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Crapsaccharine World / Video Games

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  • The realm of Elysium as featured in the first episode of Assassin's Creed Odyssey DLC Fate of Atlantis. The place is visually stunning with endless fields of flowers, giant towering waterfalls, and beautiful marble everywhere. However, this does not hide that it is both a prison for Persephone and she rules the place with an iron fist. No one is allowed to leave, inhabitants are mind-controlled into working loyally for Persephone, and despite its initial beauty, the landscape is also scattered with ruins that imply a darker past.
    • Atlantis from the final episode of the same DLC is also this as well. Despite it's stunning beauty it also is full of nasty things once the misthios starts looking around.
  • The Telltale Games sequel to Back to the Future: The Game has one in Hill Valley in an alternate version of 1986. The city is publicised as one of the cleanest, safest, most law-abiding cities in the United States. This is because its ruler (or rather, his wife pulling the strings) is an insane Moral Guardian, who has banned everything from alcohol and cigarettes to public displays of affection, Dungeons & Dragons, and Science Fiction novels. By 1986 surveillance cameras and bugs are everywhere and Edna is resorting to brainwashing to keep people like Biff rehabilitated.
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  • On the surface, The Battle Cats appears to be a fun and lighthearted, if quirky, romp through the world starring adorable Cats of all shapes and sizes... who eventually take over the entire world, have a take-no-prisoners attitude towards their disgusting and cruel enemies, can work in perfect unison, can fight aliens and zombies with no trouble, eventually conquer the past and future... Of course Blue-and-Orange Morality is always in play.
  • Bayonetta:
    • There is Paradiso, the shining gold and marble Heaven-Expy. In fact, in the mythos of Bayonetta it's even referred to as the "World of Light" (as opposed to the Hell-expy Inferno as the "World of Darkness", and the human world known as the "World of Chaos") but Light Is Not Good is in full effect here. The angels are actually monstrosities that look more like Eldritch Abominations just under their gold and pearly shells, and outright despise humanity, wanting nothing more than to wage a war on the Trinity of Realities so that they can wipe out both the Infernal Demons and all of humanity, so that only Paradiso remains.
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    • In the first game there's Vigrid, a well-protected and secretive old world European city financed and owned by the Ithavoll Group, which is stationed on a tiny metropolitan man-made island called the Isla Del Sol. Just a few minutes in the city and Bayonetta already notices the guards in Vigrid are carrying assault rifles, and it's later discovered that the CEO of the Ithavoll Group is Father Balder, last of the Lumen Sages who plans on resurrecting the Creator-God Jubileus in order to unmake the world to recreate it as something "better". The artbook goes into further detail, where it turns out all the poor and homeless of Vigrid used to be middle or upper class, but found out about the corruption or Balder's plan and protested against it.
  • In Beyond Good & Evil, Hillys seems nice, even though the Domz are invading it. The great alpha sections protect the poor citizens and defend the cities. Only the Alpha Sections are Domz, they abduct citizens to turn them into more Domz, the ones who know it are portrayed as rebels, and the protagonist is the Domz' power source.
  • BioShock:
    • BioShock is not an example, since the player is Late to the Tragedy and only sees the city as a gutted urban battlefield, but supplementary material and the later Burial at Sea DLC show that Rapture in its prime fit this. The underwater city is a gorgeous monument to art deco design, and an Objectivist paradise where entrepeneurs can flourish without business restrictions and artists can create without censorship. But look a little closer and you can see the signs of Rapture's approaching downfall: an increasingly-tyrannical Andrew Ryan clamping down on anything that threatens control of "his" city. A Mad Artist electrocuting dancers who offended his muse. Growing discontent from all those who played the game of ruthless capitalism and lost, now trapped in an Underwater City they aren't allowed to leave. Little Sisters, orphans (or not) converted into living ADAM factories to sate the addiction of a spliced-up population...
    • In BioShock 2 we see what Rapture looks like from a Little Sister's perspective. Here, the dilapidated corridors are transformed into an eerily beautiful palace, decorated with heroic statues of Subject Delta's achievements and populated by elegantly-dressed men and women; there are also "angels" lying around the place, asleep in piles of rosebuds and surrounded by clouds of butterflies. However, activating the "gather" command while arround these angels briefly undoes the illusion, revealing that the supposed angel is the decaying corpse of a splicer: the rose petals are actually blood, and the butterflies are... well, flies. Worse still, the well-dressed men and women are really splicers employed by Sofia Lamb; now that they're being paid in ADAM, they're no longer interested in attacking you... well, almost. Oh, and that curious sound of sleigh-bells ringing in the distance? In reality, that's the sound of Augustus Sinclair getting tortured. The soft, sad harp that plays throughout only underlines the whole situation.
    • BioShock Infinite brings out a much straightforward example in the form of Columbia. It's a beautiful Steampunk city floating in the sky, equipped with lush parks, stately architecture, and a hell of a lot of advanced technology on display — complete with mechanical horses, casual airship travel, robotic replacement bodies, and superpower-inducing tonics. The people are all friendly, pious, and hold America's Founding Fathers in very high regard. And if you win a raffle at the annual fair, the prize is the first throw in the stoning of an interracial couple. Soon you discover that the city is also a weapon of mass destruction that stopped taking orders from Washington long ago, and now wanders the world, attacking anything its controllers see as a threat to American interests. Then you explore the oppressive factories filled with exploited foreign laborers that keep Columbia afloat, and the shantytowns that host the Vox Populi, a well-intentioned resistance movement that wants to topple the Founders, the xenophobic, hyper-conservative plutocrats who rule the city. And then once the Vox start making gains, they quickly devolve into murderous Bomb-Throwing Anarchists out to massacre everyone else.
  • By and large, the Internet society of BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm is a lot tamer and nicer than its real-life counterpart. The scenery is pretty, the users are friendly and (mostly) get along with each other… but it’s also a horrifically unstable simulation, prone to reformatting and deletion at the drop of a hat. Over the course of the two games and their backstory, the virtual world is nearly annihilated no less than six times. And since Your Mind Makes It Real is in full effect, you do not want to be around when shit hits the fan.
