Note: Due to the nature of this game, there will be unmarked spoilers ahead. You've been warned.
As the game loads, the player is drawn to a content warning about this seemingly cute and lighthearted visual novel has 'disturbing content' and 'not suitable for everyone.'But how could something this cute be scary and not suitable for all?
Honestly, there might be a few light sex jokes, but nothing that the player couldn't handle, right?
What can go wrong here?
YOU. HAVE. NO. IDEA.
Then the game begins in earnest.
Act 1Our main character, whose name is chosen by the player, is your stereotypical Japanese teenager, with an interest in anime, manga, and video games. As he and his childhood friend, Sayori, a bundle of energy, are walking to school, she suggests to him that he should join a club. He initially declines, but after the school day, enticed by the offer of cupcakes, he relents and goes with Sayori to her club. This is the titular Literature Club, and Sayori is its vice president.Once there, MC meets the other three club members:
Natsuki: A Tsundere who likes manga and baking; she made the cupcakes.
Yuri: A shrinking violet who's into horror novels.
Monika: The club president and resident school idol. Formerly with the debate club, she grew tried of the politics of the bigger club and founded the Literature Club in order to focus on something she loves.
After a slightly awkward moment, MC decides to join.Tasked with writing a poem, despite not having done so previously, MC knows that in order to get closer to one of these cute girls, it's the price he has to pay. This part is the first occurrence of the poem minigame, in which MC picks 20 words for a poem he's writing. Different words impress different girls; the next day, MC will spend some time with the girl who was most impressed. Strangely, the option to impress Monika is absent.
The next day, the club shares poems between members for the first time. This leads to an argument between Natsuki and Yuri over their clashing writing preferences, which MC defuses with the help of Sayori. The whole exchange highlights the different writing styles each girl prefers, which is important to the poem minigame:
Natsuki, a fan of minimalism, likes simple, cute words.
Yuri, like the deep thinker she is, likes more complex, darker words,
Sayori, surprisingly enough, is in the middle ground, preferring simple words with a strong impact.
If MC writes his poems for one of the girls, the player will be treated to three CG's with that girl as the days go on. This might come in handy, in particular after Monika mentions that the player should save and reload often.
This goes on for a couple days, in which the club prepares for the upcoming festival. On this day in particular, Sayori is rather withdrawn for her and leaves the club meeting. Afterwards, MC talks with Sayori at her house, where she reveals that she's been struggling with severe depression. MC either confesses his love for her or says he'll always be her dearest friend in an attempt to make her feel better.
The next day, the day of the festival, Sayori doesn't show up to walk with MC to school like she normally did. During the club meeting, MC decides to leave early to check on her. After hearing Monika make a remark that he shouldn't have "left her hanging", he rushes over to her house and discovers to his horror that Sayori had hung herself earlier that day.
After this, MC blames himself for Sayori's suicide, regardless of his choice in their last conversation. He also mentions that "this isn't a video game" where he can go back and try something different. Guess those content warnings did mean something after all. That line about saving and reloading was just a red herring.
The game then goes back to the main menu, with the 'New Game' replaced with gibberish. After selecting "New Game", Things begin to go off the rails.
Act 2The game seemingly restarts itself, but Sayori's name, dialogue, and sprite are glitched. After another apparent restart, MC now walks by himself to school and Monika is the one who gets MC to join the club, with no mention of Sayori at all, like she no longer exists. Weird glitches and jumpscares begin to happen, as if the game is falling apart. Most importantly, Natsuki and Yuri have changed; their arguments are more intense and personal then they had been before, their personal problems, only hinted at in the first act, are now brought up front and center. Besides all of that, their faces begin to glitch at certain points as well, briefly turning nightmarish.
Despite all of this, MC doesn't react at all to the changes around him. The only person not affected by this is Monika. Yuri in particular seems to be slowly going insane, as one of her poems alludes to. She also begins to develop Yandere traits. Seeing this, Natsuki, through a poem, begs MC to get Yuri some professional help. Then, suddenly, Natsuki's face turns blank, her text written in bold. During this time, she tells MC to disregard what she just said. It's apparent that a seemingly outside force is controlling the events of the game now. Later on, Yuri presents a poem to MC that is both illegible and covered in blood and another stain.
Now fully insane, Yuri, after driving Monika out with a remark about killing herself, confesses her love to MC. Regardless of choice, Yuri stabs herself to death while laughing. MC is forced to stare at her corpse for the next three days. On the day of the festival, Natsuki screams, vomits, and runs out of the room after seeing Yuri's dead body.
Then Monika shows up and barely has a reaction to the sight. Expressing shock about the script being this broken, she promises to make it up to MC, who at this point no longer talks at all. Then the command box appears in the top left corner. Yuri and Natsuki's character files are deleted. She then proceeds to delete other game assets as well.
Act 3The truth is now revealed: Monika, the seemingly kind president of the club, is the one behind all of the horror of the last act. She admits to driving Sayori to suicide as well as flanderizing Natsuki and Yuri to make them less appealing to the player. By now, the game is completely broken, with just MC, who is now an empty shell, the classroom, that is now apparently in space, and Monika, who confesses her love to the player as her driving motivation for this. Monika's awareness extends to knowing things like the player's profile name, where the game was downloaded from, and even if the game is being streamed or recorded.(This results in one more jumpscare)
As she rambles on and on about her victory, the player is left to wonder how the hell to stop her. Despite any sympathy that they might feel for Monika, she has to pay for what she did to her own friends. But then, like every Bond villain, Monika talks about her one weakness: her file in the directory. With that, the player opens it up, and deletes Monika's file. As she's deleted, she starts to rant toward the player for deleting her, but then realizes what she's done and reveals that she didn't really delete her friends. As her dying grace, she restores them and promises to leave the game alone so it can be played the way it's meant to be played.
Act 4MC's voice is back. The act begins with him and Sayori, now the Literature club president, walking to school together. Everything seems to be normal. But after Natsuki and Yuri leave for the bookstore, Sayori reveals that she's now self aware and wants to be with the player forever. As she begins to trap the player in the void classroom again, a formless Monika stops her and deletes the game, realizing that there is no joy to be found in it. After the credits, the player sees a note from Monika disbanding the club.
However, if the player, though Save Scumming, saw all of the girls' CG's, even Monika's one, a different ending happens; Sayori sees what the player did for all of the girls and is touched. As the game ends, Sayori thanks the player for all they've done to make all of the girls happy, and promises to keep the club doors open. The ending is similar to the first, but all of the CG's are in color and the player sees a note after the credits from the creator of the game, Dan Salvato, thanking them. Also, all of the girls' files are still intact.
Regardless of ending, it's revealed that Monika has a voice and sings "Your Reality" over the credits.