Doki Doki Dollmaker is a fantasy boys love visual novel developed by Karitsa. After the death of his parents, Lyle is forced to start over with his older brother in a new town. To help him cope with the changes in his life, Lyle makes five dolls. But, he gets more than he bargained for when the dolls come to life?! Be immersed in this heartfelt tale of love and discover what it means to find yourself, no matter who, or what, is willing to lend a hand!
- Genre: Comedy | Fantasy | Boys Love
- Rating: 13+ (optional 18+ Epilogues)
- Where to Play: Windows, Mac, Linux
- Similar Games: Sentimental Trickster | Camp Buddy
Lyle (the player-character) must move away with his older brother Cole after the sudden and unfortunate passing of their parents. To occupy his mind during the long road trip to their new home, Lyle makes five plush dolls using some leftover materials found in an old sewing kit. Due to the magical properties of the sewing kit and Lyle’s cry for help (brought about by loss, unfamiliarity, and bullying at school), the dolls come to life!
Could Lyle fall in love with one of these dolls turned human? It’s up to you! In Doki Doki Dollmaker there are five romanceable characters: the moody and aloof, Torin; shirtless pretty boy, Desifer; the every cheerful and affectionate, Rook; the mature and reliable, Ellery; and the quirky and unpredictable, Kahvel.
Doki Doki Dollmaker Review
Angsty, drama filled boys love games are a dime a dozen, so when something cute and lighthearted pops up it’s refreshing. Don’t get me wrong, I love drama as much as the next person, but sometimes I just want to play something that makes me smile, not bawl my eyes out and Karitsa’s latest title, Doki Doki Dollmaker definitely fits the bill.
It’s a sweet coming of age slice-of-life game that follows Lyle, a high schooler who is dealing with the passing of his parents and a big move to a new town. To cope with all these changes, he uses his mom’s old sewing kit to make five plush dolls. Unknown to Lyle, the sewing kit is magic and his life is turned upside-down when the dolls come to life. Now Lyle finds himself suddenly thrust into the role of creator, teacher, and companion to the newly awakened dolls. Of course spending so much time with the hunky dolls leads to some feelings and maybe the role of “boyfriend” will soon be in his future…
Otome fans will immediately see the similarities between this game and Cheritz’s otome game, Nameless: The One Thing You Must Recall. Both games feature dolls magically coming alive and the protagonist falling in love with them, but where Nameless is much more angsty and emotional in it’s execution, Doki Doki Dollmaker keeps things pretty upbeat and light. That’s not to say Dollmaker doesn’t have it’s own emotional moments, there were plenty of moments that had me reaching for my tissue box. And some of the bad ends really hit hard. It can be pretty heavy stuff, but, even when dealing with the complexities of Lyle’s emotional journey, the story still manages to bring a lot of laughter and warm vibes.
Lyle is a sweet, well meaning kid navigating a lot of huge changes in his life from the loss of his parents to moving to a new town, and even discovering his own identity and sexuality. The dolls are a source of comfort and companionship for Lyle in a time in his life when he really needs a bit more support. And even though he’s supposed to be teaching the dolls the ins and outs of being human, as the story progresses Lyle ends up learning just as much from them in return. The writers do a great job of balancing out the heavier themes with more lighthearted moments and I could easily see Doki Doki Dollmaker being adapted into a slice-of-life anime series (or even a webcomic).
While romance is definitely the end goal in Doki Doki Dollmaker, I do like that the story takes it’s time building up the bonds between Lyle and all of the dolls. A lot of the game’s run time is spent on Lyle getting to know each of the dolls, their likes, dislikes, and the occasional weird quirk. At times they feel more like family than romantic partners and I kinda like that vibe, it really strengthens the story overall. I really loved the scenes where everyone goes out as a group and the hilarious situations they find themselves in. When you have a cast of characters like the ones in this game, you really want to give them a chance to really thrive.
All of the dolls are a hoot and while their designs are a bit out there by human standards—I’m lookin’ at you Desifer and Torin—I can admit they are a lot of fun. Each doll has their own unique personality that often times leads to some of the game’s best comedic moments. But, at the end of the day they all genuinely care about Lyle (and each other).
When I first played the demo I was really interested in Torin and Ellery, and I am happy to say they both lived up to my expectations. Torin is a grumpy tsun bun who can be a bit intimidating at first, but deep down, he’s a cute cat loving sweetie. While Ellery is just an all around perfect guy, who’s always there to listen (even if he can’t draw). But, honestly, I don’t hate any of the dolls—shirtless flirt Desifer needs to be kept on a leash; Kahvel is absolutely bonkers, and I love him all the more for it; and Rook is such a cutie, I just wanna give him all the hugs.
But, what I think really sets Doki Doki Dollmaker apart from some of the other BL games I’ve played is its focus on Lyle’s relationships outside of the dolls. In the game it’s just as important to spend time with Lyle’s older brother Cole and his excitable bestie, Tilly. It really gives a depth to the characters and the world and plays up the wholesome vibes of the game.
Though if I had to pick one nitpick in the game, it has to be the fact that each route follows the same major plot beats, so there is a lot of overlap. So if you’re going for a full clear of the game, you will inevitably wind up taking full advantage of the skip button. However, there are a few fun character specific scenes throughout, that give you plenty of chances to get to know each of the dolls on their own.
Doki Doki Dollmaker is a boys love game, but in the main game it keeps things pretty light in the romance department. There’s some cute doki doki moments and lots of blushing, which for a BL game is definitely a welcome change from the usual dubious consent and smut. BUT, if you are looking for a bit more spice, the game does feature optional 18+ epilogues, where Lyle and his chosen bae engage in some sweet uncensored consensual sexual encounters. Each scene differs depending on the doll you end up with, in some Lyle is the top and in others he is the bottom, there’s even one where it’s implied he and his partner switch… so I recommend getting them all if you’re comfortable.
Is Doki Doki Dollmaker worth playing?
Absolutely yes! With it’s bright tone, colorful character designs, and fun message, Doki Doki Dollmaker is a must play for boys love gamers looking for a more wholesome gaming experience. Heck, if you’re not a BL fan and you are looking for a place to stary, Doki Doki Dollmaker is a great place to start your journey.
This is such a sweet story, that knows when to have fun and make you laugh, and when to bring on the feels. You’ll fall in love with Lyle and all of the dolls, and maybe even discover something about yourself in the process. I laughed, I teared up a bit, and I spent HOURS trying to unlock the group end (still working on it lol). But, Doki Doki Dollmaker is an experience worth enjoying!
Thank you to Karitsa for providing a copy of this game for the review!