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  • Id Software did this. Their earlier publication, Commander Keen, was a lighter hearted game that was quite intended for children and maybe relatively more innocent-hearted adults. Id Software is famous for popularizing the first person shooter in the form of Wolfenstein 3D and Doom.
    • Strangely enough the characters of all these games appear to be related, as discussed here
  • Bioware games as a whole have been going through this. Their first few games (Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, etc) were fairly idealistic High Fantasy games. Their later ones, though? The game worlds are grim, bloody and Crapsack World, Black and Gray Morality runs rampant, and almost every major quest (and quite a few sidequests) end in a Sadistic Choice where even the seemingly best option has disastrous consequences. Oh, and about 99.9% of the available party members have severely traumatic pasts.
  • When the first Metal Gear came out, people saw it as a little fun and cheesy action game with a twist on stealth elements. Then starting with the second game and the Solid series, It Got Worse. By the time of Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns of the Patriots, you could expect the world to blow up at any moment and can't do a thing about it. It's actually surprising that at the end of the series, that about 80% of all named characters died. For most of the time, it feels like there would be a lot fewer people to make it to the end alive.
  • The idealistic Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar was followed up with Ultima V, which involved resisting an oppressive tyrant using twisted versions of the very virtues the previous game was founded on to keep power. THAT was followed up by Ultima VI: The False Prophet]], which STARTS OUT with the hero narrowly avoiding being sacrificed as part of a terrible and brutal interspecies war.
    • And that trilogy was the Age of Enlightenment. Let's not get started on the Age of Armageddon...
  • Although the Fallout series isn't exactly cheery to begin with (what with being set in a post apocalyptic wasteland and all), the first 2 games mainly focus on various towns and civilizations rising from the ashes and trying to rebuild, and contained a lot of dark humour and pop culture references, especially Fallout 2, which is considered the silliest game in the series. Fallout 3, on the other hand, was much darker by comparison, being set in and around a sparesly populated and desolate Washington D.C., which was directly hit by the bombs, where every day is a fight for survival as towns and groups barely manage to stay alive. Because of this, it is generally considered the darkest and most depressing game in the series.
    • Fallout: New Vegas, however, swung back to the other side with a more populated, civilised area with a clear blue sky and various vegetation, full of different factions vying for control of the titular area, which was barely hit by the bombs at all. Because of this, it has more of a World Half Full feel to it instead of the pure grimness of 3. It also brought back a lot of the zany humour that was largely absent from 3. It's definitely not the lightest game in the series though, due to a large dose of Grey and Gray Morality in its main story, and some of the Nightmare Fuel DLC's released with it, especially Lonesome Road and Dead Money.
    • In a wider sense, the canon itself is supposed to be Darker and Edgier, with the developers stating they really don't like the comedic elements. However, since the comedic moments do draw a portion of their fanbase and the game is, in part, a dark satire of the 1950s, they have relegated some of the zanier comedy to noncanon status, never mentioning it in future games, glossed over it Broad Strokes style, or, in the rare case it is plot relevant, downplayed as much as possible
  • The shift in style between Jak and Daxter The Precursor Legacy and its successor, Jak II Renegade took place during the opening cinematic. In the original, the tone was light, the hero was a Heroic Mime, his rodential sidekick joked all the time, and the combat was minimal and hand-to-hand. At the beginning of Jak II the heroes traveled forward in time, released an extra-dimensional evil onto the world in the process, then skipped over two years of Jak being tortured under lab settings. After that, Jak got a voice, a sardonic attitude, a gun, and became a card-carrying Phlebotinum Rebel; Daxter got some dirtier jokes, and was dropped from the title. This Time Travel based change was a plausible way to change the world of the game drastically in one scene.
  • The original Double Dragon was already a gritty game to begin with, but the arcade version of Double Dragon II: The Revenge attempted to up the ante by killing off the girl from the first game, changing the objective from rescuing her to avenging her death. All the returning enemy characters were redesigned to look more punkish (Linda the female Mook for example, was given a mohawk and a chain whip) and the new bosses includes a masked wrestler who leaves behind his mask when he dies and an Andre the Giant-lookalike with Terminator-esque sunglasses whose stature dwarfs Abobo from the original game.
