Examples of video games or video game franchises [[CerebusSyndrome getting progressively more serious.]]

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* ''MetalGear'' is the TropeCodifier for a multitude of reasons. The most obvious one is series creator HideoKojima's aspirations to be cinematic; as the culture grows more trope-savvy and cynical, so do the protagonists themselves. Like Kojima's previous success ''{{Policenauts}}'', the ''Metal Gear Solid'' series and ''Metal Gear Rising'' are both cutscene-heavy and political in nature, almost as though the games were merely vehicles for Kojima's [[AuthorTract political and social views.]] Kojima's career ambition is well-documented (he said in one interview that he wished he'd written ''Series/BreakingBad'', and confessed in others that the success of ''Grand Theft Auto'' made him depressed), and the more cash he has to play to with, the bigger and more maudlin the games become. ''MetalGearSolidVThePhantomPain'' looks to be taking cues from ''SpecOpsTheLine'' on deconstructing the entire premise of war themed games.
* ''GrandTheftAutoIV''. While ''San Andreas'' was wacky and had little in the way of cogent plot, ''IV'' tackled [[DarkerAndEdgier dark, adult themes usually reserved for cinema]]. ''GrandTheftAutoV'' pushed even further into this territory, featuring a huge, pathos-filled story for its three protagonists and pushing the envelope more than in any other prior game in the series with the content it used to tackle serious themes[[spoiler:, including graphic, not PlayedForLaughs torture]].
* ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZelda'', ''VideoGame/ZeldaIITheAdventureOfLink'', and ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkToThePast'' have happy endings, But afterwards the games' endings range from [[BittersweetEnding bittersweet]] to downright [[DownerEnding depressing]]. An example is ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword'': Even though it takes a fairly balanced approach to the lighter and darker tones demonstrated in other entries, the first part of the game is very much on the lighthearted side. Even when Zelda falls down to the world beneath the clouds, nothing really feels at risk, and the game itself takes an optimistic approach to being able to find her. In fact, the only darker moments during the first section of the game are Link's brief nightmares of [[SealedEvilInACan The Imprisoned]], implying what's in store later on. However, when Ghirahim first appears (and for the remainder of his appearances), the game takes on a ''much'' darker tone. Sure, he's a classic example of EvilIsHammy and can be quite entertaining when he wants to be, but he is very much a legitimate threat, and is downright terrifying and dangerous due to his [[AxCrazy disturbing lust]] for pain and death.
* Same thing goes for fellow Creator/{{Nintendo}} ActionAdventure series ''VideoGame/{{Metroid}}''. Some of the games (particularly ''Fusion'' and ''VideoGame/MetroidPrime 3'') give a darker-than-usual twist to their stories because of this.
* Any game of VideoGame/DwarfFortress. ''All of them.'' A lighthearted romp at the start, with seven cheery dwarves building their home in a seemingly cheery forest, plain, or jungle. And then it gets worse as time goes on, with dwarves dying off, being disemboweled, being flung against walls, until eventually your fortress explodes into civil war under constant sieges and deaths.
* ''AceCombat'' started off as a very early entry into the realm of 3D arcade style flying shoot-em-ups for the original PlayStation; though it was still at least somewhat more complicated than other competing titles and most of the gameplay elements that would define the series were already there, it didn't have much in the way of plot and was more or less a fairly straightforward game. By the time of Ace Combat 3, however, the flying and fighting aspects were framed by a deep and very well-developed story, which by the next title were often at best tangential in their impact on the player's actual missions and prone to focusing on the enemy just as much or more as on the player's side, as well as an increasing frequency in anti-war messages ([[{{Anvilicious}} odd in a game entirely about war, needless to say]]). The gameplay became more complex as well, introducing additional subtle realism tweaks such as more realistic aircraft momentum, and by the most recent title has had [[NintendoHard a corresponding effect on gameplay]]. The intro of the latest game, which probably tries a bit too hard when it comes to conveying the impact of war, embodies this trope and was duly featured on ''{{Unskippable}}''.
