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- In Glider PRO, "Slumberland" has a sudden "Wrong Turn!" into a graveyard area.
- Alice: Madness Returns is not what one would call a cheerful game, not by a long shot. There's fiery destruction, creepy Blob Monster armies, and Body Horror everywhere. But then you get to the Dollhouse. Creepy and depressing doesn't begin to cover it and it reveals just what the hell has been going on with Alice's orphanage. Even experienced gamers had to swallow at that one.
- An Untitled Story has The Bottom: The very bottom of the game world with barely any music, no enemies and no means of escape aside from using a Save Point. There is, however, a Heart Container and entrance to another definitely less scary area.
- In Cave Story, Mimiga Village, specifically when you return there after escaping the Labyrinth. All of the inhabitants of the village are missing, and the level music is replaced by an ominous, minor-key song, "Quiet". The "Egg Corridor?" (The Egg Corridor post-destruction) counts as well.
- Cubivore has entirely different bleak levels early on, which are purely WHITE and desolate.
- In Disney Princess Enchanted Journey, Cinderella's world is this. It's Always Night, most of the colors are a muted blue, time is frozen everywhere, there's a creepy forest to traverse, you go to her old home, which is deserted, and at one point the Bogs freeze Cinderella herself, making it the only point where they directly attack a princess.
- Dog's Life for PS2: All levels so far have been, if not all of them cheerful, and except some creepy moments like the dog catcher's doberman chasing you around and a couple of criminals you thwarted, relatively safe. Then, all of a sudden... the dog pound.The sky is dark,the ground is an ominous blood red, there are no other animals or life (except for the creepy doberman chasing you), and then an ominous background music that seems there just to make you want to get out of there.
- Then there's the final level. Except for the noise of machines trying to gut your love interest, there's no music at all. The only other place with no background music in the entire game is the pause screen.
- The (optional) "Deep Sector" in Iji. At the beginning, the heroine comments that the air smells like human blood, it is extremely dark and the music is eerie.
- The Legend of Zelda:
- The Face Shrine in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. It's a one-two punch of the smaller South and the actual dungeon in the North Shrine, the one in the south giving the first concrete hint that your adventure is All Just a Dream, and then the boss of the one in the north confirming that yes, the island is all a dream, and as such you're going to have to do a rather nasty thing to it and its inhabitants to leave.
- Ocarina of Time:
- The Shadow Temple is underground, so a lot of the environment is in darkness, made of earth or stone. Doors have ominous messages about the fall of Hyrule and skeletons are some of the most prominent enemies. Also the Bottom of the Well in Kakariko Village, which is implied to be connected with the Shadow Temple and even has walls built with human bones.
- After the Time Skip, the Hyrule Market Town becomes this. Once a bustling marketplace full of life and people, under Ganondorf's iron-fisted rule it became a dark, desolate place, roaming ReDeads its sole inhabitants.
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has the entire area of Ikana Canyon. It's a desert-like area, with the small Skullkidas waiting around for their long-deceased captain (whom the player races and gets named as the new captain), the royal family's skeletons remain in the area and the only people living here are a thief and, further in, a girl and her turning-into-a-Gibdo father.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has Hyrule Castle and the surrounding area. While the four Divine Beasts that serve as the other main dungeons can be a bit ominous, what with the backstories about how they were corrupted and the Malice filling their interiors, they're still brightly lit locations with musical tracks that mix ominousness with triumph. Hyrule Castle, however, is a bleak ruin dripping in Malice, all the plant life in the vicinity is grey and dead, the town at its base is sufficiently demolished to the point of barely being recognizable as a former settlement, deadly Guardians are ubiquitous, and all around are subtle signs of the massacre that took place a century before. There's also a more quotidian level of bleakness with the diaries of Princess Zelda and her father King Rhoam, found at their respective desks in the castle. Both record how they felt plenty of fear, and Zelda plenty of shame, over Zelda's inability to awaken the sealing power needed to defeat Calamity Ganon, and how this was leading to their relationship being badly strained due to King Rhoam's tough approach to guiding Zelda's training. And the final entries of each were written the morning of the day Ganon returned.
- Lower Maridia from Super Metroid.
- The Chozo Ruins in the first Metroid Prime are set in a desert-like biome, the structures are heavily decrepit, the music is eerily quiet, the water is corrosive due to the toxins secreted by the Man-Eating Plant boss Flaahgra, and most of the plants are dead thanks to said toxic water.
- Metroid: Fusion has Sector 5. Extremely quiet music, everything is frozen over... it stops being as bleak when Nightmare starts rampaging through it.
- Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has the GFS Valhalla. It is a derelict, ruined spaceship where everything is destroyed, most power sources are offline, the surrounding space is a bright-red nebula filled with floating debris (and sometimes hundreds of Metroids), all the human and invading Space Pirate troopers onboard were killed violently, their corpses disintegrate into ashes when shot, powerful monsters infest the halls, and the music is a quiet and eerie atmospheric piece. At the end, you can witness the ship's Aurora Unit describing the horrific fate of the Valhalla and itself. Definitely not a fun place to visit.
- In Ōkami, the Sunken Ship, Yoshpet Forest, Sei-an City under the Blight, and most dungeons qualify, especially the last one.
