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Darkest Hour / Video Games

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Darkest Hours in video games.


  • Fallout 3: Your father is dead, the Enclave is back, Project Purity has been taken, and your only recourse is to seek refuge with the Brotherhood, who you may or may not trust. Depending on how you've played, your dog might even be dead.
  • The ending of Dreamfall: The Longest Journey: April Ryan was hit with a spear and tumbled into the water, never to emerge; Kian Alvane, the 'apostle' of a religion that converts by killing, had a crisis of faith and was promptly imprisoned; Zoe Castillo, the main protagonist, was sent into a permanent coma.
  • Neverwinter Nights
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    • The beginning of the third chapter of Hordes of the Underdark, at least until you talk to the Reaper. You've just been imprisoned in Hell, your companions are gone, and Mephistopheles is loose on the Material Plane, currently heading towards the surface world with his undead army.
    • For that matter, the beginning of the second chapter of Shadows of Undrentide.
    • The final sequence of the most recent translated module of the Bastard of Kosigan saga, at least for players who chose to ally themselves with Mordred: Modred and Alex are dead, the French are overrunning your city, the Burgundians are too far away to arrive to help in time, and depending on some other choices you made there could be many other things going wrong.
    • The Original Campaign. At the beginning of chapter four, the Alliance of the North has failed to stop the cult from besieging Neverwinter. People still haven't recovered from the Wailing Death, the city is in ruins and part of it is under Maugrim's control. Haedraline says that Morag has become so powerful, she may not even need the Words of Power to break free.
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  • Knights of the Old Republic: The party has been imprisoned by Admiral Karath, the Ebon Hawk locked up in the docking bay, Darth Malak is on his way to take possession of the party, and depending on your choices you may be forced to rely on the skills of a snot-nosed teenaged Twi'lek to survive. Karath uses his last breath to screw with Carth's head, and Malak has a Tomato Surprise. Alternately, if you play Dark Side, you can turn the ending into one of these.
  • Dragon Age: Origins: The Ferelden army has been routed, the king slain, the senior Grey Wardens killed, the Darkspawn horde is moving unopposed into Ferelden, and a xenophobic treacherous bastard is seizing power in a heavy-handed manner that may provoke civil war. You are one of two Grey Wardens left in the country. Good luck. It's worth noting that this is how the game starts.
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  • The ending of Dragon Age II: the underlying tension between mage and Templar has finally exploded into open conflict, the Chantry is working on a major schism, and just to put the icing on the cake Orlais is eyeing Ferelden again. There are also hints of Tevinter regaining its power and the Qunari gearing up for another invasion attempt.
  • Mass Effect
    • Mass Effect: You've just discovered that the Reapers are real and are planning to invade the galaxy. Saren has possibly found the key to bringing them back and is on his way to Ilos to do so. How does the Council and the human ambassador react? By ignoring your warnings, locking your ship in port, and refusing to act in case doing so starts a war with the lawless Terminus Systems. Shepard comes close to a breakdown as they sit around the Normandy, feeling powerless to do anything as Shepard knows the end of the galaxy is so close.
    • Mass Effect 2 opens with The Hero dying, along with the Normandy. You're then brought back to life by a terrorist organization, because another group of advanced enemies is working for the Reapers, and the Council has spent two years convincing themselves that the Reapers aren't real. Oh, and you're on a suicide mission to bring down said group.
      • Beyond that, the worst moment Shepard has while working for Cerberus is when the Collectors invade the Normandy while Shepard and their squad mates are away, taking the rest of the crew, except Joker. Whether you can pull through and save your crew while still getting your squad out alive depends entirely on how prepared you are for the suicide mission at that point.
    • The Mass Effect 3 has Reapers finally invading the Milky Way. "2 million dead in the first day. 7 million more by the end of the week." It's implied that that figure is just the number of casualties in London. According to Vigil, it took the Reapers 500 years to exterminate the entire galaxy in the last cycle. Several million dead a day for 500 years will really add up if Shepard can't find a way to stop them...
      • Mass Effect 3 is a game-long example, but the loss of the VI on and subsquent Fall of Thessia in particular is handled as an in-story Darkest Hour. Everyone aboard the Normandy, especially Liara, who was born and raised on Thessia and also realized on that mission that the entirety of her species' history was a lie, is really devastated after the mission. During the debriefing and talking with crew members after the mission, you see Shepard is just inches from a Heroic BSoD. And while all this is going on, the turians, the most powerful military in the galaxy, have gone into a full-blown retreat from their homeworld Palaven.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda starts in the Andromeda Initiative's darkest hour; the Scourge have crippled and destroyed several ships, the so-called "Golden Worlds" are uninhabitable, the kett kill anyone who tries to establish settlements, and infighting and subsequent exiling of rebels in the Nexus has left the Initiative severely undermanned. People begin to wonder if they had left their homes and families in vain until the humans' ark ship and their Pathfinder arrive.
  • BioWare liked this one: Jade Empire drops a whopper. You battle your way to the Emperor and kill him. your "kindly" master smiles, congratulates you on your strength and skill, then casually kills you, using the flaws that he deliberately built into your fighting style!
  • Most of the Final Fantasy series has one, or more:
    • Final Fantasy II is constantly one-upping itself in this regard. The most prominent examples are the fall of Fynn at the beginning of the story, the Dreadnought's completion and the destruction it brings, the Emperor's Cyclone which completely destroys the previously-bombed towns, and the Emperor's resurrection from Hell.
    • Final Fantasy IV has two:
      • The last of the 8 Crystals has fallen into the hands of Golbez, due to Kain's betrayal. Golbez declares his intention to go to the moon and gain ultimate power, and now there's a force field around his tower so you can't go in and stop him from doing so. The only option remaining is to go back to the Dwarf King and admit you failed.
      • The party has been joined by FuSoYa, who can break the force field around the Tower of Bab-Il, allowing you to foil Zemus' plot. But when you land the Big Whale just outside, FuSoYa declares that it's too late, and the force field flashes and turns into the world-destroying Giant of Bab-Il, who begins to nuke the countryside. It appears all is lost. Cue the entrance of the entire armed forces of Planet Earth to fight back against this world destroying menace.
