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You're playing a video game that so far has been good fun—perhaps not all sunshine and light, but still, fairly safe. The story is interesting and everything's going well. Then... things get a little drearier. The color scheme turns drab, the music plays in a minor key, the creatures seem fearful — if they're there at all.

Such a choice may foreshadow something scary, mark a place of evil, or denote the Darkest Hour for your character. Sister tropes include the Womb Level for levels made out of flesh in an otherwise un-fleshy game and Big Boo's Haunt for the definitely "scary" and "creepy" part of a Bleak Level. See also Vile Villain, Saccharine Show for when there's that one boss that seems out of place. See also Darkest Hour.


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  • In Glider PRO, "Slumberland" has a sudden "Wrong Turn!" into a graveyard area.

    Action Adventure 
  • Alice: Madness Returns is not what one would call a cheerful game, not by a long shot. There's fiery destruction, creepy Blob Monster armies, and Body Horror everywhere. But then you get to the Dollhouse. Creepy and depressing doesn't begin to cover it and it reveals just what the hell has been going on with Alice's orphanage. Even experienced gamers had to swallow at that one.
  • Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King: The Wastelands. The other non-dungeon areas of the game have lighthearted and whimsical themes, but the Wastelands are a grey, barren region covered in skulls, dead plants, and orc encampments with ominous, militaristic music playing.
  • In Cave Story, when you return to the Mimiga Village after escaping the Labyrinth, all of the inhabitants of the village are missing, and the background music is replaced by an ominous, minor-key song, "Quiet". And then you travel to the "Egg Corridor?", which is in complete ruins, with the eggs incubated there having hatched into dragons in definitely imperfect state.
  • Cubivore has entirely different bleak levels early on, which are purely WHITE and desolate.
  • In Disney Princess: Enchanted Journey, Cinderella's world is Always Night, most of the colors are a muted blue, time is frozen everywhere, there's a creepy forest to traverse, you go to her old home, which is deserted, and at one point the Bogs freeze Cinderella herself, making it the only point where they directly attack a princess.
  • Dog's Life for PS2: All levels so far have been, if not all of them cheerful, and except some creepy moments like the dog catcher's doberman chasing you around and a couple of criminals you thwarted, relatively safe. Then, all of a sudden... the dog pound. The sky is dark,the ground is an ominous blood red, there are no other animals or life (except for the creepy doberman chasing you), and then an ominous background music that seems there just to make you want to get out of there. Then there's the final level. Except for the noise of machines trying to gut your love interest, there's no music at all. The only other place with no background music in the entire game is the pause screen.
  • The (optional) "Deep Sector" in Iji. At the beginning, the heroine comments that the air smells like human blood, it is extremely dark and the music is eerie.
  • Hollow Knight has plenty of very bleak locations, like Deepnest, a dark underground cavern overloaded with Big Creepy-Crawlies; the Howling Cliffs, a desolate cliffside with intense winds said to drive people mad; Kingdom's Edge, another desolate wasteland covered in ash-like cast-off pieces of the Wyrm's former shell, with a colosseum high above it from which dead gladiators are constantly falling out of; the Ancient Basin, an ancient ruin even among ancient ruins, with no music at all and — after acquiring a certain item — not even any ambience); and The Abyss, a sealed pit far below the Ancient Basin and the birthplace of both the protagonist and the eponymous Hollow Knight, covered in dead bodies and utter black pools of pure void that thrash about when the player gets near.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening: The Face Shrine is a one-two punch of the smaller South and the actual dungeon in the North Shrine, the one in the south giving the first concrete hint that your adventure is All Just a Dream, and then the boss of the one in the north confirming that yes, the island is all a dream, and as such you're going to have to do a rather nasty thing to it and its inhabitants to leave.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time:
      • The Shadow Temple is underground, so a lot of the environment is in darkness, made of earth or stone. Doors have ominous messages about the fall of Hyrule and skeletons are some of the most prominent enemies. Also the Bottom of the Well in Kakariko Village, which is implied to be connected with the Shadow Temple and even has walls built with human bones.
      • After the Time Skip, the Hyrule Market Town, once a bustling marketplace full of life and people, under Ganondorf's iron-fisted rule it becomes a dark, desolate place, roaming ReDeads its sole inhabitants.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has the entire area of Ikana Canyon. It's a haunted area with scarce flora, with the small Stalchildren waiting around for their long-deceased captain (whom the player races and gets named as the new captain), the royal family's skeletons remain in the area and the only people living here are a thief and, further in, a girl and her turning-into-a-Gibdo father.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has Hyrule Castle and the surrounding area. While the four Divine Beasts that serve as the other main dungeons can be a bit ominous, what with the backstories about how they were corrupted and the Malice filling their interiors, they're still brightly lit locations with musical tracks that mix ominousness with triumph. Hyrule Castle, however, is a bleak ruin dripping in Malice, all the plant life in the vicinity is grey and dead, the town at its base is sufficiently demolished to the point of barely being recognizable as a former settlement, deadly Guardians are ubiquitous, and all around are subtle signs of the massacre that took place a century before. There's also a more quotidian level of bleakness with the diaries of Princess Zelda and her father King Rhoam, found at their respective desks in the castle. Both record how they felt plenty of fear, and Zelda plenty of shame, over Zelda's inability to awaken the sealing power needed to defeat Calamity Ganon, and how this was leading to their relationship being badly strained due to King Rhoam's tough approach to guiding Zelda's training. And the final entries of each were written the morning of the day Ganon returned and the catastrophic events that led to the kingdom's destruction began.
  • LEGO Dimensions:
    • The Portal 2 levels and Adventure World, while being a bit more light-hearted than the source material, are still set in a massive, decaying underground enrichment center, completely devoid of life outside of GLaDOS, Wheatley, the turrets, and Cave Johnson's pre-recorded messages. And also the Mantis Men.
    • The game's main story has "A Dalek-table Adventure", which has the main trio journey through a run-down facility filled with Cybermen, Weeping Angels, and, of course, Daleks, all of which are portrayed faithfully (for the most part).
  • Metroid:
    • Super Metroid: Lower Maridia has a remarkably dark color palette for an underwater level, and the music is also very quiet and ominous.
    • Metroid Prime: The Chozo Ruins are set in a desert-like biome, the structures are heavily decrepit, the music is eerily quiet, the water is corrosive due to the toxins secreted by the Man-Eating Plant boss Flaahgra, and most of the plants are dead thanks to said toxic water.
    • Metroid Fusion has Sector 5. Extremely quiet music, everything is frozen over... it stops being as bleak when Nightmare starts rampaging through it.
    • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has the GFS Valhalla. It is a derelict, ruined spaceship where everything is destroyed, most power sources are offline, the surrounding space is a bright-red nebula filled with floating debris (and sometimes hundreds of Metroids), all the human and invading Space Pirate troopers onboard were killed violently, their corpses disintegrate into ashes when shot, powerful monsters infest the halls, and the music is a quiet and eerie atmospheric piece. At the end, you can witness the ship's Aurora Unit describing the horrific fate of the Valhalla and itself. Definitely not a fun place to visit.
  • Ōkami: The game features a mixture of cheery and dark areas, but the bleakest one among the latter group is Sei-an City under the Blight's influence. The atmosphere is very foreboding, as the city is being shrouded by a thick green mist that originates from the Emperor's body (the culprit isn't him, but Blight who invaded his body). As a result, the inhabitants' morale has deteriorated, and so did the health of some. Even Issun tells Amaterasu that the place has gotten a more sinister appearance than Orochi's cursed zones, which says a lot.
  • Phoenotopia : Awakening has some inhospitable terrain, but it's generally fairly standard for a fantasy epic. The human population might be sparse in spots, like in the desert, and the monsters might be tough, but even the forbidden area Between the Wall still fits this mold. Until you reach the Scorched Lands, the bombed-out remains of a city that is now populated almost exclusively by killer robots, some of which are unkillable.
  • Star Fox Adventures: Dragon Rock is bleak and it helps that its original location in Sauria (before its separation from the planet) was near the equally-bleak Moon Mountain Pass. The latter is a desolate location with a dark-green sky, lunar rocks and toxic geysers, and it has some surreal enemies. The former is a barren wasteland, whose ambiance shows a strong feel of despair and impotence represented by the shades of orange, red, brown and purple in the scenery, as well as dreary music.
  • Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion has The Bomb Bunker. There is absolutely no humor there, the music features air-raid sirens and is low-key, the true nature of the game's world is revealed, the color palette consists mainly of grays with a red glow like an alarm going off, the few enemies you encounter there are hideous and can kill Turnip Boy very quickly, and it's capped off with a boss fight against a horrific mutant that you inadvertently create when you expose a human girl to nuclear radiation.
  • The Uncharted series has a few examples of this:
    • In Drake's Fortune, after getting to the German bunker, zombie-like creatures show up. It doesn't help that they don't appear in an obvious pattern, making the scene (along with the slow music and the darkness) not only bleak but difficult.
    • In Drake's Deception, when Nate crashes the Mooks' plane in Rub al Khali, he gets lost in the desert. He spends several days there without food or water, suffering from hallucinations and walking in circles without noticing. The fact that you don't fight enemies or hear anything more than Drake talking to himself is terrifying.
  • An Untitled Story has The Bottom, an area found at the very bottom of the game world, where the music is merely an ambience, enemies don't exist and there are no means of escape aside from using a Save Point. There is, however, a Heart Container and entrance to another definitely less scary area.