  • In Bully, Bullworth Academy could be seen as this. It certainly looks nice from the outside, with the elegantly maintained grounds and main hall with chandelier and wooden bannisters on the staircase, plus a student body consisting of rich and/or gifted kids - "the leaders of tomorrow". Of course, any part of the school that isn't kept up for appearances' sake is a dump, and the school doesn't really advertise the reform school candidates.
  • Broken Age gives us two examples for the price on one. Vella's story opens on Sugar Bunting, a picturesque pastoral village comprised of bakers; who sacrifice young maidens every 14 years to a monster (and in fact all the beautiful areas in Vella's story do the same thing). Shay's story however takes place in a wonderful ship that is designed to care and entertain children which gradually becomes a living hell as the child matures.
  • Although it's not quite perfect, the world presented in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is mostly under the watchful eye of the Atlas Corporation, who provides a non-governmental solution for military combat, global security, and relief aid for war-torn regions. Their widespread influence and success rate (which by the time of the game can be said to be better than even government-fielded armies) has catapulted them into global recognition, to the point that CEO Jonathan Irons is able to take a seat at the UN Security Council. The dark reality is that they are in fact working to build a future where Irons and Atlas Corporation become the sole global superpower and Irons is able to enact his doctrine around the world without challenge.
  • The Colossus resort in 2025 is a large floating paradise for the wealthy in Call of Duty: Black Ops II. But from the facial recognition ads to the crass, excessive consumerism on display, you can't help but feel at least a bit unnerved. No wonder then that Menendez was able to get many followers, as the whole place is pretty much the poster child for everything Cordis Die is fighting against. This is also where Salazar makes some peculiar comments hinting at his status as The Mole to Menendez later on.
  • Candy Mountain Massacre; Candy Mountain has fallen into this state as of 2, and both the Cupcakes and the humans who have gone in are having quite the awful time of it. One level even has you blasting through what is in all intents and purposes a torture chamber.
  • Chrono Trigger brings us the magical Kingdom of Zeal from 12,000 B.C. — warning sign number one right there, nobody from later on the timeline has ever heard of it. At first glance, it is presented as an idyllic world where everyone's needs are taken care of, free time is devoted to the study of science, magic, philosophy, and sleep, and the worst thing to worry about is overly pretentious navel-gazing. It's all downhill from there. Oh, and the "idyllic" floating sky-castles? Those are off-limits to the humans who can't use magic, who are confined to dirty caves on the surface, which is locked in an ice age.
  • City of Heroes' expansion Going Rogue took place in an alternate dimension called Praetoria, a gleaming silver and gold utopian empire where everyone is satisfied and Emperor Cole rules humanity with compassion, justice, and honor. The player quickly learns, however, that the utopia of Praetoria is held together by a ruthlessly totalitarian government that uses multiple supernatural methods to keep the population complacent. The city's water supply? Spiked with a potent chemical that suppresses negative and combative emotions. The advanced robotic servants, seen everywhere maintaining, cleaning, and building the city? They are equipped with laser guns and Tesla cannons and can, at a moment's notice, be turned into super-intelligent killing machines by the creator. The psychics on every street corner, scanning the city for crimes in progress? They also scan the minds of everyone passing by, looking for "dangerous" thoughts, like hostility or dislike toward Cole. The Praetorian Police Department are loyal only to their Emperor and will banish anyone deemed a problem into the deadly wasteland outside the city. The police department and the government as a whole are also horribly corrupt, with members routinely abusing their power just to punish those they dislike.

    Under the city is little better. There is a Cyberpunk-styled Resistance based out of the city's Absurdly Spacious Sewers, but it has its own internal problems. Its leadership is split between the Wardens, who want to take down Cole, but leave the structure of Praetoria largely intact, and the Crusaders, who just want to burn it all to the ground, claiming the city is far too corrupt and oppressive to be saved. The sewers are also teeming with Ghouls, zombie-like creatures that are the result of horrific experiments performed by Cole and his Praetors.

    Much later, in the ruins of Old Praetoria, the players learned it was far worse than even that. Most of humanity is dead, with Hamidon and his Devouring Earth controlling most of the planet. Praetoria is just a carefully-negotiated region where humanity is allowed to live, as long as the truce between Cole and Hamidon holds. Had the game continued, Issue 24 would have shown the dire consequences of defeating Cole, as the shining city would have become a ruined wasteland covered in monsters trying to slaughter or convert the last humans in the world into more of Hamidon's minions.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day is just as bright, colourful and cheery as Banjo-Kazooie. Then the swearing and excessive violence starts happening, and it's clear this game isn't Banjo.
  • From Cyberpunk 2077, we have Night City: beautiful and pristine on the surface, and the go-to place if you're looking for opportunity. It has also been voted as the "worst place to live in America" for its rampant violence and poverty.
  • While most of the setting of Dark Souls is a straight up Crapsack World, Anor Londo hides it a little better. On the surface, it's a shiny city that is one of the few places resisting the darkness, ruled by a beautiful goddess. It's all an illusion, courtesy of Gwyndolin. The sunlight, the beautiful goddess, everything.
  • The bright, sunny, 1950's America of Destroy All Humans!. Looks all hunky dory on the surface, until you start reading people's minds.
  • Do It For Me is presented as a Sugar Bowl game akin to Retraux platformers, with cute characters and enemies, but it's all just the player's demented delusion- it's really a school massacre.
  • Dreaming Mary is about an adorable little girl's dream and the games she plays with the Talking Animal inhabitants of her sugary-pink dream world who just want her to be happy and have fun. The first big hint that something might be a little off is the book in the library that tells the tale of "Sleeping Beauty" ...or more specifically, the version where she gets raped in her sleep by the king. Then you get to the part where Mary enters a nightmarish parallel to her dream world where a hulking shadow figure wants to get her...
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion features Camoran's Paradise. The top layer is a beautiful, flower-covered woodland meadow, that happens to be teeming with vicious Daedra. The bottom layer is a burning wasteland of torture and imprisonment. In Camoran's Paradise, you get to live forever. The downside of that? It means that Camoran can torture you forever.
  • End Roll is set in Russell's Happy Dream, a bright, cheerful place filled with smiling faces who welcome him into their community... but not only is it a literal Dream World, it's part of an experimental rehabilitation project. A world tailored to try and induce guilt and remorse, and the effectiveness of its facade holding up depends upon his mental state.