* ''LiveALive'' (pronounced Life Alive) as a result of the theme. When it happens depends entirely on your mileage and the order you play the chapters. Some are LighterAndSofter then others, at least two are terrifying, and if it's your first time you play in the chronological order without spoilers.
* ''VideoGame/{{Earthbound}}'' is a silly, shiny, nice game with colors all around. Its sequel ''VideoGame/{{Mother 3}}'', though...well, what do you think of jokes such as [[spoiler:"I have good news and bad news. Good news, I found you a new weapon. Bad news, I found it stabbed through your wife's heart."]]?
** While ''Mother 3'' is certainly more of a TearJerker than ''Earthbound'', they both have CerebusSyndrome within their games. ''Earthbound'' starts with you dealing with cops who take pride in their ability to block roads and ends with you fighting a being of pure evil that is considered horror beyond measure by many players. ''Mother 3'' starts with you in a peaceful, utopian village and ends with the main villain essentially owning the entire world.
* The sequel to ''VideoGame/BeyondGoodAndEvil'' looks to be far less cartoony and both teasers available indicate the game will take place in a city in the middle of the desert. Sounds familiar.
* Many [=RPGs=] do this willingly. For instance:
** [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyI The original]] FinalFantasy starts with the king saying "Oh Warriors of Prophecy please save my daughter who is in the hands of my ex-most trustworthy knight". He's pretty weak, too. Then, by the end of the game, it turns out that the BigBad is [[spoiler:that same knight, whose soul went 2000 years into the past, gained [[AGodAmI incredible power]] by the name of Chaos, and created the four elemental demons who are now plaguing the world, who were the ones to [[StableTimeLoop send his soul into the past when you first killed him to save the princess.]]]] And your defeat of him [[spoiler:breaks the cycle, meaning that [[ResetButton nothing of the game ever happened and no one realizes what you did]].]]
** In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIX'', you start with a bunch of thieves/actors kidnapping a rebellious princess and a kid who goes to watch a theater play. The first 7 or 8 hours of the game (especially in the [[{{Woolseyism}} brilliantly done]] French translation) are lighthearted and fun. Then, the thieves'/actors' hometown is invaded, the rebellious princess [[spoiler:sees the death of her mother and watches her kingdom getting nuked]], the whole world comes close to destruction, and the little cute kid of the intro gets to deal with his own mortality.
** ''{{Suikoden}} Tierkreis'' starts with the main character living a mostly carefree life in his little village, cue a militaristic cult appearing. The main character decides then to stand against it, while remaining mostly optimistic; cue the multiverse collapsing.
** ''VideoGame/DragonQuestV'' begins with the main character as a child, journeying with his dad, occasionally going off on his own or with a friend on adventures straight out of ''Tom Sawyer'', ''TheChroniclesOfNarnia'', or George [=MacDonald's=] fairy tales. Then, while trying to rescue a bratty prince, [[spoiler: he watches his father get killed, and is sold into slavery, setting up the main plot of the game.]]
** ''VideoGame/DragonQuestVII'' starts also with the main character living a carefree life in a fishermen village, and the "DQ humor" still drives most of the storyline. Then the first chapters of the game proper start, but, while more dark, they remain mostly into the "dungeon of the week" routine and the story keeps many humorous moments. Then, little by little, each small chapter gets more and more tragic until the conclusion.
** ''VideoGame/TalesOfPhantasia'' starts with two main characters hunting, then it turns into a vendetta story, then into a world war, then into a conflict to save the human race, than [[spoiler:the heroes discover that Dhaos was the good guy all along]]. The comedic elements of the game's beginning are of course diminishing through the story.
*** This is the ''entire'' series. Nearly every game can be summed up as "naive swordsman goes out on minor errand and stumbles on a plot to end the world". Ruca of ''VideoGame/TalesOfInnocence'' is currently the record holder, wandering into the plot of the game while ''hanging around town to play with his "friends"''.
