Luke: Is the Dark Side stronger?Evil is a vile temptress. She's cool. She's rich. She's powerful. She's sexy. She makes you feel good. She is everything you want, if not everything you need. And the most tempting aspect of evil? She's easy. You see, Good makes you work for her. You want her blessing, you have to take the difficult path. You have to talk to the villagers and understand their complaints instead of intimating them into submission or just blowing them up and taking what you want. You have to work through problems. And human problems, well, they tend to be complicated. And as Good is fond of reminding you, the pursuit of her is a never-ending quest. She is like the horizon: no matter how tenaciously you pursue Good, you're never quite going to reach her. Evil, on the other hand, offers you her fruits with seductive ease. One squeeze of the trigger, one slash of the sword, one cutting remark, and you've won her approval. Evil presents the hero with an easy, obstacle-free path to riches and rewards. There's a reason Cutting the Knot is a thing. Expect Good to remind you how easy Evil is and reproach the protagonist for considering the simple path. The mentor will remind our hero that the easy path is not the right one. Sometimes the true cost of evil being easy is that it's overspecialised in destruction, meaning that a "weak" good power ends up more effective than a strong evil one. There's a second, game-specific aspect of this trope. These days, a lot of games are fond of the Karma Meter. This allows the player to dictate the morality of the game. Unfortunately, the evil options tend to be quick, clean, easy. They don't require Level Grinding or other annoyances. The good options, on the other hand, require effort, puzzle solving skills and other time-intensive activities. Compare Being Good Sucks.
Yoda: No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.
Yoda: No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.
Examples of the first facet include:
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- Negi Springfield of Mahou Sensei Negima! chose Black Magic because the light path wasn't fast enough. The reward in this case was power. Somewhat subverted in that it's not actually evil, just much more dangerous—both to himself and others.
- In Naruto, we see two different people becoming the Juubi's Jinchuriki. One of them harbored some doubts about the plan and briefly lost his sanity, having to fight hard to regain it, while the other was completely onboard with the plan and easily succeeded without even a momentary inconvenience.
- This was basically Sasuke's reason for his Face–Heel Turn: he felt that if he stayed in Konoha with his teammates he wouldn't get strong enough to defeat Itachi (adding to the fact that Naruto seemed to be catching up to him).
- In Pony POV Series, this applies to Nightmarification vs Alicornification. Alicornification, done the correct way, takes the effort of obtaining a full and complete understanding of what you're going to become, which naturally requires a great deal of time and devotion. Nightmarification, however, only requires a bit of dark magic and allowing one part of you to consume the rest to the point of being all you are. However, Alicornification comes with enlightenment, while Nightmarification comes with insanity, and anyone who's become one and been purified generally has the opinion it's decidedly not worth the power. While a Nightmare purified with the Elements of Harmony becomes a mortal Alicorn, don't expect them to feel that was worth it either.
- Several Star Wars mentor figures refer to The Dark Side as "the easy path." Interestingly, the Sith have a similar opinion of the Jedi, and in the EU often call the Jedi weak for not succumbing to its lure. In light of the fact that the Sith are historically the less fortunate of the two, the latter view does have some substance.
- Clearly inverted with Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens, since he wants to follow the Dark Side but is tempted by the Light Side. This is further weirdly ironic because his being tempted by love is broadly the same thing that was always giving trouble to the old-fashioned Jedi, who thought they should be stoically emotionless.
- From 300 : "Unlike the cruel Leonidas, who required that you stand, I ask only that you kneel."
- A Song of Ice and Fire discusses this trope at some length and using several characters within its Crapsack World. Being Good Sucks and is far from easy for those who try it, sure. And, a thirteen-year-old boy like Joffrey can manage to be The Caligula with relative ease; or, how the intellectually challenged, but physically strong like Gregor Clegane who can manage without much trouble; or, how about Little Walder? Lord Walder Frey started young, too. Or, how about Ramsey Bolton? But, the take-home message is actually "Stupid Evil Is Easy (and kills you just as easily), it's Pragmatic Evil you really need to work your socks off for if you want the big bucks (yet it can still kill you; it just takes the cheque longer to find you)". The wages of sin may be death in this series, but all men must die. The Evil just die more ironically after killing off some of the Good.
- Harry Potter: Dumbledore at the end of the fourth book refers to the choice between "what is right and what is easy."
