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Wretched Hive / Video Games

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  • Kirkwall in Dragon Age II used to be the new heart of the slave trade for the Tevinter Imperium 600 years ago, but since so many slaves died in those walls, the boundaries between the Fade and the Real World weakened greatly, allowing easy possession of not just mages from demons, but regular people. There's constant crime on the streets at night from dwarf carta members, mercenaries, slavers, imposter city guardsmen, and blood mages. The Templars and mages are far more insane and extreme than they were in the first game, and their conflict ends up forming the game's main crisis, which eventually spreads from there into a continent-wide war across almost all of Thedas. Finally, this cesspool is under the watch of an Authority in Name Only.
  • Breath of Fire:
    • Bleak from Breath of Fire I is a town of thieves which are literally submerged in eternal night thanks to the magic of the Goddess' Dark Key. While most of the inhabitants aren't really that bad (outside the fact they steal for a living), the party can still get robbed if staying on the INN (unless the player buys a special item) or playing along a con man's game.
    • Syn City from Breath of Fire III is a more straight example, a typical den of thieves, smugglers and atleast one woman "selling what's not on the menu", plus the "organization", a criminal group which deals in a lot of illegal activities.
  • Everywhere in the Rogue Isles is the titular City of Villains. The Isles are actually run by scum and villainy.
    • Paragon City, the titular City of Heroes, has seen better days itself. Most of the world's superheroes died during the Rikti War, to say nothing of the havoc it wrought upon the world at large. Street gangs, emboldened by a severely weakened police department and hero population, brazenly harass and threaten citizens with their lives.
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  • Cyberpunk 2077: The entire United States of America has become this by the titular year, with rampant Mega-Corp corruption, evil governments, balkanized states and so on... and Night City is worse.
  • Turnscote in Dragon Quest VI.
  • Pickam in Dragon Quest VIII.
  • Fable II has the town of Bloodstone, a sort of Evil Counterpart to the town of Bowerstone: while Evil characters are treated with fear and suspicion in Bowerstone, in Bloodstone they are treated with respect.
    • Old Bowerstone also becomes this if, at the beginning of the game, you chose to dispose of the guards' arrest warrants.
  • Every Fallout game has at least one of these:
    • In Fallout, Junktown will become one if you help Gizmo and the Skulz gang take control. The Hub will also be on its way of becoming one if you side with Decker.
    • In Fallout 2 there is the Den (which is even referred to as such): an anarchistic community populated by drug addicts and slavers, and New Reno: a city dedicated to prostitution, pornography, gambling and bloodsports, run by a variety of constantly-feuding gangs, with no authority whatsoever in appearance. Redding may also become one if you have them ally themselves with New Reno.
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    • Fallout 3:
      • Paradise Falls is a town run by slavers. Characters can even improve their karma by murdering everyone in town except the slaves.
      • The Pitt is a Polluted Wasteland which, in addition to housing another group of slavers, is swarming with Wildmen and Trogs, former humans who have been driven insane or mutated by the Troglodyte Degeneration Contagion resulting from the high radiation and pollution.
    • In Fallout: New Vegas, there is Nipton, which, by the time the Player gets to it, is already razed by a more (albeit affable) evil entity, Vulpes Inculta, after he duped the town into capturing and killing some visiting NCR troopers on leave. Freeside can also count, although nowhere near the degree of Nipton. Poverty is essentially omnipresent, most of the population is homeless, and those that aren't live in absurdly poor living conditions, and despite the efforts of the Kings and the Followers, crime is rampant to the point where drunks, addicts and general thugs assault people in the streets in broad daylight. However, there are still some redeemably good people there (including the most moral faction in the game, actively trying to make the town a better place - which you can help achieve), unlike Nipton.
    • Fallout 4
      • Goodneighbor is the most downplayed example to appear to date. Upon first entering it, a guy tries to rob you, and the self-appointed mayor of the town guts him in the street for it. Goodneighbor is a tough place filled with druggies, ghouls, and drifters, but there are still things they won't tolerate in the town. You might get attacked by Raiders or Super Mutants the moment you set foot outside the town's walls, but it's reasonably safe inside.
