->''"Will somebody turn on the lights?! I can't see shit!"''
-->-- '''Harvey Moiseiwitsch Volodarskii''', ''VideoGame/NoMoreHeroes''

Lighting can add to the atmosphere of a game. Unfortunately, what looks dark and atmospheric on the developer's calibrated monitor just looks black on your average Joe's computer monitor. That goes double when playing during daylight, especially if the sun shines into the room.

Other causes include poor lighting code, bad shaders, not using enough light sources or not making the light sources bright enough.

Regardless of the cause, the game ends up too dark, forcing the user to adjust the brightness controls of the game or their monitor. Sometimes this kills the atmosphere once the view is bright enough to see what they are doing.

Note that this does not refer to games with the occasional dark area such as the flashlight-intensive third chapter in ''VideoGame/HalfLife2: Episode 1''; that's BlackoutBasement. This trope is when ''the whole game'' is too dark. For the sister trope dealing with a shortage of color saturation, see RealIsBrown.

Invert this trope and apply it to music and you get LoudnessWar. Not to be confused with BlackoutBasement, where darkness is the gimmick of a single section instead of a design flaw. Contrast HollywoodDarkness, which is when the darkness is dark in name only. Also not to be confused with "Who turned out the lights?", a common [[OtherStockPhrases stock phrase]] / gag in which a character calls this out after having their head covered by a bucket or something.



[[folder:Action Adventure]]
* ''VideoGame/TombRaiderIII'' does it, though it's worse on some monitors than others. Thankfully, this game came with a gamma adjustment control, which when increased improved visibility but made the moody lighting almost impossible to see. No such luck for players on the UsefulNotes/PlayStation, however. Even though you do have flares, they do not last very long. It got so bad that on Tomb Raider Forums, someone posted screenshots of a [[UrbanLegendOfZelda hoax]] nighttime version of the Croft Manor level; in reality, this was just the regular Croft Manor with the gamma turned to the bottom.
* ''[[VideoGame/LegacyOfKain Soul Reaver 2]]'', especially in the BadFuture parts and when you're underwater in a cave can be so dark that literally all you can see is Raziel himself. Cranking up the brightness is the only way to see where you're going.
* Some areas in ''VideoGame/MirrorsEdge'' are really dark, especially the parts where you have to move through air vents. If you turn the brightness to maximum, you can see fine there, but other parts become too bright.
* ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'' always asks you to adjust your TV brightness before you start playing because of how dark the game is. It kinda makes sense since it's supposed to be a [[IncrediblyLamePun Darker]] [[DarkerAndEdgier and Edgier]] following the LighterAndSofter [[Videogame/TheLegendOfZeldaOracleGames Oracle games]], ''[[Videogame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker The Wind Waker]]'', ''[[Videogame/TheLegendOfZeldaFourSwordsAdventures Four Swords Adventures]]'' and '' [[Videogame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheMinishCap The Minish Cap]]''.

* ''VideoGame/{{Riven}}'' has an install screen which specifically explains that if they go making everything bright, it blows out some of the detail. So the game has you adjust your monitor to a sensible curve.
* ''VideoGame/LimboOfTheLost'' infamously demonstrated [[PixelHunt why adventure games should never do this]]. (The poor lighting would seem to have been caused by the game's backgrounds being ripped off from other games that were poorly lit.)
* ''Dracula 2: the Last Sanctuary''. Solving puzzles when you can't find the components because it's so dark? Not very entertaining.
* Several of the ''VideoGame/NancyDrew'' games have this problem. It can be hard to find the alarm-setting button on Nancy's clock in ''White Wolf of Icicle Creek'' because of her bedroom's darkness.
** In ''Legend of the Crystal Skull'' you enter a room in which the only thing you can see is the door and window. There's a bed and a nightstand in it, but you only find them thanks to your cursor changing and the sound effect of opening the nightstand drawer.
** ''Ghost of Thornton Hall'' has a few moving shadows meant to startle the player. You can see them when playing the game on a very bright monitor, but play it on a darker one and you can't see the shadows. At all.
** ''Warnings at Waverly Academy'' has some problems with darkness, but only when Nancy's creeping around at night.