*** Performed rather well in ''VideoGame/TalesOfGraces'' with the playable prologue. We're introduced to the young kids having fun with their new friend, meeting a new important friend...and then quickly watching as their new friend sacrifices herself before their very eyes with ''nothing'' they could do and (while they didn't know it yet), their other new friend was [[spoiler:possessed by Lambda]]. The result? Four to five out of the seven playable characters have a rather DarkAndTroubledPast. (Not counting [[CoolOldGuy Malik,]] who has a different and unrelated DarkAndTroubledPast)
*** The difference between the first act of ''VideoGame/TalesOfTheAbyss'' and the third act of ''Tales Of The Abyss'' is the difference between [[spoiler: accidentally destroying a city of 10,000 people]] and Jade lightening the mood by [[DeadpanSnarker snarking at you]], and [[spoiler: voluntarily sacrificing 10,000 replicas including the protagonist, all of whom are still mentally children,]] while Jade wishes he could go back in time and kill himself as a newborn because everything in the game is his fault, including this incident, because ''he suggested it.'' Compared to ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia'', the last American release, the game itself is pretty much CerebusSyndrome applied to the series as a whole, though the trend is reversed with ''VideoGame/TalesOfVesperia.''
** ''FireEmblem: Path of Radiance'', while not really "comedic", is fairly light at the beginning, with a teenage mercenary learning the ropes of his job against small bandit bands and under the careful watch of older fighters. By the end of its sequel, the plot looks like an adaptation of ''{{Berserk}}'' with slightly more colors.
*** Most ''Fire Emblem'' games tend to follow the "let's put these mean, ugly bandits in their place -> oh crap the world's gonna end" formula. But the one game in the series that really pulls the stops is, without a doubt, the fourth one, Genealogy of the Holy War. It starts off with a young lord repelling an invasion by a neighboring kingdom with his knights and some noble friends, going off to battle in his country's name, making new friends and losing others along the way, having his girlfriend/wife kidnapped, being framed for a murder and seeking to speak to the king to clean his name. Sounds like a pretty standard plot for a medieval fantasy game, right? Not when chapter 5 comes in, it isn't. While hints are given along the way that some seedy stuff is going on, nothing compares to what happens there. Short version? [[spoiler:''Every character in your party'' is murdered at the end of that section. The only thing keeping this from being completely bleak is that the next chapter opens with you playing as their now-adult kids, with the stated goal of "Make the bastards pay for that".]]
** ''VideoGame/{{Grandia}}'' starts with two kids doing their usual antics in their hometown and dreaming of adventures that are, quite obviously, way above their level. By the end of the game, one of the kids, Justin, has turned into a badass by being [[PlayerPunch punched in the face, repeatedly]]
** ''VideoGame/ArcTheLad'' starts with a mostly light hearted storyline, with three of the seven Player Characters being comic relief. Then ''Arc 2'' comes along, and it becomes [[DarkerAndEdgier darker]], and [[AMillionIsAStatistic darker]], and [[PlayerPunch darker]], and [[TearJerker darker]]... At the end, Gogen is still cracking jokes and [[LethalJokeCharacter Poco]] is still a klutz, but [[spoiler:it is hard to notice the comedy when you failed to stop the apocalypse and lost your [[BattleCouple main couple]].]]
** ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger'' was, at some point, about going to the fair and having fun. You even meet a cute girl. Her pendant causes time travel, and [[HilarityEnsues wacky times are had by all]]. Even after you get tried and thrown in a cell for a few days, things are still lighthearted. Then you leap in the [[AfterTheEnd nearly dead future]] and see a recording of how the world ended...
*** The sequel, ''VideoGame/ChronoCross'', starts out rather okay, but after mid game, [[spoiler: the hero gets his body switched with the bad guy, and the plot goes complicated and dark.]] Worse, the story's tying up with ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger'' by destroying every happy part of the prequel. [[spoiler:Crono, Marle, and Lucca are likely to be killed shortly after "Trigger" ends, and Schala is turned from a heroic sacrificial woman to a WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds.]].