- Star Fox Adventures: Dragon Rock is bleak and it helps that its original location in Sauria (before its separation from the planet) was near the equally-bleak Moon Mountain Pass. The latter is a desolate location with a dark-green sky, lunar rocks and toxic geysers, and it has some surreal enemies. The former is a barren wasteland, whose ambiance shows a strong feel of despair and impotence represented by the shades of orange, red, brown and purple in the scenery, as well as dreary music.
- The Uncharted series has a few examples of this:
- In Drake's Fortune, after getting to the German bunker, zombie-like creatures show up. It doesn't help that they don't appear in a obvious pattern, making the scene (along with the slow music and the darkness) not only bleak but difficult.
- In Drake's Deception, when Nate crashes the Mooks' plane in Rub al Khali, he gets lost in the desert. He spends several days there without food or water, suffering from hallucinations and walking in circles without noticing. The fact that you don't fight enemies or hear anything more than Drake talking to himself is terrifying.
- The Portal2 levels and Adventure World in LEGO Dimensions, while being a bit more light-hearted than the source material, are still set in a massive, decaying underground enrichment center, completely devoid of life outside of GLaDOS, Wheatley, the turrets, and Cave Johnson's pre-recorded messages. And also the Mantis Men.
- The game's main story has "A Dalek-table Adventure", which has the main trio journey through a run-down facility filled with Cybermen, Weeping Angels, and, of course, Daleks, all of which are portrayed faithfully (for the most part).
First Person Shooter
- Though Half-Life 2 is already quite bleak, the titular town of the chapter "We Don't Go To Ravenholm..." takes it Up to Eleven.
- The level "343 Guilty Spark" from Halo: Combat Evolved, which follows immediately right after the cutscene ending the previous level, in which Cortana gives a disjointed warning to the Master Chief that Keyes is in trouble. Arriving at the level, you're treated to a dark bog with lots of wrecked equipment and a eerie barely functioning distress call on repeat. The general lack of enemies in the beginning, and the fact that what enemies there are are fleeing in sheer panic and terror from the place you are heading towards, serves only to reinforce the quiet creepy factor as you stalk through the wrecked facility. In particular, the gradual realization that the terrified Covenant are not fighting (and largely getting slaughtered by) the two-dozen humans you were sent to rescue, but something else entirely that has the Covenant of all people fleeing in terror, and that the sole human survivor you actually find is so panic-driven from whatever it is he's seen that he shoots at you, makes the build-up to The Reveal of the level extremely tense. When the Flood finally do show up, you then must find another way out of the facility, except you now have to fight the horrific, unrelenting horde every step of the way—making the second half of the level a Bleak Level of the Bleak Level.
Hack and Slash
- Dark Souls:
- The Kiln of the First Flame. The sky is stuck in an infinite dusk, the landscape is a rusted gray, and there are only about four or five enemies despite the large size of the area. It really hits its mark considering that it actually unnerves the player even though every other level wasn't exactly sunshine and flowers either.
- The Painted World of Ariamis also counts, being a ruined castle on a freezing mountain, infested with undead and Crow Demons.
- New Londo Ruins. The whole area is dim, drab, and crumbling. Regular Hollows cower and rock back and forth. Then you get to the lower area after draining the water and find out it's full of bodies. Then you get to the very bottom of the area - the Abyss.
- Genji has the marketplace after it has been destroyed by dark magic.
- NieR has the mansion on the hill. Everywhere else is bright and sunny, then you find Emil's mansion. Suddenly your screen loses all colour and everything goes grey, and the camera somehow picks up grime. There's also a couple of portraits that slowly change the first time you go in. And the soundtrack starts screaming at you.
- Operation 008 of The Wonderful 101 takes place in Blossom City, the city from the first few missions of the game, now reduced to floating chunks of debris that the team has to maneuver across while being hounded by hordes of GEATHJERK soldiers. Periodically during the stage, Mission Control informs the player of the quickly-worsening status of their Cool Airship base, which the player can do nothing about. At least the Wonderful Marts were left unharmed!
- Star Wars: The Old Republic:
- The game throws another Player Punch by having you walk around what's left of Taris about three hundred years after Malak had it carpet-bombed from orbit early in the first Knights of the Old Republic. Crumbling permacrete, twisted and rusty starship hulks, polluted water, rakghouls everywhere, and a Republic player finds out the Outcasts the canonical light-side Revan "saved" were picked off by rakghoul attacks, starvation, and disease before toxic waste finished them off. Imperial players then crush any little Hope Spot by tearing apart the Republic's efforts to restore the planet.
- In the Rise of the Emperor storyline, Ziost becomes this when the surface is decimated by Darth Vitiate following the player's effort on there. While all organic life on the planet is shown to be destroyed in a cutscene, the surface is still inhabitable.
- Gilneas in World of Warcraft, especially in the initial worgen starting experience before you get bitten.
- Felwood, which is like you took the Night Elf areas like Teldrassil and Ashenvale and filled it with plague and suspiciously green glowing stuff. The Ghostlands is the same for the Blood Elves.
