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Darkness Induced Audience Apathy / Video Games

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  • Top-down shooter 12 Is Better Than 6 is a game set in a very dark and gritty Wild West where nearly every character is a sleazy criminal, a corrupt sheriff, a manipulative cult leader or just a good old-fashioned unlikable racist asshole. Even the main character — a Mexican outlaw — is violent and abrasive, with the majority of the bad things happening to him being his own fault, and while his racism against "gringos" could conceivably be understood by being surrounded by people who are just as racist towards him, he also makes racist remarks against Native Americans, and ultimately shows no remorse for any of his actions. The end of the game is one big Kill ’Em All event, with the protagonist triggering a landslide that kills the various factions that he angered into hunting him down, but he himself is killed by the same landslide, with the implication that the people he was working with are killed as well, and it's hard to really care about any of this.
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  • Dual Destinies reveals that the sheer scale of corruption and Jury and Witness Tampering in the Phoenixverse has led to a widespread lack of faith in the judicial system, and therefore prosecutors are free to engage in ever more creative and elaborate shenanigans because they're already in The Tyson Zone and nobody is going to care.
  • The Awakened Fate Ultimatum up until about chapter 5 can be very difficult to play due to this. The title focuses on a conflict between angels and demons, but while the demons are horrible, the angels are little better. The main protagonist, Shin Kamikaze, is too weak-willed to make anything happen and all choices end in tragedy whether you choose the righteous option or the selfish one.
  • Some people have criticized the Batman: Arkham Series for its Darker and Edgier nature, especially its finale as it tends to present Batman as a Failure Hero and features many horrifying and tragic scenes, including but not limited to Batman hallucinating a fear toxin-induced Oracle killing herself and Jason Todd being tortured by the Joker, which drove him to become the titular Arkham Knight and be part of Scarecrow's plan to gas Gotham City.
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  • The BlazBlue series almost falls into this. Those who are taken seriously are Anti-Heroes at best, those who are clear-cut heroes are treated as the Joke Characters story-wise and never are taken seriously, the villains are extremely effective and far more likely to win, and those who oppose the villains who are taken seriously are disorganized and would rather mind their own businesses than realize the threat and work for a better future. Chronophantasma both improved this and suffered from it the worst. For the most part, the game is the most hopeful in the series. The protagonists are working together towards a common goal and have a plan, Ragna and Jin get Character Development that shows them becoming better people, and the heroes are finally able to counter the villains in terms of planning and have several important victories. The ending, however, is the darkest yet. While Terumi and Relius have been defeated, Izanami takes the position of Big Bad and absorbs a large portion of humanity into the Embryo, and the world lost seithr, which was its main power source. Platinum is possibly dead, Jin and Noel are injured, with the former in serious condition, and Ragna is destined to die. While the games have always had bright and dark moments, this was clearly the series' Darkest Hour, which caused some people to stop caring. Luckily, Central Fiction managed to gradually make things better, topping with Earn Your Happy Ending.note 
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  • Bloodborne: Like the Dark Souls example below, but somehow even worse. The city of Yharnam has been nearly exterminated by a plague and warped into a hellish nightmare by Lovecraftian horrors. Human blood is used for literally everything in the city, from alcohol to medicine. Nearly everyone left in the city are corrupt dicks, bloodthirsty Hunters, violently insane townsfolk, horrific monsters, or all of the above. The few who aren't all have terrible things happen to them, and there's nothing you can do to help them. And that's all before the Genre Shift into Cosmic Horror Story and the fact that two out of the three endings are blatant Shoot the Shaggy Dog moments... and the last one may or may not be much better. Combined with the tremendous Gorn, depressing gothic environments, and Mind Screw lore, it's difficult to find anything even remotely positive or hopeful here.
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts has virtually no likeable characters. Logan is a blank slate who follows his father and brother with Blind Obedience, Elias sends his children out into warzones without the slightest hint of concern for their safety and put them through Training from Hell at a very early age, Hesh is a Flat Character with terrible voice acting, Merrick is a murderous Blood Knight who executes unarmed workers, Keegan's sole burst of characterisation is his execution of an unarmed soldier begging for his life, Ajax is the Token Minority who dies moments after we first meet him and is completely forgotten ten seconds afterwards, and Kick is a Mauve Shirt with no personality whatsoever who doesn't even need to die to be forgotten about. Rooting for the Empire is also off the table, as the villains are all genocidal racists who want to murder all Americans for reasons never elaborated on, and the only one of them with any development not only has a crappy motivation, but is an Invincible Villain with Plot Armor so thick that even when you kill him in the finale, he ultimately wins by literally coming back from the dead with no explanation five minutes later. All of the one-off playable characters are just as silent as Logan, leaving perhaps only Kyra Mosely and Lieutenant Collins as even approaching likeable - and the former is killed off after five minutes. At the very least, there's always Riley.
  • The Cat Lady was made by a man who worked as a nurse and thus offers a realistic view of the life of people that suffer from depression, and in the end it's about hope. However, after a while the revelations about the two protagonists start to pile up and, on top of the Crapsack World they live in, everything seems too relentlessly dark to be still effective like in the beginning. Let's see: Susan tried to commit suicide after her daughter died of an undiagnosed pollen allergy and her husband drank himself to death after leaving her. Meanwhile Mitzi is dying of a brain tumor and uses the little time she has left to find and confront the man who convinced her boyfriend to kill himself. When Susan comes back to life her mission is to eliminate people known as Parasites, that go from random thugs to cannibalistic serial killers and a Psycho Psychologist that murders his patients and turns them into twisted parodies of works of art. Not to mention other details like the random suicide bomber in the backstory and the cameo of Joe Davis, the nasty protagonist of the developer's other game, Downfall, which is itself an example.
  • Children of Zodiarcs is basically a game about adolescent serial-killers raised as cannon fodder by a bastard terrorist trying to start a bloody revolution in a walled-off dystopian city that has seen far better days. Your enemies include corrupt nobles, overaggressive guards, bandits, cannibals, cannibal priests, rival gangs, and your own party members. At this point you're better off skipping every cutscene you come across no matter how cute and lovable the protagonists pretend to be.
  • Criminal Case: There's almost no saint victim. In virtually every case, the victims are loathed by more than one suspects for one reason or another, regardless of whether they deserve to be treated as Asshole Victims or not. In fact, the game shamelessly depicts murder victims in a negative light, and the suspects openly thrash-talk them as if they never learned how to not speak ill of the dead.
  • Dark Souls: The Jigsaw Puzzle Plot leaves some players... a bit dismayed. The good Lords who founded the Age of Fire have all lost their minds, become horrible monsters, given up all hope, (or, in Gwyn's case, all three) long before the events of the main game, leaving the world they've built to rot in their absence. The worst part? It's no one's fault. This is just how it is, and nothing can stop it.
    • Dark Souls II has this as well. You, along with a legion of other undead have come to Drangleic to find a cure for your condition before your memory fails. Or, barring that, at least some answers as to why this is happening to you. You never find these answers. Instead, you're manipulated into joining a conflict that has nothing to do with you, and it's implied that by the end, the character has none of his/her original memories left from before s/he came to Drangleic, likely forgetting his/her original purpose in coming there in the first place. (As, likely, has the player.) And there's no guarantee that this won't just keep happening in this accursed land either. Suprisingly averted with the Lost Crowns Trilogy DLC. After completing all three chapters, the player actually does get (an admittedly imperfect) cure for undeath.
    • Dark Souls III takes this to its logical conclusion and goes into full After the End, with Lothric a decaying nightmare of ashes and ruins. Another Age of Fire is winding down, demons and undead stalk the survivors of the Darksign, hollows are hunted and tortured for sport, and the Lords of Cinder responsible for linking the Fire have vanished or become Eldritch Abominations. Many of the characters you meet end up going mad or dying horribly, and nearly every single boss is a Tragic Monster in more ways than one. Not only that, but it's strongly implied that the Cycle of Fire and Dark itself is ending, and that the world literally won't survive another Age of Fire. It's no surprise that Yuria and Loel want to simply put the entire world out of its misery for good, and you can help them do it in the secret ending. The DLC takes it one step farther before offering a singular glimmer of hope with the player travelling to what is implied to be the very ultimate end of the world: a barren desert wasteland with only a few scattered ruins about, set in the time after the cycle of fire and dark finally petered out to nothing. There you fight Slave Knight Gael, who's become the embodiment of the Dark Soul, and after killing him it's heavily implied that you're the very last being - living or undead - left in the entire world. Fortunately, the player is able to return back in time, and their actions allow the creation of a new Painted World that will hopefully persist after the end of the current one.
  • The trailer for Dead Island has a little girl thrown out of a hotel window by her father after she becomes a zombie and bites him when her parents are fighting a losing battle against zombies. The trailer for the quasi expansion/sequel Dead Island: Riptide has a loving couple blow themselves up just as zombies are about to tear them apart. The Virus stems from the very real kuru disease that stems from cannibalism, which can lead to a zombified state, making it if not a true Real Life threat then more plausible than other portrayals of a Zombie Apocalypse. Creepy voodoo type imagery is strewn through the games. Death, despair and suicide are very much a focal point of the games, there are not really any type of Hope Spot. Most of the characters are fairly unlikeable. The proposed Big Bad is simply tragic and set up. The games themselves are good, enjoyable, if flawed, but they are dark dark dark and can be too depressing for some gamers.