** Zig-Zagged in ''KingdomHearts''. While the first games ''released'' chronologically were pretty lighthearted, ''Days'' and ''Birth By Sleep'' are actually a lot darker in general, what with finding new characters who were DoomedByCanon and finding it all set in a CrapSaccharineWorld and a couple malicious villains. The games even started off pretty lighthearted, too.
* ''AdvanceWars'' had this; the first game was sort of up beat, with you fighting it out with the clear-cut bad guys. Second game, still upbeat, but the villain is somewhat more... unnerving. Third game, the villains are sucking the life out of the planet, there's few signs you can do anything to change this, and you [[spoiler:choose at the end whether the BigBad lives or dies]]. The latest one is set in a post apocalyptic wasteland where the [=NPCs=] in the campaign tell you to leave the civilians behind and the first fight you have is with piratical raiders.
** And the big bad? Strum wanted to take over the world. Von Bolt wanted to live forever. Caulder, on the other hand, conducts experiments on what's left of humanity.
* The flash game [[http://www.kongregate.com/games/2DArray/viricide Viricide]] goes, over the course of the paragraphs that pop up between the 17 waves, from jokes about an AI's malfunctioning double entendre system, to said AI explaining that her programmer was taking depression meds while working on her, and one day told her he was going to solve all his problems by taking all the pills in the bottle at once instead of taking them two at a time. She never saw him again, but hopes what he did made him feel better.
** [[spoiler: She also goes from referring to her programer as "my programmer" to calling him "my father" and "Dad" and she asks you to [[ICannotSelfTerminate disable her "emotional core"]] which gives her a personality.]]
* The main [[Franchise/SuperMarioBros Mario]] usually makes no attempt to do this, but the ''VideoGame/PaperMario'' and ''VideoGame/MarioAndLuigi'' series do.
** The original ''VideoGame/{{Paper Mario|64}}'' played the typical [[GrandfatherClause Bowser kidnapping the princess]] plot straight; [[VideoGame/PaperMarioTheThousandYearDoor the second]] was already darker, starring an EldritchAbomination as a BigBad; and then ''VideoGame/SuperPaperMario'' came in, featuring an OmnicidalManiac, the main characters dying and going ToHellAndBack (LessDisturbingInContext), and TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt actually happening.
** ''[[VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiSuperstarSaga Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga]]'' was a fairly lighthearted game. ''[[VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiPartnersInTime Partners In Time]]'' had ''aliens attacking the past'' for a plot, with depressing moments (Toad Town, anyone?). ''[[VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiBowsersInsideStory Bowser's Inside Story]]'' shifts the pendulum back to a lighthearted tone.
** The non-RPG games have an undead Bowser and Bowser's risky plot to expand his empire into outer space.
** ''VideoGame/LuigisMansion'' was a lighthearted parody of the survival horror genre. ''VideoGame/LuigisMansionDarkMoon'' kept this until the WhamEpisode that is D-2.
* ''VideoGame/CallOfDuty: World at War'''s NaziZombies mode appears to be suffering from the syndrome.
** The first map, Nacht der Untoten, was really just four {{AFGNCAAP}}s holed up in a building under siege by unlimited hordes of zombies.
** The second map, Verruckt, was more of the same, with Perk-a-cola machines and electro-shock defenses. And the EVIL teddy bear.
** But the third map, Shi no Numa, not only features four well-defined characters, but has lots and lots of Easter eggs hinting to the origins of the zombies, and most of all, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyM3lTBjmvQ This.]]
** Der Riese, the next map continues this somewhat. To some extent, less dark looking than Verrukt, but it's where the zombies and hellhounds were created, apparently after experimentation on live patients and dogs, according to these [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dnrceOUp_8 radio conversations and Easter eggs]]. It's also got things like teleporters, rounds with both dogs and zombies, and possibly the origins of both of them.
*** On the other hand, the [[SociopathicSoldier characters]] [[CrazyAwesome are much more]] [[strike:[[CrazyAwesome amusing]]]] [[CrazyAwesome hilarious]].
* ''TalesOfMonkeyIsland'', which started out light in tone and around Episode 4 suddenly got very dark indeed...
