In American Mc Gees Grimm the story of Little Red Riding Hood (save for a few curse words) actually manages to be slightly tamer in that the wolf was given a quick mercy killing via ax to the stomach. All in all this is a far better fate than say starving to death or having your belly get filled with rocks and drown like in some versions. If American McGee REALLY wanted to be Darker and Edgier then he should have stuck with the original ending: no friendly woodsman and Red and Granny don't get eaten whole.Lampshaded in the game — in the "original story" telling of it, Grimm mentions this about older versions... but comments that he couldn't go with that for his corrupted version while he's telling it — presumably because it'd be straying too far from the well-known story.
My Sims is a lighter and softer version of The Sims with chibis, no child-rearing or romance, and very few actual social aspects from The Sims. It's a very fun game, but it is more like Animal Crossing for people who don't like being bossed about by a tanuki. In other words, if the only thing you liked about The Sims was killing them in various and evil ways, My Sims might not be for you. There are no swimming pools, eating is something that happens because they happen to encounter a table and chair, and you can't block doorways with furniture (and if you could, you'd be stuck until you removed it). The worst you can do is Be Mean, which seems to range from insults and hitting them with water balloons to stepping on their feet and getting into dust-ups, complete with dust cloud.
Mostly because it came off on the heels of FFVI/VII/Tactics, which are almost universally considered the darkest and heaviest in tone of the entire FF Series. The fact that the theme of the story is about the extremely optimistic subject of Life triumphing over Death, it's still lighter and softer then previous entries. Though FFVIII was also extremely lighthearted at it's core in comparison to FFVII, where an entire Race DOES die off and the main villain is either an unrepentant psychotic mama's boy, or an Eldritch Abomination that takes human form. The tragic Kuja and the Giant Space Final Boss from Nowhere seems downright tame in comparison.
Final Fantasy X-2 is this, big time. The body count is almost non-existent. Everything is more cheerful. The music is upbeat. Hey, the end of Final Fantasy X had an ultimate force of death and destruction wiped off the plane of existence, it's needed.
While Final Fantasy XIV has your standard dark and gritty plot, the Hidibrand side quests about a bumbling Iron Butt Monkey baffoon detective that routinely gets blown up (or buried in the ground from the head to the torso) while sporting a hilarious Uncanny Valley smile breathes the trope. The developers stated that the Hilidbrand quests were made to instill some hilarity and comedy in the game without affecting the grit of the main story.
Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria is remarkably more colorful in setting, has much more vibrant and upbeat music, and starts off with a lighter plot - a far cry from the original Valkyrie Profile, with its drab color palette, depressing soundtrack, and story involving loads and loads of death and Ragnarok around the corner. Oddly enough, this is justified - As explained in Silmeria, a MacGuffin (the Dragon Orb) keeps Midgard stable, and when Odin takes it away, Midgard turns into the Crapsack World as seen later in the game and in the original game.
After the fanbase displeasure about the Darker and EdgierPrince of Persia: Warrior Within, Ubisoft made The Two Thrones less immaturely outrageous, although still a M-rated game. The hero even apologizes for his foul mood in the previous game. The 2008 iteration dialed it back to a Teen rating, aiming for a fantastical, exotic, magical atmosphere reminiscent of Sands of Time. 2010's "Forgotten Sands" took this even further, mimicking the first game in mechanics and tone so closely that it might as well have been a spiritual successor.
Command & Conquer Red Alert 2 was much lighter and softer than its predecessors. Red Alert 1 was a game where Einstein went back in time and killed Adolf Hitler, allowing a power hungry Stalin to invade Europe. Red Alert 2 was a game where the Soviet Union invaded the USA with blimps and mind-controlled squid. This was a reaction to the Darker and EdgierTiberium Sun, which most fans of the C&C series didn't like.
And Tiberium series got Tiberium Wars. Its NOT exactly rainbow and puppies with Tiberium WMDs, Alien invasions and Maniacs in command (on both sides). But in contrast with Tiberian Sun, we see Blue Zones where the humanity is thriving in futuristic cities (with basically unlimited resources thanks to Tiberium) and that GDI ZOCOM forces started to utilize technologies able to destroy Tiberium and managed to reclaim several territories already.