    • In Final Fantasy VI, an insane megalomaniac has massacred the Espers, destroyed the balance between the Warring Triad, ravaged the world irreparably, attained godlike power, obliterated the heroes' airship, and scattered said heroes to the four winds. As a direct result of his actions, magical beasts run rampant over what's left of the world, what little vegetation is left is dying, humankind is dwindling, and, once the player resumes control of Celes, she's told that she (and Cid) is probably the last survivor anyway, with everyone else on the island having thrown themselves off a cliff in sheer despair... while she was in a year-long coma. In a desperate bid for any sort of hope, Cid and Celes adopt each other as grandfather and granddaughter, but he falls ill and is bedridden. Then, if Celes fails to keep him healthy by feeding him strong, quick-moving fish, he dies, at which point Celes loses all will to live and takes a flying leap off the cliff herself, leaving a Sparkling Stream of Tears in her wake.
    • In Final Fantasy VII it occurs when Cloud hands over the Black Materia to Sephiroth who proceeds to summon down Meteor to bring about The End of the World as We Know It. In addition to that, the WEAPONs are rampaging all over the planet and Cloud and Tifa decide it is a convenient time to have their respective mental breakdowns.
      • The one ray of hope that might save the planet can't work because Sephiroth is blocking it, so the heroes have to lay siege to a series of caves in the middle of a frozen wasteland protected by an energy shield to fight a godlike superbeing just for the planet to have a chance at survival.
    • In Final Fantasy VIII Rinoa is drifting out of control through space in a spacesuit that has 25 minutes of air tops, the powerful tyrant Adel has been reawakened, the Lunar Cry which causes monsters to migrate in massive numbers has started and is aimed at a major populated city where Squall's friends are, and Squall is stuck in a life support pod, powerless.
    • In Final Fantasy IX, On Terra, at one point Zidane goes through an Heroic BSoD. Before the You Are Not Alone Power of Friendship saving throw, it looks really dire.
    • Two in Final Fantasy X. First, at Bikanel and immediately thereafter in Bevelle: Tidus (and the player) has finally learned just what will happen to Yuna when she performs the Final Summoning while Home has fallen to the Guado; Yuna is kidnapped and forced to marry Seymour, and when the others try to rescue her, not only are they thrown into a subterranean maze to die, but Yuna is put on trial for standing up to the maesters and discovers the truth at the heart of Yevon. The second comes near the end of the game where, after nearly all the Ronso are killed by Seymour and the party has vanquished Yunalesca, Mika passes on to the Farplane and abandons Spira and the party is left not knowing how they will stop Sin without the Final Aeon.
    • Final Fantasy XIII:
      • Several times, but probably the most notable one is in Chapter 11. The party escapes Cocoon and lands on Gran Pulse, but can't find any answers or survivors, only ruins and wild beasts. Then, Hope's brand advances another stage, reminding them of just what they face. The last hope lies in Oerba, Vanille and Fang's old village - and when they actually reach Oerba, all they find is ruins and Cie'th.
      • Another big one occurs during Chapter 13; Lightning, Hope, Snow and Sazh have been transformed into Cie'th and Fang has willingly become Ragnarok after being Forced to Watch Vanille undergo Electric Torture at the hands of Orphan, leaving Vanille weeping quietly in the backdrop while her best friend is continuously killed and revived by Orphan because she can't transform fully.
    • Final Fantasy XIII-2: Chapter 5 as a whole; it begins with The Reveal that Alyssa is a traitor, then Serah, Noel and Mog get separated in the Historia Crux, Noel is seemingly killed, and then Serah is forced to face Caius alone (with her summon monsters as the only backup) and loses.
    • Final Fantasy XIV has three instances:
      • Towards the end of the game's v1.0 run, the moon of Dalamud begins to fall towards Eorzea. Eventually, in spite of the heroes' efforts to stop it, the moon breaks open, releasing the elder primal Bahamut, who ravages the entire realm. The Circle of Learning attempts to invoke the Twelve to re-seal Bahamut, but to no avail. With the realm on the verge of total annihilation, Louisoux uses one last magic spell to fling some adventurers into the future, in the hopes of sparing them from certain death as the fate of Eorzea hangs in the balance.
      • After saving Limsa Lominsa from the wrath of Titan, The Adventurer returns to the Waking Sands to find all of the Scions who were present are either dead or captured by The Empire. Thanks to a half-dead sylph and The Echo, they get to witness this before being told to seek sanctuary at a church.
      • The entirety of Patch 2.5. Everything seems to be going well for the Scions of the Seventh Dawn, however we get our first hints that something isn't right with several members of the Crystal Braves since the previous patch. Moenbryda dies in an attempt to slay the Ascian who inflicted a mortal wound on her. Wilred dies off screen. You get a front row seat to the Sultana's death, and in the chaos that ensues, you and the Scions are accused of conspiring to aid in regicide and all of them potentially sacrifice themselves so that you may escape to Ishgard and clear your names.
    • Final Fantasy XV has one of the most dire scenarios to date; your beloved is dead, so there's nothing to cull the Daemons in the world and as it turns out, Daemons are humans infected by the Starscourge/Plague of the Stars; the killing of Daemons leaves ashes that inhabit the atmosphere and blot out the sun and your character has woken up from a ten-year sleep to see the world shrouded in eternal night and a byproduct is that most of the planet's population killed or transformed into Daemons.
    • Final Fantasy Type-0 opens to the Dominion of Rubrum being invaded by the Milites Empire, which has crippled Rubrum's military might with a weapon that robs them of their magic. The streets soon become lined with the bodies of Rubrum's Child Soldiers.
  • Lufia & The Fortress of Doom has this right before The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, when Lufia pulls a Face–Heel Turn and takes the Sword of Plot Advancement from The Hero.