    Adventure Game 
  • The fifth level of Flower, in contrast to the levels before it, takes place in the midst of a thunderstorm and is covered by Grey Rain of Depression. Electrical transmission towers dot the landscape, and the screen fades to black before you can reach the Level Goal.
  • Zomberry Island, Ghost Story Island, S.O.S. Island, and Vampire's Curse Island have a darker tone than the rest of Poptropica's ordinarily colorful and upbeat levels. Zomberry takes place during a zombie invasion, Ghost Story takes place in a haunted town, S.O.S. Island is set in a sinking ship in which you must rescue survivors, and Vampire's Curse has you finding a cure for vampirism.
  • Wandersong has everything going smoothly up until the end of Act 3, where the Bard's attempt to grab the next Earthsong piece is immediately shut down by Audrey, the hero destined to facilitate the impending end of the universe, which is not what the Bard wants. Unfortunately for him, he doesn't take kindly to being bluntly told off that what he wants is impossible, and that he was expected to give up because he was never meant to be a hero. By the time Act 4 starts, the Bard has moved back to his old hometown of Chismest, which is tonally opposite to the past Acts and the Bard's general demeanour. The sky is covered in a thick layer of smog from the immense factory at the center, which also serves as a general source of strife for all the other townsfolk. The colour scheme consists of cold, dark shades of blue and grey, and any warm colors are incredibly muted, even the ones on the Bard's singing wheel. His facial expression is stuck to being neutral at best, and deliberately faking a smile at worst; his signature voice is also devoid of the energy that he had, now sounding strained. All of this adds up to the greatest shift in tone of the game thus far, though thankfully it doesn't stick as the Bard sucessfully gets out of his slump by the end of the Act. Still, it serves to show that his journey will not be without hardships.

    Beat'em Up 
  • Shing!: The Forgotten City level takes place in the ruined remains of a once great settlement long ago destroyed by reckless experiments with the Starseed, leaving a giant crater behind along with ash-covered abandoned homes and deadly cracks in the earth that shoot out deadly gases. The very prospect of having to go there makes the usually irreverent player characters act significantly more serious and somber for almost the entire level.

  • The Floating Pyramid in Disney's Math Quest with Aladdin is the tomb of the Wizard Pharaoh Veri'Ankh-Amman, where he sealed the lamp of the omnicidal genie Bizarrah along with his own body. In contrast to everywhere else, it's dark and run-down. The guardians are eerie talking statues and every time you try to turn around, the pharaoh's spirit likes to leave you with menacing reminders that there's no turning back.

    First Person Shooter 
  • The Half-Life 2 chapter "We Don't Go To Ravenholm..." takes Gordon Freeman through the namesake town where the headcrab infestation turned everyone into zombies, save for one Father Grigori, who is very determined to tend to his "flock"... with shotguns, that is.
  • The level "343 Guilty Spark" from Halo: Combat Evolved follows immediately right after the cutscene ending the previous level, in which Cortana gives a disjointed warning to the Master Chief that the Covenant found something... buried, and that Keyes is about to unravel it. Arriving at the level, you're treated to a dark bog with lots of wrecked equipment and a eerie barely functioning distress call on repeat. The general lack of enemies in the beginning, and the fact that what enemies Chief encounters are fleeing in sheer panic and terror from the place you are heading towards, serves only to reinforce the quiet creepy factor as you stalk through the wrecked facility. In particular, the gradual realization that the terrified Covenant are not fighting (and largely getting slaughtered by) the two-dozen humans you were sent to rescue, but something else entirely that has the Covenant of all people fleeing in terror, and that the sole human survivor you actually find is so panic-driven from whatever it is he's seen that he shoots at you, makes the build-up to The Reveal of the level extremely tense. When the Flood finally do show up, you then must find another way out of the facility, except you now have to fight the horrific, unrelenting horde every step of the way—making the second half of the level a Bleak Level of the Bleak Level.
  • Call of Duty 3 has "The Mace" level, fought entirely in the rain, where the Polish have to Hold the Line on Mont Ormel/Hill 262/"The Mace" against hordes of German soldiers. The entire battle is just a desperate retreat up the hill as soldiers die left and right, culminating in a Last Stand near a manor house at the top and the arrival of Canadian reinforcements. Made even worse with the knowledge it all happened in real life.
  • The Eridium Blight in Borderlands 2 contrasts with the natural Scenery Porn of most of the areas before it. The runoff of Hyperion's Eridium refinement plants mixes with the volcanic ash to make a lifeless wasteland where almost nothing grows. Even the Color Wash is dead-looking.
  • Quake IV is hardly sunshine and roses to begin with but the Waste Processing Facility takes bleakness to the next level. It's a Creepy Basement below the Stroyent production facility with cyborg zombies who were discarded for being unsuitable to the Strogg war effort. Dried blood coats many of the surfaces, bodies are stored in barrels for disposal, and waste chutes feed giblets from the levels above.
  • While BioShock Infinite is full of dark and scary stuff, the Scenery Porn lightens up a bit... until Finkton and more specifically, Shantytown, which as the name makes clear, it's the beaten up aglomerate of deteriorated buildings and improvised households surrounded by poor and malnourished people, an environment of pure misery. Even the ramshack parts of the previous game can't compare, specially because the populace of Infinite are normal people instead of disfigured mutants.
  • Surface II from GoldenEye is a more unsettling version of an earlier level. Instead of a well-lit setting with uptempo music as the first Surface was, Surface II takes place under a blood-red sky and has slower, more somber music. The masked guards from the first level are present again, and look much creepier in the murky conditions.

    Hack and Slash 
  • Dark Souls is already bleak enough, with every place infected with deacy and ruin, but these areas take it up a notch.
    • The Kiln of the First Flame. The sky is stuck in an infinite dusk, the landscape is a rusted gray, and there are only about four or five enemies despite the large size of the area. It really hits its mark considering that it actually unnerves the player even though every other level wasn't exactly sunshine and flowers either.
    • The Painted World of Ariamis also counts, being a ruined castle on a freezing mountain, infested with undead and Crow Demons. Subverted when you meet Priscilla, when she explains this place was meant to be a refuge for the unwanted.
    • New Londo Ruins. The whole area is dim, drab, and crumbling. Regular Hollows cower and rock back and forth. Then you get to the lower area after draining the water and find out it's full of bodies. Then you get to the very bottom of the area — the Abyss.
  • Genji has the marketplace after it has been destroyed by dark magic.
  • NieR has the mansion on the hill. Everywhere else is bright and sunny, then you find Emil's mansion. Suddenly your screen loses all colour and everything goes grey, and the camera somehow picks up grime. There's also a couple of portraits that slowly change the first time you go in. And the soundtrack starts screaming at you.
  • Operation 008 of The Wonderful 101 takes place in Blossom City, the city from the first few missions of the game, now reduced to floating chunks of debris that the team has to maneuver across while being hounded by hordes of GEATHJERK soldiers. Periodically during the stage, Mission Control informs the player of the quickly-worsening status of their Cool Airship base, which the player can do nothing about. At least the Wonderful Marts were left unharmed!