The fourth game in the Tiberium series once again turns darker, not to mention a slightly different genre.
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe: A crossover with all of MK's blood removed and the fatalities severely toned down to comply with DC's restrictions and the ESRB T Rating. The Joker's awesome Fatality from the game's early PR was even replaced with a Gory Discretion Shot for American audiences.
The Lego Star Wars games are a lot more light-hearted and less self-serious than the various source material. That goes for the other Lego games as well.
Diablo II comes off as significantly lighter and softer than its predecessor. This mostly has to do with the outside levels and there being a day/night cycle. A jungle (and a desert in all it's sun-baked brightness, for that matter) during the day is just not as creepy as an underground crypt or a perpetually night time village. On the other hand, Act 4 is more creepy then the original game.
While not exactly softer, Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is lighter than its vanilla counterpart: Frank West's lack of a personal steak in the Fortune City outbreak means that there is more room for humor, helped a bit by Frank being quite a bit chattier (and snarkier) than Chuck Greene.
There's also the cartoon series and the first two CD-i games. Everything, including the character designs, dialogue, and boss deaths, is much more comical and cartoonish than in any of the canon games. No Tear Jerker moments to speak of, either.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is in the middle between the darker style of Twilight Princess and the lighter style of The Wind Waker, which is evident by both the visual style and the storyline.
While the Boss is much, much more cruel, vicious, and just plain evil than the latest GTA protagonists (CJ and Niko), the ways in which the Boss carries out his (or her) various murders are so over the top it's impossible to take any of it seriously. You get to be a cop and break up domestic disputes with a chainsaw, or a bodyguard and remove annoying paparazzi by stuffing them into a jet engine. It seems every single named character is in on the joke and lives only to see wanton ultraviolence, except the few sympathetic characters that get shot to pieces in short order.
Another example comes from Saints Row IV, where even the intro says that the Saint's decided to be puckish rogues instead of deranged sociopaths so they set a course for "more fun and less mercy killing" which somehow landed the Boss in the presidency of the United States just before aliens invade.
A straighter example of lighter and softer applied to the GTA series is the shift in tone between IV and Grand Theft Auto V. Granted it's still not a completely cheerful game (Trevor's a crazy speed-freak who has mental stability issues, and Micheal has a dysfunctional family), but compared to the bleak outlook of IV, V is a bit more in like with the GTA III era games in terms of it's movie-like portrayal on the crime world. Plus you have Franklin as a younger, more well adjusted character to round out Trevor and Micheal's more negative character traits.
The arcade racing game Wangan Midnight R uses dark visuals with lots of grays, whites, and orange and a soundtrack that sounds like something out of a chase scene in an older film. Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune is, in comparison, substantially more colorful (both in scenery and interface), has any number of Joke Cars (A Corolla and a HiAce van in a racing game full of cars that have 280 stock horsepower?), and uses a surreal trance soundtrack.
The Halo series has partially fallen into this, with the amount of blood sprayed around being reduced from enough to paint the walls purple (or blue, or orange, or red) to barely enough to fill a shot glass. Averted in that the storyline maintains its position half-way down the cynicism side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism.
Persona 4 is a considerably more cheerful game compared to its predecessors.
It also makes for a nice change after the seriously Bittersweet Ending of Persona 3, and though it has a lighter feeling to it, it still contains some really dark subject matter. It also helped that it didn't seem as forced with kids using "guns" to shoot themselves in the head.
The game is about tracking down a serial murderer while being confronted with the party's darkest secrets and deepest fears. It just has a very good attitude about the whole thing.
In the bigger picture, that is, the Megaten franchise as a whole, the Devil Children/Demi Kids series is Lighter and Softer than... well, everything else. The demons are cuter, the characters are bright and colorful children, we have the usual friendship messages etc. It was actually pretty successful in Japan, spawning two anime series plus manga and other merchandising. Its run in the U.S. was less fortunate, as Book of Light/Dark didn't impress.