  • Spider-Man (PS4): Dr. Otto Octavius dives off the deep end and becomes Doctor Octopus, staging mass outbreaks from Rikers and the Raft and gathering Spidey's most dangerous arch-nemeses. Then Doc Ock unleashed the Devil's Breath bioweapon upon Manhattan, kickstarting a plague that threatens to kill all of New York, if not the whole world. To make matters worse, Silver Sable and her mercenaries become increasingly heavy-handed in their efforts to maintain order in Manhattan, to the point of detaining civilians without cause as the Sinister Six run rampant and other criminals overwhelm the police and throw the city into total chaos.
  • Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War hits the player with this at the end of chapter 5. Sigurd thinks he's managed to clear his name and returns to the capital, where his ally Arvis greets him... with his wife Dierdre, now brainwashed into becoming Arvis' wife. He then orders Sigurd executed, leading to a Total Party Kill and Sigurd being personally murdered by Arvis' Valflame.
  • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance has its one early on with the death of Greil. While everyone in the Greil Mercenaries grieve for his death, nearly all of them express uncertainty in Greil's inexperienced son Ike being able to lead in his stead, and 2 party members unceremoniously leave because of this.
  • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
    • During the second arc with Queen Elincia. Ludvec kidnaps Lucia, the Greil Mercenaries and Bastian are nowhere to be found, your main army with the most competent warriors are sidetracked and delayed by an enemy ploy and Ludveck surrounds your last stronghold with a massive army of traitors and usurpers.
    • In the third chapter, thanks to Skrimir's idiocy, Naesala's treachery and Begnion's bastardry, the Gallian forces are trapped in enemy territory with the world's superpower on one side and Daein, which holds quite a few old friends, closing in on the other. They are forced to stage a full scale retreat losing the territory they gained and some of what they started with.
    • The entire game counts as one for Daein. It opens with them under a positively brutal occupation in which Begnion commits multiple atrocities including labor camps and murdering the citizenry. When that's over, Lord of the Incompetent, Pelleas, gets looped into a Deal with the Devil to serve Begnion which, in short, will kill every single Daein citizen with a magical incurable plague if he disobeys. Then they get wrapped in the Gallian-Begnion war in which the Greil Mercenaries proceed to beat the crap out of them. THEN an alliance of Crimea, Gallia and the bird tribes proceed to march through Daein to Begnion with Daein losing every battle. Their bad luck doesn't end until the event that, strangely, is the world's Darkest Hour yet manages to be Daein's Hope Spot.
    • The last and biggest one occurs when members of the dragon tribe side with Micaiah and Daein. This means that the world is at war and that Yune, Goddess of Chaos is going to awaken. By sheer luck, the heroes manage to find out the secret to awakening her peacefully just in time. Unfortunately, this also awakens Ashera, the Goddess of Order who proceeds to turn every single person, warrior, peasant, or little child into stone.
  • Fire Emblem Awakening
    • The foremost one is when Chrom and the Shepherds are attempting to rescue Emmeryn. Just when victory seems near, a squadron of Risen archers suddenly appear and proceed to wipe out the entire squadron of Pegasus Knight Reinforcements, and worst of all, the person they're trying to save chooses to leap to her death instead of forcing Chrom to make a Sadistic Choice.
    • Another happens later on, when The Avatar's future evil self takes the power of Grima for him/herself, resulting in Grima's resurrection and the impending End of the World as We Know It. This is a short-lived one, however, because it turns out the Avatar of the present managed to steal back the Fire Emblem, so there's still hope.
    • This also applies to the DLC Missions of The Future Past. In what seems to be an alternate timeline, the children of the Shepherds are trying to reunite the stones of the Fire Emblem in a last-ditch effort to perform the Awakening and stop Grima. However, in every mission, the children are in bad positions thanks to the Risen, as well as the Avatar's children, and will fail and die without your direct intervention.
  • Chrono Trigger has this just after you confront Queen Zeal in the Ocean Palace. Lavos woke up, knocked out the entire party with one attack, obliterated Crono, and destroyed Zeal. Schala teleported the party out with her magic, but she was caught in the Ocean Palace as it collapsed. The time gate out of 12,000 BC is on a separate island and Dalton and his troops are declaring sovereignty over what's left of the world, with Dalton personally claimig the Epoch for himself. Even after Dalton is deposed, the closest thing the party has to a guiding light is the person they've spent the first part of the game trying to kill, and then the Black Omen appears.
  • Occurs near the end of games in the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series.
    • Persona 3: Nyx begins her descent on the planet, in spite of SEES's efforts to destroy her Avatar, and people begin to die as it makes its approach. Alternatively, after finding out that you've been manipulated into bringing about The End of the World as We Know It instead of stopping it, one of your friends reveals himself to be the avatar of Nyx and drives home how futile your efforts are, even catching the protagonist in his room and offering him a chance to kill him. Not to stop the Fall, but to erase everyone's memories so they can live out the rest of their short lives in blissful ignorance.
    • Persona 4: The protagonist confronts Izanami, the source of the supernatural fog. Izanami absorbs the hero's friends one by one...
    • Persona 5: Yaldabaoth fuses Mementos with the real world. With this fusion, human perception affects reality. As a result, because humanity collectively does not believe in the Phantom Thieves' existence anymore, the protagonist and his friends begin to disappear from reality.
  • In Chrono Cross, after the visit to Fort Dragonia. Lynx pulls a Grand Theft Me on Serge, turns his party against him, stabs Kid when she figures out what's going on, and throws Serge into a dimensional void. Even after Harle helps Serge out, he's still stuck in Home World, separated from all his friends, stuck in Lynx's body, while Dark Serge is doing god-knows-what in Another World.
  • Twilight Princess Example: Zant steals the fused shadows, Link gets trapped in his wolf form, and Midna is dying, but you can save her! And Zelda dies instead.