- In Dragon Bones, the whole plot is this. Ward chooses to "steal"/free a slave, which means he has to flee from his own castle. He then decides that, in order to avoid being taken to an insane asylum, he needs to become a war hero. Conveniently, there have been problems with bandit hordes from the south in one country, so he, his siblings, the freed slave, his own slave and some loyal subjects travel there and become unpaid mercenaries. Soon, they have nothing to eat, as due to an old grudge between the countries no one sells them anything, and they don't steal anything more valuable than sour apples from a tree at the wayside. Doing good comes naturally to Ward, as he has been protecting his siblings from their abusive father all the time, but in the end he has to do something really hard. Oreg, who is nearly immortal and has been a slave to Ward's family for hundreds of years, asks Ward to kill him. And Ward does it, even though he has come to consider Oreg a friend, or even brother, at that point. Doing the wrong thing, which would have catastrophal consequences, would have been way easier.
- In the title, and pretty much the thesis, of the thriller One Bad Thing. The goodly characters have never done anything truly wrong, but those who commit one misdeed and realize there's no cosmic retribution lose a good portion of their restraint, and in all but one case become jerkasses or villains. (That one case is the main character, and really isn't evil so much as chaotic, but is treated as mildly repulsive in a manner similar to Magwitch or Sydney Carton.)
- In The Eyes of the Dragon, the narration notes that it's easier to do evil magic than good magic. Good magic is even harder for Flagg—he needs to keep King Roland alive, but his ability to do so diminishes since he doesn't actually want to.
- Star Wars Legends, and especially with the Zahn novels, explores and deconstructs the trope. In fact, some of the books note that the dark side is stronger, in terms of combat... but then being a Jedi isn't just about surviving fights.
- The Fire Rose: Jason comments several times that Paul's magical training is stalled out because he's putting all his effort into finding a shortcut route to power.
- The series as a whole toys with this. Compelling low-level elementals is less time consuming and more reliable than cajoling or bargaining with them; but not only does such techniques place a firm ceiling on the power of the elementals that can be dealt with, constant attention and avoiding any moment of weakness is needed to keep even weak elementals from turning on or abandoning an Elemental Master unless they actually like him or her.
- In When Demons Walk, the hero finds, after much searching, someone who knows how to banish a demon. The downside? It involves sacrifcing a male virgin in a particularly cruel way. She's all "Thanks, but no thanks", and goes on to find a less morally questionable way to deal with the demon, even though she doesn't even know if one exists.
- Referenced in Discworld quite often, especially in the Witches books.
- In Witches Abroad, Nanny Ogg, noting how young Lady Lilith looks, reflects that "The wages of sin are death, but so is the salary of virtue and at least the evil get to go home early on Fridays".
- In Lords and Ladies, Granny Weatherwax kind of admits but ultimately deconstructs the trope. She says she took the hard path, "and the hard path's pretty hard, but it's not as hard as the easy path."
- Parodied in The Discworld Companion, again discussing Lady Lilith's youthful appearance: "Moralists will say this is because sin is easier than virtue, but moralists always say this sort of thing and some sin is quite difficult and requires specialised equipment."
- Barack Obama stated in one of his early 2009 speeches that "America does what is necessary, not what is easy" (or something like that). This was parodied on The Daily Show, where Jon Stewart asked Obama "Have you met America?" and provided a number of examples where Americans chose the easy road over the right one.
"We invented the Roomba because the other automatic cleaning device we invented required us to [get up and move around]."
- Charmed: Evil was consistently shown to be the much easier path on the show; demons, warlocks and other evil beings almost universally possessed offensive powers (energy balls and fire balls), teleportation powers and had no fear of Personal Gain, with the ability to steal other powers on top of that. Meanwhile, the sisters are limited to whatever magic the Powers That Be decide they're ready to use, cannot use magic for mortal problems (not that it stops them in later seasons) and cannot possess powers from demons, as the one time Phoebe tried that, she nearly turned evil.
- It is also stressed that while good witches have the possibility of turning evil, evil witches cannot become good.
- Referenced in DMX's Damien III'
DMX- "I don't even know why I fucked with you from the door!"Damien- "Because you knew I could give you what you wanted and more"DMX- "I coulda got it from Him!"Damien- "But you would have had to wait."