  • A much less successful video game example was Bomberman: Act Zero for the Xbox 360. That's right, Hudson tried to make Bomberman Darker And Edgier. To be fair, the original concept of Bomberman was rather dark (robot-like beings trapped in an underground arena and forced to kill each other with bombs) and the lighter feel of the original game was actually a compromise. However, none of the other games in the series make any references to Act Zero in any way, choosing to stick with the familiar Hello Kitty-esque Bombermen.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog is overall somewhere between Mario and Zelda in terms of creepiness, but its tone is lighter nowadays than it was when starting out.
    • The original series got darker as they went on. While Sonic 1 was already somewhat darker than most other mascot platformers, Sonic 2 introduced the concept of the Death Egg, a device with similar power to the Death Star. You also see Tails get shot down before your eyes as you engage Wing Fortress, and are met with the first Evil Knockoff in Silver Sonic. A lot of the zones in the game are grimmer, such as an ocean full of oil. Sonic the Hedgehog CD has Bad Future versions of each of its zones, and an overall higher concentration of Nightmare Fuel than the Sonic games before it. The US version also added a soundtrack that featured very somber bad future themes and boss and game over music worthy of horror games. Sonic 3 and Knuckles started with the Angel Island zone set on fire by Robotnik's forces, and then features creepy ancient ruins full of ghosts, treachery, Electric Torture, and a climactic battle in the vacuum of space.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball features a much darker and grimier aesthetic than the main series games. One of the bosses actually shows the animal robotization process in horrid detail.
    • The Sonic Adventure series goes beyond Sonic games prior to it in intensity; the first deals with large-scale destruction dealt to modern cities by creatures reacting to atrocities committed by ancient civilizations led by tyrannical, abusive fathers, and the second surpasses THAT by dealing with use of "weapons of mass destruction" (and yes, they are actually called that in the game) to threaten whole countries, a military conspiracy involving the deaths of numerous innocents in a space colony, and threats to the survival of the entire world from anguished people with a vendetta against it. A case can be made for this game's 'Final Story' being the grimmest part of any game in the Sonic series. Gerald's diary is pure Nightmare Fuel, containing such lovely lines as "I lost everything, I had nothing more to live for, I WENT INSANE!" (this part is helped by the fact that Gerald's voice actor was actually really good).
    • Shadow the Hedgehog, where Sonic's Evil Twin Shadow (introduced in Sonic Adventure 2) was given the chance to drive cars, shoot guns, and brood over his purpose in life. Occasional cursing was added to the US version.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 attempts to toss Sonic into a hyper-realistic world, where he protects a princess who is the container of Iblis, one half of Solaris, a time god from Eggman. Along the way, he, Shadow, and Silver deal with a conspiracy where it is revealed in the final storyline Sonic dies to upset Elise to release Iblis ancient monster from her body, allowing that and the other villain, Mephiles, to merge to form Solaris, slaughtering the entire space-time continuum in the process. And then Elise kisses Sonic, reviving him with the power of the Chaos Emeralds, and restoring the space-time continuum from the damage dealt by Solaris, in the process.
    • Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood.
    • In Sonic Unleashed, Sonic gets a Super-Powered Evil Side that is the Werehog. However, the Werehog can also be considered a partial subversion of this trope, seeing as he has many comical-looking moves, not to mention his stretchy arms -- also, Sonic himself takes the whole thing in stride rather admirably.
      • And then, the game explicitly tells you that the only reason why Sonic isn't massacring everyone is because he's got a will of titanium laced with diamonds, and that's what's keeping his Werehog side from going on a total rampage. The Werehog is very much not harmless at all, it's only Sonic's willpower keeping it on a leash that manages to somehow defuse its threat factor.
    • Sonic Colors is significantly more lighthearted in tone, almost having a saturday morning cartoon approach to it, despite Robotnik's evil schemes getting even more dangerous and threatening.
    • Sonic Generations is somewhat dark, with the whole concept that when Sonic's friends were turned into statues, their souls were left floating in a dark, endless void. However, the plot is rather irrelevant to the proceedings and minimal.
    • After Sonic Lost World's severe dive into Black Comedy and Denser and Wackier, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric backpedals to the tone of the Genesis originals.
    • Sonic Forces goes even further, with Sonic battling a seemingly victorious Eggman in an utterly decimated city. Infinite, the new villain, delivers some of the darkest lines the games have ever had, kills members of the Resistance, and has a penchant for inducing despair in his enemies. Eggman also tortures Sonic for six months on end.