* ''VideoGame/ConkersBadFurDay'' starts off, and plays as, a ridiculously over the top and bizarre adventure bordering on satire. However, starting from the Spooky level, the plot quickly becomes darker and darker, ultimately culminating in one of the [[DownerEnding bleakest]] endings in video game history. In comparison, the first game in the series was an [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conker%27s_Pocket_Tales E-rated Game Boy Color game]].
* ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}''. While world-influencing and universe-influencing events were beyond the scope of the early games, Team Rocket tortured people, killed a Pokémon, held people hostage, took over companies and buildings (terrorism), attacked (and recruited) ten-year-olds, and [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking promoted gambling]]. They were on a much smaller scale but it is arguable how much heavier the plot really got, if at all. SequelEscalation is definite either way.
** Team Galactic does all of that stuff too, but they also try to ''suicide bomb'' Celestic Town.
** It goes from apparently incompetent {{Yakuza}} with a badass leader, to DarkerAndEdgier Yakuza without said leader, to two WellIntentionedExtremist cults who [[spoiler:almost kill everyone in their region and change the world for the worst]], to an even more extreme cult with a ManipulativeBastard leader that wants to ''destroy the world''. ''VideoGame/PokemonBlackAndWhite'' scaled back with a WellIntentionedExtremist AnimalWrongsGroup but they still aim higher than the Yakuza (and the main villain of that game is a touch more evil than any before him). [=NPCs=] and the storyline in the games tend to get worse too, such as Maylene's dad having an addiction to gambling that has driven him to not leave the facility and the periodic ParentalAbandonment. And then X and Y brought it back with the BigBad wanting to [[spoiler:create a perfect world of "beautiful people". By killing everyone who doesn't agree with his desires...and ALL Pokémon.]]
** Some of the later spin-offs are even nastier. ''VideoGame/PokemonColosseum'' takes place in a CrapsackWorld where the enemy is an organization that {{Mind Rape}}s Pokémon into heartless killing-machines for a pastime, ''VideoGame/PokemonRanger'' has the third BigBad plotting to KillAllHumans just because his plan to TakeOverTheWorld failed, and there's the second VideoGame/PokemonMysteryDungeon which is home to [[BadFuture a horrific and nightmarish alternate future]] that gives {{Terminator}}'s future a run for its money, [[TearJerker one of the most gut-wrenching endings in gaming]] (things got better during TheStinger thankfully), and the heroes considering ''killing themselves to save the world.''
** The [[Anime/{{Pokemon}} anime]] had a different form of this than most. While it usually doesn't get really dark outside of the [[BigDamnMovies movies]], the series goes in the opposite direction of its DenserAndWackier first season. Then by the Diamond and Pearl seasons, Team Galactic and [[KnightOfCerebus Pokemon Hunter J]] made some episodes a lot darker. And now they're in Unova, where the TerribleTrio suddenly TookALevelInBadass, and our heroes will presumably fight [[spoiler:Ghetsis]] at some point...
** The VideoGame/PokemonMysteryDungeon series. The ''Rescue Team'' games had their dark moments but were fairly consistently upbeat throughout. The ''Explorers'' series start off their plots more or less in line with the first games' in terms of tone, but almost immediately after the halfway point drops, all traces of comedy vanish, setting the stage for an ''incredibly'' morose plot.
** And the latest installment Gates to Infinity took this UpToEleven starting with you and your partner building a pokemon paradise to [[spoiler:having to stop Kyurem and his suicide cult from destroying the whole world.]]
* Not just with the comics, the ''SonicTheHedgehog'' games also did this, starting with ''Sonic Adventure'', but it really took hold in ''Shadow the Hedgehog''. ReverseCerebusSyndrome soon kicked in with ''SonicColors''.
* Telltale's ''[[VideoGame/SamAndMaxFreelancePolice Sam and Max]]'' games have always been darkly humorous adventures without a bit of seriousness. Then ''The Devil's Playhouse'' began. The comedy remained, but a lot more emphasis was placed on the narrative. The series' CrapsackWorld stopped being played totally for jokes, episode continuity became much tighter, and the tone became darker and darker, leading all the way to the finale [[spoiler: and Max's death.]]
