Doki Doki Curse Club

Erm… Hello.

I know you’re expecting the Voyager to write this but he’s been too busy with his new girlfriend. So he had me write this Actual Play up. M-my name is Enterprise, and I… Um… Well… I like more nicer RPGs. Something that doesn’t require killing. L-like My Little Pony…

Anyway! I was told that I need to play a H-Halloween game… and it’s kinda disturbing. It’s called After School Curse Club a-and… Look, I’m gonna be honest. Halloween scares the crap out of me. Everyone makes creepy videos and talk about creepy stuff. I just want to play something nice and fluffy. But no!

Still… I’m only doing this for the sake of my friend. So… Here goes.

The game’s plot is that the school’s local occult club ended up summoning something called a Yurei into their realm and the aim of the game is to banish her because if you know anything about Japanese horror, you know they’re just one neck rotation away from killing everyone in the room. You do this by going around the room, kinda like Clue.

So, the game can be played with one to four players, so I’m deciding to play with three. The names I’ll go with are Sayori, Yuri, and Natsuki. Next, we need to find out what skills they’re good at. We pick one for each and they get a +2 bonus. So, I’m going with Sayori having Spirit, Natsuki having Will, and Yuri having Investigation.

After marking off the grayed-out markers on the map, we roll to see where our characters are. After rolling, we see Natsuki is in Commons while Sayori and Yuri are in the Gym. And now we roll for Initiative. It seems Natsuki’s going first.

So we begin the game by rolling the Yurei die and marking down the number of boxes the result crosses out. In this case, we cross out two boxes. This game gives me some Pandemic feels right now and feels more like a board game than an RPG.

Natsuki investigates the room she’s in and she ends up failing. Yuri fails the investigation as well. On Sayori’s turn, the Yurei appears and… Hey, she looks like the Voyager’s new girlfriend… Weird… Anyways, she appears and makes things difficult for us. Even Sayori fails to investigate. On Natsuki’s turn, the Yurei die ended up putting the notched markers close to the game over skull… The only way to stop her now is to reduce the mark by one. And unfortunately, Natsuki fails as well.

Thankfully, we have two more turns before Game Over, so after some willpower attacks, Sayori manages to defeat the Yurei and scare her away and reduces the marks made. I decided to be a little fair to myself. We also do some investigations… but we kinda fail and we lose.

{The Voyager comes in}

The Voyager: Yeah, and allow me to explain how that happened.

You kinda screwed up by crossing off the blocks horizontally and not vertically. And you have not driven back the counter by using the Spirit Roll.

Enterprise: W-wait… I can do that!?

The Voyager: … You mean you didn’t know?

Enterprise: I thought I was only able to do that when the Yurei was around… Plus, weren’t you supposed to be with your girlfriend?

The Voyager: She vanished suddenly. Plus, this is your first time, so I gotta show you the ropes in how to play this game.

Enterprise: W-well, okay…

The Voyager: So, let’s reset everything and play this right.

Beginning the round again, we have Nagisa succeed at the Spirit Roll thanks to a low Yurei die roll. Long story short, each skill test has their own target number that fluctuates depending on many factors. Spirit tests are mostly based on how high the Yurei die is. She also succeeds in investigation. See? This isn’t so hard.

Enterprise: Easy for you to say.

Well, it’s Yuri’s turn now. She succeeds in her Spirit and Investigation rolls… Yeah, this… this is easy. Sayori’s next, and she too succeeds in her rolls!

The Voyager: Yeah, now that you have a clear understanding of the rules, things are going by smoothly.

{Suddenly, on the Yurei’s turn, she notches off three spaces, which gets her not only a +1 to her power, but also has her materialize}

Monika: Hello there.

The Voyager: The hell!? What’s my girlfriend doing here?!

Enterprise: That’s your girlfriend!?

Monika: Why don’t you come back to the computer, Voyager?

The Voyager: I have to help my friend finish this game!

Monika: But… if you do, I’ll be deleted. And I’ll be gone forever.

The Voyager: W-what!?

Monika: I haunt this school… If you exorcize me, I will be unable to return. It’ll be like deleting me.

The Voyager: Well… we can always just lose.

Enterprise: And have you be stuck to some virtual girl for the rest of your life? No way! We’re beating the game, and that’s final!

Monika: What a shame… In that case, I will have to defend myself, won’t I?