      • (If you want to see Sonic get REALLY grim, see the Comic Books section)
  • The teaser trailer in Kingdom Hearts suggested that Kingdom Hearts II would be Darker And Edgier and involve people in black raincoats fighting in a dark city.

 Ven: I'm asking you, as a friend. Just... put an end to me.

  • While on the subject of Disney related games, Epic Mickey for the Wii had concept art of creepy steampunk cyborg versions of both Mickey Mouse and Goofy. The artwork really speaks for itself. For a Disney game, that is pretty damn dark.
    • Epic Mickey has a different kind of dark to it. Rather than dealing with Body Horror robotic chimeras of our favorite Disney characters like first expected, it's about the consequences of Mickey's irrationality and how he must make up for it.
  • In the 90's, the space sim genre dominated by X Wing and Wing Commander wasn't exactly sunshine and rainbows to begin with. But then Free Space appeared with a much more serious tone, but it also got far surpassed by Free Space 2, which was even darker and edgier and comparable in mood to Halo: Reach, if anything.
  • Advance Wars: Days of Ruin is clearly Darker And Edgier than the other three Advance Wars games, which sometimes bordered on silly. It pulls it off just fine, thanks in part that it's a brand new continuity, plus the fact that it recognizes that adult themes don't necessarily mean throwing out all humor. It works because the setting is After the End but the survivors are trying to make the best of things. The doctor exemplifies this, saying that it's times like this you need to laugh. The last mission is called Sunrise.
  • The original Rayman was packed to the brim with cheery, bright colours, silly characters and all sorts of silly things that make its sequel, Rayman 2: The Great Escape, look extremely grim in comparison. Fortunately, the latter also added an additional sense of mystery and wonder, not to mention consistency, to Rayman's world, so it all works out.
    • Afterwards, the slide is balanced in Rayman 3, which has dark visuals but lots of comedy, and pushed beyond the cheeriness in the Rabbids series and Rayman Origins.
  • Painkiller could be said to be the dark cousin to Serious Sam. Both are FPSes recreating the old-skool style of gunning down massed Mooks in War Sequences, but where Serious Sam's levels are bright and colourful with fantastic and cartoonish monsters, those of Painkiller are grim and subdued with hellish dark fantasy-style beasts. It is worth noting, though, that the two titles are done by different companies of different nationality (Croatian Croteam for Serious Sam and Polish People Can Fly for Painkiller), though, so this comparison may be the fault of a mind that thinks too much.
    • Moreover, when Serious Sam was released, some reviewers thought that the game was a bit too bright, light-hearted and silly, which didn't exactly keep up with the game's old-school Doom and Quake influence, or in one reviewer's words, "too Braindead and not Aliens enough". With its significantly meaner attitude, it looks like Painkiller was the game these reviewers wanted Serious Sam to be.
    • Considering Serious Sam not only recreated but also parodied the "gunning down masses of Mook" gameplay (and gleefully lampshades its parodies), it seems said reviewers completely missed the point.
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon 2 Explorers of Time/Darkness. While the first game's offered a character that simply tried to ruin your protagonists' lives and was a cosmic Jerkass, the sequel goes further by sending your protagonist duo to the literal End of Days, having to face down a legendary Pokémon that has become an evilly subverted primal force of nature, and a Big Bad who not only traps children in unending nightmares, but also poses as an "ally" who suggests that it's all your fault and the best way to fix things is to kill yourself.
    • Pokémon Platinum. In Diamond/Pearl, we get Dialga and Palkia, and the Team Galactic storyline (which was already more intense than that of any prior villain) ends at the Spear Pillar. In Platinum, we get Giratina's shadow interrupting the proceedings from another dimension, and have to carry the chase onwards into the Distortion World. Nothing lives in the Distortion World except for Giratina, making it a literal Ghost World. It's just...eerily calm. It also has some issues with proper gravity.
    • Black and White definitely qualify, too - the game does not in fact end with the Champion as in the previous four generations, the villainous team takes a much heavier role in the plot than before, the plot itself is much less of an Excuse Plot, and on top of all that we also have the single most despicable villain in the series.