  • Dead Space: Even if the player succeeds in any of the games the endings seem bleak, as somehow more markers keep popping up in each game. Very few of the characters in the game are helpful, and most are either driven insane, or are Stupid Evil. DS3: Awakened hammers the final nail in hope's coffin with the awakening of the Brother Moons.
  • The Dead to Rights games can sometimes fall into this. The series takes place in an all-around Wretched Hive where every single person is either a criminal or being victimized by those criminals, every single authority figure is either corrupt or killed off by those who are. Jack Slate, although the story claims he is a good cop only trying to solve his father's murder, generally solves all of his problems by killing somebody and usually doesn't come off all that much better than the criminals he's fighting against. Every single one of Jack's allies is only in it for themselves and either ends up betraying him at some point or dead. The only characters in the first game who aren't even hinted at being either corrupt or a jerk in some way are Jack's father, whose murder kicks off the entire plot, and the preacher Jack meets in prison, who only appears very briefly. At the end of the game, the chief of police and both mayoral candidates are dead and Jack decides there's nothing he can do to fix Grant City and decides to just walk away and let it rot. About the only thing that keeps the games from being soul-crushingly bleak is the Narm Charm surrounding the ridiculous and over-the-top action and Jack's dorky one-liners.

    Dead To Rights: Retribution, being a Darker and Edgier reboot, may be even worse in some respects. Jack's father gets some scenes before his death and he, much like Jack, generally opts to kill criminals instead of even attempting to arrest them, despite the game's claims that they're both good cops. Jack himself is less into the dorky one-liners that made him even a little endearing in the first game and now just screams and curses at everyone. Even Jack's dog generally acts more like a bloodthirsty beast than a police dog this time around. About the only thing that prevents this game from being as bleak as the first game, despite taking itself much more seriously, is the fact that Jack's goals are more obviously heroic and the story doesn't get far enough into the Grant City politics to show whether it's quite as corrupt as in the first game.
  • Many players and critics felt this way about Deus Ex: Invisible War as well, considering two of the options are largely the same as in the first game, and one of the two remainders goes along the same lines). All the factions have questionable goals and are willing to kick a few dogs to achieve them. It's telling that you're given the option to Kill Them All and let God sort them out. Which backfires horrifically.
  • A common complaint about the "High Chaos" path of Dishonored is that it starts to really beat you over the head with how bleak things are in the second half of the game. The "High Chaos" path is where you choose to have Corvo kill a majority of the people between you and your target. Doing so makes the plague become worse, makes your allies way more paranoid, and you get damn-near-constant reminders about what a terrible person you are. In the game's worst version of the High Chaos ending, which only occurs if you allow Emily to fall to her death rather than saving her, the plague gets so bad that Dunwall becomes uninhabitable, Emily dies, nothing you did ultimately mattered in the end and Corvo pulls a Screw This, I'm Outta Here! and leaves the city to burn. However, the bleakness is because of the Player's influence, not despite it. The player really only has themselves to blame for the darkness, because they wanted to use those shiny new toys. The Outsider's cynical belief that Humans Are Bastards is affirmed.
  • On one side of the central conflict in Dragon Age II, we have Knight Templars led by an iron-fisted extremist. On the other, we find blood mages and demon consorters. A lot of players have ultimately found it difficult to find much reason to support either. Combine that with the bleak fates of several characters: Hawke loses one family member after another and there is no way to prevent it; no matter what you do, Anders blows up the Chantry and everything goes to hell; and any potential Reasonable Authority Figures are either killed off, annoyingly passive or turn out to be batshit insane hypocrites. Arguably this is part of the game's Central Theme—sometimes both choices you have in front of you really suck that much, and trying to find a third option isn't always possible.
  • Drakengard: Between the incredibly bleak world and characters who have few, if any redeeming characteristics, it's practically impossible to find hope or optimism in it. Similarly, the sequel, NieR, which has the strangest ending of Drakengard cause an apocalypse, and all four endings of which involve the extinction of humanity. Good thing there's Drakengard 3 to partially undo the downers. This was actually intended by Word of God to try and make it stand out against all the other RPGs that were out at the time.
    • The sidequests of NieR: Automata can fall into this. 90% of the quest-givers either die (as a result of the sidequest or just as a consequence of the main plot,) get driven mad, or turn out to be awful people you shouldn't have helped, and the ones that don't that way are usually deeply bittersweet at best.
  • Many Dwarf Fortress players start of as attentive rulers, who care about their dwarves deeply. Sometimes so deeply, they'd rather resort to Save Scumming (which is highly ashamed by veteran players) than let a single dwarf die from unnatural causes. But with the game being what it is, sooner or later such players either quit or become the memetic Dwarf Fortress players. The latter view all their little people as mere resources required for bringing the so-called "FUN". Sometimes this reaches such ridiculous proportions, that even the creator gets horrified.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Not the entire game (there are plenty of questlines where you can actually make things improve), but the civil war questline has fallen under this for many. The Grey and Grey Morality between the Imperials and the Stormcloaks can make it hard to sympathize with either side. The war is outright counterproductive to both factions, with the only people truly benefiting being the Thalmor, the Evil Elf-supremacist empire that wants to conquer both Skyrim and the Empire and is doing everything it can to prolong the war to weaken its enemies. And all of this is going on while Skyrim is being threatened by Alduin, an ancient dragon prophecised to destroy the world, something neither faction cares to do anything about.
  • The lore of EVE Online can be summed up with: "Everything sucks. And then you showed up." It's so bad that the writers have to tell the readers when the ending is not a bad ending. Gameplay-wise? A perpetual Hopeless War for territory between pilots who can never die eventually becomes hard to tell apart from a Perpetually Static galaxy.
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  • Far Cry:
    • Far Cry 2 can be seen this way. Both the UFLL and the APR, as well as the Private Military Contractors working for them, are complete bastards. Even the Player Character and his buddies are pretty reprehensible people; for every mission one of your buddies sends you on to prevent an attack by destroying fuel, take out ammunition stores that would give one side leverage over the other, destroy a quack doctor's fake medical supplies, or kill drug dealers who are selling to children, they also have another one where they send you out to kill a salesman for petty revenge over The Alleged Car, eliminate an arms dealer so your buddy can make a big sale in his stead, destroy a stockpile of passports that their current owner is trying to price-gouge citizens on rather than give them away or sell them more cheaply, or mutilate the corpse of one faction leader's recently-deceased brother to send a part of it as a "trophy" to the other, and this is to say nothing of the fact that one of the easiest ways to gain diamonds to buy weapons and equipment before you start on the actual story missions is straight-up assassinating people. Ironically, The Jackal can be seen as the most sympathetic character in the game by some, if in a Well-Intentioned Extremist way. Every one of them is dead by the end of the game, though the player's fate is left open to interpretation if the player chooses to take the case of diamonds to the border.
    • Far Cry 4 concerns the fictional nation of Kyrat, which can end up with three possible leaders. None of them can be called good. Sabal becomes a religious fanatic who forces the Kyrati to convert or die, Amita becomes a ruthless child slave driver, and Ajay, while possibly being the best out of these options, is still vulnerable to the corruption that seeps into the other three candidates, especially since his path to power is littered with bodies and possibly assisted by previous dictator Pagan Min.
    • Far Cry 5 puts Hope County's conflict against Eden's Gate cult, who believe that society is falling apart and that the world will soon end, and it is depressing enough with not much in the way of lighthearted brevity. It examines the nature of faith and "end-of-the-world" predictions, and no matter how much the player does to stop cult, the Collapse is inevitable. In the canonical ending, nuclear war is sparked between the USA and Russia for no particular reason, completely catching everyone off guard, proving that Joseph Seed was right the whole time. With The Deputy's buddies dead and the fates of Hope County residents remaining unknown, The Deputy and Joseph Seed are the only survivors. The other two non-canonical endings aren't much better; the 'Walk away' ending has Joseph Seed's brainwashing trigger in the Deputy and it's implied they kill all of the people they rescued, while in the secret ending where the player just waits in the opening and doesn't arrest Seed at all, it just ends with passing the buck to someone else who will presumably end up the same way it does normally. These endings even ended up overshadowing the entire rest of the game and considerably hurting its sales. Thankfully, its follow-up Far Cry: New Dawn, set 17 years after the Collapse, reveals that most of Hope County's residents have survived nuclear armageddon and it ends on much more positive note, giving Hope County a Bittersweet Ending after all the trouble they went through, with Joseph Seed truly defeated this time.
  • Fate/Grand Order is often accused of this in regards to the Agartha and Shimosa chapters.