  • Eversion starts off as a cute, cheery platformer reminiscent of Cocoron until your eversion powers cause the world to gradually fall into decay and ruin. Demon hands jump out of pits in X-5 and beyond, gems turn into skulls in X-7, and to top it all off, the princess turns out to be an Eldritch Abomination in the ending.
  • Fable I has a strong fairytale vibe with idyllic towns and countryside and Troperrific characters and storylines. It also features necromancy, ancient evil artifacts, averts Improbable Infant Survival and really, Anyone Can Die. Or sacrificed to the dark gods by the player.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics series:
    • Ivalice from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is presented as a happy fantasy world... torn apart by clan warfare and under threat by monsters.
    • Jylland, the setting of Final Fantasy Tactics A2 mostly comes off as a similarly happy renaissance-ish fantasy land. Then you find out that it's essentially ruled by a crime syndicate. And start noticing that there's there's no law outside of the cities, little in them, and everything is handled by hiring mercenaries...
  • Zanarkand of 1000 years ago in Final Fantasy X. Seymour describes it as "the great and wondrous machina city" and the player is dazzled by the bright lights and technology. There's blitzball all the time and plenty of parties. However the city was at war with Bevelle and sent young summoners to the front line to fight for them and had a huge robotic weapon hidden under the city to use as a trump card. And what's more is that the city was destroyed but Yu Yevon has created an illusion of it fuelled by the power of thousands of dreaming people.
  • While the land of Final Fantasy XIV's Eorzea is effectively a World Half Full as it heals from The Calamity brought about from the end of 1.0, it seems that the Twelveswood is the better off of the bunch compared to the rampant corruption of Ul'dah and the rampant piracy of Limsa Lominsa — low crime, few beastmen problems, plentiful resources... until you dig deeper and realize that's only because the Gridanians have to be at the beck and call of The Elements, who take Obstructive Bureaucrat to an art form as they act in such a way that it's baffling to normal people — the Gridanians have to uphold a certain set of laws (which includes the death penalty for any kind of poaching) and healers have to ask permission to heal people — one mission has you trying to save an Ala Mhigan who was wounded. You approach a doctor from the same place, who refuses because she didn't want to upset the Elements and when you approach a healer from the town you're in, her response is essentially "They don't like them, they never like them, too bad, so sad."
  • Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise has the city of Eden. Compared to other settlements trying to scrape by, Eden is the closest thing to civilization in the post-apocalyptic wastes; with plentiful food, clean drinking water, and even electricity, those who live within Eden's walls want for nothing. Unfortunately, Eden is run by some rather corrupt individuals (their official leader, a compassionate woman, is little more than a figure head) who are very picky about who they allow into the city. Anyone turned away is left with little choice but to continue wandering the wastes.
  • Flight Rising:
  • Golden Sun:
    • The game world seems like the standard fantasy setting. But the game's plot makes you wonder if the Failure Is the Only Option. Either the world is slowly decaying to nothing, or the world is in constant danger of destruction by outside forces. Choose one or the other but there is no in between, to say nothing of good old-fashioned war and conquest, which never really goes away.
    • Morgal, the newly-established nation of brightly-colored furries and skillful musicians. The "newly-established" part involves a violent and gruesome revolution from Fantastic Racism and enslavement, the (recently-orphaned, new) king is being manipulated by treacherous advisors from a nation whose hat is apparently total war, and peace among the beastfolk is maintained by a monthly festival that includes food, drink, and music for the beastfolk, and death by boiling for any human prisoners, be they criminal or innocent (one such prisoner is a child).
    • Dark Dawn's NPC chatter and in-game universe encyclopedia suggest that the Golden Age of Man was a lot less golden if you were a non-Adept or a beastman.
  • Pretty much any city in the entire Grand Theft Auto franchise qualifies, as the protagonists live in over-the-top, wacky cities mainly to hang out with tons of Gangbangers, Dirty Cops, Corrupt Politicians/Corporate Executives/Bankers, pedestrian Jerkasses, or even Acme Products for Comedic Sociopathy, in The Theme Park Version of any American-styled city. To sum up, 90% of the population are morally-bankrupt under the facade of colorful personalities.
    • The colorful-looking Vice City takes a slice of the cake for being a namer of that trope.
    • Grand Theft Auto V, after the dark and gloomy Grand Theft Auto IV, has given us the best-looking setting so far in the entire series, with colorful forests, sky-high mountains, and a bustling metropolis. That doesn't make it any less worse than the previous game. Smog covers the city of Los Santos, the drug trade is huge up north in San Andreas, barrels of nuclear waste are dumped into the ocean, and corruption is on every level of the totem pole. The people are either vapid, vain, self-entitled assholes under the facade of being friendly or destitute, hateful assholes who will do anything for a quick buck, usually illegal activities.
  • Halo:
    • To the average human civilian, mankind is rapidly colonizing across the galaxy under the command of the United Nations Space Command, technology is advancing at a tremendous pace, almost everyone is being taken care of by a futurist government, and despite conflicts against the Insurrection and the alien Covenant, humanity has been able to hold its own. In reality, even before the Covenant showed up, almost all projections showed the UNSC being torn into warring factions by the Insurrection. Then the Covenant showed up, and twenty-seven years of war almost undid all the centuries of progress in space humanity ever made, as the Covies systematically destroyed every human world they would find. For most of the war, the average civilian did not even know about how badly humanity was losing because of government censorship in the attempt to prevent widespread panic. The post-war UNSC has been up to the same tricks, presenting itself as much more united and powerful than it truly is. Meanwhile, its Office of Naval Intelligence has been actively working to sweep its skeletons under the closet (particularly regarding the true origins of the SPARTAN-II program), and have enacted pseudo-Orwellian security measures on UNSC core worlds.
    • The Forerunners were initially presented as Perfect Pacifist People who created a high-tech utopia where they looked out for the galaxy's lesser species under their "Mantle of Responsibility". However, The Forerunner Saga reveals that their Ecumene was actually an increasingly corrupt imperialist empire which was downright nasty to those species it saw as foes.