    • Just look at the title screens. The first gen features the protagonist Red with the first stage of the version mascot. The second gen shows the version legendary flying above the clouds/swimming in the ocean while heroic music is playing. The third gen's theme tune is already a lot more eerie, with the title screen showing the version legendary in a volcano/the bottom of the ocean, with only its silhouette and glowing lines clearly visible (the actual games weren't too dark aside from the stuff involving said legendaries, though.) Then the fourth and fifth gens comes along and you get a creepy piano and ominous remix of the main theme (respectively), with the version legendary standing in a glowing void, and a Scare Chord playing upon hitting start, or in Platinum and Gen V's case, the version legendary screaming at you.
    • You can also see the increasingly darker and edgier nature of the pokemon universe by looking at the main bad guys:
    • Pokémon Colosseum, the Nintendo Gamecube Spin-Off series set in Orre, is like this. The first game stars a Pokémon-stealing Anti-Hero from the Team Rocket-like organization running off with a prototype Pokémon-theft device in a desolate desert land, with more than few shades of Used Future. He eventually discovers a plot to "seal the hearts of Pokémon" -- while it sounds really cheesy when you put it that way, it actually involves removing all sense of compassion from a Pokémon so that its primal bloodlust can be unlocked. The second game was Lighter and Softer in comparison, but was still set in Orre, which, even when "cleaned up" significantly, is still pretty grim.
    • Orre, by the way, is officially based off the American Southwest, Arizona in particular. Thinking of Arizona as a Mad Max wasteland is amusing.
  • Done well for the nightmarish Twisted Metal: Black. To put this in perspective, Twisted Metal began as a series about a burn victim inheriting genie like powers, and putting on a no holds barred kill or be killed destruction derby in densely populated areas between maniacs with heavily armed vehicles. They went darker from there.
  • Rather than an adorable Astro Boy-esque android, the Blue Bomber of Mega Man X is a morally conflicted hero. Similarly, the comical Dr. Wily was succeeded by Sigma, a ruthless (and seemingly indestructible) robot bent on the total annihilation of the human race. It was still done rather well, Capcom Sequel Stagnation aside. Admittedly, the series got even darker once it left Nintendo consoles. Still, apparently Capcom knew when enough was enough, as a later series in the franchise, Mega Man Legends, significantly dials down the angst with less hard-edged artwork, a more reasonable difficulty level, and a comical cast of characters.
    • Mega Man Zero was hands down the darkest in the series, what with the hero being on the losing side of the war (at first), giving the players the "pleasure" to see countless allies die. Not to mention the horrible Backstory (bridging this series with X), which later gets incorporated into the main plot, and a truly Omnicidal Maniac Complete Monster as the main Big Bad...
    • ZX was lighter than Zero...except for the backstories of the four protagonists, the general atrocities caused by the antagonists, and Giro falling victim to Zero's death curse. It was still done well.
    • Mega Man 7 is a classic example. It turned Mega Man into a Perpetual Frowner, removed the happy expression on the One Ups, and Mega Man tried to kill Wily in all versions, including the American Kirby is Hardcoreless version.
      • Super Adventure Rockman introduces an utterly diabolical villain on level with those found in the Zero series, features plenty of creepy death scenes, and the game over screen either shows Roll dying or the villain taking over the world and killing Wily's robots.
    • Mega Man Star Force was definitely darker than its predecessor, Battle Network...somewhat. Appearances can be deceiving. Geo Stelar starts out being understandably depressed about his dad to the point where he won't go to school... But his depression quickly lifts the longer The Power of Friendship thing hangs around (Then it hits a roadblock when Pat betrays him and Geo goes into a short-lived fit of Wangst). Star Force actually lightens up quite a bit after this point. The anime and manga were more comedic in nature (The latter a lot more so, like the Zero manga).
      • However, the sequel contains one of the darkest plotlines in the entire series. The Apollo Flames "second quest" involves an alternate universe After the End scenario where every human has been killed off thanks to the Precursor To Ruin.
      • The third game has some decidedly un-cheery plot elements, such as two war orphans trying to use an Eldritch Abomination to destroy the world's technology, a corrupting, quasi-Hate Plague, and one character being killed before Geo's eyes (Luckily they turn out to be Only Mostly Dead).
  • In Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, the likable prince of the previous game had apparently given up both shaving and civility after years of being chased by the Dahaka. The game also became more combat-heavy, and threw out the atmospheric Middle-Eastern soundtrack of the previous game for fist-pumping heavy metal. Oh, and the lesser antagonists are women in Stripperiffic outfits, one of whom is introduced with an extreme close-up aimed directly at her thong-clad ass. Though the third game scaled back on the GRIM DARK while keeping the improved combat system.