The persona spinoff is definitely lighter and softer when compared to the original series. Consider that the original game involved the heroes party betraying each other and leading bloody campaigns of violence to seize control of a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, the genocide of whatever side you don't align yourself with, the murder of just about every unfortunate civilian you meet. as well as other horrors. Persona 2: Innocent Sin's ending is the exception, being undoubtedly the darkest point in the entire Persona series.
When you look at it at one way, God of War is really a Lighter and Softer take on Greek myth heroes. Their idealized hero is a guy who raids and pillages non-Greek villages, taking slaves and plunder... who kills dozens of men for daring to seek his wife's hand when he's been considered legally dead for years... and who hangs all the servant-girls who have been taken advantage of by said men, just because. Kratos? He kills a few people, but mostly just chops up monsters. Doesn't even have a single known case of rape to his name. God of War has the same approach to the Greek gods as well; while Zeus is still a heinous bastard, he was far, far worse in numerous stories featuring him, and Ares, rather than working towards any specific goal, existed to incite warsfor shits and giggles.
The Mega Man ZX series compared to the previous series, Mega Man Zero, which is the darkest chapter in the series. It doesn't mean that ZX is actually kid-friendly; it's just that Zero is too pitch...
Mega Man Powered Up could be considered this compared to the original game, with the brighter graphics, the cutesy voices, the Super Deformed art style, and the lowered difficulty.
A well-received mod for the sombre nuclear war simulator DEFCON exchanged Mutually Assured Destruction for Christmas and Santa Claus: the silos become Christmas trees, the ICBMs are presents, the bombers are reindeer-pulled sleighs, and the megadeath casualties become millions of happy children.
The House of the Dead EX takes this to an extreme. The story consists of Cute Zombie Girl Zobiko and her love interest Zobio breaking out of a lab and escaping a zombie invasion through minigames such as catching apples, battling a zombie sumo wrestler, and encountering the first boss of The House of the Dead 4 and shooting out his bad teeth. Yes, this game exists. And the zombie couple appear as playable characters in Sega All-Stars Racing.
The Typing Of The Dead spoofs the whole thing in The House of the Dead 2 to the extreme. After finishing the Emperor, you are asked about how you want to execute Goldman; depending on how you answer the questions, one of the three funny endings would be played.
House of the Dead: Overkill was not only lessBloodier and Gorier (relative to previous entries in the franchise), it had loads of camp elements and humour.
Academy of Champions: Soccer is a kid-targeted soccer game for the Wii. It in itself is not a lighter and softer version of any extant franchise, but it's published by Ubisoft, and contains a special team composed of characters from other Ubisoft franchises. What does that mean? Cute and cuddly, brightly-colored Fun Size versions of Altaiir, Sam Fisher, Jade, and the Prince footying along with the game's Kid Heroes.
WiiWare game Water Warfare is a lighter and softer version of the entire "FPS Deathmatch" genre. While it plays much the same as other multiplayer FPSes, with multiple weapons and areas, deathmatches, Capture the Flag games, and the like, it's entirely nonviolent—all the weapons are squirt guns and water balloons, and the worst that ever happens to anyone is that they get wet.
Before that there was Nerf Arena on the PC, which played out like your average Deathmatch FPS, but with harmless Nerf weapons.
One person on the Game FA Qs forum for the game (about 6 days before the American release) said that "If Parodius is a Cute 'em Up then this game is... a first person cuter!"
The first game in the Shadow Hearts RPG series was M-rated, gloomy, and fairly gory; the second game scored a T-rating and abandoned most of the gore for oddball humor, but kept the grim atmosphere fairly intact; and the third game, also rated T, was so goofy and light-hearted in comparison that it threw some fans off. The Lighter and Softer trend is even more obvious if Koudelka, the Survival-Horror semi-prequel to the original, is considered.
Death Smiles, a shooter by CAVE while not too dark, reduced a bit of its horror elements with a lighter style where the girls stops an evil Santa Claus to find several MacGuffins to wake up their benefactor who saves them from certain death.