  • Final Fantasy XI has Dynamis. A mirror world created by Diabolos, ruler of Dreams from nightmares in an attempt to escape Vanadiel's inevitable end. Dynamis is in a perpetual state of night and inhabited by the souls of those who fell during the crystal war, now locked into an eternal battle.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic:
    • The game throws another Player Punch by having you walk around what's left of Taris about three hundred years after Malak had it carpet-bombed from orbit early in the first Knights of the Old Republic. Crumbling permacrete, twisted and rusty starship hulks, polluted water, rakghouls everywhere, and a Republic player finds out the Outcasts the canonical light-side Revan "saved" were picked off by rakghoul attacks, starvation, and disease before toxic waste finished them off. Imperial players then crush any little Hope Spot by tearing apart the Republic's efforts to restore the planet.
    • In the Rise of the Emperor storyline, the surface of Ziost gets decimated by Darth Vitiate following the player's effort on there. While all organic life on the planet is shown to be destroyed in a cutscene, the surface is still inhabitable.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Felwood is like the Night Elf areas like Teldrassil and Ashenvale, but filled with plague and suspiciously green glowing stuff. The Ghostlands is the same for the Blood Elves.
    • While the Western Plaguelands is an active warzone, filled with armies of undead just barely held in check by mortal forces, the Eastern Plaguelands beyond them are strangely quiet. The wildlife is depressed where it isn't mutated; roving bands of things assault you, even on the roads, and in a world of saturated color, the sky is browner than the soil.
    • Duskwood is a forest infested with zombies and werewolves just across the river from the peaceful Elwynn Forest and a startling Mood Whiplash for new Human players. Everything in the zone is either dead or on constant watch from attack.
    • Everything in Deadwind Pass is washed out gray, and the only things that are alive are vultures, giant spiders, and a clan of ogres. It's also home to the Eldritch Location known as Karazhan and the creepy crypt underneath it. The good news is that there really isn't any reason to stick around in the zone itself for very long.
    • Desolace, at least before Cataclysm, where a huge forest now grows at the center of the zone. Before this, Desolace was a nearly lifeless desert where scavengers and the hostile centaur were the only life present, with the exception of the giant Kodo, who come here specifically to die.
  • MapleStory has several accessed from the Temple of Time:
    • The first is the Gate to the Future, a false vision of a potential future in which the Black Mage takes over the world. Empress Cygnus and her knights have been corrupted, and their floating island Ereve has fallen to the Maple World. The hillsides of Henesys are burning and the town itself has been reduced to a few buildings, with its market overrun by monsters. Perion is mostly intact, but all of its inhabitants have been enslaved by the Edelstein Resistance, with the land itself in perpetual twilight. A majority of the enemies in these areas are the usual low-level snails, stumps, and mushrooms you'd find there normally... But they've been mutated by the Black Mage's magic into freakishly dangerous and hostile forms.
    • The second is the Arcane River, the place where all timelines but the main go to die. The very first area is the Vanishing Journey, a sandy beach where objects and buildings from every other area in both the Maple World and Grandis are seen disintegrating into the dust that forms the beach itself. Further into the Journey are a shattered plateau with flames erupting from the crevasses, and a cave that contains a forest of giant eerie fungus. From there, the rest of the River is mostly intact until you reach Tenebris, a new world the Black Mage is creating to replace the current one. The first section of Tenebris is Moonbridge, an infinite sky full of monsters made of smoke and ashes. The second is the aptly named Labyrinth of Suffering, a maze made of sickly green stone full of undead creatures, some of which are the corpses of Cygnus Knights, Resistance Members, and Nova Warriors. The boss of this area is an undead Hilla, who summons zombified versions of Lotus and Damien as minions. The final area is Limina, a place of pure creation magic where enemies are nothing more than abstract patterns of dots and lines, resembling constellations more than creatures.