    • Meanwhile the Two Thrones is darker in the sense of storytelling, pitting the Prince against the darker and edgier persona of himself
  • Not even an obscure series like Snowboard Kids can escape this trope, with the DS installment gutting nearly everything that gave the earlier games their quirky charm for the sake of appealing to teenagers. Neither the critics nor the small but dedicated fanbase were amused, which possibly spells doom for the franchise.
  • Though Halo started off fairly grim in the first place, as the series progressed it went ever deeper down the tunnel. By Halo 3 there's some serious nastiness going on, especially regarding the Flood and the Nightmare Fuel inherent to some of Cortana's messages.
    • The story goes that the original script for Halo 3's ending had a much lighter tone, with all the main characters returning to Earth to a hero's welcome. Marty O'Donnel, Bungie's musical director, thought that this ending was too light and soft and didn't portray the grim consequences of being a "hero" in a 30-year war. Subsequently the script was re-written to have a much Darker And Edgier ending in which several main characters die and Master Chief is stranded in deep space with Cortana, presumed dead by the rest of humanity.
    • Halo: Reach is supposed to be the darkest depressing game thus far since you already know everyone what will happen to you, your comrades and the planet itself . It's about the heroism and sacrifice of those people on a doomed planet watching their friends and everything they love fall. Hell even look at the medals when you perform a feet (Double Kill/Triple Kill), in Halo 3 they were bright and brightly colored, in Reach they are darker, and look metallic, yes even these meta-game symbols are darker AND edgier.
  • Devil May Cry 2 was clearly made under the assumption that the overblown camp of the first game was a bad thing, and decided to play the B-movie setting straight, as evidenced by changing the stylish wise-cracking, cowboy-esque, demon hunter Dante to a generic, stoic badass who barely gets any lines. It might also have to do with the fact it was rushed into production without informing or involving the original creators. To say the least, it didn't turn out well. Capcom made up for it with a return to the appeal of the original with Devil May Cry 3.
    • Dante in Devil May Cry 4 grew up and apart from bishounen self in previous installments, sporting five-o-clock shade and somewhat cynical and wisened behaviour.
    • This appears to be what Ninja Theory is going for with DmC, which is a reboot featuring a younger, more rebellious Dante. Many fans complained that this "emo" kid wasn't the "real" Dante, ignoring the fact that the design isn't too far off from DMC 4's Nero, who wasn't the "real" Dante either, and completely eclipsed him in the promotion. He even has the a similar hoodie-and-trenchcoat look. Also, the new Dante seems to be more cocky and punk rock than emo.
  • Done in Grand Theft Auto IV, replacing the cheesy crime dramas with an immigrant story wrapped in a crime drama, while retaining the humor.
    • If anything, people complain because Niko wasn't dark enough.
    • The current generation of Grand Theft Auto IV plays to a cynical darker tune. The Lost and Damned DLC turns the Grim Dark Up to Eleven, with the protagonist Johnny partaking in a series of events which leads to the death of his best friend Jim at the hands of Niko, being betrayed by childhood friend turned Big Bad Billy Grey who tries to have Johnny and Jim killed during a drug deal and later attempts to sellout everyone to save his own ass after said drug deal gets him arrested, and said arrest leading to a civil war that wipes out more than half of the Lost. Once everything is over with Billy dead, Johnny and the survivors of the whole ordeal (One of whom happens to be a paraplegic crippled in an accident caused by Billy's carelessness) decide to just burn down the clubhouse to put it out of its misery after it and the club have been ruined over the course of the game. This leaves the player with a single, run down safehouse that is in one of the most run down areas of the city and used to belong to one of the Lost members Johnny had to kill in the civil war. Damn.
    • Subverting the first two main stories of the IV generation, the last IV DLC The Ballad of Gay Tony went in the Lighter and Softer direction, with the return of some over the top elements of games from the III era, and an overall happy ending that doesn't end in the deaths of any major characters close to the protagonist Luis or anything being left in ruins.