Illusion's H-Game library started off as dark sci-fi and fantasy style H-Games, as they gotten newer 3D technology, it has soften a bit compared to its past games. Compare Rapelay to Sexy Beach 3, Illusion characters are now more or less Adult Video Actresses.
Chaos;Head was a suspense/mystery story that blurred the lines between fantasy and reality. Chaos;Head Love Chu Chu is an Unwanted Harem romantic comedy. For one entry, at least, the series fully embraces that aspect of itself. 5pb. repeats the process with Steins;Gate Hiyoku Renri no Darling, which eschews the time travel and conspiracies in favor of fanservice and fun.
The Baldur's Gate spinoff series Dark Alliance does this to the Harpers. In DA, they're a benevolent organization that genuinely seeks to protect the world, while in the actual Forgotten Realms series (including the original Baldur's Gate games), they're totalitarian, borderline-fascist Knight Templar who are more than willing to murder innocent people for what they believe to be the greater good.
In the tabletop game setting the Harpers are described as good guys. On the other hand, there are always those in an organisation that want to go further than the others...
The darker view of the Harpers usually comes from the schism, even then, they get along better with the "traitors" that left the Harpers to form their own organization than most other factions get along with other members of the same faction. On a superficial level, the Harpers sound like Knight Templars for calling the Moonstars "traitors," but their actions are very different. They get along very well with them for the most part and can and have worked together, since they still have the same goals, just different views on how to approach them, this is nowhere near how a "totalitarian, borderline-fascist Knight Templar" organization should act. They just happen to not mince words.
Touhou has a somewhat odd relationship with this trope. Early on, every game was lighter than the last: Embodiment of Scarlet Devil has a cast composed of people-eaters and serial killersnote this fact has been largely retconned away, and the threat to the land is fairly serious. Two games later, only the weakest bosses have anything against humans, and the threat turns out not to be a big deal, though there's still an obsession with death and somewhat disturbing backstory. This culminates in Mountain of Faith, in which nothing is (discovered to be) at stake and everyone you meet is friendly. This is immediately followed by Subterranean Animism, where the fact that your character end up averting a global holocaust is one of less worrying thing that come up. Since then, things have kind of gotten lighter, with actual threats being rare, but there's more emphasis on Fantastic Racism, reasons for said racism, unhappy backstories, and messed up metaphysics. And, of course, there's genuinely lighter side entries like Hisoutensoku and Fairy Wars. As a whole, Touhou gives a lighter and softer version of various elements in Japanese mythologies and folklores. Everyone is a little girl, to boot.
Epic Mickey is admittedly Darker and Edgier for a Mickey Mouse game, but it's actually lighter and softer for a game by Warren Spector. As he put it, "I want people to smile when they are playing, not get all scrunched up with adrenaline."
Day Of The Tentacle is more purely a comedy, as opposed to its predecessor, Maniac Mansion, which was a horror/sci-fi game with some funny bits. Also, unlike the first game, DotT has no unwinnable scenarios or time limits.
Skies of Arcadia compared to RPGs in general at the time of its release (originally in 2000 on the Dreamcast, then ported in 2003 for the Nintendo GameCube) was lighter and softer in its impossibly optimistic and clean-cut protagonist Vyse, as opposed to the more (at the time) recent cynical brooding heroes Cloud Strife and Squall Leonhart, a not-too-overly-complicated plot (it had its dark moments, but even so), and rather simplistic battle system. Because of the amounts of darkness and cynicism that began to dominate, however, this was well-received. Taken somewhat further in the U.S Dreamcast release when situations involving drunkenness and a particular near-rape scene involving one of the female protagonists was edited out.
Kingdom Hearts Coded is probably the cheeriest game in the entire series. The plot is light—"let's make a data-Sora and have a nostalgic romp through a bunch of worlds from the first game while he fixes some inconsistencies in Jiminy's Journal!"—and there's a bigger focus on fun gameplay than in other installments of the series. The game has its sad and scary parts, for sure, but it's still more optimistic than its contemporaries, Birth by Sleep and 358/2 Days.