- While the Western Plaguelands are an active warzone, filled with armies of undead just barely held in check by mortal forces, the Eastern Plaguelands beyond them are strangely quiet. The wildlife is depressed where it isn't mutated; roving bands of things assault you, even on the roads, and in a world of saturated color, the sky is browner than the soil.
- Duskwood, a forest infested with zombies and werewolves just across the river from the peaceful Elwynn Forest and a startling Mood Whiplash for new Human players. Everything in the zone is either dead or on constant watch from attack.
- Deadwind Pass, everything there is washed out gray, and the only things that are alive are vultures, giant spiders, and a clan of ogres. It's also home to the Eldritch Location known as Karazhan and the creepy crypt underneath it. The good news is that there really isn't any reason to stick around in the zone itself for very long.
- Desolace, at least before Cataclysm, where a huge forest now grows at the center of the zone. Before this, Desolace was a nearly lifeless desert where scavengers and the hostile centaur were the only life present, with the exception of the giant Kodo, who come here specifically to die.
- Attic Adventure, in The Cat in the Hat, is a haunted attic that's notably creepy compared to the off-kilter whimsy of the previous levels.
- Dino Run kicks it off with a scarily dark volcano section, with some seriously creepy music. Since before this level the oncoming apocalypse was treated fairly lightheartedly, it's a fair bit of Mood Whiplash.
- Some of the caverns in Donkey Kong Country, especially when "Life In the Mines" is playing.
- Gloomy Gulch in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest definitely lives up to its name. Crocodile Isle is not a friendly place in general, but Gloomy Gulch stands out as a dark and barren region high up on the mountain, surrounded by dead forests. Cementing this is the world's theme song Forest Interlude, which is much more downbeat and moody compared to the rest of the game's soundtrack.
- Earthworm Jim
- The "Big Bruty" level in the Special Edition of the first game features the worm hero having to avoid being eaten by the eponymous creature, a blind dinosaur-esque monster with a strong sense of smell, in an unsettling and abandoned swamp planet. The music complements the stage perfectly.
- The "Villi People" level from Earthworm Jim 2, in addition to being bizarre and inexplicable even by Earthworm Jim standards, is also pretty dang depressing, what with revolving around navigating a giant intestinal tract while somber classical music plays in the background.
- In Eversion, the fourth eversion level turns the scenery gray and the enemies stop moving. Subsequent eversion levels only get nastier and darker, going from gray to brown to blood-red to practically pitch-black. And you will scream, even if you know about THE HAND.
- Kingsley's Adventure has Poorluck Village, which follows the vivid and upbeat Carrot Castle and Sea Town. In stark contrast, all the homes in Poorluck are dilapidated, all the grass is dead, it's always dark and rainy, and the highest-running emotions are the dogs'. On top of that, when you first arrive, the village is in the midst of a dragon-induced famine. You eventually solve the famine, but the place never gets any cheerier.
- Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards: By the time you get to Ripple Star's second stage, the game officially stops being cute thanks to the gloomy areas and the freaky music.
- Confusion Gate/Gate of Illusion. Dear lord, between the creepy organ music played in an eerie minor key, the dull background colors, and the sacrificial pit, it's easily the most disturbing part of the game. The remake doubles down on the creepiness, spotting the background with splashes of blood, giving the stone heads uncanny expressions, and kicking the whole zone off with a sudden scream.
- The Shrine of the Mother in the Wii remake. Adorned with intimidating rock formations and featuring a gloomy and deppresing musical theme, this area is littered with skeletons of all the children that failed to accomplish Mother's wish and were killed to make room for the next generation.
- Ballade's special stage in Mega Man 10.
- Eifer Skute's stage in RosenkreuzStilette Freudenstachel is one, filled with the undead, a ghastly Expy of Mothraya from Mega Man 4, and creepy Ethereal Choirs.
- Sly 2: Band of Thieves has Episode 4: Jailbreak and Episode 5: A Tangled Web. Taking place in Prague after the previous episode's lush jungle in India, the areas feature an incredibly creepy Überwald aesthetic with blood-red skies and water, a full moon, creepy-looking Wolf, Bat and Vulture guards (With the former having a tendency to disguise themselves as statues and attacking when you get near), ruined Gothic-style buildings, spike traps around the place, supernatural elements and creepy as heck music. To top it off, you are stuck playing as Bentley for the first half of Episode 4 due to Sly and Murray being captured by The Contessa in the previous Episode.
- Sonic the Hedgehog:
- The Bad Future time zones in Sonic the Hedgehog CD. They are basically the current levels, but completely run down, with a dose of Gaia's Lament thrown in. Considering all the other timezones including the Good Futures are brightly coloured, this only serves to make them seem even more gloomy. The catchy music certainly helps.
- GUN Fortress in Shadow the Hedgehog is the final level on the pure evil end of the Karma Meter, and it shows. The somber music really sets the tone: with Shadow's help humanity has been all but defeated by Black Doom, and you're storming their last stronghold. Regadless if you go for the Hero or Dark mission in the level, humanity and the world is doomed.
- End of the World in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). It's a decaying hodgepodge of all of the levels in the game, set after Sonic was assassinated, Blaze performed a Heroic Sacrifice, and Solaris has been reformed. The ambience is a creepy purple glow, graphical glitches mar the screen, moreso in later segments, dimensional rifts open up everywhere, and the music is a mournful and empty piece as the seven remaining playable characters scramble to find the Chaos Emeralds before the dimension crumbles completely.
- Special note should be made to Amy Rose's section. Set in White Acropolis, the stage is made colder and bleaker with Solaris' distortion. The music for this section, which is actually a section of a bigger track that encompasses all seven characters' sections completely breaks down into nothing more than a One-Woman Wail backed up by Ominous Latin Chanting. When Sonic's death was revealed to everyone Amy was the one who took it the hardest and you can just hear her pain and determination to save Sonic's life in the music.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom has Rock Bottom, which is every bit as creepy as it was in the show. There's also the Flying Dutchman's Graveyard, which is even worse.
- World 3 (Ocean of Oblivion) of Super Mario Fusion Revival takes place in a dimension that is not quite the real world and not quite Hell. It takes place in a vast ocean eternally shrouded in unsettling dusk and constant thunderstorms. It is the realm that lies past World 2 in the Bermuda Triangle.
- Super Mario Odyssey features the Ruined Kingdom, a derelict land of crumbling Gothic towers covered in fog and swarming with bats. The boss of the level, the Ruined Dragon (also called the Lord of Lightning), is a frightening and abnormally realistic-looking dragon the size of a Kaiju and implied to be responsible for destroying the kingdom in a Great Offscreen War. The Kingdom and the Dragon look much more like something from Dark Souls than something from a Super Mario Bros. game.
- The entire world becomes this at the end of Tomba! 2: The Evil Swine Return. Upon entering the final area, the Big Bad casts a spell that causes the entire world to stop moving and be black and white. The end result: no enemies whatsoever, lots of black voids (this was a PS1 game, and the draw distance combined with the lack of color causes this effect), and this "music"/ominous ambient noise.
- Wario Land:
- The Brutal Bonus Level of Wario Land II, "Steal the Syrup's Treasure!!", is a Womb Level with ominous music filled with mouths, ears, and other body parts interspersed alongside the frozen bodies of various types of enemies embedded in the walls with looks of shock on their faces.
- Wario Land 3 has the Forest of Fear. It's a forest with eerie, minimalist music, tons of spikes and vines, and intimidating faces on all the trees.
- The temple levels "Temple Ruins" and "Jaws Of Darkness" in Crash Bandicoot (1996) (as well as its N Sane Trilogy remake), taking place in abandoned, dark temples, where the only lumination are the lit fire torches in the background, filled with smashing traps, and accompanied with a foreboding, spooky soundtrack.
- Dolangomeri is an eerie forest full of old machinery, and serves as the domain for the Big Bad and his minions. The normally-cheerful background singers sound mournful and frightened while singing this area's music, which is periodically accompanied by maniacal laughter (unless you're playing as Budzi, in which case his incredibly funky Image Song plays instead).
- The final level of the original game is a Womb Level taking place inside the Big Bad, Bon Mucho. The cheery music and colorful visuals that accompany every other Womb Level in the game are absent, replaced by murky black and grey backgrounds and a foreboding Villain Song called "Merure Merure".
- The third chapter of The Unfinished Swan, "The Darkness". Up until now, the game has been very bright (literally, almost everything is white until you throw paint at it), cheerful, and adventurous. Then out of nowhere, this super-dark level appears with light sources few and far between, and red eyes glaring at you from the darkness, which will kill you if you spend more than a few seconds in it. This is also noticeably the first and only place where you can be hurt by anything; the only hazard so far has been drowning, which is nothing more than the screen fading to black and you reappearing on land with a little bit of coughing.
Real Time Strategy
- Wistful Wild in Pikmin 2. In this case, the ambiance evokes a sense of melancholy and nostalgia, and even Olimar makes notes of this feeling during his treasure logs; it exhibits shades of orange and red (in this case because of the level taking place during autumn), as well as a music that induces anxiety onto the characters and the player. Averted with the caves placed here, though, as they're considerably more overrun by wild creatures than the exterior, and said caves are thematically a salad of all previous caves in the game, not all of which were bleak at all.
- The third game ramps this up with Formidable Oak. It's on a giant termite mound in the middle of a desert, there are initially no enemies, the music is very minimal (unless it's raining), and the color scheme outside is mostly brown. After encountering enemies that aren't the Eldritch Abomination Final Boss, killing them reveals that they are actually made of the same substance said boss is made of. There isn't even any fruit; the goal of the level is to instead get Olimar to the ship.
- The F-Zero X adaptation of White Land has a theme song which, while not outside the game's hot-blooded heavy metal trappings, sounds surprisingly sad compared to some of the other tracks.
- Chrono Cross has the Dead Sea, a city where time is essentially broken. It's every bit as eerie as it sounds.
- Chrono Trigger has 2,300 AD, a time period After the End, as well as ground level in 12,000 BC.
- Dragon Age: Origins is pretty much a game-long Bleak Level, but the Dead Trenches take it a few steps further. It starts out with ominous music and a dead city, includes some really creepy poetry from a traumatized dwarf, and ends with a boss whose origin and appearance are 190-proof Body Horror. Congratulations! You now know where darkspawn come from. Chances are you really wish you didn't.
- EarthBound's final level, the Cave of the Past.
- While Fallout4 isn't the brightest picture of humanity, the underlying themes are hope and rebuilding; even the color palette is happier than its predecessors. Then you go to the Glowing Sea, a haunted wasteland where the bomb meant for Boston actually hit. After 210 years, the ambient fallout is still lethal.note
- The City of Ancients in Final Fantasy VII. Hardly any enemies, strange scenery, and unsettling music that only plays there.
- Final Fantasy X:
- Mushroom Rock Road, post-Sin attack.
- Thunder Plains is also this. An entire plain of grey, dreary darkness, only lightened up by the constant lightning strikes that make it such an unhospitable wasteland. However, all this is offset by this adorable soundtrack.
- Zanarkand itself, which is when the story catches up to its flashback-telling and the entire party is shown to have become resigned to the upcoming fate of Yuna. Zanarkand is nothing but ruins upon ruins, night doesn't end anymore and the area is filled with Pyreflies, which let the player see memory upon memory of previous summoners and guardians making it to this place. And as amazing as the background music may be for this area, it's still melancholic. And then the background music changes to a much more subdued and very low note, with barely any music playing inside the Zanarkand Dome itself.
- Mag Mell is an odd example in Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles. A town instead of a dungeon, it nonetheless has some very unsettling music and is blanketed in fog and seemingly uninhabited when you first get there. If you revisit it enough times, though, you find out it's actually inhabited by hibernating carbuncles, who turn out to be not all that bad when they finally wake up. A more traditional example is Tida, a town who's caravan never returned home, and is now a miasma and monster-infested Dungeon Town.
- Final Fantasy XIII has the ruined, Cie'th-infested village of Oerba.
- Meanwhile, Final Fantasy XIII-2 (pictured above) has A Dying World and New Bodhum, both in 700AF.
- Lightning Returns has the Cathedral in Luxerion on the Final Day, which couples as the final area. It starts by showing people trying to break down the gate to get into the cathedral, running away from the Chaos and getting turned into monsters. The sky is full of dark clouds and the few NPCs found outside are lethargic or praying, hoping for salvation. The inside isn't much better, being nothing but blue-grey stone walls and floors and the player is following the ominous chanting that gets louder, the closer they get to their goal.
- Final Fantasy XV has the entirety of Chapter 14. The game already lets you know all bets are off the moment Noctis steps out of Angelgard, a good ''ten years older'' at that, and seeing that the world has been plunged into The Night That Never Ends. And just as one would expect, Daemons that the player once took solace in knowing only appeared at night have completely overrun the world and drove humanity to near extinction, with the final bastions on the verge of collapse at that. The sky that was once a vibrant blue and at least two towns the player once went through and enjoyed the sight of company and fellow humans are now devoid of any and all life besides the murderous Daemons, with a heavy implication that the once our-world-level population has dwindled from billions to a mere city and a gas station's worth, with the sky now perpetually a sickly black-and-green combination with flecks of darkness falling like snow. And to top it all off, the only way to end this horrific nightmare is to have Noctis sacrifice himself, alongside potentially the rest of the party, all to set the world right again and end this twisted perversion of the world.
- The King's Field series of games could all be considered this. There are sporadic villages with very few people, and even some of them contain monsters or abandoned houses. The music is hardly ever lively and a lot of the areas can feel claustrophobic and empty. Most conversations in the games are usually sad or morose, and many people have given up hope of being saved by the impending dark times. Even the environment itself seems dark or dimly lit, and you almost never see sunlight throughout the course of the games, even when outdoors. There are multiple graveyards and dead people in various locations. The monsters seem to outnumber the people 10-to-1.
- Golden Sun: Dark Dawn nails this trope with the Grave Eclipse that sucks the light out of most of the world, leaving some awesome images of destroyed towns, complete with decomposing bodies.
- Your return trip to Cyrum Kingdom in Grandia II fits this trope perfectly. The dead and dying are everywhere, and the dark god's minions just won't stop coming. All but one of your party members are stuck in Heroic B.S.O.D. mode (since it is, after all, partially their fault that this is happening) and no one has any idea what to do. Oh, and THIS music is playing.
- A favorite trope for endgame in the Kingdom Hearts series.
- In the first game, the final world is called The End Of The World... in a literal sense, considering that it is probably the edge of reality as we know it near the encroaching Heartless. Features a darker version of one of the first songs in the game, "Destati".
- Kingdom Hearts II includes an enormous white castle owned by Organization XIII, located in a place called The World That Never Was. Made eerier by the dissonant nature of the music and the overtly nihilistic names of its locations ("Altar of Naught", "Where Nothing Gathers"...)
- Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance features a return of The World That Never Was and manages to make it even more nightmarish. The world is largely in ruins, an aftermath of the endgame from the aforementioned game, with creepy fog, breathing buildings and a twisted, labyrinthine castle. The music, too, has been remixed, into a suitably grave and disquieting piece.