[[folder:First Person Shooter]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Doom 3}}'', made much worse by the fact that you can't use a gun and a flashlight at the same time [[note]]which ended up in the creation of the memetic phrase "There is no duct tape on Mars"[[/note]] or, in the case of the Hell level of the core game, you don't have a light at all[[labelnote:*]]being forcefully teleported [[BagOfSpilling leaves you weaponless]], and you never get the flashlight back before the level ends[[/labelnote]]. [[TheyPlottedAPerfectlyGoodWaste It's an intentional design decision]]: the game was purposefully designed with this trope in mind, and unlike most previous games, the engine is actually capable of rendering dark areas as completely pitch black, meaning that fiddling with your brightness settings is not going to help you. Nonetheless, [[TropesAreTools the idea wasn't well-received]], so much so that the very first GameMod released on the internet for it was a fix that adds a torchlight to the shotgun and the machinegun. Creator/{{id Software}} took notice of that, and the official UpdatedRerelease simply includes a shoulder-mounted TenSecondFlashlight that dispenses [[ScrappyMechanic light-to-weapon switching]].
* ''VideoGame/{{Quake}}'', especially the GL version. Some areas are rendered pitch black until you activate the lights or [[MuzzleFlashlight light the way with your muzzle flashes]], this being one of the first games to do it (much like ''Doom 3'', adjusting the monitor brightness won't help you). ''VideoGame/QuakeII'' also suffers from this, although to a slightly lesser extent since you're traveling through industrial alien bases and not eldritch dimensions, and [[RangedEmergencyWeapon the Blaster]] [[BottomlessMagazines can be fired indefinitely]] and [[MuzzleFlashlight its projectiles work decently as flares]].
* ''VideoGame/{{BioShock|1}}'' borders on this in places, being set in an underwater city that's falling apart, right down to the electrical system. ''VideoGame/{{BioShock 2}}'' gives you an automatic flashlight, but you have zero control over it, and it only triggers in [[BlackoutBasement specific areas that are even darker than the first game]].
* ''VideoGame/DeusEx''. Perhaps it is because J.C is wearing SunglassesAtNight. Then again, [[MemeticMutation his vision is augmented]].
* ''[[VideoGame/FirstEncounterAssaultRecon F.E.A.R.]]'' and its sequel do this. Both games even have you calibrate your settings at the start of the game to ensure that you have just the right level of darkness. As with ''Doom 3'', some rooms are completely black, which [[TheAllSeeingAI doesn't stop the enemy from seeing you]]. The second game is the worse of the two, especially with the dimmed-down flashlight, although it's an InfiniteFlashlight as opposed to the first game's TenSecondFlashlight.
* ''[[VideoGame/{{Descent}} Descent Maximum]]'', as shown in a Let's Play.
* Dark areas in the first ''VideoGame/SoldierOfFortune'' has you running blind, [[GogglesDoNothing even with night vision goggles]], [[TheAllSeeingAI while the enemies can still see you]].
* ''VideoGame/YouAreEmpty'' goes above and beyond the call of duty by having no lighting effects to speak of.
* The original ''VideoGame/{{Marathon}}'' was very dark unless you turned up the brightness, which killed the atmosphere.
* ''VideoGame/PAYDAYTheHeist'' has the light adaptation feature, which is supposed to adjust the light level in the game in a way that the human eyes adjust to changing light levels in real life. However, the feature usually causes the screen to darken at most places, making it hard to see where your enemies are shooting from. Luckily, you can turn the feature off and stick to the standard brightness settings.
* ''VideoGame/Left4Dead'':
** [[WhatCouldHaveBeen At first]], the game was going to be this trope by having the game use realistic lighting and fog, but the developers canned the idea after seeing how difficult it was for players to tell where the zombies were coming from. Instead, Valve went for a downplayed HollywoodDarkness and a dense, tinted fog effect to simulate the same effects used in horror films. The solution was twofold: not only did the fog effect make the game look more like a typical horror movie, it also created silhouettes for distant zombies, allowing players to see them and prepare for any onslaughts. The fog and lightning idea was later reused in ''VideoGame/Left4Dead2'' in the Hard Rain level.
** The actual trope is only played straight in custom campaigns like ''Suicide Blitz 2'' and ''Blackout Basement''. Even then, you can't see the lights of the other survivors, which makes the games particularly dark.
** The GameMod "Darkness Falls" for the second game is this trope taken to its logical extreme [[TropesAreNotBad for those that don't think the game is scary enough]]. All ambient lights are heavily muted, to the point where places with lamps seem to be in the middle of a brownout and those without are ''pitch freaking black'', but the survivors's torches illuminate as normal, and in fact reach a lot farther than in vanilla. Suddenly, a gunlight on your SniperRifle is not so pointless anymore.[[labelnote:why would it be?]]Normally the light beam doesn't reach far enough to illuminate distant targets, so all it does is brighten up areas closer than the zombie you're aiming at, which distracts the shooter and throws aiming off.[[/labelnote]]
* ''Videogame/EYEDivineCybermancy'' had ''extremely'' dark levels to go hand-in-hand with its CyberPunk themes at its release, to the point where the flashlight (and sometimes [[RoboCam EYE Vision]]) had to be activate pretty much constantly. An update a few weeks after release increased the lighting brightness in most areas to be more playable.
* At one point in ''VideoGame/NightmareHouse 2'', the flashlight goes kaputz, and you're forced to use (a thankfully abundant supply of) [[TenSecondFlashlight single-use emergency flares]] to light your way around. This trope, the platforming elements, and the lack of memorable scares the mod is famous for ensure that [[ScrappyLevel not many people like this segment]].
* The ''Videogame/PlanetSide 2'' beta had pitch-black nights. They [[SceneryPorn looked amazing]] with [[EveryBulletIsATracer tracers flying to and fro]], but it had serious issues due to there being next to no lighting in bases at that point, and the dark color palette of the Vanu Sovereignty soldiers made them almost invisible. The game switched to HollywoodDarkness at release.
* ''[[Videogame/MechWarrior MechWarrior Living Legends]]''' first release of the TSA_Clearcut map had a night-day cycle with pitch black nights; it was great for showing off [[Videogame/{{Crysis}} CryEngine's]] power with [[SceneryPorn laserbeams scything through the air and missiles raining down on the terrain]], but it made engaging [[SpacePlane Aerospace Fighters]] (black against the black sky) and the tiny [[PoweredArmor BattleArmor]] a miserable experience even with nightvision enabled. It was later brightened up, though nightvision and exterior lights were still required at night.