  • Cave Story, after the Iron Head fight. You've failed to stop The Doctor from acquiring the red flowers, and your last-ditch effort to take him down with the entire island also failed. Mimiga Village is completely empty, all its citizens taken by the Doctor (and its theme music switches to something appropriately creepy), and the Egg Chamber was ravaged by an explosion. King and Toroko are dead, and Curly Brace is either dead in the Core Chamber or damaged and God-knows-where. Your only ally (or allies) who hasn't been killed or taken prisoner says there's nothing left to do but flee, and it's possible to take him up on the offer.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots has the microwave tunnel scene. As you continue to hammer the triangle button, the screen is split between Snake moving down the hallway, falling to his knees as his equipment explodes, having to crawl to the end, while the top portion shows his allies about to lose their respective battles. Raiden gets surrounded and stabbed by FROGs, Johnny and Meryl run out of ammo as an endless wave of enemies continues to charge them, and Metal Gear RAY mounts the battleship and prepares to fire on the bridge. This continues into the next scene and gets even worse, with Snake being overwhelmed by Mini-GEKKO and screaming Otacon's name as Otacon practically has a breakdown when it looks like he's not going to be able to upload the virus in time. All played to an absolutely heartrending soundtrack. Things looked pretty bleak before, but that sequence has players nearly breaking the controller from bashing the button so hard, praying that everything will turn out okay.
    • The programmers even made it more tense for the player. As Snake progressed through the tunnel, the speed at which the button had to be pressed slowly increases, to the point of using both hands for rapid fire button annihilation.
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has a late game mission: "Shining Lights, Even In Death", AKA: The quarantine mission. A massive vocal cord parasite outbreak at Snake's base has forced him to quarantine the facility by killing everyone infected.
  • MediEvil 2 has this at the end of the Whitechapel level, where Sir Daniel witnesses the death of Kia at the hands of the Ripper.
  • In the Spyro the Dragon game Dawn of the Dragon, the climax has a type three one of these. Ignitus performs a Heroic Sacrifice, Malefor takes over Cynder's mind and turns her on Spyro, this causes Spyro to go over the Despair Event Horizon. A Hope Spot occurs when Spyro saves Cynder with the Power of Love, but is quickly crushed when, while battling Malefor, the Great Destroyer finishes its path, beginning the planet's destruction and forcing the two heroes to battle Malefor as they plummet to the planet's core. They after a long brutal battle they overcome Malefor, causing him to be sealed away and Spyro saves the planet, almost killing them both in the process.
  • The submarine in Ghost Trick. After saving so many lives so many times, Sissel and his friends are left in a leaking metal coffin slowly falling to the bottom of the cold sea. They are utterly alone, without so much as a telephone line as a way out, and those of them that can't die will be left alone in the dark ocean forever.
  • In Super Paper Mario, Sammer's Kingdom gets destroyed by the Void, you're forced to fight your own Brainwashed and Crazy brother, then find that the Pure Heart that was located in the world that just got obliterated has been stripped of its power, no one has any idea of how to fix it... and then The Dragon shows up in between chapters to off your entire party in one go.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl's The Subspace Emissary has the reveal of Tabuu summarize the trope in an entire single cutscene. After revealing himself to be controlling Master Hand, Tabuu takes out Ganondorf and a weakened Master Hand with relatively minimal effort. What appears to be a Big Damn Heroes moment arrives, when the entire party of heroes that have come together arrive at the scene...only for Tabuu to revert everyone into trophies with one flap of his wings. Had it not been for King Dedede's badges, there would had been absolutely NOBODY inside or outside Subspace left to save the day (with the possible exception of Sonic, who only appears out of nowhere near the end of the story to ensure Tabuu can't wave his wings again). This is also invoked by the game itself-after the following cutscene, you return to the menu to find that you not only can't replay to any the previous stages you've already cleared, but also everyone is gone from your save file when you save your game.
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's "World of Light" Adventure Mode starts as this. The 74 heroes confront Galeem and an army of Master Hands. Then, the Master Hands unravel, is absorbed inside Galeem and fire at everyone, with only Shulk getting a split second warning. No one is spared. Zelda and Mewtwo cannot deflect it. Sonic and Captain Falcon cannot outrun it. Bayonetta, Lucario, and Greninja can't evade it. The Inklings and Solid Snake cannot hide from it. Bowser and the Pokemon Trainer cannot overpower it. Kirby is the only one to survive, his Warp Star literally blinking him away from the attack. The light spreads from the battleground across the world, then the solar system, then the galaxy. Then, Kirby, the Sole Survivor, crash lands in the new world and finds himself the only one left to save the universe...
  • The Darkest Hour in the last GDI mission of Command & Conquer - Tiberian Sun - Kane's World Altering Missile is set to launch in 3 hours. And ICBM launchers will destroy the GDI orbital command center Philidelphia to boot.
  • Homeworld has a Darkest Hour of its own. It's not during the third level, but the last, where you have finally found your Homeworld. Unfortunately you've got several enemy fleets between you and it, out for your blood and Fleet Command is not responding...
  • Super Metroid. A giant Metroid appears. You can't kill it with any of your weapons. It latches onto you, and drains your health faster than you being submerged in the acid in Ridley's lair with the Power Suit and nothing more. No weapons can repel that monster. When you're in your very last HP point, it stops, gets off and starts vocalizing. Do you recognize those squeaks? It's Baby! It then flies off, leaving a clear way to a recharge station.
    • Another comes in the battle against Mother Brain. It uses a beam that not only presses Samus to the wall, it disintegrates her ammo as well. No matter how much you fight, it'll keep doing it until you can't stand anymore, then it batters you up with a few more shots and charges the death beam again. And then Baby latches onto its face.
  • Tales of Monkey Island has one: In Chapter 4, Guybrush watches Morgan die from a stab wound (which had been inflicted by LeChuck). As if that wasn't enough, he and Elaine get caught in clamshell traps set up by De Singe just as the former is finishing the Feast for the Senses for La Esponja Grande; and after he destroys De Singe and cures everyone of the Pox of LeChuck, the villain himself breaks free, creates a bit of a Hope Spot for Guybrush and Elaine by temporarily freeing them, and then erases it by killing the former and capturing both the latter and the sponge. While Guybrush is thinking up some means of escape in the Crossroads of the afterlife, LeChuck knocks Winslow off the Screaming Narwhal and sets it adrift at sea, damages Flotsam Island, by destroying many of its inhabitants, destroys Spinner Cay and its many Vaycaylians, damages the entire Gulf of Melange and makes it his own Villain World. Right after Guybrush creates another Hope Spot and opens the rips in the Crossroads, the villain gets his chance to erase it again by tossing the sponge into the rip and drawing voodoo power from the Crossroads. And to make matters worse, Elaine agrees to be turned into his demon bride who then sprays Guybrush with voodoo root beer, zapping him back to the Crossroads! A truly dark hour indeed!