- The most disturbing may be the Keyblade Graveyard. While in the other two games, the main character and his two friends accompany him, this game features every main character entering it completely alone. It is a vast desert without any sort of life lined with thousands if not millions of ownerless magical swords. This is definitely helped by the demented piano music that serves at the world's background music.
- Birth By Sleep's Final Mix edition has the Realm Of Darkness. Mile after mile of darkness, and creepy structures that look vaguely like someone's insides. Unlike every other level, there's no-one else to talk to, just rank upon rank of powerful Heartless. Amazingly bleak music that plays throughout, ones that make the Keyblade Graveyard look almost welcoming.
- Knights of the Old Republic II brings you back to Dantooine - the pleasant farming planet from the first - five years after Malak carpet-bombed the place. The farmers hate the Jedi and blame them for all their misfortune, mercenaries are running unchecked, the moss-overgrown Jedi enclave is being picked clean by thieves, and you get confirmation that most of the characters you encountered or liked died horribly in the attack.
- Lost Kingdoms: the Burial Grounds level, and the final level, Broch Black.
- Mass Effect
- Post-Virmire Normandy in Mass Effect; there's even somber music. Also, the Normandy crash site in Mass Effect 2.
- Mass Effect 3 in general is fairly bleak, but Thessia takes the cake. The most advanced race in the galaxy, the asari, is getting ripped apart by the Reapers, and Shepard is forced to watch, helplessly, as the Reapers continue to pour in. Shepard also gets roundly defeated by Kai Leng, who steals vitally important data on the Catalyst and taunts Shep over it. It's about as close to a breaking point as Shep gets.
- Of all things, the galaxy map gets this towards the end of the third game. When you return to the map after clearing the Cerberus Base, every single sector in the map has been dominated by the Reapers. You are literally unable to go anywhere but the Local Cluster to begin the final push towards Earth. It really drives home how everything is riding on the final mission to stop the Reapers once and for all.
- MOTHER 3 has the abandoned Clayman factory in chapter 7. In previous chapters it was quite lively, in addition to the rest of the game at that point. But here, it's empty save for a few scattered sentry robots, all the machines have stopped running, and there's a unique piece of music playing: a very dark and depressing remix of one of the first mini-boss themes in the game.
- Odin Sphere has the Netherworld, a bleak wasteland covered in skulls where the lights regularly go out and skeleton monsters, tentacles, ghosts and grim reaper-like enemies roam.
- Super Mario Bros.:
- Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga:
- Joke's End. In a game that takes place in the Beanbean Kingdom, whose culture in large part revolves around humor and which features regions with laughter-themed names like "Chucklehuck Woods" and "Teehee Valley", in come this bleak icy level that is specifically stated to be a graveyard for bad jokes featuring some rather sinister music.
- Woohoo Hooniversity. With a name like that, you might expect it to be cheery as the rest of the game. Nope, completely destroyed, broken down and overrun by freaks of science (strongly implied to be the mutated faculty) and man-sized versions of the viruses from Dr. Mario.
- Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time:
- Hollijolli Village. The name doesn't sound bleak, but that's because the village is Christmas-themed. However, you never get to see it in its normal, "holly-jolly" state. By the time the Mario Bros. get there, it's been blasted to bits by the Shroobs, and all the friendly NPCs who live there are abducted, never to be seen again. All of this is set to what sounds like a depressing rendition of Jingle Bells and ends with a Hopeless Boss Fight.
- Toad Town, an upbeat area in every other game it appears in, is a devastated wreck here. The whole place is covered with purple mushrooms and infested with enemies, and the only people that remain there are two shopkeepers.
- Mario & Luigi: Dream Team:
- Dreamy Mount Pajamaja Summit. While the lower areas of the mountain had goofy oom-pah music and featured the ham-tacular Massif Brothers, the summit has fairly depressing music, is mostly an ice level filled with drab colours and a fair lack of variety and which comes right in the middle of a Plot Tunnel that takes place when the whole real world is stuck asleep and completely inaccessible.
- Dreamy Neo Bowser Castle. The regular Neo Bowser Castle has an exciting intensity to its ominousness that keeps it from being too eerie, but the Dream World equivalent has nightmarish chains and Bowser faces floating around and two musical tracks, a dirge-like one for the main portion and a harsh electronic one for Bowser's Dream, that give it a very sinister vibe.
- Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga:
- The purified zones in OFF. Everything is completely white with black outlines, all electronics are broken down, none of the signs are readable, there's nobody but demonic doll-like monsters inhabiting, and the music is a mix between an ominous music box, whispers, and someone banging on a door crying for help.
- Twilight Town from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, which is a dark and dreary town filled with shadowy ragdoll-like citizens who are slowly being turned into pigs every time a bell rings. After a suspiciously early boss battle with a bedsheet-ghost character named Doopliss, the boss takes over Mario's body and leaves him as a ghostly shadow.
- Pokémon Tower from Pokémon Red and Blue, a graveyard for Pokémon with eerie Creepypasta-inspiring music, disturbing possessed trainers, and undead Pokémon.
- Mt. Pyre from Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. New Mauville, an abandoned power facility, uses the same bleak music, and definitely fits in the remakes, where the implications are that Wattson pulled the plug on the project because it was being powered with the life energy of Pokémon. Sea Mauville in the remakes counts too, a shipwreck with a surprisingly dark backstory if you know where to look.
- There's also the Old Chateau and Sendoff Spring from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, which are such a jarring change (the former is in a peaceful forest and the latter is along the road between two of the more upbeat towns in the game) that even the music they both share functions effectively as a Scare Chord.
- The Strange House in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, which is haunted by the ghost of a young girl who is strongly implied to have died in an incident involving Darkrai. The house is dark and spooky, and the furniture rearranges itself to force you to take a certain path.
- In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers, all of the dungeons explored in the Bad Future have a grim feel to them, dark colors being prevalent, and the music being similarly dark in its tone. They also tend to be crawling with Ghost, Dark, and Poison type Pokemon.
- Pokémon X and Y has Snowbelle City. Apparently, the source of all the snow is from the gym. The music doesn't help either.
- Pokémon Sun and Moon:
- Po Town. A dark and rainy town, Po Town is inhabited by Team Skull and is surrounded by white walls, presumably supplied by the Aether Foundation. Its background music is somber and sounds more fitting for an abandoned mansion, and it's where you get to see what Team Skull is really like.
- Abandoned Thrifty Megamart. It serves as one of the trial grounds, full of ghost types and haunted merchandise. The place is a mess, there are no lights, and the building is crumbling, due to Tapu Bulu destroying it since the Megamart was built on its territory. The music sounds incredibly wrong, having a constant static effect, cutting out frequently, and when listened on headphones, it sometimes stops playing through one speaker. You fight the totem Mimikyu in the back room, only to find out it doesn't have a back room. Going in again reveals that the door you went through before is gone.
- Shin Megami Tensei:
- Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne turns pretty much the entire city of Tokyo transformed into this by the Conception. Humanity's dead, save for a few (who are rapidly driven to insanity), the few remaining buildings are separated by vast swathes of sand, demons are crawling everywhere, and an alien sun shines above.
- Shin Megami Tensei IV features the depressing, ominous Monochrome Forest. As the name implies, it's a bleak, colorless expanse of vegetation. And it serves as headquarters for the Omnicidal Neutral White, unfathomably ancient entities of despair who want you to destroy the Magical Particle Accelerator that has been allowing you to travel between worlds. This will have the effect of unleashing a black hole through the Solar System, potentially dragging the multiverse to oblivion.
- Persona 4:
- The game features Yomotsu Hirasaka, the true final dungeon. Covered in fog and creepily stark with harsh, geometric architecture and a blue-and-red color scheme makes for a very alien-looking level, not at all helped by the utterly depressing music that constantly pervades. Fitting, considering it's an analogy for the entrance to the Japanese underworld. There's also Magatsu Inaba, the Killer's hideout. Unnerving red and black skies and a layout made of police tape, jagged metal, and broken highways serve for a clear visual representation of the Killer's twisted, disturbed psyche.
- The Golden rerelease adds a new Bonus Dungeon that places the party in a representation of Marie's melancholy over her returned memories and subsequent decision to isolate herself from her only friends and experiences. She tries to convince the party to leave her, while the player explores dungeon floors consisting of ruined pieces of town landmarks and with names such as "Memories of Parting" and "Memories of Loneliness".
- Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth has the Evil Spirit Club labyrinth, a pitch-black, eerie abandoned school/hospital that resembles something out of a Survival Horror game. Compounded with two truly horrifying-looking FOEs native to that level (which respectively resemble an aborted baby and an old-looking doll), one portion of the level involves the party's non-combatant, Rei, going out into a large, pitch-black room in order to find several keys to free the rest of the party. This also doubles as a major case of Mood Whiplash, as the previous dungeon had soothing music, cutesy romantic decor, and a hilarious Romance Sidequest. While the next dungeon, the Inaba Pride Exhibit, isn't remotely bleak (its inspired by Japanese festivals, for one thing), its boss floor certainly is. All of the vibrant colors that made up the dungeon are gone, it is abandoned and dark, and a very somber reprise of the dungeon's theme serves as the BGM.
- The Underwhere from Super Paper Mario, despite its rather silly name, is far from pleasant. The place takes many cues from the Greek interpretation of the underworld, complete with its own version of the River Styx (a pink lake filled with disembodied hands called "River Twygz", complete with utterly terrifying gibbering in place of background music) and Expies of Hades, Charon, and the Fates. The way Mario and friends initially get there is by being outright assassinated by Dimentio, who very cruelly averts No Sneak Attacks. Fortunately, most of the locals are pretty friendly, and a Dragon Quest-style RPG battle against a Cerebus Expy lightens the mood significantly.
- Also from Super Paper Mario, Sammer's Kingdom once it's destroyed. There's little background music, and everything is a blank white, with the only thing breaking up the monotony of the background being the occasional fragments of buildings, reduced to outlines. Presumably, this would be the fate of every world that falls to the Void. It gets better, but it's incredibly depressing while it lasts.