* ''VideoGame/RuneScape'''s high detail graphical updates have added this to the game. In dungeons, it can become very difficult to see if both lighting detail, textures and ground detail are turned on. Fortunately, turning one or all of these off makes the game much brighter.

* ''VideoGame/{{Abuse}}'', a shooter with dark graphics, does this on some, especially older, monitors.
* ''VideoGame/JakAndDaxterThePrecursorLegacy'', despite having a bright, kid-friendly color palette during the game's "day", becomes a world of black during the night cycles.
* Parodied in ''VideoGame/EarthwormJim'' with its secret level, "Who Turned Out The Lights?" The level is completely dark except for a few spotlights (stand in front of them to see a silhouette of Jim) -- and you spend most of the level looking at Jim's googly eyes and shooting at other menacing eyes. At the end of the level [[spoiler:A set of '''huge''' eyes appears and chases Jim around until he gets back to the main game.]]
* Owing to the DarkerAndEdgier factor, ''VideoGame/EpicMickey'' can often be too dark to see properly.

[[folder:Puzzle Game]]
* Developers wanted to make sure that you'd play ''VideoGame/{{Limbo}}'' at night due to brightness levels being low.
* ''VideoGame/TheSeventhGuest'' and ''The 11th Hour''. Both asked you to adjust your brightness to the proper level before playing.