* The first ''VideoGame/{{Portal}}'' game touches on this. In the beginning GLaDOS's jokes seem unintentionally funny, but as the game progresses the player finds out [[spoiler: it/she has a serious (and homicidal) personality disorder.]] The game rapidly descends from an upbeat puzzler into life-threatening drama. [[SubvertedTrope However,]] [[BlackComedy it still manages to be quite funny.]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Portal2}}'' stays mostly funny throughout, right up until [[spoiler:you find out GLaDOS is the result of Cave Johnson forcing his assistant to have her brain uploaded into a computer]].
* Parodied and subverted in ''{{Recettear}}''. At the end of Obsidian Tower, [[spoiler:Griff reveals his plot to restore power to the demon race, which would wreak havoc all over the place]]...then Recette mocks his plan for being really cliche.
* The ''Broodwar'' addon did this to ''{{Starcraft}}'', although the ''Starcraft'' universe wasn't a very cheerful one to begin with. The first one had a bittersweet ending, with [[spoiler:the Overmind being destroyed and Tassadar dying.]] Broodwar had the UED, Dominion, Protoss and Raiders combining for an epic battle against [[spoiler:Kerrigan]] that we knew they would win. [[spoiler:Then Kerrigan slaughters them all.]]
* Happened to a certain extent in the ''VideoGame/{{Fallout}}'' universe. ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 2}}'' was full of wacky gags and fourth-wall-breaking humor (an item that only be gained by having one of your stats permanently reduced includes "If you're reading this, you're probably going to reload," as part of its description). In comparison, ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'' is a very serious game that focuses on easing the brutality of a CrapsackWorld.
** VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas lightens things up a little, mostly in the form of the [[WeirdnessMagnet Wild Wasteland Trait.]]
* ''VisualNovel/HatofulBoyfriend'' is an AffectionateParody of {{Dating Sim}}s where you date wacky pigeons as a wacky human female. It also has the grim Bad Boys Love route unlocked after obtaining every other ending that ''starts'' with [[spoiler:the female protagonist being KilledOffForReal]] and gets worse from there on with a series of genuinely shocking and heartbreaking [[TheReveal Reveals]] that transform even the silliest and most lighthearted birds into massive [[TheWoobie Woobies]] or BigDamnHeroes.
* ''VideoGame/KidIcarusUprising'' goes through this once you hit Chapter 18. For something that starts out as a DenserAndWackier AffectionateParody of both GreekMythology and video games in general with NoFourthWall, the shift to one of the bleakest tones in ''any'' Nintendo game comes as quite a shock to say the least.
* ''VideoGame/CustomRobo'' doesn't even try to take itself seriously. Villains are mostly comical, the story lighthearted, and not too much hint of the events to come. Then comes the InfoDump with two separate save points...and it all goes downhill from there (granted, you can invoke some humour by picking the funny dialogue options. It's just not played up automatically).
* ''VideoGame/BrothersInArms Hell's Highway'' follows this trope quite well. Not counting the InMediasRes at the beginning, the game starts pretty upbeat, with the squad bouncing across the Dutch countryside in their jeeps. There are a few darker moments, like a part with a priest getting killed by an artillery shell, Baker's flashbacks, and the bloody fighting, but it manages to bounce back after everything's said and done....until Eindhoven. After that, things begin to spiral downwards.
** This is pretty much the textbook description for Operation Market Garden.
* Although it starts rather dark, the VisualNovel ''VisualNovel/SwanSong'' becomes progressively darker as it continues.
* KeyVisualArts games do this deliberately, starting off with happy, SliceOfLife gameplay revolving around a guy and a bunch of girls in a school and then slowly bringing in the drama (and later, ''extreme'' drama) as you move onto a route. ([[EarnYourHappyEnding Things always work out eventually, though]].) ''VisualNovel/LittleBusters'' is particularly notable - most summaries seem to be along the lines of 'A young boy is saved from depression from a group of friends who get into all kinds of mischief together!' as though it's just a fun, relaxing, comedy game. [[{{Utsuge}} It isn't.]]