From Software developed the Armored Core series; a series of mecha games set in post-apocalyptic futures and generally being full of War Is Hell, cynical rebellions, Real Is Brown, and all the ensuing tragedy and horror. Then, in 2004, the developer decided to use Armored Core's engine and gameplay to make a Spiritual Successor robot game. Said game, called Metal Wolf Chaos, is about the President of the United States using a Mini-Mecha to fight off a coup d'etat by his evil Vice President (who is also in a mecha), while sprouting phrases like "EAT MY FLAME OF JUSTICE!" and "Nothing is pointless! And the reason is: Because I'm the president of the Great United States of America! YEAH!". Needless to say it falls under this.
Red Faction 1 and 2, despite being in the same series, barely resemble each other in many ways, especially overall tone. The first game mostly took place in Mars within many dark tunnels, and you're part of a miner rebellion to fight off an evil corporation. In short, it was Total Recall (1990) as a first person shooter. The following game? Yeah, you're part of a super soldier squad overthrowing a Stalin expy dictator, and yeah, it's still violent, but the game's direction is nowhere near as grim and desperate. When enemies nearly get shot dead on the first game, they're screaming for help. On the second one, they jokingly flee, saying they need to think of a new strategy. No, that part's not a joke.
The endings in the Twisted Metal games made by 989 Studios (Twisted Metal III and Twisted Metal 4) tend to be much less darker and sometimes downright comedic when compared to their predecessors. That said, it was impossible for anyone to outwit Kalypso in 989's timeline where sometimes the cast manages to subvert the Deal with the Devil. There's also Small Brawl, which invokes this trope via Spinoff Babies.
Fallout 2, compared to the rest of the Fallout games its full of humor and pop culture jokes and the main villains are cartoonly evil rather than the anti-villains the last game had.
Oddly, the game is also horrifically dark compared to the old game. Genocide, prostitution, organized crime, corruption, political subversion, and slavery were far more prominent. In addition, the first time you see the Enclave, they murder a family with a minigun over a perceived slight. The Super Mutants in the first game never are shown to visibly do anything similar. Then again Fallout has always been a Black Comedy, so its naturally the funniest of the games as well as one of the darkest.
Drakengard 2 might be considered pretty dark compared to other JRPGs, but it is incredibly lighter than its predecessor. The main character isn't a complete kill-happy sociopath, has a chance to have a love interest that doesn't end horribly, and the game actually includes one ending where the world and the main characters are not doomed to suffer and/or die in various terrible ways.
Glider PRO replaced the dilapidated, stormbound atmosphere of Glider 4.0 with a sunny palette, cheery music, and a wide-open environment.
Bet you never thought you'd see the day Postal 2 got called lighter and softer. But the second game took the series' ultraviolence into near cartoonish levels and played all of its depravity for laughs. But while Postal 2 was a dark comedy, Postal 1 was just... dark.
Invoked in Mass Effect 3. Jack had become an instructor and no longer swears like she used to. In fact the worst she does is punch Shepard in the face, before kissing him if romanced. Lampshaded when she tells her students to cover their ears, before telling Joker "Hey, Joker! F—"[LOADING SCREEN]
That said, Mass Effect 3 is mostly a VERY dark and grim game. It's final piece of DLC on the other hand, Citadel is anything but. Meant as a final sendoff to the trilogy and its characters, it's goofy, cheesy, fun, lampshades anything and everything in the trilogy, and ends on a long party for every surviving squad member from the series.
A rather bizarre example occurs with the video game adaptation of Adventures In Dinosaur City. The main characters of the film are fans of a cartoon series, of which we only see the intro, before being sucked into it's Darker and Edgier real version. However the game based it's aesthetic more on said cartoon, thereby being lighter and softer then the film, but also truer to the, fictitious, source material.
While Resistance: Fall of Man and Resistance 2 were on the hopeless side, depicting humanity being slowly overwhelmed by an alien menace. Resistance 3 and Resistance: Burning Skies became much more optimistic and heroic than the preceding games. Unfortunately, True Art Is Angsty and neither Resistance 3 or Burning Skies sold well.
