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Darker And Edgier / BioWare

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BioWare games love this trope.

  • Their first few games (Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, etc) were fairly idealistic High Fantasy games. Their later ones, though? The game worlds have a grim and bloody edge, Grey-and-Gray Morality runs rampant, and there are major quests (and quite a few sidequests) that end in a Sadistic Choice.
  • Dragon Age: Origins served as this not only for Bioware, but also the medieval fantasy genre as a whole. Before Origins, the genre was dominated by the relatively-optimistic The Lord of the Rings, World of Warcraft, and The Elder Scrolls games. They may have touched upon darker issues, but rarely did they dwell. Origins, meanwhile, unflinchingly explored mature topics like racism, rape, religious persecution, and Grey-and-Gray Morality.
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  • Dragon Age II is easily their darkest game. While their other games have also been dark, they have all carried a feeling of hope and eventual triumph over a great evil. The Mass Effect series, including 3, is a perfect example of this. However, Dragon Age II is darker on a personal scale with two sides that both have grave flaws and are utterly convinced that they are correct and everyone else is wrong. This leads to a situation where compromise is impossible with the protagonist, Hawke, stuck in the middle of everything. Where other BioWare games have had the feeling of hope and triumph, Dragon Age II does not give this.
  • BioWare somehow managed to outdo even Dragon Age II's bleak ending with the ending to Dragon Age: Inquisition's Trespasser DLC, which stings all the more due to how optimistic and hopeful the main campaign's ending was. All of the Inquisitor's accomplishments in the main game are nearly undone, Ferelden and Orlais have descended into political and military chaos, both countries are on the brink of war with both the Qunari and the Tevinter Imperium, Solas/Fen'harel is plotting The End of the World as We Know It, and the Inquisition itself is either severely weakened or disbanded. The game ends with the Inquisitor and their party grimly acknowledging that it is more than possible that Thedas will not be able to survive the rapidly approaching chaos. Indeed, Leliana goes from a playful ninja/minstrel/nun/hero to a grim and serious spy, and the Nightmare Fuel scenes in the third game are of the Formula 1 standard.
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  • Mass Effect was rather serious and sometimes bleak to begin with. Mass Effect 2 didn't necessarily get that much darker, but where the first game only made hints, the second goes all the way. The very first scene is an absolute Curb-Stomp Battle, in which a voiceless and faceless enemy appears from nowhere and completely rips your ship from the first game apart, with you still inside it. Then your life is saved by a ruthless survivalist organization whose agents you killed by the dozens in the first game, and you join forces with them because there are much more pressing matters at hand. The game goes even further into Grey-and-Gray Morality than its predecessor, with missions including infiltrating a desperate joint-mercenary band effort to eliminate a vigilante you want to recruit, and then massacring all the mercenaries so that your recruit survives. In every space port you'll find a couple of people talking about sex, or have your team scientists give you advice for sex with aliens and mentioning something about zoophilia on the ship. The overall darkening can be best seen in the squadmembers. In the first, the worst was a principled mercenary/bounty hunter. In 2 the squad consists of assassins, vigilantes, thieves, a few homicidal maniacs, terrorists, and a member of the robot race that was an enemy in 1. Even the returning squadmembers are much darker and more cynical.
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  • Mass Effect 3 has the Reapers arriving, and their first target was Earth. Remember, the events of Arrival delayed their invasion. And by the looks of it, the Reapers are not easy to destroy. The horrors of the war against them aren't exactly shied away from, and Shepard's general stoicism and calm gradually erodes during the course of the game.
  • While Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords wasn't made by BioWare like the first game, it definitely took a hard right into this direction. Instead of helping old Twi'leks across the street or drinking the blood of space puppies, it's either helping someone who comes to you with a problem, thus making them a target for other people to kill, or just cutting out the middleman and murdering them yourself for kicks. Every act, good or evil, is deconstructed by Kreia, who helpfully points out that they die either way, all because you happened to kill some Mooks. She even explains why you're gaining experience points. It's because for everything you kill, you absorb the Force from them and feed off of them, however you kill them. However, according to Chris Avellone and the Obsidian team, the whole game is not simply darker just to invoke the trope, but deliberately intended to be a deconstruction of the absolutes and the black-and-white "simplicity" of classic Star Wars (the latter being a Genre Throwback to the early days of space opera and essentially heroic fantasy IN SPACE!), especially of the "good Jedi, evil Sith" dualism, which Avellone deemed "childish".
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic as well, both the Exile and Revan did not survive in a rather brutal spiral of doom and situation is a Hope Spot.
  • Baldur's Gate II is definitely darker than it's predecessor, starting out with the main character and his/her party captured and tortured, two of the party killed, and another whisked away to an insane asylum for wizards. The main city of the game, Athkatla, is also a lot seedier than the titular city from the first game, featuring a bloody faction war between a guild of thieves and assassins and a horde of vampires. And Throne of Bhaal is quite possibly even darker, centered around 5 of the Bhaalspawn forming an alliance to wipe out all other Bhaalspawn (including the player,) with the body count escalating early on when they succeed in destroying the city where the other Bhaalspawn were taking refuge.

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