- Tales Series
- Tales of the Abyss has Akzeriuth. The NPCs are all on the ground, sick from the miasma leaking all over the place and in desperate need of help. The music is subdued and the short 'dungeon' the player needs to traverse is straight-forward and not very fancily designed. It shows the player just how bad the situation in Akzeriuth is before punching the player by revealing that Van manipulated Luke into using his hyperresonance and killing the entire population of the town and the land itself.
- Tales of Xillia sends the player onto the E.S.S. Zenethra that was overtaken by Exodus, a terrorist group, and the symmetrical and low-saturated color design of the place makes for an uncomfortable atmosphere. And then the area ends with Milla's senseless sacrifice.
- Tales of Xillia 2 has another ship, which couples this as a very harsh Call-Back to the previous game's above example, right down to a similar, bleak design. The player can and needs to save various injured NPCs within a time limit, one of your party members is having an existential crisis and the chapter ultimately ends with Alternate Milla's death, similar to Milla's death above.
- The city of Cloudbank in Transistor slowly goes from a gorgeously-rendered art deco cyberpunk metropolis to a wasteland of white square columns over the course of the game as the Process slowly revert the entire city to a blank slate. Music that plays in the more heavily-processed areas tends to be more harsh and electronic mixes of previous songs.
- New Home is colored in stark whites and grays and almost completely empty, aside from an eerie reproduction of Toriel's house and some NPCs who appear in "random encounters" to regale you with the tragic backstory of Asgore and his family. At first there's no background music, but then "Undertale", a touching symphonic remix of the game's opening theme "Once Upon a Time", starts playing...
- If you go for the No Mercy route, you slowly turn the entire game into one gigantic bleak level. All the trademark wackiness is slowly drained from the game as the player murders all the goofy enemy encounters to extinction, the save points where the protagonist is filled with determination through strange, innocuous things around them are simply replaced with the number of enemy encounters left and then a flat "Determination" once you've wiped them all out, the colorful NPCs are almost completely absent and even the various puzzles are already solved once you get to them, as everyone is running like hell to get away from the genocidal psycho. Even the music becomes slowed down to the point of creepiness, and you get a special, equally-creepy song through the entire region once you've cleared it out. By the end of the game, the First Child erases the entire world from existence, leaving nothing but a black, windswept void until you offer your soul to them in exchange for restoring everything.
- On the True Pacifist route, you'll explore the True Lab. It's dark, diplidated, abandoned, and filled with hordes of scientific abominations that employ copious Interface Screw and can't be attacked. It contains numerous Apocalyptic Logs that display horrible accidents. The area's battle music also sounds very similar to the Cave of the Past, another bleak, depressing, and scary area. Note that this area comes shortly after a lighthearted extended cutscene where you help two characters try to get together.
- Xenosaga's Old Miltia, after the Federation's siege becomes an open assault. Also the ruins of the Ormus' homeworld, Michtam.
- Super Aleste's 12th and final stage: A Womb Level with organic enemies and a very grisly background.
- R-Type FINAL's first stage, aptly named "Metropolis Quietus", is set in the wreckage of a fallen space colony, and has an uncannily disturbing atmosphere with its minimalist dark ambient music. The desert version of Stage 2 also qualifies, with its parched and cracked lakebed, withered trees, and soundtrack consisting mostly of howling winds.
- Luigi's Mansion in Mario Super Sluggers has ghosts, graves and a mysterious music in the middle of the night.
- Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater's fourth Cobra battle with "The Sorrow". Snake is forced to wade through a waist-high mangrove swamp during downpour, while the boss and the ghosts of every person the player has killed thus far tries to kill Snake. Considering everything goes from campy/realistic to gritty/grim in a few scenes, creepy is an understatement.
- The Morgue section of Stage 5 of Illbleed, which perfectly showcases just how terrible the titular park really is. Despite the name, it's not really a "morgue" as much as it is a series of catwalks suspended over an olympic swimming pool-sized pit filled to the brim with the bodies of dead park visitors.
Tactical Role Playing
- Fire Emblem Awakening features the Midmire, setting of Chapter 10, "Renewal", which takes place right after a Player Punch. You have to fight in the midst of a giant dragon's ribcage in the middle of a rainy wasteland, all while slow Sad Battle Music plays regardless of whether it's your turn or the enemy's. Furthermore, the Plegian soldiers you fight are deeply ashamed of their role in the events of the last chapter, with one unit stating outright to his sympathetic general that he would rather desert and face execution than fight against the Shepherds. So as if the previous plot context and battle setting weren't bad enough, the catharsis you might otherwise get from dispatching enemy troops is somewhat lost as well.
Wide Open Sandbox
- While Don't Starve is a dark game, it's actually pretty easy to forget the dark themes due to the bright and colourful environments. Then there's the swamp biome. The ground is purple, tentacles pop up from the ground seemingly at random, and the few trees there are are all dead. Not to mention frogs and the fishmen. No, not fishermen, fishmen. Then comes Winter, and every plant dies for its duration, several animals disappear, and you realize that you are all alone in a barren enviroment, but you still need to eat, stay warm and fight back the insanity lurking in the darkness...
- Mine Craft has The End, a parallel dimension of pale stone islands in an unsettling void populated by alien horrors. A slight change of tone for a game primarily known for being about punching trees and building statues out of brightly colored wool.