      • The Nuka-World DLC takes place in the titular amusement park, which has since become a settlement for several raider gangs united under an "Overboss", with the previous occupants having been enslaved. By coming in and killing said Overboss, you take his place and can help them expand their claim on the park or even the Commonwealth itself.
  • Zozo in Final Fantasy VI is more of a dungeon than a city, since you run into random encounters in its streets and it has an end-boss. Every single person living in the town is a filthy liar. The boss of the area says something to the effect of "I hate fighting, so I'll just let you pass peacefully", then attacks you.
  • Most of Sector 7 (indeed, much of lower Midgar) in Final Fantasy VII.
  • Any city in the Grand Theft Auto series approaches this, though they may simply be Vice Cities.
    • All of America could easily apply, given all we hear about it, and Europe is apparently even worse!
  • Kras City, in Jak X: Combat Racing. The only genuinely good people you meet apart from Rayn even though that's an act seem to come from Haven, Spargus, or the distant past. The Jak games (since they went Darker and Edgier) are dedicated to the idea of "a few good people in a Crapsack World", so it's not too surprising.
  • Nar Shaddaa in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, a sprawling metropolis controlled by the Exchange, the Star Wars equivalent of the Mafia.
    • The Dreshdae spaceport on Korriban in the first game is a lot smaller, but still pretty wretched: everyone there is either an aspiring Sith out to prove their evilness, an actual Sith relaxing by kicking puppies, or a smuggler looking for somewhere to dump weapons they can't offload in civilized systems. The whole place is run by the slave-trading Czerka Corp, and the bartender is an arms dealer.
  • The concept of Outer Heaven reappears in a new incarnation in every other game of the Metal Gear Solid series: Outer Heaven (MG), Zanzibar Land (MG2), Liquids plan for Shadow Moses Island (MGS), Arsenal Gear (MGS2), and both Outer Heaven (company) and Outer Haven (submarine) (MGS4).
  • The Undernet in Mega Man Battle Network, vaguely based on the real-world Deep Web.
  • The desert Orre region from Pokémon Colosseum is practically run by the crime syndicate Cipher, on top of having the petty crime group Team Snagem to deal with, and Police Are Useless there even by the normal standards of the franchise. You know it's bad when the place has no wild Pokémon, both due to the inhospitable land and Pokémon likely wanting nothing to do with the place. Come the sequel it's been cleaned up slightly and wild Pokémon are starting to come back, but it's still a much worse place than most regions in the series.
  • Santa Destroy from No More Heroes and No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle.
  • Rogueport in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is a parody of this trope. The fact that this sleazeball town also features a shop that enlists people to help the other residents, most often with actual legitimate things as well, makes it all the more enjoyable.
  • Planescape: Torment actually starts with the player waking up in The Hive.
  • Blackthorne and the Space Pirate ports in Escape Velocity. One of them even quotes the "wretched hive" line from Star Wars.
  • If you thought Gotham City was bad, try Arkham City.
  • Empire City from inFAMOUS begins this way, but taking the good path can lead to the city cleaning itself up and return ing to the state of a bustling metropolis it once was. If you take the evil path, however, things take a turn for the worse, and soon not just the city, but indeed, the entire world, is in fact a Crapsack World.
  • The space station Omega in Mass Effect 2, which serves as the capital of the Terminus Systems, the lawless backwater of the galaxy where might makes right and slavery, among other things, is a vital part of the economy. However, the game makes a point of showing that many perfectly ordinary and decent people do live on Omega — they're just poor, desperate, or have nowhere else to go.
    Miranda: "Omega. What a a pisshole."