  • At first glance, Kindergarten seems like a bright, colourful pixel-art game set in, well, a kindergarten. However, it doesn't take long to discover that this game is not as cute and child friendly as it looks. Nearly all of the children display various kinds of Troubling Unchildlike Behavior, the teacher is a pill addict who takes apathetic to a whole new level, the janitor is just plain Ax-Crazy, and the principal solves pretty much every problem he comes across, including those caused by the children, by shooting it with a shotgun and kidnapped a child to perform experiments on and mutate him in an attempt to replicate the mind-altering chemicals produced by monsters living underneath the kindergarten.
  • Kingdom Hearts III has its final world Scala ad Caelum (translates to "Stairway to Heaven") as this. On the surface, it's beyond breathtaking and beautiful upon sight. It consists of infinite clustered mountain towns cast over a never ending sea. The buildings are all white and glistening gold, with no shortage of windmills all over. And yet...something is off. The city is entirely abandoned, with no signs of any kind of struggle or anything. The various shops and stands are just...sitting there. Eventually once players get into a tussle with Master Xehanort, the fight takes them beneath the water when we see that Scala ad Caelum is literally sitting on top of the ruins of Daybreak Town, which itself was a cute little burg. The ruins are upside down to make it even more disturbing.
    • The Re Mind DLC goes further by apparently telling the story of Scala ad Caelum. By manipulating the mural machine in the Breezy Quarter, the various pictures and props tell the tale of how Daybreak Town at one point experienced a terrible calamity that completely destroyed it, and Scala ad Caelum was build as its replacement. The world was literally build on a fountain of secrets which hide a terrible darkness right beneath its pure white buildings and under everyone's noses.
  • Mass Effect:
    • The first Mass Effect:
      • This is on the whole a relatively upbeat game; you spend most of the time wandering around in nice bright shiny places and fighting pretty clearly evil monsters while most everyone else is on your side. The game does provide one pretty blatant example, though: the Citadel is a beautiful space station of extraordinary technologies and breathtaking architecture, home of intergalactic politics and justice. Unfortunately, there's also a great deal of political infighting and bureaucracy going on here, meaning that almost nothing can be done through official channels, even when there's a crime syndicate having citizens attacked in broad daylight. Also, nobody is sure how the place even works, because the mysterious Keepers who maintain the station have a nasty habit of self-destructing if anyone tries to stop them. Finally, the very end of the game reveals that the Citadel itself is just one big back-door entrance for the Reapers.
      • The Mass Relay Network, the wondrous technology that made galactic civilization possible, is nothing more than the Reapers' means of sowing and corralling organic life across the galaxy that allows them to harvest it at their leisure. It's Cowslip's Warren from Watership Down on a galactic scale, and the Mass Relays are the Shining Wires.
    • Mass Effect 2:
      • As mentioned above, a few examples aside, the first game is relatively light on this. Then this game comes along and gives us insight into all sorts of Body Horror and Mind Rape associated with the Reapers, the politicians have all decided you are a fearmonger and not worth listening to or supporting, and the Reapers are on their way. Your companions are thieves, mercenaries, thugs, assassins, vigilantes, mad scientists, serial killers, and Tali, and your only support while preparing for what is likely a Suicide Mission comes from a notorious human-supremacist terrorist group. Good luck.
      • The Illium deserves special mention. It looks like a beautiful, high-class world in keeping with asari stylings and culture; in actuality, it's like every nightmare vision of anarcho-capitalism, where anything (including drugs with known side effects that include neural scarring) can be sold with the proper license and executives can hire mercs to kill their own employees. Tela Vasir sums it up, "Illium is just Omega with fancy shoes."
  • Max Payne 3 opens on the glamorous world of upper-class Sao Paolo before gradually revealing the grimy, violent underclass Hidden in Plain Sight.
  • Metal Slug. Tribespeople living in historical ruins? Check. Animals living in peaceful nature? Check. Tourist attractions around the world? Check. Then General Morden's Rebel Army starts their rising...
  • Mirror's Edge: Catalyst describes the city of Glass in more detail: the city is beautiful, technology is advanced, and anybody in midCaste or higher lives pretty decent lives, if ones dependent on their quality of work for the corporate-run government. But scratch beneath the surface, and things are much bleaker: resources such as fresh water and energy are rapidly dwindling, the economy is dependent on indentured servants and slaves working in toxic, radioactive "Greylands" to produce the food and goods necessary, everyone is constantly monitored by the State Sec for any hint of "Policy-breach", and the nation is locked in a Cold War against a totalitarian empire on one side and a mysterious theocracy on the other. And Kruger is developing a mandatory nanomachine injection that will allow the government to manipulate the populace's emotions, lulling them into a state of enforced contentment with their lot in life.
  • Monster Bag is about a living monster bag that wants to return to its owner, sneaking past cute, colourful people in the process. Along the way, various people die as a result of your actions, leading to an apocalyptic scenario.
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • Seido, or the Orderrealm. At first, it looks like a place of absolute beauty; a peaceful floating city with architecture, like something out of an Utopian society, connected by an intricate network of bridges, rivers that flow out of no where, a well organized police force patrolling the streets, and gems and gold so common, the friendly people will hand them to you for free. But then, you start hearing things like:
    Guard: No officer is allowed to assault a civilian, unless ordered by their superior.
    Citizen: My brother was sentenced to 10 years in prison, for disobeying a curfew.
    • It's eventually revealed that Seido is a Police State that values their own philosophy above the lives of its people. All Crimes Are Equal, and you can be kept in holding for DECADES before you are even given a trial. They are also in brutal war with their Chaos Realm counterparts (who are just as bad) and a civil war with the equally ruthless La Résistance, whose tactics include inciting riots and framing guards for murder, so they'll be forced to change sides. The citizens are so thoroughly brainwashed with propaganda, they've become stepford smilers that can casually talk about disowning their own children if they join the resistance, and don't seem to care about life and death. Oh and finally, the elite warriors patrolling the streets will side with anyone, regardless of whether they're good or evil, as long as they are Lawful Good or Lawful Evil.