  • Chapter 6 of The Reconstruction. The Watchers are dead, the world is in ruins, and an all-powerful "Lord-God" is sweeping up what little remains. The main characters are the only remaining hope for reconstruction.
  • After the Lava Caves in Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean. Geldoblame is dead, the five End Magnus are in the hands of The Chessmaster, and Kalas has gone to The Dark Side. The party is scattered, with Xelha being locked up in the Imperial Fortress, the others are who-knows-where, and Kalas has disowned the Guardian Spirit. It's ultimately an example of the third type of this trope, as there's several hope spots before the happy ending.
  • A bit early into Dawn of War II, you have been facing an Ork invasion and have only recently found the Eldar mucking around the Blood Ravens' recruiting worlds. Then, Tyranids arrive and Captain Thule, who was in command of the whole affair, is mostly killed by a Tyranid Warrior that gets away. So at that point, you've got an Ork Waaagh!, an Eldar strike force and a Tyranid tendril creeping on your recruiting worlds and only two Space Marine Companies (IV and X), bereft of a leader to fight them back with. Sergeant Tarkus even uses the exact words of the trope to describe the situation.
    • And the Chapter is terribly, terribly understrength after a botched campaign in Kauvara, in Dawn of War: Soulstorm.
  • Battlefield 3. Campo and Matkovich are dead. You killed Cole. Dima failed to stop the destruction of Paris via suitcase nuke. The OGA refuses to believe that Solomon is the Big Bad, and moves to lock Blackburn away in Leavenworth for a long time. And there's still one missing nuke.
  • H.A.W.X. 2, at the end. Most of the squad is dead, the Russian general has access to the laser satellites, and nukes are launching all over the place.
  • The beginning of the final day of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All, case 2-4. Maya's been kidnapped by a professional assassin, who wants him to get an acquittal for the client-of-the-week in exchange for Maya's life. Phoenix then has to spend the first day breaking one of the biggest woobies in the series to achieve his goal, only to find out that his client is guilty. On top of that, just when the player thinks they found out where Maya is being kept, the assassin slipped right out of the police's grasp, leaving them back to square one on where to find her, the player is given a You Bastard! moment by said woobie, and now Phoenix has to decide between proving his client guilty or saving Maya's life. All while the client is standing there and mocking you.
  • In Dark Souls before the player character escapes the northern undead prison. The First Flame is dying, and when it does all light and fire shall go out with it. As a result much of the world is suffering through endless nights. The world has also be devastated by a curse of undeath called the Dark Sign and many, many civilizations have collapsed as a result. In a twist, there is some doubt (in-universe and out) over just how bad this Darkest Hour really is. Darkstalker Kaathe believes the Age of Dark is not only inevitable, but that it could be a good thing in the long run. Kingseeker Frampt believes the Age of Fire is worth preserving at any cost. Ultimately it's the player character's choice who to believe.
  • During the final battle of EarthBound, the Power of Friendship is used to do heavy damage to Giygas, but eventually;
    Paula: I can't think of anyone else... someone... anyone... please help us.
    Paula's call was absorbed by the darkness.
  • X Rebirth combines this with After the End. One year after the events of Albion Prelude, the Argons' attempts at creating AGI ships caused the Xenon to become so powerful that the Ancients are forced to shut down the portal network just to keep them from overrunning the galaxy. Fast forward a thousand years, and the Community of United Planets has collapsed into complete anarchy, everyone is forced to scavenge old tech for resources, conflict is omnipresent, and all the while, both the Xenon and the Kha'ak have been biding their time and strengthening their forces, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike...
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops near the end Dragovich was almost ready to signal hundreds of sleeper agents in the USA to release Nova 6, and President Johnson will launch a nuclear strike should things get worse.
  • Resistance 3 opens in this manner. The Chimera have wiped out all organized opposition. All human governments have collapsed. 90% of humanity is either dead or converted. The remainder has been forced into small enclaves relying on Hit-and-Run Tactics to survive. And the Chimera are working on terraforming Earth to make it more suited to their physiology, which would render the planet inhospitable for the surviving humans.
  • This tends to happen in Kingdom Hearts due to the practice of bringing the protagonist close to death (or the metaphysical equivalent thereof) between games to create in-universe justification for his being reset to level one. Naturally, while the hero is thus incapacitated, the villain has near-free reign to accomplish his goals as the hero's allies try and fail to cover for his absence.
  • Baldurs Gate 2 has this when the party finally arrives at Spellhold. It doesn't take long before both people who can bring you to the island betray you: Saemon Havarian turns out to be working with the vampires, and the vampire's leader, Bodhi, turns out to be working for Big Bad Irenicus. And then party member Yoshimo (again, if you brought him with you) betrays you as well, and the entire party is captured by Irenicus, who's taken control of Spellhold. He then proceeds to rip out your soul and leave you for dead. If there's any consolation, the party is finally reunited with Imoen, and Bodhi disobeys her orders to execute you because she wants to toy with you a bit more.
  • Even Rosenkreuzstilette gets one of these awful moments. To start things off, while Tia's pleading for Count Michael Zeppelin to stop doing the wrong thing and return to the path of righteousness, he gets suddenly and deliberately obliterated into a burst of flames from behind by a lightning bolt. Then his daughter Iris appears calling him a useless old man without remorse and then proceeds to kick off Tia's Heroic BSoD by attacking and fatally injuring her with another attack. When Tia desperately wants to know what the hell is going on, she gives off a lecture revealing the Awful Truth to both her and Lilli to both of their horrors, throwing Tia even further into her Blue Screen of Death mode; the fact that she started RKS's coup against the empire for kicks, and that she killed her own father to make his adoptive daughter Zorne suffer without regret. And after that, she decides she doesn't need Tia any further so she's about to finish her off and kill her with one last attack. Had it not been for Freu coming in with her Big Damn Heroes moment, her attack would've done so and Iris would've been free to continue doing as she pleased with no one to stop her and therefore made it all result in a Downer Ending for everyone else.