* The ''Zookeeper'' puzzle game's apparent ExcusePlot is about a zoo keeper who has to keep order in a zoo in which the animals are rebelling against the strict, evil zoo curator, who tends to comically mock the keeper in the game over screen. If you play well enough, you learn the backstory: [[spoiler:the curator and his wife once wished to create the greatest zoo in the world, but then she died in an accident, which he [[ItsAllMyFault felt terribly guilty for]]. In his grief, he began to hate the zoo, until the zoo keeper's (his ''son'') hard work makes him see the error of his ways.]]
* ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2''. The original concept was "two teams kill each other in the desert" with basically [[ExcusePlot no plot]]. Since then, the story has expanding through manuals and trailers to create what Valve describes as one of their most labyrinthine stories. At this point, the story involves everything from a genius-making material called Australium, a world-hat economy, an evil magician and an implacable army of robots.
* Indie game VideoGame/{{OFF}} gets hit with this '''hard'''. It starts off with a man called 'The Batter' fighting ghosts in a relatively quirky world and it quickly goes downhill from there.
* While all the BaldursGate games contain grim elements, the ratio of comedy to tragedy decreases with each successive game. The first game had a Belt of Gender-Changing, an repeatedly-exploding ogre, talking chickens, comically-depressed elves, and Minsc. Most of the humor in ''Shadows of Amn'' comes from the dialogue of either Minsc or Jan Jansen. It also upped the whump-factor with such events as [[spoiler: Irenicus' physical and psychological torture of Imoen, the torture and implied vivisection of Khalid, and the player-character's Bhaal-spawn nature breaking free]]. Most the [=NPCs=] you can add to your party come with tragedy pre-installed ([[spoiler: Aerie, Valygar]]) or pick some up in-game ([[spoiler: Minsc, Jaheira, Jan Jansen, Yoshimo, Imoen]]). In the expansion-and-series-resolution, nearly the only moment of comedy is an imp artificer implying that he gets his recipes from denzien of Hell, Martha Stewart.
** A fan-mod was specifically written to address the change in tone between the first and second games with the tagline "When did we stop having fun?"
* ''{{VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic}}'' was a pure, distilled {{Troperiffic}} throwback to the StarWars Classic Trilogy with a BioWare sense of character and story. The second, farmed out to Obsidian, was PlanescapeTorment with lightsabers, and pulled ruthless [[DeconstructorFleet deconstruction on everything]] from RPG mechanics to the very idea of morality in an uncaring universe. The third game, ''StarWarsTheOldRepublic'' shoots for some {{Reconstruction}}, but the backdrop is a ForeverWar with the Republic and the Empire at a hopeless, blood-drenched stalemate. Worse is that the Sith are just as crazy as ever (including the Emperor who doesn't give a gizka's rear end about his own Empire, and wants to [[OmnicidalManiac destroy everything in the universe but himself]]), and the Republic is suffering a severe case of HeWhoFightsMonsters and DoUntoOthersBeforeTheyDoUntoUs. Finding the protagonist from the first game brutalized and insane after 300 years of being the Emperor's [[MindRape favorite]] [[AndIMustScream "toy"]] seals it.
* The indie game {{Eversion}} does this. The game starts off as a cutesy 2D scroller with colorful environments and non-threatening enemies. As you use your Eversion power more and more, the game starts taking a dark turn. Environments are gloomier, the music changes, and enemies seem noticeably depressed. Eventually, the game starts to look more like a nightmare than a happy platformer. You start to realize the effects your power has on the world around you, but you can't stop using the power if you want to progress.