  • The Mother trilogy specializes in this trope, contrasting Peanuts-inspired portraits of an idealized America with shockingly dark events and organizations:
    • EarthBound Beginnings features zombie uprisings, gang violence, and a town only populated by frightened, abandoned children, all of which is the result of an alien invasion messing with the pulse of human civilization.
    • EarthBound also has an alien invasion, gang violence, and zombie uprisings, but stacks that atop corrupt police and politicians, slave labor, a cult that makes human sacrifices, and a plethora of brainwashed citizens that want nothing more than to beat the main characters senseless. All of this is stated to be the result of Giygas' influence, and the heroes' triumph over him allows the world to start healing in the aftermath.
    • Mother 3 is even worse. After a long, winding game with a story so vague it's almost taunting you, it comes right out and slaps you in the face with Leder's speech, in which you learn the small island you live on is the only inhabitable place left on earth, and prior to Porky's time travel abuse, there were only a small handful of survivors left in the world, completely oblivious and susceptible to being wiped out by any disaster. Hurricane? Minor fire? Disease? There goes the human race. And then, you know what happens in this colorful and kid-friendly game? Your long-lost brother deliberately electrocutes himself to death and you blow up the island. Yes, all of the main characters and NPCs live through it, but you don't actually find out what happened to them after the end of the game.
  • Santa Destroy in No More Heroes, honestly, doesn't look like to much of a bad place to live. Good pizza, law-abiding drivers, and people who generally mind their own business. They don't even require guards at the border. But then you find out that some organization is promoting a bunch of hitmen (many of whom are very mentally disturbed) to fight each other to the death. Also, business men are even more corrupt than normal. It becomes a crapsack world when it all goes public though. At that point you better watch your back.
  • The world of Overwatch is a wondrous technological utopia... that has a devastating Robot War in its backstory, lingering Fantastic Racism due to said war, a Mega-Corp that isn't above blowing up business rivals (which was apparently the standard, no thanks to a problem inherent in the legal system: people who encourage manipulating the honest workers and corporations), a mysterious Humongous Mecha that repeatedly attacks a country for no apparent reason, and crime and terrorism are still serious problems, to the point that one continent is rendered a nuclear wasteland. It's becoming increasingly clear that the disbanded Overwatch is still very much needed.
  • Compared to its much darker parent series, the Persona series is an absolute paradise. Although that's not saying much, since The World Is Always Doomed. Humanity seems to have a knack for drawing the attention of some truly nasty beings from the collective unconscious through their desires, who also set off some disaster or series of disasters as part of a test or game, usually deciding to bring about The End of the World as We Know It by the end. Of course, there's also always a group of Persona-users ready, willing, and able to fight back.
    • While Persona 4 is the most upbeat and optimistic game in the series. It's still a murder mystery revolving around the party confronting people's inner demons, the town the game takes place in turns more nightmarish near the end, and the Protagonist's 8-year-old cousin is kidnapped and killed. Fortunately, she can get better.
    • Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth brings this trope to a new height. The fourth labyrinth appears as an overly cheerful musical setting that is so colorful that it Tastes Like Diabetes, but at the same time, it is also quite creepy and its lyrics are basically summing up as Loss of Identity, complete with a forlorn Hikari standing in the middle, surrounded by the dancing, cheerful fairytale characters and her past copies, then sinking back into depression. Everyone watching the trailer is creeped out, and the worst thing is that this movie is actually Hikari's biopic mixed with her Palace, where all of her Suppressed Memories are literally out to torture and destroy her. The colorful and cheery landscape facade ends at the final floor, where it becomes into a monochrome flowerbed with the flowers having hollow eyes and dripping blood from them. To make things worse, judging from the contents of the labyrinth, this frightening landscape is her actual mindset.
  • The planet of Motavia in Phantasy Star I was a hostile desert world crawling with monsters. By Phantasy Star II, however, it was transformed during the 1000-year lapse of time into an idyllic world of lush green forests and plentiful harvests, where everyone's needs are met and the average citizen has no need to work. Unfortunately, everyone lives under the oppressive thumb of the Mother Brain, the supercomputer that helped make life on Motavia ideal. The ending reveals Mother Brain to be the creation of aliens from the planet Earth, who destroyed their own planet through war and pollution and sought to conquer Motavia after terraforming it and rendering the inhabitants too weak to fight back.
  • All of the games in the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series are like this, possessing a setting that initially seems even brighter and cheerier then the main series, but having plots that deal with the darker issues that lie beneath.
    • In Rescue Team, the land is constantly being ravaged by natural disasters that are so troubling to the populace that that they're willing to kill off the hero when they're mistakenly led to believe that they're the cause of it all.
    • In Explorers, criminals run rampant, and parts of world are becoming frozen in time. You eventually learn that the entire world is going to become victim to this, plunging it into an eternal darkness you get to bear witness to when you visit the future.
    • In Gates to Infinity, crime is also made out to be commonplace, and many Pokemon have become hostile, selfish and lacking in any trust amongst one another. It's eventually revealed that all of the negativity has created an Eldritch Abomination that's going to destroy everything, and the villains have decided that this is for the best. Even though destroying it does alleviate the world's problems to a degree, it's acknowledged that there's nothing keeping things from going back to as they were before, and that one can only hope for a brighter future.
  • In Pony Island, the options menu includes one item titled "Cheerful Facade". You have to play through the first half of the game without it, and the facade has a tendency to slip even after it gets implemented.
  • Professor Layton is in general a huge fan of the Town with a Dark Secret, but only one city can be considered crapsack: Folsense from Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box. This thriving town owed its massive prosperity to a gold mine owned by the Herzen family, but recently the miners found something else. They thought they could refine it into something valuable, except soon the residents started dropping like flies. People started leaving the city in droves, calling it "cursed" and attributing it to this mysterious new mineral.
  • In Psychonauts, Gloria's Theater has two different settings, which can be shifted by changing the lighting. The first is a Tastes Like Diabetes sugarbowl, and the other is a Darker and Edgier version of the same world where the formerly cute kids in flower and puppy costumes start attacking. After finding out more about Gloria's past, it seems the second setting is more accurate to her life.