    • And, as an amusing inversion, there's Illium — it's a Wretched Hive, where drugs, slavery, arms-dealing and prostitution are omnipresent — but it's run by the artistic, diplomatic, ultra-civilized asari. Which means that it's all set against a backdrop of awe-inspiring Crystal Spires and Togas architecture, with a thin veneer of legality covering everything. Even the most brutally mind-scarring drugs are legal... as long as there's a truthful description of the effects on the package and a legal waiver. And it's not slavery, it's indentured servitude. Also Eclipse mercenaries have their hands in all kinds of illegal and legal operation there and their joining ritual is to kill someone. Garrus comments on it directly if you bring him there... "Look just a bit deeper, and this place is no safer than Omega." It's Planet Noble Demon; Upon arrival, guests are immediately greeted by armed guards and warned to not sign anything — "We're a whole planet of greedy bastards. If you don't like it, stay away. Otherwise, come on down and bring lots of money."
    • Ironically, the one stable leader in Omega, who is the closest thing they have to a ruler, concerned with keeping Omega running, is an openly ruthless asari too. Which can be also said about Omega itself. At least it's honest about being a wretched hive.
    • Interestingly, it is possible to help clean up Omega a little bit, at least by implication, in the Omega DLC for Mass Effect 3. If Shepard plays full Paragon, it gradually begins to get to Aria that she doesn't have to be as ruthless and violent as she is. Then when Nyreen dies to save Omega citizens, Aria takes that act to heart, and will even go so far as to spare Petrovsky's life at the end, and focus on rebuilding Omega and protecting its citizens. On the other hand, a fully Renegade Shepard will instead leave Aria filled with ruthless violence, and she'll choke Petrovsky to death with her bare hands and keep Omega in its brutal, lawless state.
    • There's also Noveria from the first game. A planet settled almost entirely by corrupt corporate executives and mad scientists. Absolutely everybody on that icy rock is trying to bribe/manipulate/kill you in some manner. And the orbital defenses? They're not pointed spaceward, but planetward. Just in case one of the mad scientists' experiments get out of hand.
    • Mass Effect: Andromeda has Kadara, a highly sulfurous planet that was originally a trading port for the angara, but when the kett invaded, most of the angara who didn't want to play nice with the Resistance set up shop there. And then the Initiative Exiles came in and took over the only remotely civilized place on the planet. Kadara Port itself is mostly safe... if you can pay the protection fees and don't piss off Sloane Kelly. Everywhere else is a warzone, with fighting between various gangs and native angara. The infighting was so bad the kett on the planet got annihilated in the crossfire and the few survivors are on the run, as opposed to the kett being in power on virtually every other planet they've a presence on in the cluster. And if you try venturing outside Kadara Port, you have to deal with bloodthirsty (and, in some cases, cannibalistic) outlaws and water so toxic (due to all the sulfur from volcanic activity) it'll either kill you in less than a minute if drank or just plain melt the flesh off your bones.
      Ryder: Is everyone on Kadara a lying bastard!?
  • Clint City from Urban Rivals. There's a police force, but they're even in terms of power and influence with the mob, the surf bums, and the denizens of the city zoo.
  • Thieves' Landing in Red Dead Redemption is Exactly What It Says on the Tin: A little gambling town in the bayou where you can't go a few seconds without a crime happening and the mini-game order of the day is either five-finger fillet or poker with a couple of cheaters.
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 has several.
    • Saint Denis, an industrial town based on New Orleans which is overrun with crime. Between pickpockets, crooked politicians, and an early example of the mafia running the city, it may be worse off than the Far West.
    • Annesburg in Roanoke Ridge isn't any better, being dominated by a ruthless coal mining company that has gun-toting guards everywhere, literally works its employees to death in wildly unsafe conditions, and brutally crushes any labor disputes. Leviticus Cornwall is a major shareholder in said mine, which would certainly explain most of that. Oh, and if you stray outside of town, you run the risk of being killed and eaten by a cave-dwelling hillbilly family.
    • The Van Horn Trading Post just south of Annesburg makes Thieves' Landing look like a convent, being a squalid, lawless port full of people who barely tolerate outsiders. The only buildings not abandoned or boarded up are the saloon, the inn/post office, and the local fence. Hell, the sheriff's office is a burnt-out ruin. To drive it all home, a random event involves two people picking a fight outside the saloon. If you intervene, there's a good chance one of them will pull a gun on you. And if you pull yours to defend yourself? You've suddenly got everybody in town shooting at you.