* ''VideoGame/KingdomOfLoathing'', of all places, features this with content in the BonusDungeon "The Sea" that gets rather dark near the end. The Sea starts out featuring the usual assortment of [[HurricaneOfPuns multiple bad puns]] and [[ReferenceOverdosed cheesy pop-culture references]]... then you get to [[EldritchLocation The Caliginous Abyss]], which is populated with monsters that wouldn't look out of place in {{Eversion}}. Down there, you eventually find Mom Sea Monkee, who's [[GoMadFromTheRevelation gone completely over the edge]] and has apparently been touched by dark magics, causing her to give you one of several unsettling buffs if you talk to her after rescuing her. Little Brother Sea Monkee seems reluctant to talk about his father, but you do eventually find Dad Sea Monkee... if you're persistent enough to [[spoiler: defeat both {{Bonus Boss}}es Shub-Jiggawat and Yog-Gurt, with ''all six core classes'', and assemble six of the seven pieces of the Clothing of Loathing]], you'll find Dad... [[spoiler: almost catatonic, and hooked up to a bizarre machine that's super-charging him with [[CosmicHorrorStory dark, unknowable powers from the depths of the cosmos]].]]
* ''VideoGame/{{NieR}}'' doesn't exactly start off light-hearted (the prologue, especially), but in the first half of the game things generally go well for the protagonists and the people they're trying to help, and even when it doesn't work out so well there is a lingering feeling of hope and optimism. However the game has a marked shift in tone in the second half, starting with [[spoiler: the main character's daughter/sister being kidnapped by a super powerful Shade.]] The game then proceeds to get darker and darker, especially towards the very end and on subsequent playthroughs, where you find out that [[spoiler: the shades are sentient (in fact, they are the original humans of the world) and the majority of your actions in the latter half of the game involved striking down people who were largely innocent. You were basically a mass murderer and by the end of the game you've doomed humanity to extinction.]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Klonoa}}'': Door to Phantomile is a game that opens with the game's adorable cat-like protagonist chasing butterflies in a field. [[spoiler: Then by the ending no-one is happy and everything is miserable thanks to an unusually cruel plot-twist that comes right out of nowhere about 5 minutes before the end of the game.]]
* While the ''VideoGame/QuestForGlory'' series never loses touch with its comedy -- all five games in the series are loaded with genre parody, pop cultural and self-referential humor, fourth wall-shattering gags (sometimes ''literally'', one NonStandardGameOver involves shattering your monitor), barrages of awful puns, and just plain general silliness -- beginning with the second game, the plots get progressively darker (and in some cases the humor itself gets blacker) with increasingly higher stakes. ''VideoGame/QuestForGloryIV'' is the darkest point of the series, as the best the Hero can manage is a BittersweetEnding, in which [[spoiler: Erana is freed but can only pass on into death, Katrina sacrifices herself saving him from Ad Avis, the Rusalka is released from her curse (but ''only'' if playing as a Paladin) and departs lamenting how she always wanted a good man like the Hero, Toby gives his life to restore Tanya's, and Nikolai and Anna are reunited but only in death]]. And while ''VideoGame/QuestForGloryV'' allows the Hero to [[EarnYourHappyEnding earn his happy ending]], the plot isn't much lighter than ''Shadows of Darkness'', considering the story is driven by the ritualistic murders being perpetrated to unleash a fire elemental in dragon form.
* ''VideoGame/DarkScavenger'' starts off pretty tongue-in-cheek with a dark sense of humor, but delves straight into LovecraftLite later on.
* ''VideoGame/Wolfenstein3D'' was a fun little shooter that didn't have much of a plot beyond 'Shoot Nazis'. ''VideoGame/WolfensteinTheNewOrder'' is a much darker game, taking place in a world where the Nazis won.
* ''VideoGame/BillyVsSnakeman'' starts with you as a ninja in a ''Anime/{{Naruto}}'' parody, occasionally stepping into parodies of ''Anime/{{Bleach}}'' or ''Franchise/DotHack''. Fun! The NewGamePlus system is called "looping", but it's all set up like you're getting hired onto a new season of your own personal anime. But then you get to [[Anime/CodeGeass Pizza Witch]], and suddenly things get... strange. "Looping" isn't about seasons anymore, but instead triggering a StableTimeLoop. Other people are caught up in it, too. And then you reach the Jungle and find out ''why'' you're constantly going through the same events over and over. [[spoiler:This time, drop the gun.]]
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