Doki Doki Literature Club
Fruits of the Literature Club
Fruits of the Literature Club is a DDLC mod I've seen extensive praise for. So I checked it out, and... yikes. I'm baffled that it has such a positive reputation.
I played for about 2 hours before I quit. The premise of the mod is the removal of the meta-canon (which is fine, not every mod has to deal with that) and a redesign of MC's background: he isn't Sayori's childhood friend, but moves into the area and gets recruited. Things the mod does particularly well:
Things it does particularly poorly:
- The mod tries to make MC a more interesting character instead of a maximum blank slate. He didn't reveal much of his background to me after two hours of being in his head, but from what he did reveal it sounds like he has some kind of military-like training. He definitely works for a secretive and possibly crime-fighting organization that may or may not be affiliated with the government (I would think it was except the way they apparently recruit teenagers), and he's always thinking about survival and having an escape from every situation and is proficient in hand-to-hand fighting.
The problem with this change is: they didn't really do it. MC only has this new personality in the scenes they added. Most of the club scenes from the original are pasted in with almost no changes, and MC's dialogue and behavior are jarringly inconsistent with his new personality and background.
- Even in the new scenes, no one behaves according to their motivations. Sayori's fixation on MC when she knows literally nothing about him is not believable. Although he never tells her to leave him alone, it's clear she has better odds trying to recruit anyone else on the school grounds, and she still won't give up on him. He's even a complete asshole to her when this exchange takes place in the locker room:
MC: "Okay, I will join your club."
That's pure sadism. And she is still hellbent on getting this asshole to join her club. He goes on to explain that she needs to "learn to deal with rejection" (this idea is broken even harder when he reads Natsuki's first poem and still decides to "humor her", being dishonest to protect her pride). But of course, she eventually does convince him just by bugging him enough, because how else would the writers make their intended plot happen? Specifically she asks him to "at least wait for her club meeting to finish so he can walk her home". That's arguably an escalation! Now he's being asked to walk a girl home that he just met. But he accepts. This is a complete Recruitment Ex Machina; he's mentioned explicitly in the narration that "there's no reason I should get involved with her" and he has no cause to change his mind, especially given he has nothing to do while he's waiting for her. After that, she convinces him that if he's going to be waiting for her he might as well come hang out in the clubroom. This arrangement goes on for days until he finally decides he's effectively already a member and he might as well formally join.
- The dialogue is really bad and awkward all the time. It's like the characters have never heard of contractions. It reminds me of how I wrote when I was 10 years old. And I'm not just saying that to be insulting, it really reminds me of that.
- There are some scenes the creators didn't have the necessary art for, and they cope with that poorly: they just have the camera look at the sky the whole time. Some visual novels have the screen fade to black when they would need detailed art, which is better than showing an image that has nothing to do with the scene. Also, it's especially bad because the scenes like this are the only ones giving us a hint at any meaningful plot: the ones involving MC's mysterious background (I never figured out if these scenes were flashbacks or just fit into the timeline in some unexplained way).
- For some reason I will never understand, Natsuki's initial sexist remark upon seeing MC is scaled up drastically. Instead of just "You brought a boy? Way to kill the atmosphere", she adds, "Plus, he looks like kind of a dick, too!" Why would the mod authors want to smear Natsuki in this way? And why would the new MC - or any self-respecting male - want to be with someone who treats him like that?
- MC makes a few sexist remarks himself. In the beginning when Sayori is trying hopelessly to recruit him without the writers' help, he says at least twice something to the effect of "You women are so persistent". I understand if MC has some reason for thinking this way based on his background (it doesn't look like he does because at least two of the other members of his secret organization are women), and Sayori may be the least likely Doki to be offended by this, but what's the point in redesigning the POV character if you're not going to make him a *likable* person?
- MC is also kind of an asshole when resolving the argument (there's no choice). He tells them, "This is one of the stupidest arguments I have ever heard, and I have seen two grown men nearly kill each other over a soda". And suddenly both of them are ashamed and realize how right he is.
- The thing that finally made me drop it was a crude joke about bras in one of the no-art scenes. They couldn't make actually funny jokes, so they just hoped that talking about women's underwear is inherently funny.
I also hate how pretentiously the devs market it. The download page I read talked about how it will "completely reimagine the Literature Club", and that "All the characters you know and love will return", and that "Monika will not go ape shit" (if that's how you're describing what happened in the original game, that's already a bad sign).
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