    • The Wapiti Indian Reservation is one of these by design, with the U.S. government sticking the tribe on land they cannot farm, cut off from decent hunting territory, no way to find gainful employment, and now they'll be moved to an even worse place because oil has been discovered under it. More than that, the local army commander is hideously abusing the Wapiti, tacitly ordering assault, rape, arson, murder and withholding medicine from the sick, all to provoke the tribe into a rebellion he can crush so he can look good.
    • The entirety of New Austin, with the sole exception of Tumbleweed. Once you reach it, you can see why it took so long for civilization to get there.
  • Many Dwarf Fortresses, especially the infamous Boatmurdered, end up like this. While crime is not quite implemented yet, invading thieves, tantrums, insanity, stupidity, accidents, the occasional vampire, and neglectful overseers more than make up for it.
  • Jubei from BlazBlue directly quotes this trope in Ragna's story mode.
  • Even though it lost much of its power in the backstory, the Tevinter Imperium in the world of Dragon Age definitely counts. The country is practically one giant empire where Blood Magic (read: magic specifically designed to control and murder people in the most horrific ways possible) is practically required by law, slavery is legal and exceedingly brutal, and those who are not mages are treated little better then the slaves. The sequel ups the ante by having one of Hawke's companions, Fenris, be a former slave to the Imperium, and he makes it perfectly clear just how horrible the place is.
    • And, if some of Fenris' dialogue is true, then the Imperium may be well on its way to reclaiming the power it lost to Andraste's rebellion and the fall of the Golden City. Oh, Crap!.
  • The city of Tortage in Age of Conan fits this trope. The city is a haven for pirates, prostitutes, slavers, smugglers, and other less than savory people.
  • Hector: Badge of Carnage has Clapper's Wreake, a complete shitstain of a city, with the main antagonist being a terrorist whose finally had enough of the corruption and decides to do something about it.
  • Markarth and Riften in Skyrim are both run by powerful and corrupt families. The Silver-Bloods run Markarth in all but name, while the Black-Briars run Riften. In Riften the corruption is so rampant that the near extinction of the Thieves' Guild based there has done nothing to reduce it. It's even worse in Markarth, since one of the Silver-Bloods is using the captured leader of the Forsworn to murder anyone he doesn't like (and disguising the assassinations as terrorist acts). And he doesn't have nearly as much control over the Forsworn leader as he believes.
    • And pretty much everyone else in Markarth is a Namira cultist.
    • Markarth has a house under complete control of the Daedra Lord Molag-Bal.
    • Markath at least can be made a better place by killing everyone involved in the criminal activities. Granted, that's pretty much everyone in Markath.
  • Dunwall in Dishonored is slowly but surely falling apart at the seams. The Plague has wiped out great swaths of the population, whole districts of the city have had to be sealed off as a result of it (and some have even flooded out), the upper classes are completely indifferent and content to continue their decadent lifestyles, the city watch is little more than a band of well-armed and state-sponsored thugs, and the ruling regime which came to power by usurping it from the Empress is deeply corrupt and oppressive (and they're the ones who unleashed the Rat Plague as an attempt to Kill the Poor in the first place). Depending on how much Chaos you accrue over the course of the game, Dunwall either eventually manages to get better, or descends into all-out anarchy.
  • The Mushroom Kingdom from Vector Thrust is rapidly turning out to be one- a collection of once-proud nations that fell victim to infighting and eventually nuclear attack. After several years of neglect by the rest of the world, the nations that still stand continue to war with each other over food and medication for their slowly dying population.
  • Stilwater in the first two Saints Row games. The police are corrupt as hell and useless, the city was perpetually infested with several gangs until the saints took over(then it was ruled with an Iron fist by a single gang), the local nuclear plant is heavily implied to be on the verge of going Chernobyl, every other street corner has some kind of crime or depravity occurring on it and pretty much everyone is some kind of asshole. The real power is an evil Mega-Corp that has no regard for human rights, ethics or people who aren't rich, and ultimately plans to kill the poor, bulldoze most of the city and rebuilding as a glass "utopia". It's questionable whether being run by the Saints is an improvement or not.
  • Lonetree in Secret Ponchos is a lawless town in the Wild West crawling with bandits, murderers and bounty hunters who only care about doing whatever they wan.
  • Luskan from the Forgotten Realms is a port town run by five pirate captains, and is full of villains of or sorts. It is visited in a few video games.
    • The second half of chapter 2 in Neverwinter Nights takes place entirely in this city, where the players a caught in the middle of a war between two pirate captains, one of which is composed of an army of wererats.
    • Sword Coast Legends features the city. Several quests can be completed here involving the city's pirates.
  • Los Angeles is depicted as this in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. Most of the city is secretly controlled by various factions of vampires who are all fighting for the control of the city, Kuei-Jin are running Chinatown with their leader posing as a benefactor while supporting the Tong behind the scene, there are at the very least three Serial Killers and plenty of mafia factions running around, an Apocalypse Cult is trying to spread a plague, werewolves live in Griffith Park, and if you commit a crime, the cop will just give up on pursuing you as long as you escape them long enough.
  • Sunless Sea has a few among its many islands:
    • The Isle of Cats, full of smugglers and pirates of all sorts. It's ruled by a Pirate-King, which would normally tone down the horrible stuff a bit, but he's the one entirely in charge of Red Honey smuggling, with Red Honey being a particularly horrifying Fantastic Drug. The entire economy revolves around it down there, and anything threatening the operation, even incidentally, is going to get imprisoned in the king's Rose Bushes. Much more horrible than it sounds.
    • Gaider's Mourn is the first and foremost haven for oceanic criminals of any sort, and from any nation. Commerce is almost entirely composed of illegal merchandise, stabbings in taverns are an everyday thing, and honest people are so much of a minority they get considered spies, and usually are killed.
    • Khan's Shadow. When the Khan decided he wanted to start the Khanate all over again, he decided he had to exile everyone that didn't fit with that vision, including his own warriors, any sort of criminal, and political undesirables in general. They all moved to this place, and it's now grown into a haven for smugglers, pirates, anarchists and bloodthirsty mercenaries.
    • The Chelonate. The stench of death chokes the air, and pretty much the only entertainment the locals have is killing stuff for fun. Usually, they kill leviathan-sized monstrosities, but tourists and other sailors dropping by are fair game anyways. Even when they try to be friendly (and they're good at it, though the sheer amounts of beer they have help), say the wrong thing at the wrong time and there won't be enough to bury of you.
    • Vienna has become this with time; regular revolutionaries were slowly displaced by the Revolutionaries, who have some terrible, shadowy goals, and generally disapprove of anything that resembles a government. The city's decayed, there's unnerving grafitti all over the place, and the situation's just tense enough in general that your captain wants to leave as fast as possible.
    • Speaking of anarchists, there's the Iron Republic. Even if it gets a lot less emphasis, due to the fact there is a much more prominent and concerning problem in the fact Hell repealed every law there was in here, including those of nature and physics, it's also a haven for people on the run from much more mundane laws, or that see pure entropy in action and enjoy it. If you want a mundane Bomb Throwing Anarchist, a Mad Scientist that's tinkering where the laws of reality won't get in the way of his dream (and benefit from their nightmarish projects), or devils that even other devils find a little distasteful due to their lack of organization and rules, the Iron Republic is your place to find them in droves.
    • Nook can qualify if you're not used to its brand of freedom. It's not a city or port so much as it is a conglomerate of people who wanted to abandon civilization completely and live in pure anarchy. There's orgies in plain view, no one is wearing any clothes and people can be friendly like they've known you years one moment and mug you the next; the place itself is also a bit unpleasant at times, considering your lungs will get tired of breathing water just from mere weight even if you can breathe it in the first place, there's hostile wildlife that'll mangle you every now and then with no one giving a shit and the deeper rungs are polluted with the habitat's internal fluids. Still, if you get used to it, the taste of freedom can be quite addictive.