  • B3313:
    • At the Bob-omb Village, characters warn you against collecting the stars in the level which are their "power sources". If you do so anyway, the game warps you to a barren snowfield with no music instead of the usual respawn point, clearly showing the village has been ruined.
    • The Ice-Cold Warzone is a version of Bob-omb Battlefield set during winter at night that portrays a war between crowds of Bob-ombs and Goombas. It is contrasted by two other versions — a lively one in the past where more enemy species inhabit the area and a future one devoid of enemies in which the remaining NPCs speak about the war now being fought with "silent weapons".
    • The Destroyed Castle Grounds are seemingly set After the End, on a red flooded field surrounded by ruins and two massive portraits of Peach in the distance. Entering a pipe warps you back in time to the Haunted Castle Grounds. It starts with Mario atop Peach's Castle, but the whole scenery is likewise crimson red-and-black and ominous despite the circus music playing. Yoshi is gone and Toad's statue is beheaded for some reason.
  • The Cat in the Hat: Attic Adventure is a haunted attic that's notably creepy compared to the off-kilter whimsy of the previous levels.
  • Crash Bandicoot (1996):
    • The temple levels "Temple Ruins" and "Jaws Of Darkness" take place in abandoned, dark temples, where the only lumination are the lit fire torches in the background, filled with smashing traps, and accompanied with a foreboding, spooky soundtrack.
    • The "Generator Room" too. It's a dark, empty level only filled with metallic platforms, a few robot enemies and videos of Dr. Cortex staring at you. It also has the arguably most minimalistic yet creepiest track in the whole game.
  • Dino Run kicks it off with a scarily dark volcano section, with some seriously creepy music. Since before this level the oncoming apocalypse was treated fairly lightheartedly, it's a fair bit of Mood Whiplash.
  • Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest: Gloomy Gulch definitely lives up to its name. Crocodile Isle is not a friendly place in general, but Gloomy Gulch stands out as a dark and barren region high up on the mountain, surrounded by dead forests. Cementing this is the world's theme song Forest Interlude, which is much more downbeat and moody compared to the rest of the game's soundtrack.
  • Earthworm Jim
    • The "Big Bruty" level in the Special Edition of the first game features the worm hero having to avoid being eaten by the eponymous creature, a blind dinosaur-esque monster with a strong sense of smell, in an unsettling and abandoned swamp planet, which is implied to have become abandoned due to the dinosaur-esque monster's eating habits. The music complements the stage perfectly.
    • The "Villi People" level from Earthworm Jim 2, in addition to being bizarre and inexplicable even by Earthworm Jim standards, is also pretty dang depressing, what with revolving around navigating a giant intestinal tract while somber classical music plays in the background.
  • Eversion: The fourth eversion level turns the scenery gray and the enemies stop moving. Subsequent eversion levels only get nastier and darker, going from gray to brown to blood-red to practically pitch-black.
  • Futurama has the Subway. To put it into context, the level before this took place in the sewers of New New York, and true to the show, the whole place has a campy horror vibe, being filled with glowing green waste, cartoony mutants as enemies, and alligators, plus a very funky soundtrack. But then when you reach the ruined subway, everything turns drab and brown, the enemies are sinister-looking post-apocalyptic scavengers in gas masks, and the music is completely gone — replaced by an unsettling ambience which includes distant screaming. The whole place seems more at home in a Fallout game than a Futurama game, and the weird thing is that it's the third level. No other level later in the game comes even close to being this bleak, not even Old New York, which immediately follows it, or MOM's HQ at the very end.
  • Kingsley's Adventure has Poorluck Village, which follows the vivid and upbeat Carrot Castle and Sea Town. In stark contrast, all the homes in Poorluck are dilapidated, all the grass is dead, it's always dark and rainy, and the highest-running emotions are the dogs'. On top of that, when you first arrive, the village is in the midst of a dragon-induced famine. You eventually solve the famine, but the place never gets any cheerier.
  • Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards:
    • By the time you get to Ripple Star's second stage, the game officially stops being cute thanks to the gloomy areas and the freaky music.
    • Shiver Star's fourth stage is infamous for being at complete odds with the rest of the world's levels, being a spooky factory with scary-looking machinery and dramatic music.
  • La-Mulana:
    • Confusion Gate/Gate of Illusion. Dear lord, between the creepy organ music played in an eerie minor key, the dull background colors, and the sacrificial pit, it's easily the most disturbing part of the game. The remake doubles down on the creepiness, spotting the background with splashes of blood, giving the stone heads uncanny expressions, and kicking the whole zone off with a sudden scream.
    • The Shrine of the Mother in the Wii remake. Adorned with intimidating rock formations and featuring a gloomy and deppresing musical theme, this area is littered with skeletons of all the children that failed to accomplish Mother's wish and were killed to make room for the next generation. It is home to more instant-kill traps than any other area in the game.
  • LocoRoco:
    • Dolangomeri is an eerie forest full of old machinery, and serves as the domain for the Big Bad and his minions. The normally-cheerful background singers sound mournful and frightened while singing this area's music, which is periodically accompanied by maniacal laughter (unless you're playing as Budzi, in which case his incredibly funky Image Song plays instead).
    • The final level of the original game is a Womb Level taking place inside the Big Bad, Bon Mucho. The cheery music and colorful visuals that accompany every other Womb Level in the game are absent, replaced by murky black and grey backgrounds and a foreboding Villain Song called "Merure Merure".
  • Mega Man
    • Mega Man X
    • Mega Man Zero
      • Most of the overworld in Mega Man Zero is already bleak, but then Neo Arcadia leads an assault on the Resistance Base. Zero now has to rescue his allies from the Mooks while finding bodies of dead Resistance soldiers throughout the halls. There was even an Empathy Doll Shot usually held by Tagalong Kid Alouette left on the floor. However, once the mission is over, it's revealed Alouette is one of the few survivors of the attack.
      • When the Resistance's acting commander Elpizo launches his assault team for Operation Righteous Strike at the halfway point of Mega Man Zero 2, Zero was requested to keep an eye on them. No sooner had he teleported in did the results of the operation be apparent: dead Resistance soldiers clutter the level, and Zero only manages to rescue the Sole Survivor, Elpizo himself, from the three Guardians.
  • Rabi-Ribi manages this with the Warp Destination (aka the real world.) There's color to be found, but most of it is just shades of grey, and the whole thing The music suddenly gets more serious than normal, there are actual male characters for once (and they're all creepy otaku who stalk and take pictures of Erina because of her Playboy Bunny outfit,) there's no magic to be found anywhere aside from Noah and the clones of Erina and Ribbon she sics on her, and even Ribbon finds it oppressive due to the lack of nature. And when you finally find Miru, it's in a Room Full of Crazy, and the resulting boss fight has one of the most sinister themes in the game.
  • Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc has The Desert of the Knaaren, which has an intense and really scary atmosphere that only gets worse when you reach the underground area and have to deal with avoiding the invincible Knaaren and fending off Zombie Chickens.
  • Eifer Skute's stage in RosenkreuzStilette Freudenstachel is filled with the undead, a ghastly Expy of Mothraya from Mega Man 4, and creepy Ethereal Choirs.
  • Sly 2: Band Of Thieves has Episode 4: Jailbreak and Episode 5: A Tangled Web. Taking place in Prague after the previous episode's lush jungle in India, the areas feature an incredibly creepy Überwald aesthetic with blood-red skies and water, a full moon, creepy-looking Wolf, Bat and Vulture guards (With the former having a tendency to disguise themselves as statues and attacking when you get near), ruined Gothic-style buildings, spike traps around the place, supernatural elements and creepy as heck music. To top it off, you are stuck playing as Bentley for the first half of Episode 4 due to Sly and Murray being captured by The Contessa in the previous Episode.
  • Sonic The Hedgehog:
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom:
    • Rock Bottom, which is every bit as creepy as it was in the show. Most of it is set on small platforms hovering over a dark abyss, and the music is ominous and minimal.
    • The Flying Dutchman's Graveyard is a wasteland full of shipwrecks and toxic ooze with a darker appearance than most of the other areas. In the original version, even the "flower clouds" in the sky look distorted, and Rehydrated places a giant glowing green moon over the stage.
  • World 3 (Ocean of Oblivion) of Super Mario Fusion Revival takes place in a dimension that is not quite the real world and not quite Hell. It takes place in a vast ocean eternally shrouded in unsettling dusk and constant thunderstorms. It is the realm that lies past World 2 in the Bermuda Triangle.
  • Super Mario Odyssey features the Ruined Kingdom, a derelict land of crumbling Gothic towers covered in fog and swarming with bats. The boss of the level, the Ruined Dragon (also called the Lord of Lightning), is a frightening and abnormally realistic-looking dragon the size of a Kaiju and implied to be responsible for destroying the kingdom in a Great Offscreen War. The Kingdom and the Dragon look much more like something from Dark Souls than something from a Super Mario Bros. game.
  • Upon entering the final area of Tomba! 2: The Evil Swine Return, the Big Bad casts a spell that causes the entire world to stop moving and be black and white. The end result: no enemies whatsoever, lots of black voids (this was a PS1 game, and the draw distance combined with the lack of color causes this effect), and ominous ambient noise for "music".
  • Wario Land:
    • The Brutal Bonus Level of Wario Land II, "Steal the Syrup's Treasure!!", is a Womb Level with ominous music filled with mouths, ears, and other body parts interspersed alongside the frozen bodies of various types of enemies embedded in the walls with looks of shock on their faces.
    • Wario Land 3 has the Forest of Fear. It's a forest with eerie, minimalist music, tons of spikes and vines, and intimidating faces on all the trees.


    Real Time Strategy 
  • Pikmin:
    • Pikmin 2:
      • The Wistful Wild. In this case, the ambiance evokes a sense of melancholy and nostalgia, and even Olimar makes notes of this feeling during his treasure logs; it exhibits shades of orange and red (in this case because of the level taking place during autumn), as well as a music that induces anxiety onto the characters and the player. Averted with the caves placed here, though, as they're considerably more overrun by wild creatures than the exterior, and said caves are thematically a salad of all previous caves in the game, not all of which were bleak at all.
      • Submerged Castle is a dark sewer with an ominous music track and an unexplained, paranormal, invincible boss that stalks the player until the final floor. It is the only cave in the game where the player cannot just take comfort in having an army of Purple and Red Pikmin for offense, as only Blue Pikmin can enter it, giving a feeling of defenselessness.
    • Pikmin 3 has the Formidable Oak. It's on a giant termite mound in the middle of the desert, there are initially no enemies, the music is very minimal (unless it's raining), and the color scheme outside is mostly brown. After encountering enemies that aren't the Eldritch Abomination Final Boss, killing them reveals that they are actually made of the same substance said boss is made of. There isn't even any fruit; the goal of the level is to instead get Olimar to the ship.

  • The F-Zero X adaptation of White Land has a theme song which, while not outside the game's hot-blooded heavy metal trappings, sounds surprisingly sad compared to some of the other tracks.