  • The original Super Mario Bros was fairly light and soft, with a generic "save the princess" story, fairly comical villains, and overall cartoony style. Super Mario Bros 2 had more of a "seeing upon waking what you saw in a dream" story, and introduced a variety of spookier enemies, like the Sparks, the Albatosses, (no, that's not a typo) the mousers, the tryclydes, the fryguys, and let's not forget the ESPECIALLY intimidating Phantos. Even the hawkmouths eventually become enemies. It's also the first Mario game to involve the use of bombs. Of course, many of the introductions are due to it being a Dolled-Up Installment of another game. Super Mario Bros 3. featured Bowser with a heavily-stocked military and necromancy, and the climactic area resembles Hell, with pits of fire, endless military caravans, and creepy white hands that drag you into a void.
    • Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door is darker and edgier than the first Paper Mario. The first example of many that this game will be darker than the last is probably the gallows in Rogueport's town square. This is also a game in which Mario does jobs for the Mafia. Nonetheless, the whole thing is fairly cheery and innocuous.
    • Mario and Luigi went the same kind of way with the second game (Partners in Time), with the second game being based around an alien invasion of the past Mushroom Kingdom and having places like Toad Town and Princess Peach's Castle turned to ruins by the Shroobs, and some rather creepy things as background detail and music. It actually introduces a Christmas-themed village solely to destroy it less then five minutes after your arrival.
      • Toad Town. Literally just pieces of rubble tossed around. Compare to Toad Town of Bowser's Inside Story. Even Peach's Castle from the latter isn't so... Devastated and dangerous as Shroob Castle!
    • Mario Strikers Charged did this in a tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top way.
    • And let's definitely not even get us started on the times when Bowser unexpectedly comes back to life as a zombie and when Bowser tries to take over outer space.
    • Mario Party 4 can be seen as Darker and Edgier than the Nintendo 64 installments - with its psychedelic music, and its somewhat more serious tone - in fact, while the rest of the world gave it the same age rating as the earlier games, it got a G8+ rating in Australia. Strangely, the next three installments took on a more childish tone than the N64 installments.
  • The original Super Smash Bros was a cartoony fighting game with cute Nintendo characters and cartoony sound effects, and the artwork was done in a comic book style. The sequel, Melee, was not as cartoony, had more realistic sound effects, the characters had more realistic appearances, and some of the playable characters were villains. The second sequel, Brawl, went as far as to portray the characters as more aggressive (even the happy-go-lucky ones like Yoshi and Mario), an adventure mode where each character once again acts, to some extent, out-of-character (though you wouldn't know it from the lack of dialogue), and two of the newcomers have stuff that is inappropriate for a Nintendo game: Wario has a flatulence attack, and Solid Snake not only comes from a game series known for its violence, making him look unprofessional amongst all those cute Nintendo characters, but as a secret, he makes, along with his contacts, witty comments about every character. Let's not get started on what they'll do in SSB4...
  • Conkers Bad Fur Day was originally going to be a kid-friendly platformer starring a cute little squirrel in a blue hoodie. Indeed, the predecessor Pocket Tales had that tone. Early screenshots of the game met a chilly reception from the gaming community, saying it looked suspiciously like a weak Banjo-Kazooie knockoff (a fair criticism--the collection platformer was a genre which had plagued Rare around the turn of the century, resulting in the decent but largely unpopular Donkey Kong 64 and Star Fox Adventures). In response, Rare kept the cute squirrel and the platforming, but changed just about everything else, adding enough sex, gore, and profanity to make it perhaps the most perverse title ever released for the N64.
    • Ironically enough, the port for the Xbox was less offensive due to enforced censorship on swear words. That idiots blamed on Nintendo. (Never mind that Nintendo in fact did not censor the N64 version, except for F-bombs.)
  • Not to pile on DC Comics again... but they did agree to make a crossover game called Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. Mortal Kombat itself is the Darker and Edgier version of every other fighting game (ironically, the crossover was Lighter and Softer for the Kombat side. Or at least, its trademark violence).
    • The series itself seems to get darker every other installment.
  • The unreleased Playstation game Thrill Kill is the Darker and Edgier form of Mortal Kombat. Yes, that is possible. The game was never released because it got an AO (Adults Only) rating for being too gory and sexual (AO-rated games are not allowed on consoles, San Andreas being an exception), and because Virgin Interactive was bought up by EA Games, who refused to release something like this.
  • As the Command and Conquer Tiberium series has progressed, it gradually went from being a fairly dark modern world-war with Green Rocks mixed in to a brutal struggle to simply survive a planet that's dying under alien terraforming.