  • The sequel, Sunless Skies, compensates for the lesser number of trash-heap towns by having one of the main hub cities be one of these: Pan, in the middle of Eleutheria. It's an anarchistic hellhole much like the Iron Republic, if not worse since its patron, a rebellious Judgement, is actively radiating anti-law all over the place, and keeps Pan itself as the refuge for outlaws. Outlaws of every kind, from those outside the laws of men to those that have broken Heaven's own rules. The middle of Pan is treated as a Truce Zone with a council, but anything outside is free game for awful turf wars.
  • Shadowrun Returns has several, most of which are mentioned in the tabletop version as well.
    • Seattle has several slums, most notably the Redmond Barrens, where the protagonist in Hong Kong grew up.
    • Berlin isn't that bad a place as wretched hives go, but there is no law extending beyond the barrel of a gun, and very little is clean and not fixed with gum and baling wire. It's the kind of place you go to disappear.
    • Chicago turned into one after it became a warzone between Ares Macrotechnology and a group of powerful insect spirits.
    • However, all these pale in comparison to the Kowloon Walled City, whose nicest bits are still worse than the Redmond Barrens. There are things in the shadows in the Walled City that will beat up the aforementioned insect spirits for their lunch money.
  • The deep web in Welcome to the Game. While a lot of it is exaggerated as per Rule of Scary, some of it is disturbingly Truth in Television.
  • Halstedom from Zeno Clash and Zeno Clash II. The largest city on the planet, stuck in a permanent state of anarchy where might makes right and life is short, it stretches from horizon to horizon and it's inhabitants are more often than not extremely violent and quick to anger.
  • The lower tier of Neo Hong Kong City in Strider 2. The place used to be the actual city of Hong Kong, but got pushed down when the modern upper tier was built and was abandoned by the wealthy, leaving it in a completely ruined state and its inhabitants, those of lower classes, having to deal with the Chinese mafia goons who have total control of the area.
  • The planet Ongess from Sunrider is a lawless and miserable place that has been exploited for its mineral wealth by every major galactic power throughout history. The planet is severely overpopulated, with habitats meant to house ten thousand people at most instead holding half a million. Food and water are scarce, disease is rampant, and toxic runoff from the planet’s Ongessite fuel causes many people to be born with birth defects. Little wonder that the place has become a breeding ground for pirates and slavers.
  • The Copper Coronet from Baldur's Gate II certainly qualifies. It's an inn, store, brothel, gladiatorial arena and fight club where most of the NPC party members can be recruited and where even more will go if asked to leave the party. The place is even located in the city slums. There are a pair of quests you can undertake to make it a little less wretched, but it still maintains this air throughout the game.
  • Ratchet: Deadlocked has the Shadow Sector, a lawless quadrant of the Solana Galaxy composed of planets with decaying ruins, abandoned space stations and hostile inhabitants free to do whatever they want due to the area having no govenment. In addition, it is also the home of DreadZone, an underground combat sport run by Gleeman Vox featuring kidnapped heroes made to fight in dangerous arenas.
  • In Miitopia, there is New Lumos, a city where the Dark Curse abandoned the monsters that even he couldn't control. The city itself has seedy downtown district vibes with gaudy neon lights, dilapidated buildings, endless rain, a dark city skyline, and tough enemies.
  • Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire has the island of Dunnage, the current headquarters of the Principi pirates. It's a surprisingly civil example of this trope, since the old guard of the Principi like to maintain a veneer of civilization (their ultimate goal is to build a new nation for themselves). It is still an island of pirates however — the first time you visit the inn in Dunnage you're treated to a scene where one pirate kills the other in an argument over how best to extract gold teeth. Also, the sole export of Dunnage is pirates.
  • In Speed Kills, the second planet on which races take place was formerly "an urban paradise", but has decayed into this, and is now dominated by criminals. (It's still a step up from the previous planet, which was devastated by nuclear war.)


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