Doki Doki Literature Club Plus! has been censored on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5, altering the color of blood in one major scene.
In a blog post on the day of the game’s launch, developers Team Salvato, discussing how some would have concerns the game’s horror scenes would be censored on console.
Editor’s Note: The following segment contains spoilers for Doki Doki Literature Club, and by extension Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!
For those unfamiliar, the original Doki Doki Literature Club is a parody and subversion of visual novel dating sims. The game proceeds as a dating game normally would (with the player “writing” poetry to appeal to the girl they like the most), until one of the girls hangs themselves. Players discover the girl’s body.
The game then seemingly resets to the first day, with that character missing as though they never existed. Two of the other girls then have their personality quirks exaggerated to extreme levels. One shows signs of extreme jealous and possessiveness, while the other shows signs of self-harm and stalker behavior. The latter also commits suicide by stabbing herself several times near the end of Act 2, which is shown.
It is then revealed a character had learned they were in a video game, and began manipulating the code so that the player- not just the player’s character- would choose one girl in particular. This also features “breaking the fourth wall,” as the game’s coding allows characters to address the player by their “real” name (the computer’s username) and detect if the player is streaming or recording the game.
The character also talks about a wide range of topics when confronted, including depression. That dialogue originally discussed how those expressing suicidal tendencies and depression on social media could be faking it for attention, and those truly suffering would have “given up” seeking help.
While it did mention how to help others with depression (and that the player themselves does have those who would help if they are suffering); after update 1.2 the dialogue removed any discussion of those faking suicidal thoughts and depression on social media. Instead it notes some “have aching hearts and seek attention on social media…”
The developer blog post explains that “We feel confident in the nuance of DDLC’s content, but we also know that certain platforms might have regulations that we wouldn’t be an exception to.” While stating they had decided long ago that they would not publish a game to a platform if it meant scenes had to be removed, there are “visual changes” on the PlayStation version.
The change is to an event at the end of Act 2; the event mentioned in the spoiler section above. The scene still plays out, but the blood is jet-black like ink, rather than red. The change was made by Dan Salvato himself, “and I feel confident in them because I don’t consider the psychological effect of the scene to have been diminished in any way; I wouldn’t have accepted that kind of compromise.”
“Basically, the change is not a big deal–I just wanted to make everyone aware of it in advance, because I know that DDLC fans will notice it as a difference from the original game. I wanted to avoid a scenario where people would spot the difference and think that the game was unfairly tampered with by some other company.”
The censorship has not come the Nintendo Switch or other versions.
Doki Doki Literature Club Plus! is available now on Windows PC (via Steam, and Serenity Forge), Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. A physical version is also available via the Serenity Forge online store.
This is not the first time games on PlayStation have been censored due to Sony Interactive Entertainment’s (SIE) own policies. In late December 2018, SIE Japan Asia President Atsushi Morita stated the then recent spate of censorship of anime-styled sexual content on PlayStation 4 games had been “to meet global standards.” This censorship was seemingly forced in Japan.
SIE frequently cites global and community standards as reasons for their censorship practices. This has led to Japanese developers to release on other platforms, or create different versions.
Most recently, CyberConnect2’s president claimed SIE have policies against depicting dismemberment or missing limbs for Japanese developers. This may be born mostly of criticism and concern from people within Japan however, rather than additional complaints from overseas.