[[folder:Role Playing Game]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Fallout}}'':
** ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'' is an offender as its very many dark areas are almost pitch black even at the highest brightness setting. Turning on the Pip-boy lamp only brightens a tiny area and makes everything in it, such as rocks, shiny and causes lots of bloom. There are mods around that affect it both color- and reach-wise to address this issue. On the other hand, there are {{Game Mod}}s which intentionally invoke this trope, both for this and ''[[VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas New Vegas]]''.
** ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 4}}'' is, perhaps, a ''worse'' offender by virtue of the fact that it lacks a brightness setting '''at all.''' Many, many areas in the game are as dark, or darker, than those in its predecessor, but without a means of compensating beyond manually editing the game's gamma from a configuration file.
* ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'' series invokes this in some areas. The games provide various means of lighting both mundane (torches, lanterns, candles, etc.) and [[FantasticLightSource fantastic]] ([[InnateNightvision Night Eye]] and [[UtilityMagic Light]] spells), with the expectation that you'll need to use it to light up the darker places in the game world.
* ''Franchise/KingdomHearts'' can have this sort of effect. Some players have complained that the [[{{VideoGame/KingdomHeartsI}} original game]] needed the brightness at max to be able to see in dark places like the secret place. With the brightness at normal it is a black room. With the brightness at max you can see the detail. ''VideoGame/KingdomHeartsII'' got similar complaints.
* ''GameMod/TheMaimedGodsSaga'', a fan campaign for ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2'', has trouble with being too dark to see your hand in front of your face at times. Good thing your starting equipment includes a holy symbol of Tyr that can cast ''light'' an unlimited number of times.
* ''VideoGame/DragonsDogma'' asks you to adjust the game's brightness before you begin playing, telling you to change it until you can barely see one of the dragons and clearly see the other. Most players should probably just turn it all the way to max, though, even if the instructions would put it only half as bright, because nighttime will be ''pitch black'' otherwise and you'll probably end up blundering into a cyclops or something.

* Night missions in flight simulators such as ''F/A-18 Hornet''. If you turn the brightness up, it becomes HollywoodDarkness.

[[folder:Stealth Based Game]]
* The ''VideoGame/{{Thief}}'' series, to a ridiculous level.
** A bit of gamma adjustment can go a long way - besides, it's sort of the whole premise of the series. In any event, the developers were thoughtful enough to include flares in ''The Metal Age''.
* The first ''[[Franchise/TheChroniclesOfRiddick Riddick]]'' game, ''VideoGame/EscapeFromButcherBay,'' throws you into some very dark situations before Riddick receives his SuperSenses. The worst of these occurs in Pope Joe's den, where you're asked to [[FetchQuest retrieve a radio]] in a [[IncrediblyLamePun pitch black]] [[AbsurdlySpaciousSewer sewer]] while armed with a [[TenSecondFlashlight dying flashlight]]. Also the sewer is populated with howling mutants.
* ''VideoGame/SplinterCellPandoraTomorrow'' The game actually looks pretty good. Too bad it's so dark that you'll almost always be playing it through the black-and-white night vision. Somewhat justified, it being a StealthBasedGame.

[[folder:Survival Horror]]
* ''VideoGame/TheSuffering'' is kind enough to let you set the brightness yourself. But since it's a horror game, it shows you a static image and tells you to make it just ''barely'' visible. The end result is dim, eerie lighting, perfect for a fright.
* This happens for a little while in the ''Franchise/SilentHill'' games, before you locate your flashlight, and during this point, your best bet with enemies is to simply run your fool ass off.
** ''VideoGame/SilentHillHomecoming'' is the worst culprit for this, having areas of the game so dark, that even with the flashlight you can barely see where you're going.
** What's worse is that this gets even worse in the HD collection.
* Many areas of ''VideoGame/ResidentEvilCodeVeronica'' are pitch-black or close to it, requiring to equip the [[{{Chiaroscuro}} Lighter]] to find your way around. For about a third of the game, you won't even have that luxury.
** The newer ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil6'' is a bad offender too. It is debatable if it's just an unplanned example of this trope or if it was [[FakeDifficulty intended to make the targets harder to hit]]. Then again, not even the brightness adjusment screen seems to work well.
* ''VideoGame/AmnesiaTheDarkDescent'' does as well; the idea isn't to ensure that it's bright enough, but that it's only just barely bright enough. They also recommend playing at night with the lights off, both to ensure visibility and maximum scariness. Oddly enough, the game also has your character's vision realistically adjust to darkness. The same applies to the spiritual prequel, the ''VideoGame/{{Penumbra}}'' trilogy.