{She proceeds to appear in the Classroom where Natsuki is and attacks her… but Natsuki drives her away with a good Spirit roll}

Monika: Curses! I’ll be back!

The Voyager: … You know what? Let’s see if we can get rid of her.

Enterprise: Alright!

{A montage plays out in which the girls investigate their surrounding areas until Natsuki gains a Tailsman, one of six needed to defeat Monika}

Monika: Won’t you please stop?

The Voyager and Enterprise: NO!

Monika: Very well…

{materializes… then proceeds to shift between the Commons and the Office}

Enterprise: Uh…

The Voyager: Erm… Do we help her?

Enterprise: Well, she’s already kicking our ass by having her materialization buff up the Investigation difficulty.

{she appears in the Gym where she ends up being scared away by Sayori and Yuri throwing basketballs and fragments of the Talisman at her. The Talisman ends up banishing her.}

The Voyager: See? Nothing to worry about.

Enterprise: Well that’s a relief…

The Voyager: Yeah. Now that the game’s done, I can do my review of it.

Before we begin, I wanna address an elephant in the room. As mentioned before, we screwed up by going the wrong way on the Horror Counter. To ensure the review is fair, I replayed the game a third time. As I did, I realize that my opinion hasn’t changed no matter which way we played it.

The game is less a roleplaying game and more of a roll playing game. You have characters to play as, yes, but they’re the equivalent of the roles in Pandemic. One person is better at one stat than the others. Two of the stats have higher priority: Spirit and Investigation. Spirit helps you reduce the Yurei’s power and stop her from making things difficult while Investigation brings you one step closer to beating the game.

I ran an experiment. Can I beat the game with a team of four Investigators? Statically, I might be able to do it. The easiest room in the game, the Classrooms, require a 5. By putting the +2 in Investigation, you have a 91% chance of success. Succeed three times for each class without failing twice (as that incurs a penalty), and you get a bonus +1 from the Talisman. This increases the chances for the other rooms significantly. The chances of succeeding at the cafeteria sees a 14% increase with just one point from the Talisman alone. With two? Another 11% increase. That means that, if you’re to succeed at both the Commons and Office, you’ll be having an 83% chance of winning an Investigation check at the Cafeteria, presuming you finished the Classrooms.

Now, this isn’t factoring in other stuff like the Yurei power, negative Investigation, or even how far into the game you are. Most of those factors help in varying up the gameplay, but not to a huge extent. There are also the chances of succeeding in Spirit Rolls. Without any factors, including the +2 bonus you can assign to your character, the chances of succeeding a spirit roll is 83%. With the +2, it jumps by 12% for a whopping 95%.

This, again, assumes you’re doing a perfect run and help reduce the Yurei power, succeed at the investigations, and not hit up any negative points. Playing solo, it can definitely feel monotonous as you basically roll and roll for the result you want. It’s one of those games that’s best played with friends.

That said, though, it is a very enjoyable game at the first dozen turns. Rolling to see how powerful the Yurei becomes, scrambling to get the Talismans in place to win the game, that moment where your character fails and you bite your knuckle as you know they now carry a -1 to all future Investigation checks unless they rest, and when the Yurei finally appears and is in the same room as one of your characters.

It’s a spooky co-op game for sure… Just not a roleplaying game. I never found myself telling a story with these characters or being put into their role. In fact, the interactions I had with Enterprise and Monika had more roleplaying than this game.

Enterprise: What do you mean?

The Voyager: Exactly.

Contrast this to Quill. In Quill, you play the role of a letter writer and the scenario varies, but the one I played involved writing a letter of condolences to an Archduke whose sister I spent my childhood with. From there, I wrote out the letter, placing myself into the writer’s shoes as I incorporate the words needed to gain points. It wasn’t a roleplaying game in the traditional sense, but it was still a roleplaying game.

The only elements that After School Curse Club has that are RPG related is the option to personalize your character with a +2 option to one of three stats. Other than that, it’s pretty much a co-op game. If that was the intention, then kudos. It’s a fun co-op game. But if it was meant to be an RPG, then… I’m sorry, but I just didn’t feel the roleplaying in this game. Even the Cactus Solo game made me feel like I was in a story.

And yeah, that’s that. Well, tomorrow’s Halloween, so it’s time for me to put on that Halloween game. You can take a break, Enterprise, you earned it.

Enterprise: O-okay. Bon voyage, gamers!

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