  • The Binding of Isaac doesn't exactly have the most chipper levels (especially with the overall bleaker visuals in Rebirth,) but the Dark Room, a series of crumbling platforms floating in a black void, takes the cake. The music that plays throughout certainly doesn't help, either.
  • Most of the islands of Sunless Sea strike a balance between surreal irony and gothic horror. Not so for Kingeater's Castle, an abandoned temple of sacrifice and death that marks the southeast corner of the Unterzee. An "old voracity" lives here, surrounded by half-sunken colossi carved in the shapes of drowning victims. The only trace of humour is that your Captain titles the port report "everything is horrible"... then scratches it out for being too narmy and tries again.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • While Bug Fables is typically cheerful, there are several areas that are not:
  • Chrono Cross has the Dead Sea, a futuristic city where time is essentially broken. You can walk on the waves destroying the buildings like they're solid, ghostly echoes of living beings are common enemies seen walking in fixed looping patterns, and in the center of it all is the Tower of Geddon, an impossible collage of building interiors and locations. It's every bit as eerie as it sounds.
  • Chrono Trigger has 2,300 AD, a time period centuries after Lavos' awakening that devastated the planet, as well as the ground level in 12,000 BC, which is ravaged by an ice age brought by Lavos crashing into the planet in the first place.
  • Deltarune: If the player chooses to undertake Spamton's sidequest, they eventually find their way to the basement of Queen's mansion, an eerie and dimly-lit series of hallways with a few hazards here and there, punctuated by "Digital Roots", a slow, rumbling arpeggio. It's a far cry from the upbeat eccentricity of the rest of the game.
  • Dragon Age: Origins: The Dead Trenches start out with ominous music and a dead city, include some really creepy poetry from a traumatized dwarf, and end with a boss whose origin and appearance are 190-proof Body Horror. Congratulations! You now know where darkspawn come from. Chances are you really wish you didn't.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest I: The alternate-history events of Dragon Quest Builders shows exactly the type of world the Dracolord would mean to create if the Hero should fall before him one way or another: an ashen wasteland antithetical to life as a concept, cloaked in a pitch black sky, where even the skeletons that emerge from the earth to kill in his name are pitiably weak and frail.
    • Dragon Quest XI’s Ruins of Dundrasil. There aren’t very many enemies in the area wandering around (aside from a Green Dragon), but the site itself is depressing to walk through considering the sheer aftermath of the destruction left behind, least of all the bad memories it holds for certain members of the party.
  • EarthBound's final level, the Cave of the Past, is a stark departure from the rest of the game. Whereas other areas were quirky and colorful with an eclectic variety of sights and sounds, the Cave of the Past is a stark gray series of cliffs in a sea of equally gray fog at the center of the Earth. The level is punctuated only by eerie silver orbs, a sole, tentacle-like spire, and the vaguely Freudian entrance to the dark, pulsating lair where Giygas resides. Likewise, the background music consists solely of the Lyrical Cold Open to "Deirdre" by The Beach Boys, slowed down to resemble an elegiac wail of wind.
  • Epic Battle Fantasy 5: Redpine Town. It is right next to the Big Bad's location and is themed accordingly. Unlike every other town in the series, it is infested with monsters, many of the residents are hiding in buidings believing the world is coming to an end, it is given an ominous music theme, plenty of undead roam around, and the whole place as a drab orange color scheme (although it's implied that Redpine is a Forest of Perpetual Autumn anyway, and the plants are not orange because of the Great Impact). The proper final area it borders is even more ominous, but it at least has a more upbeat theme and various quest NPCs who cheer the party on in the central screen.
  • Etrian Odyssey:
    • Etrian Odyssey: The first three strata are beautiful woodscapes. The fourth stratum is a barren, sandy land where you have to kill a bunch of Forest Folk, but at least it's still nothing really out of the ordinary. Then comes the fifth stratum and you find the ruins of Shinjuku, establishing that the game's fantasy setting actually takes place after the end of a modern Earth.
    • Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan: The fifth stratum in the game, the Forgotten Capital, is located in the renmants of the Yggdrasil after its demise, and hinted to be one of the extinct major cities of modern Earth. It has only one floor, but it makes up for it by featuring an unsettling atmosphere and a cramped layout, making it stand out from the relatively cheery previous dungeons (which, additionally, have to be revisited in order to start exploring this place). Interestingly, it doesn't have a boss (the opponent at the end, the Cursed Prince, is a Mini-Boss), but completing it leads to the reveal of the Final Boss, the Heavenbringer (the personified form of the Yggdrasil), who awaits in the Cloudy Stronghold. The Bonus Dungeon (Hall of Darkness) is even scarier, but at least it's to be expected due to it being an Abandoned Laboratory, so the impact factor isn't as big.
  • While Fallout 4 isn't the brightest picture of humanity, the underlying themes are hope and rebuilding; even the color palette is happier than its predecessors'. Then you go to the Glowing Sea, a haunted wasteland where the bomb meant for Boston actually hit. After 210 years, the ambient fallout is still lethal.note 
  • Fallout 76 has the Ash Pile, where the majority of West Virginia's coal mining industry was centered. Twenty-five years of the machines running out of control since the Great War has caused this region to be coated in soot and ash, enough that entering the region without a gas mask means possibly contracting Sludge Lung disease. There are also areas that are eternally burning, especially old coal mines where flames have been burning nonstop for over two decades.
  • The City of Ancients in Final Fantasy VII. Hardly any enemies, strange scenery, and unsettling music that only plays there.
  • In Final Fantasy VIII, sorceress Edea's act of retaliation against the Gardens for the assassination attempt on her is to order a missile strike. The heroes only managed to save Balamb Garden (by turning it into a mobile fortress), while Edea converts Galbadia Garden into her own base of operations. The last one, Trabia Garden (where Selphie, one of the protagonists, was from), was not so lucky. When the heroes visit, the entire garden is in ruins, and its students are living like squatters, and there is even a giant improvised cemetery dedicated to those who died in the attack.
  • Final Fantasy IX
    • Kingdom of Burmecia, the last dungeon of Disc One. By the time the heroes made it there, the kingdom is in ruins, and its citizens are running for their lives from the Black Mages. The dungeon (and Disc One) ends with the heroes facing a Hopeless Boss Fight against General Beatrix for the first time.
    • Lindblum after Alexandria's invasion. Some sections (like a part of the Theater district) are completely destroyed, and Alexandrian soldiers now patrol the city, although they don't engage the party.
  • Final Fantasy X:
    • The Baaj Ruins, the first area where Tidus wakes up in Spira. There are no Random Encounters (just a fixed unwinnable fight), but there's a perpetual storm raging outside, and the ruins itself is abandoned and derelict, giving Tidus an atmosphere of loneliness.
    • Thunder Plains is an entire plain of grey, dreary darkness, only lightened up by the constant lightning strikes that make it such an unhospitable wasteland. However, all this is offset by this adorable soundtrack.
    • Zanarkand itself, which is when the story catches up to its flashback-telling and the entire party is shown to have become resigned to the upcoming fate of Yuna. Zanarkand is nothing but ruins upon ruins, night doesn't end anymore and the area is filled with Pyreflies, which let the player see memory upon memory of previous summoners and guardians making it to this place. And as amazing as the background music may be for this area, it's still melancholic. And then the Background Music changes to a much more subdued and very low note, with barely any music playing inside the Zanarkand Dome itself.
    • Mushroom Rock Road. Located in the already dark and gloomy looking Djose region of Spira, the party visits just in time to see the catastrophic failure of Operation Mi'ihen and take stock of the casualties after. Overall the entire region of Djose marks a dark and gloomy point in the game.
  • Mag Mell from Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles has some very unsettling music and is blanketed in fog and seemingly uninhabited when you first get there. If you revisit it enough times, though, you find out it's actually inhabited by hibernating carbuncles, who turn out to be not all that bad when they finally wake up. A more traditional example is Tida, a town who's caravan never returned home, and is now a miasma and monster-infested Dungeon Town.
  • Final Fantasy XIII has the ruined, Cie'th-infested village of Oerba.
  • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII has the Cathedral in Luxerion on the Final Day, which couples as the final area. It starts by showing people trying to break down the gate to get into the cathedral, running away from the Chaos and getting turned into monsters. The sky is full of dark clouds and the few NPCs found outside are lethargic or praying, hoping for salvation. The inside isn't much better, being nothing but blue-grey stone walls and floors and the player is following the ominous chanting that gets louder, the closer they get to their goal.
  • Final Fantasy XIV
    • Stormblood has an endgame dungeon called "The Burn": a region bordering Doma and Garlemald that is completely devoid of aether, purportedly due to repeated primal summonings in the distant past. Without aether, the entire region is little more than a continuous expanse of grey, dead earth.
    • Endwalker ramps it up in the final chapters of the game with Ultima Thule, a zone created around the nest of Meteion, the one responsible for the Final Days. Ultima Thule is made up of three regions modeled after worlds that Meteion observed in their waning days: the dragons' homeworld, where a war with machine invaders left the star polluted and desolate, leading to the dragons' slow and agonizing extinction; the world of the Ea, a scholar race who abandoned their physical bodies in pursuit of knowledge, only to learn about the eventual heat death of the universe, driving them to despair; and the Omicrons, the selfsame machine race that invaded the dragons and created Omega, who became mechanical overlords as a matter of self-defense, only to realize that there would be nothing for them to do once they eliminated all perceived threats. The last dungeon of the 6.0 MSQ, The Dead Ends, introduces yet more downer areas with another three worlds in decline: one that succumbed to disease, one that was destroyed in a nuclear global conflict, and one where the inhabitants became so enlightened that life lost all meaning and they summoned a primal to end their lives.
  • Final Fantasy XV has the entirety of Chapter 14. The game already lets you know all bets are off the moment Noctis steps out of Angelgard, a good ten years older at that, and seeing that the world has been plunged into The Night That Never Ends. And just as one would expect, Daemons that the player once took solace in knowing only appeared at night have completely overrun the world and drove humanity to near extinction, with the final bastions on the verge of collapse at that. The sky that was once a vibrant blue and at least two towns the player once went through and enjoyed the sight of company and fellow humans are now devoid of any and all life besides the murderous Daemons, with a heavy implication that the once our-world-level population has dwindled from billions to a mere city and a gas station's worth, with the sky now perpetually a sickly black-and-green combination with flecks of darkness falling like snow. And to top it all off, the only way to end this horrific nightmare is to have Noctis sacrifice himself, alongside potentially the rest of the party, all to set the world right again and end this twisted perversion of the world.