[[folder:Third Person Shooter]]
* ''Conflict: Vietnam'' has a level where you're in a bunker that takes place in the evening with napalm smoke in the sky. The next level, 'Bad Moon' takes place full-on at night... And is easier to see.
* ''VideoGame/BulletWitch''. The ubiquitous dark areas are so black the only way you can realistically spot enemies is from their muzzle flashes. And the protagonist is not MadeOfIron or anything so waiting to get shot is a poor way of finding them. Made all the more insulting by including a "brightness adjustment screen" in the options...that can't adjust the brightness. What are they expecting, that you change your TV brightness every time you play this game?
* In addition to the occasional completely black rooms, the sixth-gen ''VideoGame/SyphonFilter'' games suffer from this during night missions, particularly if the mission doesn't allow a flashlight or night-vision goggles. ''Dark Mirror''(no pun intended) is the worst of the bunch, as the flashlight has been nerfed to the point of being almost useless, so you'll nearly always be using your NVG's in dark areas.

[[folder:Vehicular Combat Game]]
* ''VideoGame/TwistedMetal: Black''. The darkness was intentional -- it is intended to convey a CrapsackWorld, but some players can't see their hand in front of their face except on the highest brightness settings.

[[folder:Wide Open Sandbox]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Minecraft}}'' does this ''[[TheyPlottedAPerfectlyGoodWaste intentionally]]''. As [[DarknessEqualsDeath monsters spawn at lower light levels]], the creator (Notch) wanted to encourage players not to simply blindly wander through the night or through dark tunnels, and to place torches as often as possible. A side effect of this is a generally scary atmosphere, especially outside Peaceful mode. There are (glitch) instances where the lighting for various covered blocks fail to take full effect and make the space within at a light level of 0. This can be fixed by placing or removing a block next to the affected area, causing a chunk update.
** The brightness setting, which was added sometime later, can avert the trope. With the brightness turned up to the max, you can still see in caves with zero light, but it's still dark enough to partially cover up whatever dangers are lurking (Moody, the setting with the least brightness, plays the trope as straight as it can be). You can also avert the trope completely by drinking a Potion of Night Vision, which makes everything bright as if the sun was up.

* The original design of the UsefulNotes/GameBoyAdvance had a very dark screen. The problem was made worse, at the initial release of the system, because early development units had a brighter screen than retail units, so the colors were calibrated to be darker than intended. ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaCircleOfTheMoon'' and the port of ''VideoGame/{{Doom}}'' are commonly-held examples of games that are noticeably more playable on a backlit GBA SP or DS. ''VideoGame/{{Doom}}'' had the option to turn off dynamic lighting (no darkness and shadows), which was pretty much like having a permanent Light Amplification Goggles powerup -- which was removed from the GBA edition for being redundant.
* Hilariously spoofed in one ''Gamepro Magazine'' April Fools edition. They claimed to have first-look screens of the new ''Comicbook/{{Daredevil}}'' console game, but just showed black screens (and the multiplayer had a black screen divided into four!). [[DontExplainTheJoke The joke being that Daredevil is a blind superhero.]]
* This was once a common problem for Mac ports of PC games due to different gamma values. (As of OS X 10.6, the Mac has adopted standard Windows gamma as its default.) The [[GameEngine Unreal Engine]] in particular was subject to this, due to a gamma-correction feature that only worked properly on [=PCs=].
** This platform difference could even spawn a GuideDangIt. When the Mac game ''VideoGame/{{Myst}}'' was ported to Windows, many PC monitors were so much darker that vital scenery objects were swallowed by darkness.
* ''VideoGame/{{Slender}}'' takes place in a forest at night. While the game does give you a somewhat effective flashlight, using it too much will [[TenSecondFlashlight cause the batteries]] [[OhCrap to run out]]. But believe it or not, visibility can get even ''worse'' from there - the more pages you collect, the more OminousFog, and the more Ominous Fog means more encounters from [[BigBad Slender Man]]. An official mod was released to play the game during the daytime. ''The game's still just as scary.''
* Non-video game example: the webcomic ''Webcomic/{{Waterworks}}'' which features the occasional Flash animation. If there's anything happening underground, you'd better turn up your monitor brightness to the max if you want to see anything at all.
* Many televisions sold in stores have their contrast and brightness turned up very high so potential buyers can spot the TV from a fair distance away. Older models were set to much darker factory defaults to avoid premature burnout, which meant the screen could appear very dark until you fiddled with the settings. Since the advent of longer-lasting LED backlights, however, manufacturers have been much less cautious about these settings. Most TV's you buy now are in what graphics professionals refer to as "torch mode", with brightness, contrast, and saturation values cranked up to near maximum.