  • Ragnarok Online, but given its origins, it should not come as a big surprise. The City of Lighthanzel has 3 layers of this. At first it looks like a good place to live in, bright, colorful, etc. Then you learn about the slums and the class segregation but it's still not that bad. Then you learn people in the slums tend to go "missing", and there's a secret Bio Laboratory below the City.
  • Ratchet & Clank, especially in the earlier installments. You play as a cute and fuzzy cat-like critter in a cartoon world sure, but the known universe is run by various amoral Mega-Corp, Bread and Circuses abound in the form of pay-per-view gladiatorial combat, military-grade weaponry can seemingly be bought by civilians off any street corner, and any given galaxy cannot seem to go more than a few years at a time without being threatened by some megalomaniac or other with (sometimes literally) world-shattering plans, and whose best (or sole) means of salvation is the aforementioned cute-fuzzy-guy, whose primary means of dealing with the situation is to level everything within a 180-degree arc in front of him until all the bad guys are dead. Even later games, which toned down the sociopathy by shunting less-savory gameplay elements like the battle arenas into the fringes of criminal society (rather than presenting them as prime-time entertainment) and introducing more civilian background characters (who, unlike in earlier games, were Friendly Fire Proof), still manages to somewhat make back the lost crapsack by upping the threat the villains pose: whereas Playstation 2 Ratchet villains would destroy multiple planets to achieve their goals, some of the Playstation 3 era villains risk the structural integrity of the universe itself.
  • Scarface: The World Is Yours: The Islands look wonderful compared to how grimy much of Miami is, with greenery and sea and sand everywhere, and then you realise criminals are equally omnipresent. Here, Tony can't even wipe them out for good, whereas in most of Miami he can permanently put down gangs.
  • The Secret World features this in spades when players visit the Fear Nothing Foundation's headquarters in Kaidan: a brightly-coloured social club and counselling centre, it offers therapy for people who want to overcome the fears they believe have defined their lives. More specifically, it provides troubled children with sympathetic carers, isolated outcasts with friends, and concerned parents with a place where their kids can be educated in a supportive atmosphere. For good measure, there's movie nights and free Bingo Cola whenever you want it. Unfortunately, the Fear Nothing Foundation is actually an Apocalypse Cult with a heavy emphasis on the destruction of individuality: anyone enrolled there is going to be brainwashed into dismantling their own personalities and devoting the rest of their lives to serving the Dreaming Ones. Worst of all, by the time you pay their headquarters a visit the cult have all committed mass-suicide to consecrate their victory of having a Filth-bomb detonated on the Tokyo subways.
  • The world of Senran Kagura is often bright and colorful, full of busty and badass girls training to become true Shinobi, with battles usually involve lots and lots of Clothing Damage. On the other hand, said training is often straight out of hell and they essentially become Child Soldiers by participating. Death also walks with the Shinobi: most of them have lost at least one loved one and they accept that their fights are a No-Holds-Barred Contest where they both actively try to kill each other. Failure during a mission can also lead to death, while desertion can lead to them being branded as renegades and hunted down by the other Shinobi. And on top of all of that, there's the Youma...
  • Sonic Colors:
    • Sweet Mountain is a small planetoid made out of gigantic cakes, gingerbread men, peppermint candies, and tree-like lollipops. It's also been rebuilt into a munitions factory by Dr. Eggman. He does try to disguise his sites by keeping most of his own structures sweets-themed (such as jelly bean missiles, doughnut holding tanks, and toxic waste that looks like syrup), though.
    • There's also the case of Planet Wisp, the home planet of the cute wisps. Upon entering the level, you are treated to lush landscapes with plenty of flowers and happy wisps. Travel further into the stage, and you'll see the foundation for Eggman's factories starting to crop up. Eventually, the majority of the lovely green environment you were introduced to is replaced with oceans of oil and numerous huge factories filled with missiles, saw blades and imprisoned wisps.
    • Eggman's Interstellar Amusement Park in general counts as this. Sonic himself admits how nice it looks, but listening to some of Eggman's PA announcemets should give you an idea of how hilariously unsafe it is even if you don't count the numerous death traps set out for Sonic.
      "We seem to be losing pressure on level seventeen. Please hold your breath against the harsh vacuum of space until you pass out from oxygen starvation. After that you won't care. Enjoy the ride!"
  • The Splatoon series takes place in Inkopolis, a bright and shiny Americasia-flavored city inhabited by colorful Badass Adorable squid and octopus people, a plethora of wacky anthropomorphic sea creatures, and two cats. The most popular form of sport is all but harmless and involves nothing more than covering as much of the field as possible with ink using your Family-Friendly Firearms. Sounds light and fluffy, right? Well... the franchise is set in an After the End version of Japan where a climate change-induced rise in sea levels drove almost all land creatures to extinction and left the species that evolved to fill the niche humans left behind in a near-constant dispute over what land remains. As cute as they are, Inklings and Octarians are just as petty as humans, and racism is still a major issue. Homelessness remains a problem, and energy crises run rampant. An unknown amount of land outside Inkopolis is an inhospitable wasteland filled with polluted water and the twisted ruins of human civilization, now inhabited only by bloodthirsty salmon-like creatures whose eggs are harvested (using child labor, no less) by a shady organization for unknown reasons. Oh, and the entire planet came dangerously close to an unambiguous genocide at the hands of a rogue AI that was created by the humans to attempt to pass down their knowledge, only for it to become disgusted at the other races and determine the best way to accomplish its initial goal would be to wipe everything out and start again.
  • Taris in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is shown to be one. Sure, the upper levels look nice and shiny, but they're generally reserved for the snobby rich folk. Most people have to put up with gang-wars in the Lower City, but that's nothing compared to the filthy, mutant-ridden squalor of Undercity. Things haven't improved 300 years later.
  • Stardew Valley takes place in one, thanks to its cutsey and minimalistic pixellated artstyle. The introduction sequence shows the city is one - the player works a boring, soul-crushing job in a cubicle farm that literally doesn't care about people dying in their cubicles. Then they retreat to Pelican town... which isn't revealed to be much better...
  • Steambot Chronicles appears to be rather optimistic for a steampunk game... at least at first blush. Beyond the story of a young man trying to recover his memories, however, is a setting that shows the deep flaws of rapid industrialization: deep divides in social classes abound, job cuts are rampant as machines take jobs, and many of the sidequests you undertake have depressing epilogues. All this before going into the fact that one of the lead characters' younger brother died in an auto accident, and the apathetic nature of the observers drove him to terrorism.