  • The start of Act IV of Diablo III is one of these in spades. To recap: Diablo is back courtesy of Adria pulling the mother of all betrayals. Leah is no more thanks to Adria using her as the vessel of said rebirth. Diablo has become the Prime Evil, the sum total of all Seven Great Evils in one being, thanks to the Black Soulstone that you so helpfully put the Evils into for Adria. And Diablo and all his forces are now running roughshod over the High Heavens themselves, with extra despair points due to Auriel, the Archangel of Hope, being taken prisoner by Rakanoth, the Lord of Despair. Only when you free her do things begin to look up, though you still have a lot of demonslaying to do!
    • Reaper of Souls has its own Darkest Hour near the end of Act V when Malthael releases the Black Soulstone, which he has altered to absorb the demonic essences of all beings of the plane that he sends it into, into Sanctuary, with the intent of annihilating all humanity. As people die in droves all across the world, it's a race against time to find and stop Malthael before humanity is rendered extinct.
  • Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire: You tried to stop Team Magma/Aqua, but Kyogre/Groudon woke up anyway and is trying to flood/bake the entire Hoenn region. And in Emerald, they're going at it with each other and the sun and rain are both going on. Better go wake up Rayquaza before they destroy everything...
  • The final chapter of Socrates Jones: Pro Philosopher begins this way. Socrates accidentally gives a badly-thought-out answer to the question of the nature of morality— and he only had the one chance to do so. His only remaining hope is to convince the Arbiter that his accidental answer is correct...
  • In Secret of Mana, after the Empire succeeds in resurrecting the Mana Fortress, the hero and his party make their way to the Mana Tree to finish the process of fully repowering the Mana Sword. After a grueling battle to test them they finally reach it, only to watch the Empire utterly obliterate the tree with the Mana Fortress, undoing all of the hero's hard work at powering the sword, and destroying the last barrier between the Empire and conquering the world.
  • If you play the three campaigns of Saints Row 2 all at the same time, each of their fourth missions line up to make this. Carlos is put down by the Boss after the Brotherhood takes him for a "ride", Aisha is murdered and Johnny hospitalized by Jyunichi, and Shaundi is kidnapped by Veteran Child. Shaundi is brought back in that same mission and Johnny gets better, but the way it all lines up makes it quite dark.
  • Haunting Ground: In Chaos Forest, Fiona is separated from her Canine Companion Hewie, Hewie is shot, and Fiona is captured after The Reveal that Riccardo is a clone of her late father... who he murdered. Needless to say, things are looking bleak. And depending on your previous actions, Hewie may or may not recover, and consequently, you may or may not be locked into the worst ending.
  • The Crooked Man: David manages to help out Fluffy, but immediately afterwards, the Crooked Man appears to him in the form of his mentally-ill mother, who triggers the memory of when her mind first started to go - and David nearly killed her in a massive Freak Out!. Then Paul and Marion, David's best friends, get a call from him. When Paul and Marion arrive, they find David (possessed by the Crooked Man) holding a gun to his head.
  • Rule of Rose: The Lying Princess chapter, which comes immediately after The Reveal that Wendy is the true princess, and successfully ordered Brown's death. The chapter is basically just a boss fight, where every character, aside from Jennifer, dies messily at the hands of a Tragic Monster created by Wendy - who even ends up relenting when she realises the true extent of her actions. To top it all off, said Tragic Monster almost immediately commits suicide... and that's if you want the good ending.
  • Elite Beat Agents features this after the penultimate song, "Without A Fight." Humanity had been subjugated by alien invaders, and there was no hope for anyone until the EBA arrive to fight the aliens. Right when it looks like they might beat the aliens back, the aliens turn the Agents into stone. The assembled crowd shouts "AGENTS!" and falls silent. That's when the girl helped out in the Tear Jerker level starts the chant that breaks them free. The second Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan game also pulled this off, except the threat was the sun going out (and the Asahi Ouendan are trapped in ice from a frozen meteorite).
  • Happens right before the final dungeon in the remakes of Lunar: Silver Star Story. After supposedly killing Ghaleon and finally rescuing Luna, the real Ghaleon shows up, reveals you only fought an imposter, proceeds to absolutely mop the floor with you in a Hopeless Boss Fight, and Luna awakens as Althena before the two of them abscond to the Fortress of Althena and begin draining all life from the Silver Star. You eventually wind up in Meribia, and discover that Kyle has drunk himself into a stupor, Nash has fallen into a deep depression reflecting on the fact that his earlier Heel–Face Turn has probably earned him a particularly painful death from the Big Bad, and nearly every NPC thinks you're all completely screwed.
  • Depending on the interpretation, the BlazBlue story could be at this phase during BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma. Despite the defeat of Yuki Terumi (killed by Hakumen) and Relius Clover (fell into utter depression thanks to his plan failing), the heroes now have to contend with the Goddess of Death Izanami, who turned out to be far above the two in terms of Invincible Villainy, and with her plans, every human is smelted into goo for the Takemikazuchi Embryo. She is also in possession of Phantom, whose magic was previously vital to most of Terumi's successes and proved it by dismissing Hakumen easily, and then she turned Ragna into a new rampaging beast that heavily wounds Jin and not even Noel in her controlled Mu-12 form can dent him, to the point that Rachel thought that Ragna might have to be killed (or she'll sacrifice herself) to save the 'world beyond hope'. NOL might have become a force of good thanks to Kagura managing to raise Homura as the new Imperator, but it's severely lacking manpower to oppose Izanami (which was exactly her plan!), and others (such as Bang) are M.I.A. after wrecking Relius' plans, and while Relius was now under the leash of Carl and Litchi, both of them were still pursuing personal problems rather than realizing the greater threat above. And apparently, not even the trio of Noel, Tsubaki and Makoto were that tightly-knit—while Noel and Makoto would readily throw their lives away for Ragna's safety, Tsubaki still hates Ragna and might have other ideas. Fittingly, on this part of the story, a lot of fans have been crying Shoot the Shaggy Dog, Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy and Torch the Franchise and Run on this... something like closing the book because they couldn't withstand the trope, when Word of God say that there will be one final game to conclude the story so far.
    • As it turned out, it becomes the truth, as in Central Fiction, the main heroes managed to get things done together, Ragna finally managed to avoid being The Chew Toy and accomplishes something meaningful and good, even if at the cost of something great, the absolute bad guys defeated and the world finally recovering and harmony returning.
  • In Wolfenstein: The New Order, the Nazis have won World War II and conquered the world, and the remnants of La Résistance is fighting a losing battle against the fascists. The game even starts with Deathshead cutting out the eyes of one of your comrades.
  • At the midpoint of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Frau Engel captures BJ , thwarts a plan by the Resistance to free him while shooting one of his friends, daydreams about fighting off his captors during a sham trial, and is subsequently decapitated.
  • Occurs quite frequently in the Sonic the Hedgehog games, usually during the final story arc.
    • In Sonic Adventure, Chaos has lost control and absorbed the energy from the chaos emeralds, incapacitated both Eggman and Knuckles, and destroyed most of Station Square in the process.
    • In Sonic Adventure 2, Gerald Robotnik's plan to comes to fruition, with the Space Colony ARK plummeting towards Earth. Shadow is refusing to help the heroes, and it's a desperate race against time to stop the Biolizard from annihilating the planet.
    • In Shadow the Hedgehog, Black Doom incapacitates Shadow and the other heroes (and Eggman) with nerve gas on the Black Comet, then takes the Chaos Emeralds Shadow had gathered and uses Chaos Control to teleport the Comet to the Earth's surface, then begins the process of harvesting the planet and its inhabitants.
    • In Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Mephiles succeeds in killing Sonic, which subsequently causes Elise to cry, releasing Iblis and allowing the two to become one. The entire universe begins to fall apart as Solaris eats away at time and space, black holes are spawning everywhere, and Blaze has been erased from the timeline.
    • In Sonic Lost World, the Deadly Six have sucked all of the life out of Sonic's planet (which also results in Sonic losing contact with Knuckles and Amy, who are back on Sonic's world), kidnapped Tails, and launched an ambush that caused Eggman to fall to his doom when saving Sonic, taking Orbot and Cubot with him. The result has left Sonic alone by himself and having even crossed the Despair Event Horizon, though he still continues on to defeat the Deadly Six. It doesn't get any better when he later confronts the remaining Deadly Six members (after having taken care of three of them), only for them to bring out a robotizied Tails and then order him to shoot Sonic. Luckily for Sonic, Tails took some precautionary steps to ensure he still had free will and was faking being under the Deadly Six's control. Eggman also survived, but is revealed to have faked his death to pick up where he left off after Sonic gets rid of the Deadly Six, thus serving as the game's final boss.
    • Sonic Forces effectively starts out as this, with Eggman and his assembled team of former antagonists (spearheaded by the powerful newcomer Infinite) effortlessly defeating Sonic and subsequently taking over the entire planet. With Sonic believed to be dead, Tails giving up in grief and fleeing in obscurity as a result to Sonic's defeat, and the Resistance group formed to counter Eggman's advance dwindling in numbers, it's anything but a good look.
  • Stage 5 of Freedom Planet: The government you confront doesn't believe your plea; the team gets chased for jailbreaking; the villains get ahead and kidnap Torque; heavy rain falls and the heroines run out of ideas on what to do; Carol gets upset and leaves; Milla breaks down crying. In the end, Lilac decides to go after the Big Bad alone to avoid more casualties, only to fail spectacularly at the end of Stage 6. It all gets better afterward, nevertheless.
  • The final trial in any given Danganronpa typically becomes this, with the Big Bad's Despair Gambit reaching its final stage and forcing the player to make a Sadistic Choice or otherwise putting them through some kind of Trauma Conga Line. A common theme is to have the students believing they're solving mysteries throughout in a way that brings them closer to bringing down the mastermind, only for some Shocking Swerve to reveal the truth they were all working towards being horrific and full of despair.
  • There are a few especially notable ones in Undertale:
    • In the Neutral path, you fight Asgore, the King of all Monsters, when suddenly Flowey appears, kills Asgore, destroys Asgore's soul and steals the six human souls... and then the game crashes... When it's booted up the next time, it appears to glitch out, the player's savefile has been replaced with Flowey's savefile, the location of the save is "My World" and the title of the game itself changes to "Floweytale"... Then Flowey reveals his new form, informs you that, for all intents and purposes, he's God now, and as for you? He's going to save over your death so that you can watch as he kills you. Over, and over, and over...
    • In the True Pacifist path, the fight with Asgore is interrupted by Toriel who comes to your rescure. And then Undyne, Alphys, Papyrus and Sans also come to your aid and everything seems to get a peaceful resolution... When Alphys suddenly asks Papyrus how he knew to call everyone and Papyrus reveals that "a tiny flower" told him to... Cue Flowey attacking at that exact moment when everyone's guards are down, capturing all of your friends and then absorbing the souls of every single being in the entire Underground, causing him to transform into his true form: Asriel Dreemurr, the Absolute God of Hyperdeath.
    • If you kill every boss and more than 10 mooks for a Neutral ending, the phone call from Sans at the end describes the Underground as going through this; the Souls are gone, Asgore and everyone who could succeed him is dead, and all hope of escape has been lost. As a result, the Underground has fallen into despair and anarchy.
  • Batman: Arkham Knight is this for the whole Batman: Arkham Series as Gotham is taken over by the Scarecrow and an army under his and the titular Arkham Knight's command, all of the villains are working with Scarecrow to finally take down Batman, the city is evacuated of all but a few cops and several thugs, and said thugs are rioting throughout the city. Within the game, it's the climax, as Batman surrenders to Scarecrow, who exposes his identity and injects him with fear toxin. However, all the latter finally allows Batman to rid himself to the infection caused by the Joker blood from Arkham City.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel has two of these that pop up at the end of each game.
    • The first one ends with the assassination of Chancellor Giliath Osborne by the terrorist C, who happens to be Crow, one of Class VII's closest friends. Things go to hell when the Noble Faction not only reveal their flagship, the Pantagruel, but also reveal their own mechs, the Panzer Soldats, who make mincemeat of the Imperial Army's tanks. It also gets revealed that Vita Clotilde is also the Second Anguis of Ouroboros. The Noble Faction then invade Trista, with the teachers defending the west side of the city while Class VII takes the east side. They just barely put down a basic Drakhen on foot while Scarlet's Spiegel curbstomps them. Even with Rean summoning the Divine Knight Valimar and curbstomping Scarlet, Crow has his own Divine Knight, Ordine. Even after Rean wins, it turns out Crow was just holding back and casually backhands Valimar. Class VII comes to Rean's aid while Valimar flies Rean away, despite his protests of wanting to stay.
    • The second game has this just for a Disc-One Final Dungeon of all things. The Infernal Palace appears in place of Valflame Palace, turning all of Heimdallr into a hellish landscape. Even after fighting their way through Ouroboros and with Rean finally winning over Crow, Duke Cayenne is pissed. He forcibly puts Prince Cedric into the cockpit of the Vermilion Apocalypse, needing Class VII along with Rean and Crow to defeat it. Crow ends up getting impaled by the Vermilion Apocalypse giving Rean the opportunity to pull Cedric out of it. Just as Crow dies, several big whammies are revealed: Jusis's brother, Rufus, is one of the Ironbloods and that Chancellor Osborne is very much alive! The final whammy is that Rean learns that Osborne is his father.
    • The third game takes things up to eleven. Angelica is killed by George, who is revealed to be Evil All Along, The Courageous is blown up along with Victor, Toval and Olivert, Millium dies, and Rean loses control of his Super Mode and his resulting actions spreads the red plumora flowers all over Erebonia and Crossbell, causing Crossbell to stop resisting Osborne and gang up with Erebonia to go to war against the Calvard Republic. And then Osborne's Divine Knight delivers a Neck Lift to Valimar with Rean still inside.
    • And the recently released teaser image for IV? It manages to leave the impression that things are going to go way past 11...
  • Nocturne: Rebirth has at least two crushing moments even for the long-lived protagonist.
    • Reviel's inner conflict over his views on humanity lead him to attempt Suicide by Cop via Ristill, only for Luna to take the killing blow for him. He attempts to bite her and bring her back as a sentient vampire, but fails when she turns into a mindless Dark Disciple instead. At this point, he crosses the Despair Event Horizon and is resigned to finishing his deathmatch with Ristill.
    • Luna manages to regain her mind and convince Reviel to spare Ristill, thus completing his Heel–Face Turn. Unfortunately, Khaos attacks the village of Algiz and forces the two to reveal their vampirism, making it so they can't return to the village for the rest of the game out of fear of ostracism and shame for lying to them. Fortunately, the villagers accept Luna in the ending, though they're split on trusting Reviel because of his bloody past.
  • Dynasty Warriors 8 has one battle in each faction that ends in a crushing unavoidable defeat that they never fully recover from: The Battle of Chibi for Wei, the Battle of Hefei for Shu, the Battle of Fan Castle for Shu, the Battle of Xuchang for Jin, and the Battle of Dingtao for Lu Bu. This is the exact moment the game splits off into the Historical and Hypothetical routes, with the latter only obtainable by going back to previous missions and fulfilling special conditions to ensure that nobody on your side dies before the split. Shu also has a second one of these in the Battle of Wu Zhang Plains (which is also the final battle of most Dynasty Warriors games,) where Shu wins a Pyrrhic Victory against Wei that costs them Zhuge Liang, their greatest tactician, who's death spells the beginning of the end for Shu.
  • The entirety of Route C/D (aka the entire second half of the game) in NieR: Automata is a cavalcade of tragedy of misery. YoRHa is destroyed, with your in-game ability to come back from death without reloading a save being lost forever, 2B is infected with the Logic Virus and Mercy Killed by A2, 9S witnesses this Mercy Kill and goes off the deep-end, which isn't helped by him spending the rest of the game learning Awful Truth after Awful Truth until he becomes a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, and Pascal's village is completely wiped out, the survivors (all of them children) ending up committing mass suicide out of fear, and Pascal begging A2 to either erase his memories or kill him. Fortunately, if the player toughs it out and gets both the C and D endings, the far more uplifting Ending E becomes available.
  • The entire Mega Man Zero series is this for the main timeline. The devastating Elf Wars killed off 60% of the human population and 90% of Reploids and ravaged the environment to the point that the only habitable place left on Earth (until Area Zero is discovered) is the city of Neo Arcadia. With both X and Zero having sealed themselves away for good, a copy of X is created, who goes mad with power and decides that preserving humanity at the expense of reploidkind is of the utmost importance, creating a hellish dystopia for reploids, who are now labelled Maverick for the slightest threat to the status quo. And then Dr. Weil, the instigator of the Elf Wars, returns with his superweapon Omega, and things get even worse.
    • Failing to destroy the Eurasia colony in Mega Man X5 results in this. The Earth is nearly destroyed, and Sigma succeeds in overloading Zero with the Maverick virus, awakening his original, murderous self. Future games in the X series decided to keep part of this as canon, as even after destroying Eurasia, the leftover debris still devastated the Earth.
  • Hearts of Iron: In the (Appropriately titled) "Hearts of Iron II: Darkest Hour", if your nation ends up on the losing side of World War 1, you will be forced to accept a harsh and debilitating peace treaty in which your nation's economy will be crippled by war reparations, your army will be mostly disbanded with heavy regulations on it's size, your colonial empire will be broken up and divided up among your enemies on top of territorial concessions on the mainland. The option to accept this (Which is the only choice) is titled "[Insert Nation Here] Lives It's Darkest Hour."

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