The hideous True Ogre from the Tekken series can wear a mask in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 that not only replaces his demon horns with red maple bonsai trees, it also makes him look like a cartoony version of himself with Puppy-Dog Eyes. It's somewhat... cute. The mask can be seen at the beginning of this video.
Portal 2 is a few shades lighter than its predecessor, being a little less dark than the original in exchange for being a little bit sillier. While Portal 2 is certainly dark, it doesn't have the constant feeling that something is wrong like the first game did, due mostly to Portal 2 exploring a lot of the mysteries that the first game left unanswered.
Part of the appeal of Lollipop Chainsaw is that it's less intense and more humorous than the usual zombie game. However, despite its lighthearted and comical nature, it manages to have a somewhat unsettling Game Over screen (you actually see the main character becoming a zombie, as opposed to serious zombie games, which have a very generic Game Over screen).
Super Robot Wars UX may have some depressing and dark series like Fafner in the Azure and Demonbane, but it still manages to be quite fun. So much fun that even Setsuna who never laughs, laughs in the ending.
Left 4 Dead 2 still retains its horror and scares that the first game was built upon, but it steers a bit towards the lighter side where there are more levels in the daytime instead of nighttime and the survivors are open to joke with each other every now and then.
Bizarrely for a First-Person Shooter, the Alternate Continuity of Tron 2.0 is much softer and upbeat in tone than the canon built around TronLegacy. This despite Flynn going MIA in both timelines, Lora Baines-Bradley being Stuffed into the Fridge, and swapping A.I. Is a Crapshoot for Humans Are the Real Monsters. Killing civilian Programs instantly nets you a Non-Standard Game Over, the Programs who are not actively shooting at Jet tend to be very friendly and helpful (and one of the factions who do shoot at Jet call it off when they realize he's on their side after all). Contrast with Legacy where every Program was trying to get Sam killed in a messy and painful way, or TRON: Uprising where the protagonist is openly hated by most of the citizens. Furthermore, Jet is able to rescue his father and save cyberspace from the Datawraith mercenaries and viral threat. Of the Legacy canon, Anon stops Abraxas and dies horribly. Sam has to watch his father die in front of him, and Beck's Doomed by Canon
The Wiiware titles of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series are much more lighthearted then the previous games, using the chibi Pokemon models first seen in Pokemon Ranch and having a silly plot, with its climax boiling down to you stopping the townsfolk from arguing over some chocolate you brought them by finding some special cookies for them to share (As opposed to preventing the world from being destroyed).
Resident Evil 4 is this to earlier games in the Resident Evil series, as well as later titles. There's a lot of Ascended Meme going on, and it even pokes fun at the silly plots that the series is known for.
King'sMatch Three Game, Bubble Witch Saga 2, has cutesy graphics (including chibis on the map screen) and the only hazard is fog that obscures some of the bubbles already on screen, and mission objectives range from the usual clearing the top of the screen to freeing an adorable ghost or rescuing animals. Compare this to the original Bubble Witch Saga, where the overarcing plotline involved evil spirits overrunning the land and this actually tied into some of the hazards like the infected bubbles. Other hazards involved bubbles becoming encased in crystal, bombs that would start counting down when exposed and would end the level if not removed within the time limit, poison bubbles that would kill off your spiders (that's a bad thing; having spiders helps your score immensely), and death bubbles that would end your game instantly if you hit them.
Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri's was an extremely dark game showing the last remnants of humanity trying to survive on a hostile world after Earth nuked itself into oblivion. Technologies and ethics get grimmer the further you go on, such as the infamous Self Aware Colony which would vaporize dissidents for vandialism, and the leaders of the expeditions eventually becoming little more than brains in jars. Civilization: Beyond Earth, on the other hand, while still sad, is largely upbeat - Earth's civilizations banded together to launch dozens of colony ships to the stars, and the Earth still survives in some form, as the Purity's "Promised Land" victory has them warping refugees in from Earth to colonize the new planet - while Supremacy's "Emancipation" victory has them conquer Earth.
The fourth Super Smash Bros. game skews more colorful and cartoonish than the three before it, which grew increasingly dingier per installment.