  • The Grave Eclipse from Golden Sun: Dark Dawn sucks the light out of most of the world, leaving some awesome images of destroyed towns, complete with decomposing bodies.
  • As you return to Cyrum Kingdom in ''Grandia II', you find the dead and dying everywhere, and the dark god's minions just won't stop coming. All but one of your party members are stuck in Heroic BSoD mode (since it is, after all, partially their fault that this is happening) and no one has any idea what to do. Oh, and THIS music is playing.
  • In Grim Dawn, you can find riftgates connecting to otherworldly islands that look as if devastated by a volcanic eruption, with ash blowing everywhere through the landscape dotted by obsidian spires and ruins of human settlements (with clocks that can still be heard ticking). They are home to eldritch spawns birthed by Ch'thon.
  • The King's Field series of games features sporadic villages with very few people, and even some of them contain monsters or abandoned houses. The music is hardly ever lively and a lot of the areas can feel claustrophobic and empty. Most conversations in the games are usually sad or morose, and many people have given up hope of being saved by the impending dark times. Even the environment itself seems dark or dimly lit, and you almost never see sunlight throughout the course of the games, even when outdoors. There are multiple graveyards and dead people in various locations. The monsters seem to outnumber the people 10-to-1.
  • A favorite trope for endgame in the Kingdom Hearts series.
    • In the first game, the final world is called The End Of The a literal sense, considering that it is probably the edge of reality as we know it near the encroaching Heartless. Features a darker version of one of the first songs in the game, "Destati".
    • Kingdom Hearts II:
      • The Pride Lands, based off of The Lion King (1994). The game's version takes place after Scar's takeover, so there's no plant life outside of the oasis that Timon and Pumbaa live in and the color scheme is dominated by differing shades of grey.
      • The final level is an enormous white castle owned by Organization XIII, located in a place called The World That Never Was. Made eerier by the dissonant nature of the music and the overtly nihilistic names of its locations ("Altar of Naught", "Where Nothing Gathers"...)
    • Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] features a return of The World That Never Was and manages to make it even more nightmarish. The world is largely in ruins, an aftermath of the endgame from the aforementioned game, with creepy fog, breathing buildings and a twisted, labyrinthine castle. The music, too, has been remixed, into a suitably grave and disquieting piece.
    • The most disturbing may be the Keyblade Graveyard. While in the other two games, the main character and his two friends accompany him, this game features every main character entering it completely alone. It is a vast desert without any sort of life lined with thousands if not millions of ownerless magical swords. This is definitely helped by the demented piano music that serves at the world's Background Music.
    • Birth By Sleep's Final Mix edition has the Realm Of Darkness. Mile after mile of darkness, and creepy structures that look vaguely like someone's insides. Unlike every other level, there's no-one else to talk to, just rank upon rank of powerful Heartless. Amazingly bleak music that plays throughout, ones that make the Keyblade Graveyard look almost welcoming.
    • The Depths of Darkness in Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep -A fragmentary passage- are the most desolate area in the game, being a barren and empty cave with blue crystals providing the only light. While the ruins of the worlds are more spectacular, Aqua is all alone as she passes through them and the Realm of Darkness itself is trying to break her spirit. By the time she gets to the Depths of Darkness, she's teetering on the edge of despair. It's here that Mickey finds her and pulls her back from the brink and joins her as the game's sole party member, making it the most hopeful part of the game.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords brings you back to Dantooine — the pleasant farming planet from the first — five years after Malak carpet-bombed the place. The farmers hate the Jedi and blame them for all their misfortune, mercenaries are running unchecked, the moss-overgrown Jedi enclave is being picked clean by thieves, and you get confirmation that most of the characters you encountered or liked died horribly in the attack.
  • Mass Effect:
    • The atmosphere on the Normandy in Mass Effect just isn't the same after the mission on Virmire, where circumstances force you to leave either Ashley or Kaidan behind to die in a nuclear explosion. That change is accentuated by the background music changing to a somber tune.
    • A DLC for Mass Effect 2 allows Shepard to visit the crash site of the original Normandy. The mission consists solely of exploring the snow-covered wreckage in search of dogtags of Shepard's former crew, spots where they can experience flashbacks and a place to put the memorial statue on.
    • Mass Effect 3:
      • The game in general is fairly bleak, but Thessia takes the cake. The most advanced race in the galaxy, the asari, is getting ripped apart by the Reapers, and Shepard is forced to watch, helplessly, as the Reapers continue to pour in. Shepard also gets roundly defeated by Kai Leng, who steals vitally important data on the Catalyst and taunts Shep over it. It's about as close to a breaking point as Shep gets.
      • Of all things, the galaxy map gets this towards the end of the third game. When you return to the map after clearing the Cerberus Base, every single sector in the map has been dominated by the Reapers. You are literally unable to go anywhere but the Local Cluster to begin the final push towards Earth. It really drives home how everything is riding on the final mission to stop the Reapers once and for all.
      • Earth has been reduced to a grey, post-apocalyptic wasteland by the time Shepard gets there in the endgame. The whole mission has an aura of desperation as Shepard, their squadmates, and the rest of Hammer Squad race through London to get to the conduit, with Shepard and Anderson being the only ones to make it to the beam.
    • Mass Effect: Andromeda has H-047c, a world smashed to pieces by the Scourge. It's entirely dead, the player can only get out of the Nomad in special domes, and driving about the party members are utterly terrified, because if something goes wrong it's certain death.
  • Monster Hunter: World has the Rotten Vale, a massive boneyard filled with the remains of dead monsters, toxic gas, and deadly acid pools. It is revealed that the vale is not simply a mass grave for monsters: it is the final destination of elder dragons near the end of their lives, whose bodies subsequently provide nourishment for the beautiful Coral Highlands above.
  • Mother 3 has the abandoned Clayman factory in chapter 7. In previous chapters it was quite lively, in addition to the rest of the game at that point. But here, it's empty save for a few scattered sentry robots, all the machines have stopped running, and there's a unique piece of music playing: a very dark and depressing remix of one of the first mini-boss themes in the game.
  • Odin Sphere has the Netherworld, a bleak wasteland covered in skulls where the lights regularly go out and skeleton monsters, tentacles, ghosts and grim reaper-like enemies roam.
  • The purified zones in OFF. Everything is completely white with black outlines, all electronics are broken down, none of the signs are readable, there's nobody but demonic doll-like monsters inhabiting, and the music is a mix between an ominous music box, whispers, and someone banging on a door crying for help.
  • Pokémon:
    • Lavender Town and Pokémon Tower in particular from Pokémon Red and Blue. A dreary funeral town with a graveyard for Pokémon with eerie Creepypasta-inspiring music, Ghost-Types disturbing possessed trainers, and restless Pokémon spirits.
    • Mt. Pyre from Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. New Mauville, an abandoned power facility, uses the same bleak music, and definitely fits in the remakes, where the implications are that Wattson pulled the plug on the project because it was being powered with the life energy of Pokémon. The Abandoned Ship (Sea Mauville in the remakes), a shipwreck with a surprisingly dark backstory if you know where to look.
    • There's also the Old Chateau and Sendoff Spring from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, which are such a jarring change (the former is in a peaceful forest and the latter is along the road between two of the more upbeat towns in the game) that even the music they both share functions effectively as a Scare Chord.
    • The Strange House in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 is haunted by the ghost of a young girl who is strongly implied to have died in an incident involving Darkrai. The house is dark and spooky, and the furniture rearranges itself to force you to take a certain path.
    • Pokémon X and Y has Snowbelle City. Apparently, the source of all the snow is from the gym. The music doesn't help either.
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon:
      • Po Town. A dark and rainy town, Po Town is taken over by Team Skull and is surrounded by white walls, presumably supplied by the Aether Foundation. Its Background Music is somber and sounds more fitting for an abandoned mansion, and it's where you get to see what Team Skull is really like.
      • Abandoned Thrifty Megamart. It serves as one of the trial grounds, full of ghost types and haunted merchandise. The place is a mess, there are no lights, and the building is crumbling, due to Tapu Bulu destroying it since the Megamart was built on its territory. The music sounds incredibly wrong, having a constant static effect, cutting out frequently, and when listened on headphones, it sometimes stops playing through one speaker. You fight the Totem Mimikyu in the back room, only to find out it doesn't have a back room. Going in again reveals that the door you went through before is gone.
    • Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon builds upon Ultra Space, which was visited for a pretty short time in Sun and Moon and cannot be revisited. Some of them are quite jarring:
      • Ultra Deep Sea is the same location as visited in Sun and Moon and is as dark and dreary as it used to be...only now there's a small rock the player character can sit on, which will trigger Nihilego to slowly glide on down and attempt to brainwash him or her.
      • Ultra Desert is the homeworld of Pheromosa, and while it's quite a breathtaking, otherworldly sight to see, and it's full of bright, clean colors, it feels a little too clean, as if there is something missing from the place. The music is also a waltz that starts off with an elegant and refined feel but will occasionally drop into a minor key.
      • Ultra Ruins is the mother of it all, however. This is a Hau'oli City destroyed by Guzzlords. Whatever humans remain have to live underground and wear hazmat suits to not die, and on the surface, buildings have either been toppled over or are half-eaten. The music is also Hau'oli City's day theme, only played in reverse and sounding like it's being played on a barely functional radio.
    • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers, all of the dungeons explored in the Bad Future have a grim feel to them, dark colors being prevalent, and the music being similarly dark in its tone. They also tend to be crawling with Ghost, Dark, and Poison type Pokemon.
    • Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon manages to one-up the previous installments by making basically the entire last quarter of the game into this by literally sending you, your partner, and several of your allies to what is essentially Hell. The place is barren, filled with enemies of unknown species, and seemingly inescapable, as well as being one of the more difficult parts of the game. And even when you finally escape that part of the game, just to make matters worse, almost all of the NPCs are either missing from the world, or turned to stone and might as well be dead. The music is non-existent when it isn't flat-out horrific, and just to top it all off, the planet is about to fall into the sun and burn everyone who somehow isn't dead yet unless you can save the source of the planet's life from dying out, which it is while you traverse it.
    • The entire region of Hisui becomes this in the late stages of Pokémon Legends: Arceus. After calming the frenzied Noble Pokemon, your character wakes up the following morning to see that the dimensional rift that sent you there in the first place has suddenly become more unstable, casting the sky into an ominous, deep-red hue. The narrative takes a turn for the bleak as well, as your character is blamed for what has happened, you are exiled from Jubilife Village, and as you're led out you even get treated to the wonderful news that most of the townsfolk never actually trusted you to begin with. While the landscape itself never changes, the blood-red sky is visible no matter where you go throughout Hisui, and any background music has been replaced by a very unsettling, atonal ambient track that encapsulates the urgency of the situation, as the world inches closer toward being torn apart. Only by pacifying Dialga/Palkia (whoever it is depends on a choice you make late in the story) can you clear your name and avert the destruction of the entire world.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne turns the entire city of Tokyo transformed into this by the Conception. Humanity's dead, save for a few (who are rapidly driven to insanity), the few remaining buildings are separated by vast swathes of sand, demons are crawling everywhere, and an alien sun shines above.
    • Shin Megami Tensei IV features the depressing, ominous Monochrome Forest. As the name implies, it's a bleak, colorless expanse of vegetation. And it serves as headquarters for the Omnicidal Neutral White, unfathomably ancient entities of despair who want you to destroy the Magical Particle Accelerator that has been allowing you to travel between worlds. This will have the effect of unleashing a black hole through the Solar System, potentially dragging the multiverse to oblivion.
    • Persona 4:
      • The game features Yomotsu Hirasaka, the true final dungeon. Covered in fog and creepily stark with harsh, geometric architecture and a blue-and-red color scheme makes for a very alien-looking level, not at all helped by the utterly depressing music that constantly pervades. Fitting, considering it's an analogy for the entrance to the Japanese underworld. There's also Magatsu Inaba, the Killer's hideout. Unnerving red and black skies and a layout made of police tape, jagged metal, and broken highways serve for a clear visual representation of the Killer's twisted, disturbed psyche.
      • The Golden rerelease adds a new Bonus Dungeon that places the party in a representation of Marie's melancholy over her returned memories and subsequent decision to isolate herself from her only friends and experiences. She tries to convince the party to leave her, while the player explores dungeon floors consisting of ruined pieces of town landmarks and with names such as "Memories of Parting" and "Memories of Loneliness".
    • Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth has the Evil Spirit Club labyrinth, a pitch-black, eerie abandoned school/hospital that resembles something out of a Survival Horror game. Compounded with two truly horrifying-looking FOEs native to that level (which respectively resemble an aborted baby and an old-looking doll), one portion of the level involves the party's non-combatant, Rei, going out into a large, pitch-black room in order to find several keys to free the rest of the party. This also doubles as a major case of Mood Whiplash, as the previous dungeon had soothing music, cutesy romantic decor, and a hilarious Romance Sidequest. While the next dungeon, the Inaba Pride Exhibit, isn't remotely bleak (it's inspired by Japanese festivals, for one thing), its boss floor certainly is. All of the vibrant colors that made up the dungeon are gone, it is abandoned and dark, and a very somber reprise of the dungeon's theme serves as the BGM.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga:
      • Joke's End. In a game that takes place in the Beanbean Kingdom, whose culture in large part revolves around humor and which features regions with laughter-themed names like "Chucklehuck Woods" and "Teehee Valley", in comes this bleak icy level that is specifically stated to be a graveyard for bad jokes featuring some rather sinister music.
      • Woohoo Hooniversity. With a name like that, you might expect it to be cheery as the rest of the game. Nope, completely destroyed, broken down and overrun by freaks of science (strongly implied to be the mutated faculty) and man-sized versions of the viruses from Dr. Mario.
    • Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time:
    • Mario & Luigi: Dream Team:
      • Dreamy Mount Pajamaja Summit. While the lower areas of the mountain had goofy oom-pah music and featured the ham-tacular Massif Brothers, the summit has fairly depressing music, is mostly an ice level filled with drab colors and a fair lack of variety and which comes right in the middle of a Plot Tunnel that takes place when the whole real world is stuck asleep and completely inaccessible.
      • Dreamy Neo Bowser Castle. The regular Neo Bowser Castle has an exciting intensity to its ominousness that keeps it from being too eerie, but the Dream World equivalent has nightmarish chains and Bowser faces floating around and two musical tracks, a dirge-like one for the main portion and a harsh electronic one for Bowser's Dream, that give it a very sinister vibe.
    • Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam
      • Twinsy Tropics Dungeon is a literal dungeon where the heroes and several Toads are held prisoner, and the latter are forced into slave labor supervised by the Koopalings. When the Marios and Luigi make their escape, it becomes a weird No-Gear Level where they learn their Command Blocks have been confiscated and must track down the prison guards to get them back.
      • Luigi must sneak through the western section of Gloomy Woods, now haunted by Boos, on his own in a pseudo-Stealth-Based Mission, trying to find the two Marios (the second of which is held prisoner by King Boo himself, only freed during that battle).
    • Twilight Town from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is a dark and dreary town filled with shadowy ragdoll-like citizens who are slowly being turned into pigs every time a bell rings. After a suspiciously early boss battle with a bedsheet-ghost character named Doopliss, the boss takes over Mario's body and leaves him as a ghostly shadow.
    • Super Paper Mario
      • The Underwhere, despite its rather silly name, is far from pleasant. The place takes many cues from the Greek interpretation of the underworld, complete with its own version of the River Styx (a pink lake filled with disembodied hands called "River Twygz", complete with utterly terrifying gibbering in place of Background Music) and Expies of Hades, Charon, and the Fates. The way Mario and friends initially get there is by being outright assassinated by Dimentio, who very cruelly averts No Sneak Attacks. Fortunately, most of the locals are pretty friendly, and a Dragon Quest-style RPG battle against a Cerberus Expy lightens the mood significantly.
      • Sammer's Kingdom, after it's destroyed by the world being swallowed by darkness. There's little Background Music, and everything is a blank white, with the only thing breaking up the monotony of the background being the occasional fragments of buildings, reduced to outlines. Presumably, this would be the fate of every world that falls to the Void. It gets better, but it's incredibly depressing while it lasts.
    • Paper Mario: Color Splash has Black Bowser's Castle. While Prism Island is divided into sectors, themed on one of the colors of the rainbow with Port Prisma representing the entire visible light spectrum, this locaton and its associated locations have their color scheme based around black, and have a more serious tone than the rest of the game, with Mario stopping a bomb factory that could coat the entire world in toxic black paint.
  • Tales Series
    • Tales of the Abyss has Akzeriuth. The NPCs are all on the ground, sick from the miasma leaking all over the place and in desperate need of help. The music is subdued and the short 'dungeon' the player needs to traverse is straight-forward and not very fancily designed. It shows the player just how bad the situation in Akzeriuth is before punching the player by revealing that Van manipulated Luke into using his hyperresonance and killing the entire population of the town and the land itself.
    • Tales of Xillia sends the player onto the E.S.S. Zenethra that was overtaken by Exodus, a terrorist group, and the symmetrical and low-saturated color design of the place makes for an uncomfortable atmosphere. And then the area ends with Milla's senseless sacrifice.
    • Tales of Xillia 2 has another ship, which couples this as a very harsh Call-Back to the previous game, right down to a similar, bleak design. The player can and needs to save various injured NPCs within a time limit, one of your party members is having an existential crisis and the chapter ultimately ends with Alternate Milla's death, similar to Milla's death above.
  • The city of Cloudbank in Transistor slowly goes from a gorgeously-rendered art deco cyberpunk metropolis to a wasteland of white square columns over the course of the game as the Process slowly revert the entire city to a blank slate. Music that plays in the more heavily-processed areas tends to be more harsh and electronic mixes of previous songs.
  • Undertale:
    • New Home is colored in stark whites and grays and almost completely empty, aside from an eerie reproduction of Toriel's house and some NPCs who appear in "random encounters" to regale you with the tragic backstory of Asgore and his family. At first there's no Background Music, but then "Undertale", a touching symphonic remix of the game's opening theme "Once Upon a Time", starts playing...
    • If you go for the No Mercy route, all the trademark wackiness is slowly drained from the game as you murder all the goofy enemy encounters to extinction, the save points where the protagonist is filled with determination through strange, innocuous things around them are simply replaced with the number of enemy encounters left and then a flat "Determination" once you've wiped them all out, the colorful NPCs are almost completely absent and even the various puzzles are already solved once you get to them, as everyone is running like hell to get away from the genocidal psycho. Even the music becomes slowed down to the point of creepiness, and you get a special, equally-creepy song through the entire region once you've cleared it out. By the end of the game, the First Child erases the entire world from existence, leaving nothing but a black, windswept void until you offer your soul to them in exchange for restoring everything.
    • On the True Pacifist route, you'll explore the True Lab. It's dark, dilapidated, abandoned, and filled with hordes of scientific abominations that employ copious Interface Screw and can't be attacked. It contains numerous Apocalyptic Logs that display horrible accidents. The area's battle music also sounds very similar to the Cave of the Past, another bleak, depressing, and scary area. Note that this area comes shortly after a lighthearted extended cutscene where you help two characters try to get together.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has two: The Land of Morytha, the remnants of our world reduced to a wasteland infested with zombie-like creatures that are actually people that used Core Crystals in a last-ditch attempt to survive the results of Klaus' experiment, and Elysium, a desert with no signs of anyone having been there, human or monster, save some town ruins and its sole inhabitant being Klaus himself. The latter really exemplifies this trope, as it served throughout the entire game as humanity's last hope. To say that the sight of the real Elysium was a punch in the gut would be an understatement.