  • Sunless Skies: Worlebury-juxta-Mare, the most requested holiday resort in all four star systems of the game. The lines are absurdly long, for all in the Albion side of the empire want to have some fun in the sun. So to speak. Yet, due to the fact replicating an Earth beach among the lawless, sometimes eldritch reaches of the High Wilderness is a bizarre prospect at best that needs strange patrons, and the sheer unrelenting desire of the locals to actually have something to call a beach, everything is... off. The lanes of shops, attented by the Lanes, hawk bizarre, sometimes frightening products and never stop smiling like predators. The beach is a strip of strange glassy particulates and the ocean is a roil of corrosive mists with unspeakable fauna and something very big constantly hiding within. And the donkeys... whatever the innard-spewing, carrion-eating hell they are, they aren't donkeys. Most of your stay until you figure out the Off-Season side of it will consist of you desperately pretending everything is totally fine to try and get some fun and relaxation out of the ordeal. Truth is, the Bureau of Entertainments is trying to work with a gigantic Fluke to try and get something resembling a beach, and the Fluke, as is usual for any Axile natives interacting with humanity, has no idea what the hell it's doing.
  • Most of the entries in the Tales Series are animated in a very cutesy way, and the worlds themselves seem to be flawed, but generally good places to live (at least, one side of the world when there's two worlds). What do the games feature? Traitors galore, Family-Unfriendly Death, Fantastic Racism, Human Resources, Powered by a Forsaken Child, Parental Abandonment or flat out Abusive Parents, villains who are almost always bent on carrying out a Final Solution, and often Eldritch Abominations.
  • The Pyro in Team Fortress 2 turns out to see the world as an extremely colorful world of sunshine and happiness, and they bring rainbows and joy to the baby versions of the other classes. In reality... not so much.
  • Terraria:
    • Terraria looks friendly and cheery, but you will quickly learn otherwise. Undead roam the land at night and are constantly active underground, and a land disease called the Corruption is filled with many an Eldritch Abomination as it slowly consumes all in its path. And this is to say nothing of the bosses, especially Wall of Flesh.
    • The Corruption's Suspiciously Similar Substitute, the Crimson, is even worse. See Bloody Bowels of Hell above.
    • Unless you install elaborate quarantine measures before defeating the Wall of Flesh, your entire world is doomed to become a mixture of two different Crapsack Worlds in hardmode: the Corruption/Crimson is still there and made harder, and then there's also "The Hallow" which plays Crapsaccharine World much more straight. To be more precise, The Hallow is a biome filled with pearly sands and stones, pretty cyan grass, trees in all colours of the rainbow, constant actual rainbows in the background, populated with pixies and unicorns who will murder you with extreme prejudice.
  • TinkerQuarry: A life-sized dollhouse inhabited by Living Toys sounds like a great place, but unfortunately, it is controlled by Staya, a psychotic toy Angry Guard Dog, and also home to some other dangerous toys, as well as equally vicious rats. The Dollhouse is completely surrounded by a seemingly endless mass of darkness referred to as the Void, meaning that as far as the characters know, it's not even possible to leave. Fortunately, there are quite a few toys who are friendly and heroic, but most of them are trapped by, or hiding from, Staya and the other enemies.
  • Gensokyo, the setting of Touhou, is explicitly a "paradise", a Fantastic Nature Reserve for an immense variety of weird and wonderful Cute Monster Girls. But there are still humans left, and they're continually at the mercy of the youkai that outpower and outnumber them. While youkai eating humans isn't as prevalent as it once was, it still happens. The youkai themselves experience frequent Fantastic Racism against and between themselves, to the point that there's a massive Fantastic Ghetto filled with youkai others considered undesirable. And the closest thing there is to law enforcement is a single lazy, ignorant miko who's in the habit of attacking youkai for being youkai. And Kotohime. In Dolls in Pseudo Paradise, one character repeatedly refers to it as a paradise all while running in fear from whatever is killing her comrades.

    The interesting thing about Gensoukyou is that it goes both ways — yes, it's a place built for youkai to flourish, but it's one of the last places they can exist. If they prey on the local humans too much they face retribution, and the youkai and deities are dependent on Gensoukyou's humans since they're some of the last people who believe in the supernatural. Plus, the aforementioned shrine maiden is a Barrier Maiden whose death would cause Gensoukyou to collapse, forcing everyone to engage in nonlethal Danmaku duels to settle disputes, because otherwise she could abuse her privileged status. A final kicker is that a lot of the resident youkai and deities are used to ruling their own kingdoms and domains, but are now rubbing shoulders in an isolated valley, leading to Gambit Pileups and other friction.
  • The word of Trials of Mana. It's an incredibly colorful world where most monsters are cute animals and even the undead have adorable big eyes. However, they are still monsters and will bite your face off. There's also a lot of Human Sacrifice, Offing the Offspring, and other assorted genocide.
  • Tropico: Want your beautiful tropical island to be a tourist hotspot? No problem! Just build loads of bars, nightclubs, attractions, and hotels for your affluent guests. Just keep them well away from the dirty industry and the cripplingly poor, miserable, and uneducated citizens.
  • The world of Wandersong is cheery, colourful, has a protagonist who loves to sing and manages to befriend nearly anyone in their path, ...and a creator goddess who is going to throw it and all of its inhabitants into the void just to make another universe, as she has already done an infinite number of times before.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Rites of War is set on an Eldar maiden world, that is, a planet terraformed to be a paradise, and the scenery is appropriately gorgeous. Being that this is 40K, that just means that this is the most beautiful setting imaginable for a colossal war, but it's not as bad as you think... it's much worse: just wait until you find out who the real enemy is.
  • Wellington Wells in We Happy Few is a shiny, colorful utopia, where everybody is happy all the time and spends all day playing, laughing, and having fun. Except it's actually a post-apocalyptic hellhole so emotionally devastated after "The Very Bad Thing" that happened when Germany conquered Britain that they began consuming a euphoria-inducing hallucinogenic drug called "Joy", to the extent that all the food and water in the city is contaminated with the stuff. Which is contributing the steady collapse of their civilization, as everyone is too drug-addled to do their work right; buildings are collapsing, and people are starving to the point that butchers are scavenging human corpses for meat. Oh, and Joy also induces violent psychosis in those under its effects which, combined with the propaganda being fed to the drug-addled masses by the city's leaders, causes the "Wellies" to violently attack and attempt to murder anyone who isn't on Joy.
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus has a moment in Roswell, a charming and bright town similar to so many others from 1960's Americana. But there are Nazi soldiers everywhere, Swastika banners hang from every building, and Klansmen walk around in full costume and talk positively about the purging of undesirables and the next slave auction while people in the street are scared shitless of them.
  • Wonder Project J2 is this combined with Art-Style Dissonance. The game's two islands seem like quiet, idyllic places, and the gorgeous, Studio Ghibli-esque pixel art emphasizes this. But when you start exploring them, the first thing you'll notice is that there are soldiers. Lots and lots of soldiers, armed with submachine guns, patrolling almost every part of the game world. Many places are actually locked out at the beginning of the game by soldiers who aggressively get you to leave. There's even one cutscene that occurs when you visit a certain place for the first time which shows some revolutionaries getting executed via firing squad. Worst of all, the scene is shown from the perspective of the revolutionaries! Pretty dark for a game where your main objective is raising a cute robot girl. Oh, and the girl gets to see the aftermath of the aforementioned execution, though thankfully the player doesn't since the soldiers block the view. It only gets worse from there.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Quel'thalas, homeland of the Blood Elves, is very much this, particularly its capital of Silvermoon. At first glance it's a scenic, calming area, filled with wonderful magic — slightly marred by the massive scar of undead blight through the centre, but beautiful all the same — but exploring in more depth quickly reveals unsettling details such as drunks passed out in the street, an anti-establishment rally quashed by mind control, and a hidden sweatshop under the tailoring trainer's building.
    • The entire continent of Pandaria is this. Sure, it's inhabited by the jolly Panderan, but it has plenty of dangers in the form of the Mogu and the Mantid. The fact that there's a dead Old God underneath the continent that literally feeds on negative emotions doesn't help. Things don't get much better when the Zandalari trolls resurrect the long-dead Mogu leader Lei Shen or when Garrosh Hellscream absorbs the power of the Old God Y'Sharaaj.
    • Legion brings us Suramar, a beautiful and tranquil city that has preserved the high culture of the Kaldorei Empire for ten thousand years. Except then you learn that the nightborne elves of Suramar are basically hostages in their own city, being dependent on the Nightwell for survival, and any dissent is punishable by exile (which leads to mana starvation and eventual withering), plus the nobility is decadent and corrupt, the secret police is everywhere, and worst of all, the ruler has allied with the Burning Legion and is sacrificing her own citizens to fuel the demons' war machine.
  • The Earth under ADVENT and the Elders in XCOM 2 is this. To the average citizen, the Elders seems to be a benevolent alien who uplifted humanity through technological progress and the ADVENT are nothing more than soldiers keeping the order. It's revealed off the bat that the ADVENT soldiers are not as they seem though. Furthermore, character dialogues reveal that the ADVENT is run as police state and riddled with mysteries such as civilians disappearing after entering one of the ADVENT gene therapy clinics. The first half of the game involves the titular organization trying to unearth the skeleton in the Elders's closet known as the Avatar Project.
  • Xenogears:
    • The first game starts off in Lahan, a bucolic little village full of friendly people and good times. Everyone is happy and a major celebration is about to commence. Once you are booted out into the wider world, it becomes very quickly apparent that Lahan was probably the only bright spot in a world otherwise rife with misery, poverty, war, and giant robots. Which gets worse. This trope presents itself to the player over and over again throughout the game. If you see a place in Xenogears which looks like a nice place to live, you simply don't know enough about it yet.
    • Downplayed in its Spiritual Successor, Xenoblade Chronicles, but still present. Bionis might be a beautiful place, but that doesn't change the fact that it's full of hostile monsters. It doesn't help that the Homs are on their last legs thanks to repeated invasions by a race of nearly invincible killer robots, the High Entia practice eugenics and are openly racist towards half-breeds, and there's a criminal syndicate run by a brutal drug lord who ends up getting away with his crimes unless you complete a specific chain of sidequests before reaching a certain point in the game. And that's not even getting into the fact that all life on Bionis was created as a backup energy source for a Mad God.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles X is a bit more overt about the crapsack nature of the world. Sure, Mira is full of gorgeous views, but Earth has been destroyed, humanity is on the brink of extinction on a planet filled with hostile monsters, and some of the same aliens who destroyed the earth in the first place have come to finish the job. It's most noticeable with the citizens of New Los Angeles: when you first arrive, everyone seems friendly, cooperative, hopeful, and disagreements are minor. It's only later in the game that the ugliness of humanity begins to come out, as you encounter humans engaged in "ethnic cleansing", murder, terrorism, and even human trafficking.
    • In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Rex makes it clear even from the introduction that even though Alrest is beautiful, it's in dire straits: the Titans that form most of the world's landmasses are dying off with no new ones to replace them, resources are scarce, the global economy is in shambles, and the larger nations are on the brink of war with each other over what's left. Rex's goal of reaching Elysium is driven just as much to find a paradise for humanity to end the fighting as it is to help Pyra return home.
  • The game Yandere Simulator takes place in an Animesque setting that wouldn't look too out of place in a Dating Sim, and happily indulges in the tropes associated with the Harem Genre. However, you play as a murderous stalker who will do anything, up to and including murder, to make sure that her object of affection is single. The game's backstory also features delightful things like the protagonist's mother also being a Yandere who murdered, manipulated, and kidnapped for love, and some of the characters having a Dark and Troubled Past you can exploit. Word of God says the game's design is meant to resemble a Yandere in appearance; while it looks like an innocent, pleasant game at first glance, its nature as a horror game becomes apparent once you get into the gameplay. This is further emphasized by the "School Atmosphere" mechanic, in which the game and its NPCs start looking gloomy if people start to realize there's a Serial Killer at their school.


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