    • The very concept of Agartha is an Audience-Alienating Premise involving an all-female empire reducing all men into little more than sex slaves, led by a sadistic, deranged Torture Technician and a selfish, craven Dirty Coward. The tortures they put their slaves through is constantly described in incredibly graphic, nauseating detail. On the other side, however, the all male Resistance movement proves to be little better, constantly making sexual passes at Mash and the other female characters, explicitly don't give a damn about anyone else, and their leader, Columbus, proves to be little better, if not worse than Zatian and Scherezade. Finally, the story's dialogue and scenes are filled to the brim with incredibly uncomfortable sexually explicit dialogue that many feel has no place in the game. The fact that it was allegedly penned by the main author of Prisma Illya, which is infamous for heavily sexualizing preteen girls, did not help.
    • Shimosa is by far the darkest chapter of Epic of Remnant, and possibly of the entire game as a whole. The entire premise of the chapter revolves around Ashiya Doman resurrecting seven legendary Japanese figures as near-mindless, omnicidal zombies and letting them loose upon Imperial Japan purely For the Evulz. The massacres and atrocities these zombies commit throughout the story are shown in extremely graphic detail, and one scene in particular involves zombie!Shuten disemboweling the Protagonist and playing with their intestines like silly string. Ashiya's right hand is revealed to be an alternate Amakusa Shirou who became so broken after witnessing mankind's flaws that he became a deranged Avenger obsessed with destroying the world for rejecting his messages of peace.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy II is very often criticised for this. Between the Anyone Can Die story, the NES hardware limitations, the quirky game design and the unreasonably cruel difficulty, the overall feeling is that of wandering through a dying world. NPCs continually insult your party and tell you that you're all useless teenagers, and some, counting the numbers, have pointed out that over half of the world's population is killed over the course of the game. It even has the characters realize they can never go back to ordinary life after all the horrors they've experienced. The crushing despair of this game may have been why Final Fantasy III went very twee and fairy-tale-ish.
    • Final Fantasy X begins with the protagonist's home being destroyed by the game's Big Bad. And things just get worse from there. The world of Spira is in constant fear of Sin, a monstrous creature that randomly attacks cities and people as a sport, and the only way to fight it is nothing more than a temporary solution, with briefer periods of peace before it returns. Operation Mi'hen is one of the darkest moments in the entire game and even the rest of the game is not the most cheerful or lighthearted. Death is constantly present and doesn't stop from your own party, with the revelation that love interest and female protagonist, Yuna, will have to die in order for the temporary solution against Sin to work. The darkness of this game might be a reason why the sequel went the opposite direction.
    • Dissidia Final Fantasy, particularly the 012 storyline. All your favourite Final Fantasy characters are now near-literal pawns without memories whose entire existence is a cycle of violence followed by death and revival. Several of the heroes and villains of previous games are deeply depressed and numb to everything as a result of their immortality and purposelessness, and outright suicidal in several cases. Other characters are traumatised with the horror of the pointless violence, and unable to will themselves to fight their opponents at all. The 012 storyline uses somewhat more motivated and positive characters than the original cast, but traps them in a situation where Failure Is the Only Option and they are all eventually extinguished from existence without their loved ones even remembering them. And this is in a game intended as a Fanservice project for the series' 20th anniversary! Dissidia Final Fantasy (2015) and NT, a Continuity Reboot for the Dissidia franchise, responded to this by going for a lighter feel and a more fun tone where all the characters seem to be enjoying themselves in battle, or at least more confident and driven about fighting.
  • While the story isn't the main draw of the game, For Honor is still pretty bleak. To keep it short, the goal of the Big Bad is to instigate a Forever War, she manages to manipulate the three factions into succeeding her plan, the last level ends with the truce between the Samurai and Knights broken, the last scene of the game has the three leaders agree to try to bring peace, while fully knowing they might not succeed and die in the attempt, and considering Word of God states that the multiplayer happens after the single-player, the senseless Forever War is truly here to stay.
  • Every faction in Geneforge, with the possible exception of the Barzites, has some supporters who'll argue in favor of it on the Internet. Every faction also has some haters who argue that the misdeeds it commits render it unworthy of power. The only one that doesn't cross the Moral Event Horizon at least once is the faction of Wide Eyed Idealists who canonically get massacred by the fourth game.
  • In God of War it sometimes becomes hard to say why you should care whether Kratos kills that god/saves himself/kills that other god and all the rest too. It's not as though Kratos being in charge would be an improvement given how he acts. As it turns out, the game does manage to make them all lose, leaving the victimized humans as the ones left. Shame Kratos messed up the sun, sea, seasons, and sky before he died. And even then, he didn't. The only consolation is that he decided to release Hope into the world, hope to give humanity a reason to continue on. The ending slightly implies that the world can start getting back on its feet. Fear of this overtaking the series may be a reason for God of War (PS4) turning Kratos from a violent sociopath into more of an Anti-Hero and giving him a Morality Pet son.
  • Grand Theft Auto:
    • Grand Theft Auto III might get hit with this even worse than Grand Theft Auto IV. Claude is a sociopathic killer, a borderline-Flat Character and a Silent Protagonist who's just Only in It for the Money (and will unhesitantly betray former allies/bosses in the process) and after Revenge (on anyone whom betrays him); his only thing remotely close to a Morality Pet, Maria, is possibly killed by him at the end; and all but two of the gangs can end up wanting him dead on sight, no matter what he may have done for them previously. Basically, after the initial high of the final mission and subsequent credits wears off, one can just feel alone and hollow. It certainly doesn't help the fact that each character you know is a sociopath, a traitor, a jerkass, or a combination of the three. Heck, even allied gangs are hostile towards the player. With the (supposed) exception of Maria Latore, Claude has no one at the end, which is quite dark, even by GTA standards. While in the next GTA games you have humor, fun, laughable characters and loyal allies, none of this is relevant in Claude's story.
    • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories. Happens to some people. In contrast to San Andreas, the story is very un-optimistic and is one of the few video games of the 3D era to have a Bittersweet Ending. It doesn't help the fact that one of the main characters (Lance Vance) is an incompetent, childish idiot who only causes problems for his brother, with the only truly positive from his presence being that, as the game is a prequel, we know he gets his comeuppance later on.
    • Grand Theft Auto IV:
      • The game runs the risk of provoking this reaction towards players and especially GTA fans by being a Deconstructor Fleet of the GTA series. The game is relentless about showing how unrealistic and flawed are concepts like Evil Pays Better, Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster! and the anti-heroic characterization of your usual GTA protagonist. The problem is that all this negativism and cynicism comes from a GTA game, a game known for its over-the-top portrait of organized crime.
      • As for the storyline: Niko Bellic moves to the United States for a fresh start at life, but it goes down the toilet when his cousin, Roman, gets him roped up in his debt and antics. The entire story shows Niko doing nothing but trying to please his selfish cousin who always seems to get himself into trouble, while Niko always bitches about it as he continuously helps his cousin out. It eventually leads to Niko being hunted down by a mobster throughout the game, but it doesn't build up from there; Niko just continues doing side jobs for random people while still complaining about his cousin's gambling habits and debt. On top of this, nearly every person Niko meets is either a backstabber or suffers from attachment issues, making nearly everyone unlikable and leaves the player wondering why they should care about a bunch of crazy people.
      • One of the selling points when the game was released was that you can make choices that will impact the story. The problem is, this isn't the case. Almost every choice you make does nothing to the plot, and the choices as to who to kill always have an obvious "right" answer (from a gameplay standpoint if nothing else). The only choice you make that actually changes anything is the Deal or Revenge choice that sets up your ending, and someone at Roman's wedding will still die either way.
    • Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned. Even more than the main game. A constant criticism towards the game is that it is so negatively depressing, that you almost feel that everything you did in this game was in vain. It doesn't help that, five years later, we learn of the eventual decline of Johnny and his entire gang.
    • Grand Theft Auto V is even worse in this regard, with some players stating that they found no sympathetic qualities to the protagonists, who do their job mostly to get paid, as opposed to Niko committing crimes due to circumstance. The supporting characters are just as bad. Almost every NPC in the game is either selfish, an idiot, abrasive, violent, or some combination thereof.
      • There's a meta-example in this game as well. Outside of the heists, very few missions offer satisfying rewards. Financial rewards are slim for most missions, gameplay rewards (such as unlocking guns, vehicles, new modes of play) are rare outside of the main story missions and the ones that do show up in side missions tend to be jokes at the player's expense, which means that the missions aren't rewarding in a third way: from a dramatic or gameplay perspective. Examples of this include unlocking an antique tractor for a long string of intentionally mind-numbing missions, or a joke car for collecting 50 hard to find spaceship parts hidden all over one of the largest sandboxes in GTA history. After completing just a few Side Jobs or Random Encounters, going out of your way to undertake a new one will begin to feel like an exercise in masochistic futility.
      • What makes it worse is that at least part of this is intentional. The game is a big Deconstruction of Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!, showing how petty, self-destructive and selfish anyone would have to be to behave like a GTA protagonist, along with how ultimately futile the lifestyle itself is. The trouble is, it's doing all of this in a video game series known for playing most of those tropes straight, so it comes across as condescending towards the very people who buy the GTA games. Couple that with a few blatant stereotypes about people who play too many video games, and you've got a game that almost feels like it's trying to alienate its audience. Just to top off how confusing this game's messaging can be, the online multiplayer takes the tropes the single-player deconstructs and plays them straight again, making the player feel like even the game can't make up its mind.
  • The Half-Life mod trilogy "Halfquake", can be very difficult to sit through due to its bleak message of "Life makes no sense, and you may as well just kill yourself" it tells you from the get-go, as well as its murky-gray visuals after the first part. However, each of the three mods themselves carry varying degrees of overwhelming darkness that can be difficult to sit though just by themselves:
    • The first mod, HalfQuake, stands as the least darkest part of the trilogy, but that really isn't saying much considering that you won't see much of anything that isn't either an enemy, concrete and/or steel, or lava. It also happens to be the only part of the trilogy that gives you a HUD, as well as the classic run/gun action of the first Half-Life game. The fact that throughout the mod, you can't escape the facility is made rather clear in a section where you sneak through the backrooms and into a house, only to be dumped right back into the trap-laden path unceremoniously with a message aptly saying "you cannot escape, dumbass (sic)". You also end up getting killed right after you defeat the boss of the mod, Somos, which is also how the other two parts end as well.
    • The second part, Halfquake: Amen, takes a swan-dive right into darkness as well as dump most of anything related to conventional First Person Shooters out the window. Most of the time spent throughout Amen will be either though the life or death chambers, semi-lonely atmospheric environments, or deadly traps/puzzles the first game uses. Whilst the captors in the first game made humourously dark remarks about the situation you're in, Amen ramps up the "dark" part, but not the "humorous", leaving you to deal with cruel and unpleasant people after cruel and unpleasant people. Amen also provides music for some of the parts you'll be going through (including an ending song, "Half-Quake Theme), the songs themselves rather downbeat, both in music and lyrical content.
    • The third entry in the series, Sunrise, gameplay-wise, is where the series really starts to become an exercise in futility, the deadly puzzles and trap-laden hallways really starting to ramp up in this iteration. The few splashes of color that the previous two games had, aside from camoes near the end, are now entirely gone, save for a really, really light blue. Story-wise, aside from the final boss and a few disembodied voices, there's no NPCs to interact with in Sunrise at all, your only form of breaking this sheer emptiness being a "Victim Message Box", which introduces to the only 3 people you'll be hearing from consistently throughout the mod: A guy voice who wants you dead and taunts you, a crazed man rambling about a cogwheel named "Mary", and getting angry at you when you're unable to find her (not that any cogwheels you can grab appear in the mod), and a lady who really hates you and wants you dead. The pitch-black atmosphere of Amen is also present as ever here, and doesn't stop for any moments of levity.
  • Halfquake'=s spinoff, "Personal Halfquake", is directly based on Amen and a bit of the original Half_Quake, as well as having updated to support some of Sunrise, and it proves to be just as dark as the main game. Most of the game is spent stealing people from what's implied to be places that haven't done any wrong, and placing them in similarly made trap-laden hallways the Half-Quake trilogy features. Most of the places you go to are all managed by slaves, who have either been broken beyond repair, or are jerks who loathe your guts. The "Chosen Victim" mechanic involves kidnapping one of your victims, and inducing Stockholm Syndrome in them, allowing you to do particularly cruel things to them.* Literally the only "plot" ''VideoGame/{{Hatred}}'' has is a blatant ExcusePlot for the sociopathic protagonist to [[{{Gorn}} kill as many innocent people as inhumanly possible]]. Top it all off with a dark, gritty, grey and [[SplashOfColor red]] aesthetic in the style of ''ComicBook/SinCity'' and you've got a real bummer on your hands. Reviews thrashed the game for its grimdark-ness ''even before it was released'', claiming that the gameplay wasn't deep or fun enough to really provide the excitement of the game's ultra-violent ilk and noting that the game isn't dark to tell a story or make a sociopolitical statement, but seemingly just to be "edgy" for its own sake.* ''VideoGame/{{Homefront}}'', compared to its contemporaries, ''VideoGame/CallOfDuty'' and ''VideoGame/{{Battlefield}}'', is an ''extremely'' dark and depressing game (the introduction scene in the first level doesn't help). The main characters are {{anti hero}}es at best, and the villains are among the worst monsters you encounter in any kind of game, and watching what happens in the game tends to provoke nihilism rather than attachment.* One of the main criticisms of the plot of ''VideoGame/HuntDownTheFreeman'' is that it was needlessly bleak, [[CrapsackWorld even by the standards]] of ''VideoGame/HalfLife2''[='s setting. The main character is an unlikable Villain Protagonist willing to screw over all of humanity for the sake of petty revenge he's been stewing over for 20 years, other characters have little personality and get killed off left and right, often for little particular reason, the game persistently pushes the idea that humanity has no hope against the Combine, and the player spends much of the game either making little impact on the world, or outright making things worse. It doesn't help that the game plays heavily to Adaptational Villainy (even the Resistance is at the level of hanging their enemies and leaving the corpses to rot, closer to something an edgy 13-year-old would make in Garry's Mod than anything the Resistance was even hinted at doing in Half-Life 2 proper) and even reintegrates content that was cut from Half-Life 2 proper specifically because it would have made that game too bleak.
  • Many found the lack of the "Prime" heroes in Injustice 2 to have detracted from the story, which is set entirely in the Injustice world and sees an Enemy Mine between Batman and Superman's respective forces against Brainiac while still hostile to each other.
  • Kane and Lynch: Dead Men is this for quite a few people. On one hand, Kane's trying to save his family. On the other hand, he's a bastard who betrays people, takes people hostage, and does generally bad things to accomplish his goals. In fact, the only reason that the bad guys captured his family was because he betrayed them and they wanted revenge. And let's not even get started on the Ax-Crazy Lynch.
  • The Kingdom Hearts series have gotten these complaints. The series, though not without its dark moments, starts off as a lighthearted romp through various Disney worlds with The Power of Friendship as its central theme. However, the series began to move into Darker and Edgier territory with the Downer Ending of Birth by Sleep, where Master Xehanort kills Eraqus and ruins the lives of Terra, Aqua, and Ventus. Terra's body is Xehanort's new vessel, Aqua is trapped in the Realm of Darkness, and Ventus is comatose in a castle, though the game's secret ending, Blank Points, managed to lift the dour mood considerably. But it's the ending of Dream Drop Distance that truly raised the ire and frustration of fans. It's revealed that everything that happened throughout the series was all a part of Xehanort's master plan via Time Travel, thus retroactively reducing all of the heroes's accomplishments to nothing. Also, Sora fails the Mark of Mastery Exam while Riku passes it, much to the chagrin of those who expected both of them to pass. And then we got Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep - A Fragmentary Passage, which is an exercise in depression as it shows the loneliness Aqua is forced to endure from within the Realm of Darkness (hallucinating images of Ven and Terra, fighting a Mirror version of herself created from her fears and doubts) and, in the cruelest of Hope Spots, Aqua nearly manages to escape the Realm of Darkness, only to be thwarted by a Heartless ambush. note  Oh, and damn near everyone dies at the end of Kingdom Hearts χ. Instead of hyping fans for the release of Kingdom Hearts III, it just burned them out. Fortunately, Kingdom Hearts III gives the entire cast an incredibly well-deserved Earn Your Happy Ending except for Sora, who gets a Bittersweet Ending.
  • The Kiseki Series started being an optimistic series with the The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky and while it had some dark moments, especially the ending of the first game, it still manages to be an upbeat series throughout the games. Then the ending of Ao No Kiseki happens and while the heroes did get some sort of happy ending, the overall tone of the end is very dark but still did shine some ray of hope. Cue The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel where the endings in Cold Steel I just ended up being heart-wrenching, shocking, and feeling hopeless, Cold Steel II ended on a bittersweet note that makes one wonder if it was a gigantic waste of time, and Cold Steel III just ends on a really dark note, making players wonder if The Hero of the story will actually die without even accomplishing any of his goals when the fourth game comes out. Especially since Cold Steel III has the highest number of plot important characters that just end up dying all over the place, sometimes in the most anti climactic fashion. At this point, half of the fanbase is already skeptical whether the series can even deliver or not. Fortunately, Cold Steel IV manages to turn things around by revealing that several characters who were apparently killed in the previous game actually survived. To make things even better, some villains defect to the heroes' side, the heroes from the previous arcs show up to help out, and Rean finally gets his closure.
  • The Last of Us: The game opens with the main character Joel's daughter being gunned down by the federal government. Things never get much lighter or more pleasant for him or humanity at large. Either you live a "secure" life under martial law where you're still not that safe from infection, or you brave the wilderness, which is full of marauders who shoot on sight—and Joel confesses to having been one himself. Some of the only kind people Joel and Ellie happen to meet end up dead due to one getting infected, then the other killing him then himself. Then Joel nearly dies, and Ellie is taken hostage by a cult of cannibals. And after making it through that, at the very end of the game, the "good guys" require Ellie to die in order to save this terrible world. Is any of it worth it?
  • The Laura Bow games involve a large cast of characters, all of which are nasty egotistical stereotypes. The main goal of the game is to spy on all of them to learn their little secrets, such as who is blackmailing who and who has had an affair and such. And then they all die like mayflies, slaughtered one by one by a serial killer, which you cannot prevent. So why exactly should you care about any of these characters?
  • Life Is Strange is a "Shaggy Dog" Story populated mostly by unlikable people. Arcadia Bay is a dying tourist town in the Pacific Northwest, where nearly every character is struggling with some serious financial or psychological issue. The Prescott family runs just about everything, enabling the violent and twisted behavior of their troubled son Nathan. Drugs and decay are prevalent in town, and most folks are just struggling to get by. Blackwell Academy, the local prestigious art school, isn't much better. The students at Blackwell are petty and cliquey, the adults in charge are clueless and ineffective, and everyone's favorite teacher, Mark Jefferson, is secretly a sociopathic Mad Artist who tortures his most innocent students. Max's childhood friend Chloe is an abrasive delinquent who frequently guilt-trips Max into helping her, and whose only real redeeming quality is loyalty to her missing friend Rachel. Max isn't all that great of a person either, having dropped out of Chloe's life years earlier to pursue her photography studies without so much as saying goodbye. When Max makes use of her time-travel powers to try and make things better, she ends up eventually making things worse instead: her mucking around with time and space actually breaks reality, creating an apocalyptic storm that threatens to wipe out Arcadia Bay. And the only way Max can stop the storm is to allow Chloe to die in the incident that first causes her powers to emerge, wiping the main plot of the game from existence. The player can choose to spare Chloe and allow the storm to destroy the town, but that is implied to kill off just about every other character in the game, leaving Max and Chloe to flee the destruction into an uncertain future. So the player's choice is to save one unpleasant person, or save a whole town full of unpleasant people. Furthermore, because allowing Chloe to die appears to be the dramatically "correct" choice, doing so means that Max's superpowers never manifest in the first place, which renders the entire story moot. So there was no point to any of it at all.
  • LISA: Brad Armstrong sets out to find his adopted Buddy, the last woman in a post-Gendercide world, where literally every surviving man is either a rapist, a murderer, a dangerous mutant, suicidal, or an idiot. Along the way every character that doesn't just want rape Buddy gives Brad grief including Buddy for wanting to lock Buddy away, and Brad never defends his actions. Admittedly Brad is doing it for selfish reasons, but it is hard to care about a story where an entire hopeless land of awful people are telling you that you are in the wrong for wanting to keep Buddy restricted, but safe. The follow-up, Joyful, is just as bad, if not worse: you play as a mentally broken, drug-addicted and near sociopathic Buddy who has come to the conclusion that the only way she can survive is if everyone else is dead. You can count the number of sympathetic characters on one hand, and they all end up dead, of course.
  • Mad Father: When you get the True Ending and complete a New Game+, you'll know that everyone is irredeemably awful in some way. The eponymous father tortures and kills people, all to create lifelike dolls - and it's all practice for when he does it to Aya. Maria willingly goes along with the Doctor's plans, if only to save her own skin. Aya and Maria continue the Doctor's work since "it runs in the family". And Monika, who appears to be the only good character, is actually pushing Aya to become just like her father. Even Alfred is disturbed by this. It's also probably the reason why Alfred was trying to turn Aya into a doll in the first place: he doesn't want to see Aya becoming like him (and thus sullied), unlike what Monika wants.
  • Mad Max: Max is an absolute asshole, none of Scrotus' atrocities are Played for Laughs, the first two allies you find are Jerkass and the last one is insane. There are only three people you can really root for in the game and, by the end of it, two of them are dead.
  • Mafia II, due to its protagonist, Vito Scarletta, already being a criminal and a jerk before the game opens and the plot is about him... well, joining the Mafia. Of course, if someone's played the original Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, it doesn't help that Chapter 14 reveals that Vito was the one who said "Mr. Salieri sends his regards," to that game's hero Tommy Angelo before Vito's best friend Joe shoots Tommy, meaning in this game, they've been playing as one of Tommy's killers all along.
  • Max Payne 3, due to abandoning the Heroic Bloodshed tone of the previous games. From the beginning, the vast majority of the characters are excessively shallow and materialistic, while Max himself won't stop whining about how terrible his life is while making little effort to change it. Most of the characters he saves die horrific deaths soon afterwards. It's hard to care about anybody when they're one-dimensional and it's likely that they'll get killed with little fanfare. And it only gets worse when the villain's scheme is revealed as exploiting the poor for an organ-harvesting ring.
  • One of the big flaws with Mercenaries 2. In the first game, each playable character has their own distinct personalities (Chris is the closest thing to The Hero, Jennifer is the Lady of War, and Mattias is the Comedic Sociopath). In the sequel, all three are written as if they were Mattias taken a step further, going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and tearing Venezuela apart because... the Big Bad shoots him/her in the ass. On top of that, while the factions in the first game are a mixed bag, in the sequel all of them are completely selfish Jerkasses; even the Allied Nations, who were the good guys in the first game, ran humanitarian operations, and were very reluctant to hire a psychotic mercenary, loses whatever noble intentions they had in favor of "We want that oil, dammit!" for no real reason other than the developers had an opinion about what they saw on the news.
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain does not shy away from the atrocities of war, including torture, rape, brainwashing, blood diamonds, betrayal, Child Soldiers and killing of youths. Many of these acts are at the very least portrayed to be committed by the protagonists, leading some to see the game as too heavy in its content and feel that, yes, Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped—but not that hard.
  • This is one of the many reasons why Metroid: Other M is polarizaring among the fandom. Samus is recovering from the events of Super Metroid in which the baby Metroid sacrificed itself to save her life. Through the entire story, she angsts a lot about her past and her broken relationship with her mentor Adam Malkovitch. Said mentor is meant to be her caring father figure but comes off like an abusive and careless jerkass thanks to his questionable actions, which makes his Heroic Sacrifice lack any emotional impact to many players. As if the dangers on the Bottle Station were not enough, there is a traitor who starts killing off members of the squad. Inexplicably, Samus has a Heroic BSoD upon confronting Ridley despite the fact that she had faced him multiple times before. By the end of the game, everyone but Samus, Anthony and Madeline is dead and the authorities behind the events of the game get away and erase all evidence by blowing up the station.
  • Mortal Kombat: Across from the obviously bloody and gory nature of the series, it's really hard to sympathize with the characters when a large majority of the protagonists are either anti-heroes or partial jerks at best. It also doesn't help to note that the majority of the heroes were killed off in the reboot and later became undead servants of Quan Chi, with some of the characters (particularly Kung Lao, Liu Kang, and Kitana) accepting their fate as being undead and taking pleasure in being evil. Then, Raiden becomes Dark Raiden (yet again), this time being corrupted from his exposure to Shinnok's dark essence while purifying the Jinsei Chamber. While he might be more "effective" in the defense of Earthrealm, it makes him a bit... harder to cheer on him judging on how brutal and absolutely merciless (and gleeful) he can be. Although for some, Kung Lao and Kitana might come off better because they act more on the combined factors of justified anger at Raiden and being enslaved by Quan Chi: Kung Lao is capable of acting more decent towards Jax who just got out of the enslavement and his Arcade Tower ending implies that his good side is still struggling to take dominance, but remains suppressed until Kung Jin personally pays him a visit and helped him. Kitana in her ending turns out to have received a vision where things would have gone better if Raiden hadn't interfered, thus justifying her anger. Liu Kang, on the other hand, has it the worst: It's implied that shades of his Drunk with Power self from his (non-canon) MK9 Arcade Ladder ending linger, as Liu plans to conquer other realms, including his former home, out of selfish ambitions in his MKX ending and even tried to recruit Jason Voorhees for that.
    • For several fans, this extends to the entire series due to the implication that Armageddon cannot be stopped no matter what the heroes do. In the original timeline, the Battle of Armageddon ended with the deaths of (nearly) everyone and Shao Kahn's victory, negating all of the heroes' victories up to then (read: 6 games' worth, 7 if you include Mythologies) and forcing Dark Raiden (a borderline-Omnicidal Maniac Knight Templar at this point in time) to try to avert a cataclysm by slamming the Reset Button and (poorly) clueing in his past self on events to come. Things don't pan out all too well, with the triumphs in MK9 and MKX being largely pyrrhic in nature. And though the course of history greatly diverges with the events of games two through four (particularly the Outworld invasion and Shinnok's escape from the Netherrealm), nothing hints at the endgame itself changing, so either the various kombatants will continue to grow in power and inadvertently destroy the fabric of reality, the One Being will be reformed through the merger of all the realms (which would cause its dreams—all of existence—to cease), or some other great threat will put all life in the cosmos at risk. Again. It doesn't help that, as seen with Armageddon and 9, Evil Only Has to Win Once for all of the realms to get hosed. And 11 has Kronika trying to induce History Repeats. That said though, many characters do eventually find some degree of closure, with Liu Kang and Raiden in particular eventually patching things up with each other and, via a Fusion Dance that turns the former into a Physical God, do manage to defeat Kronika, though the fact that everything except her defeat was undone by her rewinding time does leave a dampener on things. Then again, there's still the chance that Liu Kang (and Kitana if you managed to beat Kronika without losing a round) can rebuild the timeline from scratch into a hopefully better one, but still.
  • MOTHER 3, when compared to its two predecessors, is a lot more overtly tragic. From the very start, Hinawa is Killed Off for Real, Claus disappears in his attempt to avenge her becoming the Masked Man in the process, and Flint becomes obsessed with searching for him, resulting in his neglect of Lucas. Not even the revelation that Fassad who is actually Locria, the last Magypsy took care of a mouse in his home holds any weight, as he not only tried to kill the heroes on multiple occasions, but he gleefully (and repeatedly) zapped Salsa with a shock collar. Combine that with the townspeople being Brainwashed by the Pigmasks, the Masked Man being Driven to Suicide while being forced to fight his twin brother, the Big Bad's ultimate motive (Porky was bored), and an openly Ambiguous Ending, and it can be hard to feel like it's worth playing this game.
  • Persona 3 has Shadows roaming the world during the Dark Hour, leaving most of humanity completely defenseless and even unaware of what could be happening to them during that time. Every full moon gives the player a tough Shadow to defeat, while the world gets more and more filled with cases of Apathy Syndrome; an illness that leaves people standing around Zombie-like with dark rings under their eyes. These cases get worse as the player continues, the party members all have their share of personal baggage and then the game reveals that the End of the World as We Know It is imminent, because of what the party has been doing and there is no proper way to avoid it. And in the end, the protagonist dies for the sake of the greater good, making a good chunk of the journey feel like you wasted your time. Like the Final Fantasy II example above, this might be why Persona 4 decided to go the opposite direction.
  • The four main factions of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire can suffer from this if one finds the shades of grey in the game's Grey and Grey Morality too dark. The Huana are trying to defend their way of life, but one look at the Gullet is enough to make many players question whether that way is worth fighting for. Rautai is an oppressive, authoritarian colonial power that wants to enforce their "superior" culture. The Vailians are mostly Only in It for the Money, save for a few who operate For Science!, even if it means experimenting with souls pulled out of luminous adra. The Principi are the only ones whose endgame quest doesn't result in the player either killing a sympathetic character or a bunch of people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, but they're pirates, and not the nice sort either: your choices are a violent anarchist or a slaver who masquerades as a man of honor.
    • This is further exacerbated in the party system of the game itself. In a genre of games where there is typically significant emphasis on the personal development and outcomes of party members, three of the four new main characters introduced to the game are each associated with one of the major factions. Due to the fact that these factions are explicitly and exclusively opposed to each other, without some prior knowledge on how the endgame quests intersect, you will be losing at least 2 party members that you may have invested a great deal in, and your decision will have negative impact for any of them whose faction you did not support. No amount of bonding etc will keep the team together past the point of no return. This has made it difficult for some players to empathize with the plot or story at all.
  • Pokémon False Red is a Game Mod of Pokemon Fire Red, which changes the dialogue, and therefore the story, to make it so the player character is not Red, but a boy named Fire who happens to look like him. Blue is quick to start accusing Fire of copying Red, and claims trying to steal the story. The player quickly finds out that all of Kanto feels the same way, either making the same accusation, throwing around insults, or just simply acting dickish. Considering the entire point of the game is that this cruelty is happening, it can be very hard to get interested, since basically nothing good happens to Fire, especially since he doesn't even earn a happy ending, and instead, gets a completely hopeless ending where Blue and Professor Oak just decide they've had enough of the game, proceed to break the fourth wall to say this, and then delete the save file.note 
  • Pokémon Reborn's eponymous region is a terrible, terrible place to live, with the Pokemon population in decline, gangs running rampant, and heavy pollution. The local villainous team, Team Meteor, is a horrifyingly effective terrorist group who are nigh-impossible to stop; the first time you encounter them, you only secure a Pyrrhic Victory against them, with them retreating and deleting most mission-critical data from their base, and the second time you encounter them they've already destroyed two city wards with a mechanically-enhanced Pokemon. Most heroic characters are either weak-willed and unable to make necessary sacrifices (like Victoria), massive jerks (like Fern), sociopathic heroes (like Titania or Saphira), or have serious issues (like Florina and Amaria; even the Player Character is just mainly here for the Reborn League and keeps getting dragged into the conflict against Team Meteor. However, around the game's halfway point things start to get better: Character Development kicks in, Team Meteor starts suffering heavier and heavier losses, it's revealed that Team Meteor was actually a hair's breadth away from destroying the city completely before your first encounter with them, making your first victory against them less Pyrrhic that you thought, and, perhaps most uplifting, Adrienn, a person who was frozen in time before Team Meteor took over, manages to mobilize Reborn City and restore it to its former glory.
  • A direct example of this in action can be seen with the Prince of Persia: Sands of Time series. The first game had great reviews but sold poorly; the sequel Warrior Within aimed a little more mainstream, making every character a violent Jerkass, darkening the settings, and replacing the Arabian-inspired soundtrack with heavy metal. Fans responded negatively, particularly to the Prince going from a charming Guile Hero to smoldering with generic angst. Ubisoft pulled an Author's Saving Throw for the third game, The Two Thrones, bringing it more in line with Sands of Time and explaining away the Prince's mood shift by giving him a Superpowered Evil Side.
  • In [PROTOTYPE], the "hero" is a sociopathic, people-eating, viral monstrosity driven by little more than a desire for revenge on those he thinks made him into a monster. The only possibly redeeming feature he has is his desire to protect his little sister. His enemies are a military splinter cell comprised entirely of sociopaths and an even more destructive viral monstrosity. None of the above are all that concerned about the civilians or sane military personnel caught in the crossfire. And then you find out that the real Alex Mercer was so bad that even his viral doppelganger is disgusted with him. But, this is up to the player via Gameplay and Story Segregation. Canologically, Alex is much more redeemable; he's not specifically shown killing any innocent bystanders in the story, including there being an achievement for going throughout the game without doing so (the eating innocents part is entirely up to the player). He's shown to be very caring over New York, as shown by the final mission where Mercer ends up performing a Heroic Sacrifice (but he survives) to stop a nuke from destroying the city. Note that "eating civilians" is something that isn't compulsory - you can solely consume Blackwatch and not have major problems with the game, but players ignore this.
    • The sequel takes this to its logical conclusion, with Alex Mercer perplexingly now a complete sociopath. The new protagonist isn't any better as far as the Gameplay and Story Segregation goes and he'll still eat half the population of New York before game's end, but the plot tries to construct a sympathetic backstory for him to show Even Evil Has Loved Ones and paint him as the lesser evil out of the five or so evils running around in total. How well it works is matter of personal taste.
  • Radiant Silvergun. Nothing ever comes good out of the story, as the game already starts with all of mankind being wiped out and the heroes going on a hopeless Last Stand against the Stone-Like, which eventually results in the characters being killed in the process and the whole world is doomed in a "Groundhog Day" Loop. Fortunately, Ikaruga is implied to be a Stealth Sequel at the end of the loop, as enough iterations of it eventually provided a way out.
  • Red Dead Redemption: Despite John himself being portrayed as a sympathetic character, very few of his good deeds go unpunished. The only sympathetic character of all of the cast who didn't get apathetic is Jack, John's son. But by the time the game's ending came around, he just became as bad as John himself after he killed Ross, and basically became the very man John didn't want him to become. That said, in Grand Theft Auto V, you can find a book called "Red Dead", whose author is one J. Marston. If canon, it could mean that Jack eventually did abandon that life and become a writer like he always wanted to.
  • Red Dead Redemption II isn't much better. Due to being a prequel with a protagonist who never showed up in the first game, Doomed by Canon is pretty obviously in effect. The same goes for all the funny, memorable members of Dutch's gang. Arthur himself reflects at multiple points during the game how America is turning into a country where charismatic outlaws and gunslingers are no longer tolerated. However several other secondary members of Dutch's gang like Charles do end up getting happy and/or bittersweet endings during the Time Skip at the end of the game, so this isn't as pronounced as it was in the first title or the GTA games.
  • This was one of primary criticisms of Resident Evil 6. Anybody who's not an important character end up dying, making it really difficult to care about any of them in the end. The campaign where you can play as either Chris or Piers is a little better about this, since it kills off its characters to show just how deadly the enemies really are and the impact it has on Chris, rather than for the sake of emotional turmoil.
  • Ride to Hell: Retribution: The Devil's Hand are almost cartoonishly evil, but Jake himself doesn't seem much better thanks to his reckless disregard for collateral damage. Case in point: his solution to dealing with an electric fence is to beat up a bunch of truckers, steal a tanker truck, drive it into a powerplant, and then blow it up-possibly leaving millions of people without power-instead of just finding the switch, or even using the truck to plow through the fence (or even as support to jump over it).
  • R-Type is a dark series about humanity fighting a seemingly powerful alien force in a Hopeless War and constant Body Horror vibes. It isn't until Delta that the series goes full-on Darker and Edgier mode, with each stage loaded with Nightmare Fuel. It's even worse with the Bydo, as it's revealed that they were once humans.
  • While Saints Row 2 is not as bad as other examples, it can happen due to the Boss being a violent jerkass and some of their actions that have left some players wondering about the Boss' morality (especially in the Brotherhood's story arc). It's not helped that in the bonus mission where the Boss confronts their former mentor Julius, they get called out for this, Julius justifying his reason for betraying the Saints as them having become as bad as or worse than the other gangs they fought instead of putting end to gang violence in Stilwater. The Boss in response declares that they don't care, as the city is theirs and they'll do whatever they want, before murdering Julius in cold blood. However, it seems that Volition took note of this as the later games toned down the Boss' sociopathy into a less cruel and more comedic Anti-Hero, cementing the series' reputation as the Denser and Wackier substitute to GTA.
  • Shin Megami Tensei invariably invokes and subverts this whenever you encounter the Law and Chaos factions. The Chaos faction is full of demons and 'evil' spirits, led by Lucifer, personifies Jerkass, and seeks a world where Might Makes Right. The Law faction is led by YHVH, populated by Stepford Smiler angels, and regularly employs Mind Rape and Colony Drop. (And its goals? Despotism Justifies the Means at best, and Assimilation Plot or World of Silence at worst.) This is subverted because you're usually allowed to Take a Third Option and choose Omnicidal Neutral instead.
    • This is most notably subverted in Shin Megami Tensei II, in which the chaos faction is good, and the game ultimately provides little reason as to WHY the player should oppose them after meeting Lucifer, who in the game genuinely desires to save both the demons opposing YHVH and humanity.
    • Though this is a case of depending on games, as some later games (especially Strange Journey) show that Lucifer is barely—if at all—better than YHVH. Lucifer's ideal vision for the future resembles something straight out of Warhammer 40,000 in the best scenario. There's even a time where he plans on unleashing a Z-class Apocalypse How, but considering God had already wiped out humanity and countless others it's just him putting an end to a corrupt system. There have been other games like Majin Tensei, the Devil Children series, 'and Megami Tensei II, where Lucifer is heroic and not a villain.
    • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, however, rams straight into this. To be blunt, almost everybody but the player character starts normal and is developed into a raging jackass in this game. Your friends, the reporter, the demons, certain manikins, Aradia. Compounding this is that each of the three or more Reasons the game presents you with are filled with logic holes so big that one can drive a truck through it. The exceptions are Hikawa, who's a zealot to begin with, and Yuko, whose painful naivete allowed Hikawa and Aradia to play her like a cheap kazoo. God's creating and destroying billions of parallel Earths in an attempt to erase The Evils of Free Will, and Lucifer's trying to stop him... by destroying the entire multiverse in a single swoop. It's telling that most players go for the True Demon ending, if only because you get to slaughter them all and get the most out of the game content-wise.
    • It can be argued that in Shin Megami Tensei IV Lucifer is even worse character-wise. In this game, he has the chaos hero Walter sacrifice himself to Lucifer so he can regain his Demon Lord powers. This results in Walter suffering horrendous Body Horror as he becomes nothing more than a twitching, tumor/parasite-like appendage on Lucifer's arm. He also callously disregards Isabeau's sacrifice when she fought him and the MC to stop the demon invasion of Tokyo and destruction of Mikado and its inhabitants; even the judgmental Merkabah feels a little sympathy for her, in a dismissive way, blaming the "Unclean Ones'" manga for "corrupting" her. It doesn't help that even in the neutral path, Lucifer is more condescending and insulting towards humans than he ever is in prior games. Of course Merkabah is this too along with the Angels, who have people sell out their family and loved ones without a second thought and blame Tokyo and filth for what people do, all while having them blindly follow like mindless slaves. Especially when Isabeau opposes them on the fact that genocide is just plain wrong, yet has the audacity to blame manga for her opposing them. Along with the Angels being humongous hypocrites who had the Gate to the Expanse opened 25 years ago and then nuked the world, blaming the humans for it. Apocalypse later reveals that both of them are a Literal Split Personality of Satan, and YHVH intentionally made Lucifer an asshole to make his side look better by comparison.
      • Actually invoked in-universe in IV, at the hands of the White, a quartet of spirits implied to be born out of humanity's grief and rage at the Vicious Cycle of Law and Chaos as they believe it all falls into God's plan. About three-quarters of the way through the game they show up and transport Flynn to two different Alternate Universes, one where Law won and the other where Chaos won, both of which are equally crappy, in an attempt to drive him across the Despair Event Horizon and get him to agree with their plan to Mercy Kill the entire danged universe. You can agree to help them do this, and the resulting ending is, if anything, even more Nightmare Fuel-inducing than the Law and Chaos worlds. Thankfully, there's the Neutral ending, which is among the rosiest conclusions in the franchise and ensures the White, Merkabah, and Lucifer all get theirs. Accordingly, however, it's really hard to get, almost at Guide Dang It! levels.
    • Some fans feel even the Neutral endings suffer from this, as it usually only results in a temporary peace until the next Jerkass God shows up, and given the universe runs of Clap Your Hands If You Believe, all of them, YHVH included, are functionally immortal. Only Apocalypse's Massacre Route kills them all for good, but it does so by killing every human who believes in them.
  • Silent Hill: Downpour is easily one of the most depressing games of the Silent Hill franchise. The protagonist Murphy Pendleton has been locked up in prison so he could avenge the death of his son by killing his child's killer from within prison. After doing the deed, the state prison decides to send him off to death row because they fear he's too dangerous. However, the bus transporting him to his execution takes a slight detour through Silent Hill, where he faces the mental torture the town is known for placing upon its residents since the town feasts of off guilt. It also doesn't help that, in all but one of the game's six endings, the true Big Bad gets off completely scott free for placing Murphy in his horrendous situation in the first place.
  • Despite the premise of the Sonic Rivals games, fans have this reaction towards the characters who are portrayed as Jerkasses who are willing to insult and fight each other instead of working together to stop Dr. Eggman (who is later revealed to be Eggman Nega). Granted, they do eventually unite and work together to stop the villain in the last levelsnote , but still...
  • Spec Ops: The Line: Throughout the game everything the protagonist does doesn't do much to help anyone, but only make things worse, culminating in the player accidentally killing a bunch of civilians. On top of that the game itself has many Take That, Audience! lines that point out the horrible things you've done ("How many Americans have you killed today?" and "This is all your fault") or mock you for enjoying the game itself ("Do you feel like a hero yet?" and "To kill for yourself is murder. To kill for the government is heroic. To kill for entertainment is harmless"). Making matters worse is the strict linearity. Your options are artificially restricted (try as you might to hold off the enemies, the game will just keep endlessly spawning them until you're forced to do something horrible), but you're constantly talked down to as if they weren't.
  • SOMA takes place after a large asteroid has crashed into earth and destroyed most of the habitable landmasses, leaving nothing but burning or barren ground behind. The player slips into the role of Simon, who came from 2015 into 2104, and comes to terms with the previous fact, as well as that humanity is practically gone. The only 'humans' around are robots that have human brain-scans implemented into them, unaware of their current fate. The locations are very drab in terms of design, Simon and Catherine philosphize about what it actually means to be a human and if they, also as nothing but brain-scans, are actually 'alive' and similar. Things don't get better as the horror of what has happened in the various PATHOS-II is really explored.
  • Stardew Valley can feel this way to players when looking at the villagers of Pelican Town. Most of them have their issues and personal dilemmas going on — ranging from severe alcoholism and parental favoritism to problems with stalking or even PTSD — so there isn't really anyone who is just content with life. And unlike its inspirational series Harvest Moon, this game doesn't really let the player help or really solve things for most of the people. At most, the player's chosen spouse will get a happier ending by moving onto their farm. It really pulls the message of grandpa sideways, especially when coupled with how the player originally left the highly stressful life at Joja Corp to find happiness in a simpler, more free lifestyle. This can be so bad that some players choose to ignore the socialization aspect of the game and purely focus on the farming business.
  • The Star Wars game Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords risks running into this by being a Deconstructor Fleet that rips into classic Star Wars staples like the Black and White Morality and the constant Jedi-Sith conflicts. The game is absolutely relentless about reinforcing how unrealistic and flawed these concepts are. The problem is that it's a Star Wars game, so the majority of people who would want to play it either like the very same ideas the game is dedicated to attacking or are at least willing to tolerate them while playing, which makes the whole affair feel a bit like the game is mocking your taste in fiction and trying to "correct" you. This is not helped by the Executive Meddling that rushed production to the point that they had to release it without the actual ending. This forces an unsatisfying confrontation with Darth Traya. Fortunately, players can choose to go Light-Side and genuinely improve things by stabilizing dying worlds, improving your companions' lives, and generally making the galaxy a bit better — or you can play as an Ax-Crazy Sith Lord murderhoboing your way across multiple planets because no one gives you enough reasons to care.
  • This is a common complaint from people who didn't enjoy Tales of Xillia 2. The plot set up is explicitly designed to give the main characters the worst chance of success possible without making success impossible outright, and every time the characters accomplish something, a new twist comes up that negates it or takes all the wind out of their sails. The returning characters from the first game often feel like they're only present to fill party slots, and the worldbuilding frequently contradicts itself in the name of being Darker and Edgier.
  • Much like its books and the television series, Telltale's Game of Thrones is plagued with nothing but hopelessness and depression. All of your main characters will suffer in their war with an overpowered kingdom while witnessing every friend and ally you make getting slaughtered before your very eyes. But the real kicker is the finale, where you lose in the end despite all of the choices you've made throughout the game. The twist is that there was never any hope for you to win in the first place. Instead, it just wanted to tell you the story of why these characters never made it into the main story. The only thing that makes it less depressing is that you can choose which characters can survive your crushing defeat, and whether they die or live with honor and dignity.
  • The 2012 reboot of Twisted Metal, in which all three characters you control in Story Mode are mass-murdering psychopaths. With no sympathetic or Anti-Hero characters to play as like in previous games, always playing as an utter monster tends to make the story too bleak to really care about the outcome.
  • Almost every game of the Unreal series ends in a bittersweet note, with the Big Bad of that particular installment being defeated and the threatening menace being taken down for good, but at a heavy cost. The only exceptions are the Tournament games (99, 2003 and 2004), which end with A Winner Is You, and Unreal Championship, which ends with a downer note. As a result, there's almost no reason to care for the plot or the characters, as, at the end of the day, the result will still be for naught.
    • Championship itself is a standout for this trope because of the noticeably-different plot to its PC companion in UT2003. In the Tournament games, for every downer character who has no choice but to compete (from those who are forced into it from prison sentences, those competing in the hopes of dying, and gene-boosted monstrosities entered to show off a corporation's new experiments), there's at least as many well-adjusted (well, as well-adjusted as you could be to want to compete in a Blood Sport) individuals who want to be there and have a good time. Championship turns everything on its head, with the backstory involving humanity being enslaved by an impossible-to-defeat space-faring empire, and the Tournament itself is repurposed as punishment for those who attempted to resist - nobody wants to be there, but nobody has a choice. And even though the backstory does give a faint glimmer of hope if you can win, the ending itself doesn't follow through on it.
  • Until Dawn stays true to the slasher movies it's inspired by, and features several unpleasant and moronic young people who only wish to get laid, everything else be damned! While the multiple possible outcomes can influence your opinion of a character, the basic idea that they did a cruel prank to one of their friends and instead of genuinely commemorating what happened just fuck with each other, stays the same and sucks some (but not all) of the horror out of it, since it's hard to give a crap about them.
    • However, because of the interactivity and the player's choice, it's possible to downplay, subvert or avert this by choosing the friendly and moral choices either revealing their Hidden Depths or showing regrets in participating in the prank, showing them to be flawed but decent characters. Yes, even Emily. However, on the other end of the spectrum, it's also possible to make them into the biggest assholes from this side of an Eli Roth film including, arguably, the three most sympathetic characters Sam, Chris and Mike.
  • The Walking Dead has many likable characters, but with the way that minor characters get introduced just to get killed later on and major characters are made to suffer as long as possible before being killed, it's nearly impossible to remain attached to anyone and you might roll your eyes as a new character is introduced.
    • While season 1 ended on a somewhat hopeful note (Lee dies, but manages to save Clementine, who still has a chance of finding Christa and Omid), season 2 pretty much trampled on all of it right out of the gate. Omid is killed in the first ten minutes, Christa is heavily implied to lose her baby in the following Time Skip before she and Clem are separated for the rest of the game, the camp the survivors from 400 Days joined turns out to be a militaristic cult... Clem survives, of course, but whether she finds the safe haven Christa is talking about at the beginning of the game, secures her own living place with another character, or stakes out on her own, there's nothing to give us hope that the entire depressing cycle won't repeat itself.
    • A New Frontier continues the grand tradition of putting Clem through the wringer, largely outside of the player's control. Whoever you chose to stay with at the end of Season 2 dies in a flashback in Episode 1 — Jane is Driven to Suicide after discovering she's pregnant with Luke's child. Kenny is devoured after Clem crashes their car and he's thrown through the windshield. Wellington is overrun and Edith is shot as Clem and Alvin Jr. escape. By the time Episode 5 rolls around, a long string of supporting characters — potentially including up to two members of Javi's family — are dead. Notably, Telltale (seeing the backlash caused by the flashback deaths in Episode 1) added more flashbacks and character development of the dead characters in an effort to avert this criticism.
    • The games in general when it comes to choosing how you respond to other characters or what actions you take. When someone's life is on the line, saving them usually means they just die anyway in a later scene. Responses to other characters boil down to them just remembering what you said should it be brought up later without the story itself changing much. Should a character get angry over what the player character said or did, trying to choose a different option upon replaying those scenes will either still have the character mad at you or get angry at you for a different reason. An example of this is in season 2 where Kenny's girlfriend, Sarita, will die to a walker no matter what you do to save her and Kenny will blame you for her death.
  • Many players accuse Watch_Dogs's protagonist Aiden Pearce of having no moral compass whatsoever. Additionally, the toxic behavior of the city's populace, made evident through privacy invasions, casts a heavy blanket of melancholy that lasts throughout the game. It seems Ubisoft listened when they made the sequel.
  • World of Warcraft: Some expansions fall into this.
    • Despite initial trailers and opening quests making it look fairly happy, Mists of Pandaria of all things falls in this. The Horde-side storyline consisted of many Horde races and characters becoming completely evil with no real explanation, while the players' questlines consisted of committing one warcrime after another and constantly being shamed by NPCs even when committing what should be good actions, then finally killing loads of soldiers from your own faction, including characters the player had befriended in previous storylines. The Alliance-side isn't much better, consisting of most of the Alliance being passive against the Horde's relentless aggression. Then when you successfully storm the Horde capital, the Leader of the Alliance just wants Garrosh, the one who made the Horde into a ruthless war machine, to be imprisoned for trial, only for him to escape for the next expansion with a new Horde, and letting the rest of the Horde get off scott-free.
    • Warlords of Draenor was this for orc fans, as the Iron Horde storyline retconned orcs to have been Evil All Along in addition to to be laughably incompetent villains who fail in virtually all of their schemes.
    • The storyline of Legion, what with the sudden deaths of King Varian and Vol'jin, the latter to a regular Mook, the corruption and death of Ysera both factions in disarray, the world being invaded by demons once again, and King Greymane breaking the standing truce to take revenge on Warchief Sylvanas, restarting the Horde-Alliance war despite the ongoing full scale Burning Legion invasionnote . Vol'jin's death also meant all of the original leaders of the beloved Warcraft III Horde are all gone now. This left no racial leaders interested in the Horde's ideals. note  At this point, it's hard to care about either side anymore, and the excuses for both sides to keep fighting have become more and more thin.
    • Battle for Azeroth takes what was disliked about Mists of Pandaria and turns it Up to Eleven:
      • The Horde committing atrocities with no real explanation? Well, since nuking Theramore wasn't enough, BfA had the Horde leave a trail of destruction through the entire Night Elves lands, killing everyone, women, men and children, and ending in the Burning of Teldrassil, an action explicitly called a genocide in supplementary materials, the Horde players then go on to kill survivors and assassinate the one responsible for evacuating what civilians remain. All because Sylvanas used "the Alliance might attack us in the future" as a reason, but she doesn't believe that herself.
      • Multiple Horde characters turning evil? Well, after the above happened, only one character actually calls out Sylvanas on her atrocity and deserts in disgust. Everyone else's reaction range from "non-existent" to "slightly uneasy, but still following the Banshee Queen". And even when they do start to rebel against her, it's all too easy to interpret it as them still not giving a crap about being accomplice to genocide and more about the fact that Sylvanas is a threat to them now as well due to her growing paranoïa.
      • The Alliance being a passive punching bag? Well, not only were they the victim of the aforementioned Burning, their supposed counterpart to it was explicitly described as "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory" in interviews, the night elves have their dead desecrated and then willingly join the Horde. Oh, and when the Alliance finally gets the upper hand at last, Jaina, of all people, says that it should not press its advantage, because doing so would make them just as bad as the Horde.
      • And if you like playing a Horde character as evil? Well, the narrative constantly shames you for it anyway, and when confronted with the "betraying Sylvanas" storyline, you're told to go along with it for now, ans thus actively works against your own camp.
    • The game overall could even cause this. If you're on the camp of "Um, there's these Old Gods and we just know that Azeroth is constantly in danger and we always know that when we combine our forces, we can stop anything, just like we did in Archimonde in Mt. Hyjal. So how about we put a rest on this whole 'Alliance vs Horde' permanently and focus on any enemies that threatens Azeroth as whole?", then you're in for a bad time: There won't be any sense of unity, hatred between each factions run too deep that it would always ensure Alliance vs Horde, no matter how many characters would forget previous idealistic lessons or act stupid. Very small wonder that some people just stopped caring for a world that seemed hell bent to keep the Status Quo of "There must always be a Faction War", fueled with negative emotions like revenge and hatred.


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