    Shoot'em Up 
  • Super Aleste's 12th and final stage: A Womb Level with organic enemies and a very grisly background.
  • R-Type FINAL's first stage, aptly named "Metropolis Quietus", is set in the wreckage of a fallen space colony, and has an uncannily disturbing atmosphere with its minimalist dark ambient music. The desert version of Stage 2 also qualifies, with its parched and cracked lakebed, withered trees, and soundtrack consisting mostly of howling winds.

    Simulation Game 

    Sports Games 
  • Luigi's Mansion in Mario Super Sluggers has ghosts, graves and a mysterious music in the middle of the night.


    Survival Horror 
  • The Morgue section of Stage 5 of Illbleed perfectly showcases just how terrible the titular park really is. Despite the name, it's not really a "morgue" as much as it is a series of catwalks suspended over an olympic swimming pool-sized pit filled to the brim with the bodies of dead park visitors.

    Tactical Role Playing 
  • Fire Emblem: Awakening features the Midmire, setting of Chapter 10, "Renewal", which takes place right after a Player Punch. You have to fight in the midst of a giant dragon's ribcage in the middle of a rainy wasteland, all while slow Sad Battle Music plays regardless of whether it's your turn or the enemy's. Furthermore, the Plegian soldiers you fight are deeply ashamed of their role in the events of the last chapter, with one unit stating outright to his sympathetic general that he would rather desert and face execution than fight against the Shepherds. So as if the previous plot context and battle setting weren't bad enough, the catharsis you might otherwise get from dispatching enemy troops is somewhat lost as well.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • While Don't Starve is a dark game, it's actually pretty easy to forget the dark themes due to the bright and colourful environments. Then there's the swamp biome. The ground is purple, tentacles pop up from the ground seemingly at random, and the few trees there are are all dead. And frogs and the fishmen. No, not fishermen, fishmen. Then comes Winter, and every plant dies for its duration, several animals disappear, and you realize that you are all alone in a barren enviroment, but you still need to eat, stay warm and fight back the insanity lurking in the darkness...
  • Minecraft has The End, a parallel dimension of pale stone islands in an unsettling void populated by alien horrors inspired by Slender Man. A slight change of tone for a game primarily known for such activities like punching trees and building statues out of brightly colored wool.
  • In the No Man's Sky universe brimming with countless vibrant, colourful planets, you will also find airless planets that are anything but. Instead of atmospheres in pleasant (not necessarily blue) colours, there is only floating dust and stars clearly visible at daytime. Instead of exotic flora in all colours of rainbow, there are only a few plants providing a bare minimum of crucial resources on the vast expanses of dust and rock (or snow in some cases). Instead of unique creatures wandering the landscape, there are only Gigeresque monsters that emerge from the ground to swarm anyone who touches the "whispering eggs". Instead of settlements populated by helpful people, there are only ancient ruins, monoliths and spaceship crash sites. Instead of music accompanying your journey, there is only eerie ambience.


Video Example(s):



The level starts with poor little Bentley alone in the middle of an incredibly fortified Interpol Prison area with vultures, werewolves, gargoyles, spiders and a goddamn tank patrolling the streets, Bentley worried that his only friends will be reduced to nothing by the Contessa's brainwashing. Plus the music is pretty foreboding as well.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / BleakLevel

Media sources: