sayori's suicide. The music track for this ending is absolutely jarring and will definitely stay in your nightmares. And that only marks the beginning of the fuel...
    • Speaking of Sayori's suicide, take a good look at her hands. Her fingers are covered in blood despite dying from hanging. Later in Act 3, we find out why. According to Monika, Sayori actually didn't die straight away, and was alive long enough either to change her mind when it is too late or for her survival instinct to kick in, the latter she believes is the more probable conclusion. The blood was from her attempt to tear herself free. In other words, Sayori's death was slow and agonizing. Even worse, Dan Salvato confirmed that the suicide occurred before the main character even woke up.
  • You 'restart' the game after the ending of Act 1, and it just looks... wrong, attempting to go through the first part of the game with Sayori deleted, until it just crashes and reboots with you abruptly having no childhood friend you walk to school with.
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    • The fact that Sayori isn't just dead, but is rendered an Un-person through a Ret-Gone. And the game carries on like normal, as if she never mattered.
  • Some of the poems can be rather disturbing.
    • Sayori's "poem" for the school festival. It's basically her suicide note.
      • The Japanese translation even take this further by having the whole poem written in hiragana except for the last two lines, although the kanjis are greatly distorted.
    • One of Yuri's poems in Act Two is a series of sentence fragments, in sharp contrast to her more eloquent writing. Not helping matters is how the music fades out completely, instead of using her Leitmotif.
      A rotating wheel. Turning an axle. Grinding. Bolthead. Linear gearbox. Falling sky. Seven holy stakes. A docked ship. A portal to another world. A thin rope tied to a thick rope. A torn harness. Parabolic gearbox. Expanding universe. Time controlled by slipping cogwheels. Existence of God. Swimming with open water in all directions. Drowning. A prayer written in blood. A prayer written in time-devouring snakes with human eyes. A thread connecting all living human eyes. A kaleidoscope of holy stakes. Exponential gearbox. A sky of exploding stars. God disproving the existence of God. A wheel rotating in six dimensions. Forty gears and a ticking clock. A clock that ticks one second for every rotation of the planet. A clock that ticks forty times every time it ticks every second time. A bolthead of holy stakes tied to the existence of a docked ship to another world. A kaleidoscope of blood written in clocks. A time-devouring prayer connecting a sky of forty gears and open human eyes in all directions. Breathing gearbox. Breathing bolthead. Breathing ship. Breathing portal. Breathing snakes. Breathing God. Breathing blood. Breathing holy stakes. Breathing human eyes. Breathing time. Breathing prayer. Breathing sky. Breathing wheel.
      • Somewhat downplayed by Yuri herself, as she follows it up acknowledging that her mind has felt particularly hyperactive lately and that she wrote this odd poem as a means of releasing some of that energy.
    • Yuri's final "poem" in Act Two is completely illegible and stained with blood and... other fluids. The music suddenly turning sinister doesn't help. And when you click away from it, she's right up in your face with her photorealistic eyes.
      "More importantly, I've endowed it with my scent. See, aren't I the most thoughtful person in the club?"
      • It gets worse when you realize it isn't just random scribbling and that it actually says something. Most of it is random words, similar to a scene with Natsuki mentioned below, but the last paragraph is a story about stabbing someone told in a disturbingly sexual manner.
        Fresh blood seeps through the line parting her skin and slowly colors her breast red. I begin to hyperventilate as my compulsion grows. The images won't go away. Images of me driving the knife into her flesh continuously, fucking her body with the blade, making a mess of her. My head starts going crazy as my thoughts start to return. Shooting pain assaults my mind along with my thoughts. This is disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. How could I ever let myself think these things? But it's unmistakable. The lust continues to linger through my veins. An ache in my muscles stems from the unreleased tension experienced by my entire body. Her Third Eye is drawing me closer.
  • Act Two is where the horror elements begin creeping into the game.
    • The game "glitches" a lot. Examples include eyes slowly drifting away from characters faces or their facial features disappearing altogether, the background music frequently going off-kilter, a poster in the background briefly changing to a CG of Sayori's suicide, and Monika suddenly appearing in front of the interface. It may not be outright scary, but it works to create an ever-present sense of dread.
    • There's another scare known as the "Ghost menu", which has a 1/64 (1.5%) chance of triggering when you load up the game after Act Two. Instead of the usual content warning, you get the END card accompanied by churning sounds, and then it shows the menu screen, but with everything in black and white. The girls all have odd eyes and the music continues its awful drone. There are no options to select in the menu, and the only option is to close the game. When you close the game, it suddenly zooms in on Monika's face.
    • Yuri's Sanity Slippage across Act Two gets increasingly disturbing, especially when coupled with the graphical and musical distortions that only get more frequent as the game goes on. One particular moment involves Yuri rambling to the player while Monika slowly fades into the foreground, over her and the text box, before abruptly cutting to the next dialogue choice.
      • Another favorite of Yuri's is having her eyes randomly become photo-realistic and move organically from her sprite, sometimes looking directly at you. It puts her Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises expression to shame.
      • Yuri has one lovely quote towards the tail end of her Sanity Slippage. You know it's bad when Monika specifically brings it up later, mentioning that, despite being responsible for her Mind Rape, she was still creeped out Yuri would say that to her.
        "Here's a suggestion. Have you considered killing yourself? It'd be beneficial to your mental health."
      • This all culminates in her confession just before the weekend. Regardless of whether you accept or reject it, Yuri goes mad with laughter and stabs herself as the game's music grows frantic and suddenly cuts out. You're then forced to watch her corpse decay over three days, scrolling through a long string of garbled characters as a droning piece plays in the background.
      • The scene of Yuri stabbing herself was censored in the PS4 and PS5 versions of DDLC Plus, but the new version of the scene isn't much better — instead of normal blood, Black Blood seeps from her wounds as the background devolves into dark static, making it look like she has a hole in her torso.
      • And worst of all, it's implied Yuri is aware she's going insane, but is utterly helpless to resist the Monika-induced phantoms of her mind.
    • You can get a special scene if you compose poems that appeal to Natsuki for the first two days of Act Two. When she shows you her poem, it's all in garbled code (which someone actually found out was in base64 and managed to translate) Translation  She then proceeds to ask you why you flaked on her, and that it was the only thing she had left to look forward to. The screen turns a dim red as she tells you Yuri is a "sick freak" and you shouldn't associate with her. As she continues to ramble, her eyes and mouth become blacked out, blood begins pouring down her face, and the music grows distorted. Eventually, she dons a huge Slasher Smile, screaming "PLAY WITH ME!!!" as her neck snaps like The Crooked Man. Her sprite then lunges toward the screen and you get the "END" card backwards. The game then goes back to normal as if nothing happened.
    • If, in Act Two, you show Natsuki a poem that she doesn't like, there's a chance for the music stops and her eyes to pop out. It's so sudden and ends just as quickly as it happens.
    • While discussing the festival in Act 2 with Yuri, the game will suddenly cut to an image of Yuri's face on a black background with the side of her head glitching. She says 'Who cares about that obnoxious little brat?" while a distorted piano piece plays in the background, before the game suddenly cuts back to normal. A few moments later, the same thing happens, only this time the image is zoomed in, with the text "Nobody would cry if she killed herself.", then blood starts pouring out of Yuri's right eye. The game then goes back to normal, apart from Yuri's eye continuing to bleed throughout your conversation with her.
    • The special poems, which randomly appear between scenes in Act 2. Some of them are actual poems (either about Monika's realization, Natsuki's abuse, or Yuri's self harm), and some are just chilling. One, called "happy thoughts", is a stick figure drawing of Sayori, hanging from a noose and smiling. This one gets repurposed a few times, too.
    • It's possible to get a scene while Natsuki is talking, only for her eyes to turn black and glitchy and her mouth to become a disturbingly realistic animation. What she says isn't much better, either, as it's just random words.
    • There's one scene where, while reading with Yuri, she goes to get some water for her tea. But ten minutes pass and she's still not back yet. You go out to check on her, then hear some weird breathing sounds like somebody in pain. Once you turn the corner, you're greeted to an image of a shocked Yuri with with bloody lacerations all over her arm. The game then abruptly rewinds back to the classroom and Yuri saying she's back. If you check the history, you'll find nothing from the sequence.
      • This scene can happen twice in one playthrough, except after the abrupt rewind, the screen fades to black for a few seconds, then Yuri is in your face with her photorealistic eyes that are now completely white with her irises and pupils gone. The game then glitches horribly for a few moments before returning to normal, with Yuri mentioning a feeling of deja vu, if the player writes poems for Yuri in the first two poem minigames of the act.
    • During the poem minigame, there's an extremely note  small chance Yuri's happy reaction will be replaced by this nightmarish face. It can only happen once, which can easily leave the player questioning their own sight.
    • One rare event is for Yuri's sprite to flash to this for a split second. Yes, that is a heavily saturated sprite of her with purple Hellish Pupils.
    • Natsuki and Yuri's argument when they first share poems was vaguely funny in Act 1, and was easily defused by Sayori. Not so much in Act 2; because Sayori isn't around and their worst traits are slowly being exaggerated, it gets horrible quickly. The two hurl increasingly cruel attacks on each other, culminating in Natsuki making a mocking joke about Yuri's Self-Harm. As it goes on, the screen gets darker and more glitched, and the background music gets distorted. When you're finally allowed to pick an option on who to side with, the game simply zooms in, until Monika pops up right in front of the screen. You don't get to see the rest of the argument since you step outside to have a talk with her, but you do see how it ends: Natsuki runs out of the room crying, while Yuri is hunched over at her desk muttering "I didn't mean it". It's never revealed what Yuri said or did that was so bad. It gets worse the next day, as Yuri tries to apologize, but Natsuki doesn't remember anything happening. It's all but outright stated that Monika wiped her memory of it, possibly to destabilize Yuri further.
      • What makes the fight worse is that the music stops and the screen starts to turn grey, and then you are forced to choose between Natsuki or Yuri, and each time you click one of the options, the screen zooms in until you see Monika invite you outside. After the afore mentioned scene with Natsuki, Yuri attempts to stay longer in the room with Monika trying to tell her that as the president that she herself should be the last to leave. Then Yuri thanks Monika for allowing her to be the last to leave, and then it cuts to you at the poem minigame without having said anything or even walking home first.
  • When working on the third poem minigame in the second act, there’s a chance for a tiny Monika sprite to be seen jumping below the game and having just the top of it shown with the bow. Another thing that can happen is another Yuri popping up below the notebook, who sometimes reacts when the first Yuri reacts.
  • If all three of your poems in act two are favored by Yuri, attempting to share poems with Monika results in the music cutting off and her only giving you a chilling message that can make the player feel like they really screwed up.
    Monika: Don't say I didn't warn you.
  • Anything to do with Monika is just one big exercise in The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You. She knows she's inside a game, knows when you're recording the game, and even knows when you're playing on the Steam version. She even knows the name of your PC profile!
  • Try streaming the game on Twitch or Youtube. Monika can tell. She gets self-conscious that you're filming her, acknowledges chat (though she can't read the comments), and says she'll do a little trick for them, before the screen zooms in on her face... before zooming back out and saying that she's just kidding, and that she can't do anything after all... before the screen suddenly zooms in on her face again in the middle of the next sentence, this time with Monika having a Nightmare Face, which incidentally is now the image for NightmareFuel.Visual Novels.
    Monika: Did I scare you?
  • At one point in Act Two, when things have clearly started to go wrong, Monika will hand you her regular daily poem. When the player tries to read it, they will suddenly get a Windows 10 Blue Screen of Death. Monika will quickly appear in front of the blue screen, apologize, and return you to the game. If you can read the blue screen before Monika gets in the way, the error message is "DDLC_ESCAPE_PLAN_FAILED", implying that Monika was writing code again...but since the broken code supposedly impacted your operating system at the lowest levelnote , it means that this time, she wasn't just trying to escape the game. She was trying to get out of your computer.note 
  • There's various easter eggs that provide a good scare, too. For example, on the splash screen with the content warning, there's a chance of a different line showing up. Including ones like "You are my sunshine, / My only sunshine.", "I missed you.", and absolutely eerie ones like "It was only partially your fault." and "This game is not suitable for children / or those who are easily dismembered." (And "PM died for this.")
  • Anybody who's played through Earthbound will be rather unsettled by Monika's deletion, similar to an infamous Eldritch Abomination from that game. Basically, she'll say "it hurts ..." and look all glitched up and deformed. The fact that she's still inside of the game's code after Act 3 implies a lot of stuff ...
  • Any and all references to Project Libitina. Some players did some digging through the game files, only to discover various ARG-like hints about human experimentation, heavily implied to involve psychic powers. Some have speculated that it could be Production Foreshadowing for a future game, but there's enough possible references in the game proper (such as references to "The Third Eye") that it could feasibly mean there's something even bigger and scarier behind the craziness than Monika.
  • Don't try to outsmart the game. Seriously. Don't try to delete Monika ahead of time and start a new game. If you do that, you get a scene of Sayori realizing that something is wrong, gains enough self-awareness about herself and the 'world' around her, and starts screaming and panicking—and then her suicide. Once you re-open the game, instead of the menu, there is an END card followed by a horrifying Black and White picture of Sayori hanging herself. If you delete Sayori before the game starts, this screen also appears.
    • Her cries of "Is this all there is??" are disturbing enough, but delves into nightmare when one thinks that suicide may not 'kill' her- only deleting her file will- leading to an "and I must scream" scenario for her.
    • The worst part? Monika's meddling and Sayori's own damaged psyche means that when the game is played as intended, there's no way to avoid Sayori's suicide - no matter how hard the player tries to avoid it. But this? This can only happen by directly interfering with the game's files. That's right: in this case, Sayori's death is a direct result of your actions.
  • Think about everything that happens/could happen during Act Two. Then remember that Yuri seemed to be somewhat aware that something was very wrong with her and Natsuki even asks you to help her (even if Monika makes it moot immediately). Even if they're not quite as aware of the fourth wall as Monika is, there are signs there that both girls are actually somewhat aware that things aren't going as they should in their world. They're both still "living" as such. It gets worse when you then recall that at this point there should be three romance choices but there aren't anymore...
  • As the player, you're aware that everything is a game, as does Monika with her Medium Awareness. But Natsuki and Yuri, while they show some awareness of the strange things going on, don't have that same knowledge. So how do all the visual glitches, black text, and Uncanny Valley animations appear from their perspective?
  • Both in and out of game, the weekend in Act 2 is nightmarish. You watch the text scroll for a while over Yuri's dead or dying body, click through some of it impatiently, maybe even do that long enough to see the light shift, which you might mistake for another "glitch". But then it just keeps going. You have to watch. You are forced, even if you press skip to make it quicker, to look at this corpse as its eyes go noticeably more blank, its mouth goes slack, and the blood all over the CG goes dark. You're forced to look at it for longer than any graphic in the game besides Act 3's only graphic. In character it's even worse. The MC's gone quieter and quieter, voiced fewer thoughts and been given fewer dialogue choices. When it seems like he might finally have a chance of affecting Yuri's actions by accepting or rejecting her confession, either way he answers leads to her sudden and deranged death. There's no script for MC leaving the school that weekend, so he's forced not to. He has to stare at her corpse, watch and smell it rot, and listen to garbled nonsense for an afternoon, evening, and two full days, not sleeping or moving until a scripted character enters and starts things moving again.
  • Hearing Monika's voice during the end might come off as this, but it gets subverted as she sounds a lot more realistic and innocent than her design and misdeeds would suggest (instead sounding rather sad), and starts singing what would be the ending credits theme.
    • Even before that is the special poem "CAN YOU HEAR ME?". Clicking away the poem causes the player to hear Monika giggling as the screen fades, though more as a Laugh of Love variant than anything sinister.
  • The entirety of "Just Monika". Monika changes the game so all that is left is both of you in the now-empty classroom, which, by the looks of the windows, is now floating in space. Monika sits on the other side of a table staring directly at you, unmoving. The music in the background is incredibly eerie and Monika is drawn more sinister looking than ever. Finally, if one looks at Monika's eyes, she has tiny black pupils, which are never present at any other point in the game. It is incredibly discomforting to look at.
  • The player character gradually being phased out of the game is super creepy. Imagine that your mind is slowly degrading, and there's no way to stop it. Worse, it's implied that Monika is responsible and is doing this to talk to the player directly, since it's YOU who she's interested in and the player character just gets in the way.
    • Plus only makes this worse: since the player character never existed to begin with, only seemingly being brought up as part of Sayori's backstory and otherwise was specifically uplifted as a a conduit for the player, you have the horror story of a being that's gained sentience and believes that he's had a whole life with people, then being unable to help any of them, and then getting phased out back into the ether he came from without ever knowing why this had to happen to him or meaningfully retaliate.
  • Monika has made clear she can see and hear all. One can only deduce, then, that leaving the player alone with Yuri's rotting, bloody corpse for an entire weekend is a DELIBERATE 'punishment' on the player for choosing Yuri (or BEING chosen) over Monika. She acts as though this were an unfortunate accident that she didn't anticipate, a text file she leaves you of "Have a Nice Weekend!" with a poem about actions and consequences seems to contradict this.
  • During Act 2, when the scene where Monika announces the upcoming school festival again, there's a red tint on the display and the sounds of squeaking, bones being popped, and flesh being ripped apart are heard in the background, suggesting that a rodent, likely a mouse or rat, is being physically torn to pieces.
    • A comment on this Youtube video suggests it's even worse than that:
      JustJoking: Something really disturbing about 0:40. Apparently, that should recreate how Sayori's suicide went. When someone hangs themselves "properly" their neck snaps. Well after they are already dead their body is obviously still hanging there...and while they hang their neck begins to slowly stretch out, because it is suddenly carrying a huge amount of dead weight. This would make a horrifying flesh stretching noise as it expands. As for the squeaking that everyone assumes is rats; while the neck is stretching any last pockets of air left in the throat is pushed out with all the force, emitting a high pitched squeaking noise. Now as we know Sayori did not fall from a great enough height meaning she instead essentially suffocated herself. This makes the sound even worse. This turns them into the sound of Sayori struggling against the rope, all of the air being sucked out of her by the tightness of the rope. This would also explain the red screen and pulsing veins; could possibly be all the pressure that might be accumulating in her brain. Would also explain the muffled music because of all the pressure on her ears.

Meta

  • Team Salvato's merch section on their webpage includes a "Nightmare" series of posters of the four girls. The posters of Yuri and Monika aren’t nightmare-inducingly creepy, and Sayori's poster just makes you want to give her a hug, but Natsuki's poster... Brr.
  • The fan song "Doki Doki Forever" by Or3o has some ominous foreshadowing in even some of its more innocent lyrics:
    • One of Sayori's first lines is "My heart's beating when I'm hanging out with you".
    • Yuri, at one point, asks "Would it make the cut if you had to choose just one of us?"
    • A more subtle one is Natsuki saying "Tasty love, something I want more of!"
    • Monika questions, in her first refrain, "Is it love if I can set you free?"; a lyric that seems innocent until you think about the implications.


"THIS is what happens in Doki Doki Literature Club?!"
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