- I Do Believe In Love, Katie Melua
Is it true a politician's heart can rust away and fall apart?I guess it must be hard, oh it must be hardTo know what's good and to know what's easy
- This goes back all the way to ancient Greek philosophy. The Cynics had a legend about Heracles being at a crossways. One path was smooth and easy, the path to vice; the other was rocky and full of thorns, and it was the path to virtue.
- A very similar image appears in the Child Ballad "Thomas the Rhymer":
"O see ye not that narrow road,
So thick beset with thorns and briers?
That is the path of righteousness,
Tho after it but few enquires."And see not ye that braid braid road,
That lies across that lily leven?
That is the path to wickedness,
Tho some call it the road to heaven."
- A very similar image appears in the Child Ballad "Thomas the Rhymer":
- Jesus says this in the Gospel of Matthew:
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
- There are similar passages found throughout the Bible which share this sentiment in different ways; Isaiah 35 is one such example.
- In the Dragonlance setting, early editions of Dungeons & Dragons, black wizards gained levels faster than white ones, being evil and following the much easier path. However this was counterbalanced by black wizards having a lower level limit - eventually a white wizard would surpass his black counterpart. Red wizards (neutrals) fell between the two extremes advancing faster than white but slower than black and topping out lower than white but higher than black.
- This is a gameplay mechanic in some versions of the the Star Wars tabletop game, where at lower levels using the Dark Side provides more benefits, but it quickly peters off and is eclipsed by the Light.
- Warhammer 40,000: Defending oneself against Chaos involves maintaining control over one's emotions, specfically rage, lust, hope, or fear of death. In a Crapsack World. And since Chaos is far from the only threat, its servants can very often sway Imperials by using the promise of power (either psychic, mutation or possessed weapons) against the Tyranids / Orks / Dark Eldar.
- There's one in Shadowgirls.
Becka: If you have two choices you can usually tell which one is right. Because it's the hardest one.
- Later quoted by one of the villains, during his Heel–Face Turn. Looking how Becka turned him for the good, she will be great mother one day.
- This is a recurring theme in Sinfest. At the same time, it's subverted in that Slick's application for "Anything You Want" via the Devil takes FOREVER to process.
- The Kings War arc of Roommates in spades. It revolves around a Good Versus Good conflict, where the real question presented to the characters is "What would you do to win?". There is literally a page where one of them asks if he has to State The Simple Solution and the other replies with 'no', but points out a big problem with said simple solution (this trope).
- Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness has this when Fenghuang wants Po to join her in "Owl Be Back". Unlike Shifu, she's not just willing to teach him all sorts of cool kung-fu moves, but eager to the point she turns her assault on the Jade Palace into an impromptu, entertaining and fast-paced training session. She also lavishes him with praise and calls him a fast learner, as opposed to Shifu repeatedly pointing out his flaws.
- On Captain Planet, Zarm's first appearance has him offer the Planeteers magical gauntlets that are far more powerful than Gaia's rings. Unfortunately, using them also make them Drunk on the Dark Side. (This especially fits this trope because the one Planeteer to refuse the offer is Ma-Ti, whose power is both the most good and the most useless.) The gauntlets are also fashioned so that the Planeteers have to remove their rings to wear them, symbolically casting aside their allegiance to Gaia.
- The difference between Justice League Superman and Justice Lord Superman is that Lord Superman got tired of Being Good Sucks, and when Lex Luthor killed The Flash, he threw away his morals and killed him. He and the other Justice Lords took over the Earth as a dictatorship to administer "justice". At the end of the episode, League Superman says that he is tempted to abuse his powers to solve problems the easy way, but he chooses to do things the hard way.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, most bending disciplines require a lot of training before you can do much of anything with them. The exception is Firebending, which, though not evil in and of itself, is most easily used for destruction and is the specialty of the villains. With Firebending, it's relatively easy to learn how to create a mighty inferno powered by rage. What's harder to learn is restraint: being able to make fire do only what you want it to, and no more.
- In All Dogs Go To Heaven the Series, this is Belladonna's view and she has an entire Villain Song about evil being the 'easy way out'.
Examples of the second facet include:
- Old World of Darkness as a whole seems to be quite the fan of this. Whether vampire, werewolf, mage, or other monster, the player characters are supposed to be regularly and reliably tempted with the easy but vile path.
- Vampire: The Dark Ages did this with Infernal disciplines. They made them incredibly easy to earn... it just cost a few more bits of your soul. Or whatever vampires had that didn't make them tools of the devil. Or more like tools of the devil than they already were. Or something.
- On the other hand, in Vampire: The Masquerade, Humanity is the easiest Path to follow. You see, just being evil turns you into an animalistic predator. Being evil and remaining sane requires you to study under an elder to adopt an alien mindset, and then you have to maintain your sanity by following precepts ranging from vile to just plain weird. Under some Storytellers, however, this can be played straight when you pick "The Path Of Whatever I Was Going To Do Anyway," most notoriously with the Path of Paradox.
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse in particular lacks the Harmony of Werewolf: The Forsaken, making it easy to build up useful Rage through needless violent acts.
- Wraith: The Oblivion has the titular characters wrestle with their Shadow, which pushes them towards serving Oblivion, and succumbing to its temptations too often and eroding the Karma Meter results in the character turning into a spectre. Spectres similarly deal with Psyches, and heeding the Psyche too much causes a spectre to become a normal wraith. The mechanics of a wraith falling into spectredom were vastly easier than the ones for a spectre to rise into becoming a wraith.
- In core Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, there's the Paladin, a 20-level hard-to-handle base class that often makes it more difficult for the rest of the party. On the other hand, you have the 10-level Blackguard, which gets evil-flavored versions of just about every paladin ability. By the numbers, the Paladin should be more powerful at the end of the day for anything that counts level into the numbers, but this is subverted when fallen Paladins get most of their powers back as Blackguards.
- Mostly accidental. Paladins are Linear warriors.
- Borderline version in The Dresden Files RPG. Lawbreaker supernatural powers grant bonuses to the effectiveness of a given spell, if you're using it for the purposes of further breaking that law. For example, a character who's killed someone with magic once will get a +1 bonus to his spells if he's trying to kill someone with it afterward. Killing more increases the bonus. This is said, in the rulebook, to represent the seductive, corrupting nature of breaking the laws of magic.
- Similarly, Sponsored Magic comes with several bonuses that will both make your spells stronger, and let you cast them easier. The catch, of course, is the more you take advantage of the bonuses, the more in debt you become to the sponsor, and the more they can exert influence on you. Deals with Demons and Fallen Angels fall squarely into this trope, whereas deals with, say, God fall right on the "Good is Hard" side.
- Many Star Wars games let the player choose between the dark and light sides. The dark side tends to be simpler, but not always.
- Played with and sometimes averted in Knights of the Old Republic. An example would be on Manaan, where the prime moral choice comes down to pumping nerve toxin into the ocean (dark side) or overloading a Republic harvester (light side). The nerve toxin can be deployed by pressing a button, but can result in getting banned from the planet, making several sidequests unwinnable. Overloading the harvester requires the player solve an (admittedly easy) puzzle, and bears no negative consequences. It's inverted on Taris, where the dark side option only becomes available just before you are about to finish the light side path.
- Also either averted or played straight depending on the situation in KOTOR II: The Sith Lords. It's played straight in a lot of the sidequests (for example, the evil route to dealing with the Exchange boss in the Refugee Sector on Nar Shadaa just involves doing a few errands and talking to people, while the good route inevitably leads to killing every Exchange goon in the Sector), but averted in the overarching plot (when you encounter the Jedi Masters, the good path is to talk to them, get some questions answered, and go on your way; the evil path is to fight them to the death, and they are tough).
- Inverted in The Force Unleashed: The Light Side final boss uses a lightning attack you can reflect to damage him and summons mooks you can kill to restore health. The Dark Side final boss is a master of lightsaber combat who gives you very few openings to damage him and no chance to restore lost health during the battle.
- Then played straight in Ultimate Sith Edition where, during the fight with Boba Fett, you can just use Force Lightning with him unable to block it, thereby making him the easiest boss in the game.
- Also inverted in Jedi Academy. The Light Side Final Boss is this resurrected Dark Lord of the Sith possessing what had been the main villainess up to then. It's a considerably easier fight than the Dark Side boss: Kyle Katarn. Also, as a darksider, you have to fight both the Jedi and Sith Cultists throughout Korriban and the Jedi are harder to kill (but have less offense).
- Inverted in Overlord, which makes sense since you're a Villain Protagonist. Gaining 100% Corruption, the Evil Path, requires you to go out of your way - sometimes, FAR out of your way - to do evil deeds. 0% Corruption, the Good Path, on the other hand... mostly just requires you to refrain from doing evil deeds when offered the opportunity.
- Also, to get 100% corruption, you had to kill a lot of people. Over 300 to be specific. Considering how much there are humans in the game, getting 100% corruption means that you are going to spend lot of time warping between levels to kill peasants. Unless you abuse Silent Orders resurrection ability.
- In Soul Nomad & the World Eaters the 'Evil' path of using Gig's power IS easier than not using it, as you can gain hundreds or thousands of levels, with the drawback that using it too much is a Nonstandard Game Over.
- The Demon Path of Soul Nomad is also notably more difficult than the normal path, as you'll end up facing many heroes and villains of the normal path, only all united against you, instead of acting alone or on your side.
- Most Strategy Games such as Total War Series and Galactic Civilizations has a lot of benefits for the evil side before there is a decision to decide if you are a nice guy or not, And genocide give you bad traits but lots of money.
- At least in the early stages, the Carnivore/Predator route seems substantially easier than Herbivore/Diplomat in Spore. Once you reach the Tribal and Civilized stages, though, a mixed approach is more likely to achieve success.
- In Disgaea, it's trivially easy to kill your allies either accidentally or on purpose. Unless you have a walkthrough, you've just missed the Good Ending of the first game.
- The first Disgaea game also offers a bizarre subversion, in the form of two special bonus endings that you can only get by killing large numbers of your allies, far more than you would ever be likely to kill by accident.
- Black & White is much, much easier to play as an evil god. Scaring people by throwing fireballs, rocks and summoning wolves rewards more belief than good miracles do, sacrificing provides an enormous mana boost compared to the worship of an average village, and evil miracles can be almost game-breakingly devastating (Increased Lightning, with good aim, depopulate an entire village in two shots). By comparison, good miracles are almost all close-range and reward pitiful belief unless you're fulfilling a need of some sort (wood, food), worshiping only becomes effective when you get dozens of people doing it (and this will take a while), and to get the kind of power an evil god will have you will have to build a village so large that it will be nigh impossible for your enemy to not be able to hit it. And of course there's the resources you will pour into making said village... evil rules this game.
- Hugely averted in the sequel, however - rather than performing Miracles to impress villages you want to conquer, you have to build up your own city's "Impressiveness" by building structures and prospering to make them migrate to you. And unless you make a pointed, conscious effort to build as unattractively as possible, even building an Evil city up to sufficiently support warfare and a miserable, slave-like populace will attract 50-75% of the villages on the map to migrate. Sure, you can just kill them when they reach your borders, but there's Evil, and there's totally moronic. Even if you do avoid this problem, Good typically ends up with one massive, prosperous, efficient and productive metropolis that naturally grows until you attract the entire map, whilst Evil ends up with a population whom it's a full-time occupation to keep ALIVE, so many people in the armies that efficiency in other areas is less than nothing, and people spread uselessly and frustratingly over various pointlessly insignificant and underproductive villages on the map.
- The Suffering games give you a handful of simple moral choices, usually by introducing NPCs who depend on you for their lives. If you want to be a murderous villain, all you have to do is blow them away as soon as they stop speaking. If you want the good guy points, you usually have to protect them as they stumble through the halls of a haunted prison. Fail to save them from the unholy abominations and you don't even get points for trying. However, most of your companions are decent fighters, even if they don't check their fire for you (particularly the dynamite guy), and neutral is an ending unto itself.
- While there are rewards for being a goody two-shoes in the Fallout series, especially Fallout 3, several of the best rewards and simplest solutions are very, very bad. Sell a sentient, innocent, and helpful android into slavery? Free perk for you! Want the single best face equipment in the game, the only one that adds action points? You'll need to kill a friendly guy in cold blood.
- In Fallout 2 this trope is inverted. Playing a very low-karma character not only denies you many major and rewarding quests but the evil route requires many more direct fights with major NPCs and the low-karma options are often difficult to discover. Just gaining full access to Vault City requires you to either take a high-karma route to have the perfect stat setup to take the no-karma option. Also, the quest lines to join with the Raiders and/or the Hubologists were both left incomplete.
- Puzzle Quest has it both ways. For some sidequests, one can take an easy amoral option for a reward, or the long path for another reward. However, the "good" rewards tend to be superior (though often not worth the trouble) for helping you out down the road.
- In Might and Magic VI, reaching the Saintly reputation (required for Master of Light Magic) requires you to trudge through quest after quest, slowly building your reputation. However, becoming Master of Dark Magic (requires the worst "Notorious" reputation) takes less than 30 seconds of killing innocent villagers.
- Inverted in the main quest of the first Fable game. Said main quest gives you good points fairly often, and evil points fairly rarely, so unless you go out of your way to slaughter civilians, you'll probably end up good.
- Played straight outside of the plot: things which give you good points when you kill them, like bandits and undead, are rather difficult to find in large groups and yield only 5 good points. Guards, though slightly harder to kill, spawn infinitely and yield 20 evil points. Also, you can get 600 evil points easy by divorcing your spouse.
- Fable is an inversion in that while evil acts are as simple as punching out a window, becoming evil is a full-time job as the default in the game is Good, and going evil mid-game requires multiple Moral Event Horizon in order to be recognized as evil.
- As an in-game inversion, the two temples require different types of sacrifice. Avo (good) requests money, Skorm (evil) requests humans. Since you can amass a fortune by repeatedly investing in real estate, it's trivial to amass more gold than you'll ever spend, whereas making human sacrifices involves repeated tedious Escort Missions to get them to the temple.
- In Fable 2, during the part of the story where you're a Spire guard, disobeying the evil commandant makes you lose experience, while taking the evil actions has no negative consequences except, if you don't want them, evil points.
- Fable 3's third act is designed around this, in concept at least. When you become King/Queen, you need to raise six million gold to defend Albion against the ultimate evil, and becoming an evil ruler is the easiest way to do that. All the good choices cost you money, meaning you'll have to work a lot harder (doing in game jobs and buying loads of property and shops, etc.) and wait a lot longer in real world time if you hope to have that much gold for the final act, and you can't jack up the prices too high on your property, because that's considered a corrupt act. Conversely, all the evil options are expedient and generate revenue, so much so that you could skimp plenty of extra gold out of the treasury and use it for yourself. You can also get specific in game rewards and bonuses specifically for doing things like murdering villagers, meaning you have to miss out on that more powerful weapon or achievement if you want to play a truly good character.
- inFAMOUS seems to invoke both parts of this trope. It's easy to sway the Karma meter to evil (Meleeing a civilian with low-ranked melee skill granted like 4 ticks of bad Karma vs. the 1 for healing a downed one,) and Evil often Pays Better, as well. It also makes the game itself easier: Good is precision and non-lethality while Evil is destruction of whatever gets in the way of you and your enemy, it's easier to play through hard mode when you can spend less time aiming and more time shooting.
- Mass Effect takes a variation on this with their Paragon/Renegade system. Shepard is a hero no matter what, but you're allowed to choose if he's the "try to make everybody happy" kind of hero (Paragon) or the "did what I had to do" kind (Renegade). Renegade actions are typically easier and often let you skip fights by disposing of the enemies "unfairly", such as by setting off an explosion or electrocuting a mech pilot before he ever gets into the mech. Paragon is harder, but reaps greater rewards at the end, letting you avoid several genocides that a Renegade will cause, inadvertently or otherwise.
- In Kane and Lynch the "evil" ending is the easiest, with Kane betraying his companions and escaping with his daughter, while the "good" ending requires to play a last and rather tough level to save your companions. Ironically, the "good" ending is the bleakest of the two, as it's implied that both your daughter and Lynch die, while in the "evil" ending (established by the sequel as the canonical one) they just hate your guts.
- In the PC game Secrets of da Vinci: The Forbidden Manuscript, the player character has a Karma Meter which measures his angelic level (white) versus his devilish level (red). You can increase either level at will, if you have the points to spend, and they also are increased by certain choices made during the course of the game. Quite often, the "evil" course of action is the better one to take — for example, you're going to have a better chance of getting the female character to like you if you lie and say that the gift you're giving her was your mother's, instead of telling her the truth about how you swiped it.
- Averted in Ace Combat Zero: morality is entirely based on the number of yellow targets you either destroy or spare. In missions with a lot of yellow targets, you have to deliberately take time away from the actual mission to go destroy them if you want a level other than "Supreme Knight". In addition, spared targets seem to effect karma a lot more than destroyed targets. However, destroying yellow targets nets you quite a lot of extra money, such that if you're playing as a Mercenary (evil) character, you'll have an easier time buying new planes and weapons, as opposed to the Knight (good) character, who has to make each purchase count that much more.
- Nexus Clash (and previously Nexus War) makes it much harder to stay good than to go evil as an intentional design decision. Demons can wander around murdering whoever they damn well please. Neutrals, goods, and evils are all fair game and all give experience. If you want to be an Angel however or even just a Good Transcendant you have to work considerably harder. While you aren't punished for attacking Demons and evil characters, so long as someone maintains a neutral alignment you are unable to attack them without the karma meter frowning upon you, even if they attack you first! This makes hunting difficult when a large portion of the neutral population counts as Stupid Neutral.
- To sort-of-compensate, good warriors can usually beat neutral or evil ones in a straight fight since they obtain an armor ability (which are massively powerful in this game, completely dwarfing any item-based armor) as soon as they reach level 10, while nobody else gets one until level 20. And it scales with level to remain the best for almost the entire game. They also get the most straight "all attacks do extra damage" skills. Plus demons can't be healed even if they had allies who wanted to (which most non-goods don't). Unfortunately for the angels the game is never ever about straight fights, and how quickly you gain experience is almost unrelated to how much of a beating you can take except at the highest levels.
- That said, the actual hardest morality to maintain is probably the Nexus Champion's True Neutral; morality shifts with every attack rather than every kill, so you can literally slip away from the center over the course of a single fight if you can't finish it fast enough.
- In True Crime: Streets of L.A., to be a bad cop, all you had to do was drive down the sidewalk plowing down pedestrians. You could reach this unintentionally by, say, accidentally shooting a hostage, or accidentally running somebody over while in pursuit of a criminal, or a stray bullet hitting a passerby. To raise your meter, you have to complete arrest missions, and you're more likely to commit one of the accidental deeds than actually get your job done.
- Very common in Epic Mickey. While every problem has a paint-based "good" solution and a thinner-based "evil" solution, the paint solutions are almost always much, much more complicated, to the point where many players choose evil not out of preference but out of not having any idea or ability to figure out how to solve the problem the good way.
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert Series:''
- Command & Conquer: Red Alert allowed you to play as either the evil Soviets or the good Allies. The first Soviet mission is unloseable, their tanks are more powerful, and their Tesla coils make their bases nearly invulnerable. The Allies, on the other hand, had much harder missions, separate base defenses for infantry and tanks (the Tesla coil would work fine on either), and small, cheap tanks that couldn't hold a candle to even the weakest basic Soviet tank.
- Reversed in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, however, in that the two sides were rebalanced and made more even, and the Soviet story mode ends up notably more difficult than the Allied story in both the main game and expansion pack.
- Sorta holds up in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, the Soviets are the easiest faction to use and the campaign is designed to be the easiest. Zig-zagged between the Allies and the Empire though, as the final Allied missions are very hard, while the difficulty in the Imperial campaign reaches the peak in the middle, then gets toned down by the end.
- The opposite applies in Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, in which GDI's campaign is designed as the easiest since they are the easiest to use.
- In [PROTOTYPE], consuming defenseless civilians for health is faster than trying to wait for Alex's regen to rebuild the same amount of health and easier than taking on the military, especially in Hard mode where every scrap counts. And have a very fun time trying to minimize the civilian deaths from collateral damage, even if you try to avoid killing them you'll likely fail. As if in acknowledgement of this, there's actually an Achievement for consuming less than 10 civilians in a run. Not for killing less than 10 civilians, mind you. You're going to kill a few hundred or so simply by moving around the map. It's that kind of game.
- The Godfather is confusing about this. If you try to be one of 'em Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters and not extort any more shopkeeps or racket bosses, your income is going to be atrociously little, so Being Good Sucks. On the other hand, trying to take over businesses with violence leads to enemy mobsters attacking, and this game can get rather challenging at times. If you're dealing with a business that doesn't have a backroom racket, it's easier and safer to build up enough Respect that you can take over without violence - on the other hand, building up Respect takes up more time than you probably would going about things the killy way.
- This is present in many sandbox games with Karma Meters. While its easy to get a boatload of evil points in a city by killing every person you come across, there is no easy way to get good points except when give a good/evil choice during a mission. They certainly couldn't give you good points every time you walk by a NPC without performing a spontaneous head-ectomy.
- It is this way in NASCAR 2005 Chase For The Cup if you are not a good driver. Accidentally bump into other cars while racing and you become "evil" very quick.
- Dante's Inferno:
- When given the choice to absolve or punish a famous shade (essentially equivalent to opening a treasure chest), the Punish choice gives out Unholy experience and a small amount of soul economy. The Absolve option, on the other hand, forces you to play a quick-time minigame, resulting in an equal amount of Holy experience and a generous amount of soul economy, depending on how well you score in the minigame. Though collecting three Beatrice Stones lets you bypass the minigame altogether, it is almost never a good idea to do so, especially on your first playthrough, as you miss the soul payoff from playing the minigame.
- Subverted in the sense that the Cross (or more specifically Divine Armor) is a massive Game Breaker, so any effort spent on buffing your Holy EXP is well worth any amount of tedium the minigames may cause. A very deliberate bit of Fridge Brilliance with this.
- Xenoblade toys with this one at times. When there are two mutually-exclusive quests, or a quest that can be completed in one of two ways, the trickier completion -usually- leads to a better outcome for the characters involved... but not always. Sometimes, it's murky which one is better, or the two are equal in result. One notable one that could go either way, yet has a "tough" path, is Emmy Leater's request to give her either a sword or a shield. The shield is easy to find, the sword requires another small collection quest - yet the shield is possibly the "good" option, leading to a shorter final quest in the chain.
- Dishonored zigzags this trope. When you proceed through the game, you can either opt to eliminate every enemy in your path or simply sneak by and/or incapacitate them. The former is much easier to do, especially since the majority of your weapons, tools, and powers make it easier (and more fun) to do so. However...leaving a trail of bodies increases your Chaos, which causes there to be more rats, Weepers, and increasingly paranoid guards in future missions. The last level in particular is significantly harder on a high-Chaos playthrough.
- Some of the games in the WWE series featured rewards for living up to your character's status as a face (good) or a heel (evil). In practice this gave heels a huge advantage, since living up to their reputation involved using damaging illegal moves, connecting with hard-hitting foreign objects and adding extra pain by refusing to break submission holds. Good guys could only showboat or perform high-risk moves, both of which left them wide open to a counterattack.
- In The Binding of Isaac there are angel rooms, which contain an angel with one item you can have for free, and devil rooms, where you can sacrifice health to buy items from the devil. While some of the angel room items are more powerful, the devil rooms show up more often. Also, once you've bought from the devil no angel room will ever appear...but the devil is still happy to bargain after you've been to the angel room.
- Subverted in BioShock. Throughout the game, when you encounter Little Sisters, you're given the option of "Rescuing" (curing them and turning them back into regular little girls) or "Harvesting" (murdering said little girl to gain access to the powerful material she was collecting). In theory, someone who picked Harvest was an utter bastard who'd kill children, but they got more power, whereas Rescuing altruistically made things harder for yourself by doing the right thing. In practice, if you consistently choose Rescue, a character will send you gifts out of gratitude, and these gifts include more of the powerful material than you would have gotten if you'd Harvested. So now your choices are to be a good guy and have an easier time of it, or be a bad guy just because.
- There are two ways to resolve battles in Undertale: killing your opponent or sparing them. Killing them is pretty quick and easy (just time your button presses for maximum damage) and is the only way to gain XP and level up and if you're going for the Genocide ending, your fights become exponentially easier to the point that entire bosses become pushovers.. Sparing them, however, turns every boss fight and even many regular encounters into Puzzle Bosses, and making it a habit leaves you woefully underleveled and low on HP but is the only way to access the true ending of the game. The only thing that's harder about killing everything than sparing everything is you'll have to fight Sans in the Genocide route, and if you do, you're gonna have a bad time.
- In Lands Of Lore 2, being Good means cooperating with the various villages and doing their quests so that they'll let you pass on to the next area. Being Evil allows for massive Dungeon Bypass, as you can simply kill whoever it is that's in your way and collect any items they wanted you to get through a quest.