    • Example: in the first game, the worst thing to happen was one faction slaughtering a village and blaming it on the other; Tiberium was a minor nuisance when it was growing in the wrong place. In the third, Tiberium growth had reached catastrophic levels, over half of the world is in a state of anarchy, another world war breaks out and all that is topped by an alien invasion. How's that for Darker and Edgier? Though Word of God said that the fourth game is even worse with an Enemy Mine going on and YET ANOTHER visit from the Scrin on the horizon.
    • Thankfully the Tiberium growth was stopped in the 4th series, but by no means the war is over. All this means is that Tiberium will no longer threaten the world as now anti-Kane Seperatists have their own agenda. And the Scrin remains to be a problem... or rather, they would if EA hadn't forgotten about them.
    • On the other hand, the Red Alert series has headed in the opposite direction as that series progressed.
      • Actually, it's Darker and Softer. If not for the fact that the series got weirder and weirder with each game, it would be quite disturbing.
  • Super Robot Wars recently had a slightly Darker And Edgier tone with Z being that a famous hero of an original franchise is given an evil spinoff. You can't save both psycho girls from Gundam and the bad ending route is possible again. Mind you this is as far as they go.
    • It only gets really Darker And Edgier if you pick Setsuko's route. Rand's route has several Camp elements and mostly considered light hearted. But Setsuko's route is just throwing you lots and lots of Break the Cutie moments to the poor heroine, and in the end... she doesn't get completely better...
    • It is darker compared to past games. There are personality issues and infighting with nearly all the members or your team for most of the game, you are duped and betrayed several times throughout the game. All the original villains are more or less Complete Monsters, with the guy who does the worst things arguably the kindest since he isn't a psychotic bastard in it for the evil. Also your team at one point literally splits into factions and tries to kill each other with no Brainwashing involved. And the ending is bittersweet as some people are lost. It's pretty dark.
    • You actually can save both crazy Gundam girls if you plan carefully. Compare it to SRW A, where you are forced to choose between Master Asia and Gai Daigoji and can't save both no matter how hard you try. The storyline of Z is still dark as far as SRW games go, though.
    • Super Robot Wars Z 2 continues the dark trend with some Doomed by Canon to boot!
  • Final Fight: Streetwise is a good example why you don't make it so damn Grim Dark. And they forgot our favorite Transsexual Poison? For shame, for shame.
  • The Tekken games have both been an example and subversion of this trope. While the games have become more story based and darker (What with Jin's Wangst and all) they've at the same time introduced increasingly ridiculous elements like kickboxing kangaroos, endings where people are launched into space or blown up with bow ties, and training dummies that communicate through nonsensical clicking noises.
  • The Call of Duty series has the weird example of becoming darker and edgier three separate times throughout the series. Call of Duty 1, 2, and 3 were all T-rated World War II shooters which while showing the intensity and violence of war, weren't really that brutal or dark, all of them had happy endings for their protagonists. Call of Duty 2 and 3 were slightly darker and edgier versions of Call of Duty 1, but not by much only with minor cursing and intense hand-to-hand combat respectively. Modern Warfare amps it up with an M rated, major cursing, more violence, and a significantly darker story in which almost every major character dies, including one of the main characters by nuclear explosion and a lot more pessimistic view of things. And then World At War comes out which amplifies Modern Warfare by two, with a curse word being in every second sentence, dismemberments and charred corpses being standard fare, the opening mission which has one of your squadmates brutally tortured and his throat slit by a Japanese officer, and enough war crimes to fill an encyclopedia, especially by the more sadistic Soviets who are also supposed to be the good guys.
    • Modern Warfare 2 tops that off with you getting to witness your character being burned alive FROM FIRST PERSON.
    • Modern Warfare 3 is also quite dark, simply put the moment the cover went from men heroically attempting to break past the enemy lines to a silhoutte of a soldier with a gun was when the series became dark to the point of no possible return. Oh, and everyone except Price dies as usual.
    • Call of Duty Black Ops goes even further, with the gore being amped to 11, in addition to the entire plot revolving around your teammates torturing you, not to mention the scene were Weaver gets his eye dismembered and that Reznov, your main ally in the game is a hallucination. However, none of those top the fact that that you are the assassin of John F. Kennedy.
      • And then there is the upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. The reveal trailer literally states that the future is black.
  • Elevator Action featured an agent named Otto and was more spy themed, shooting down agents. Elevator Action Returns, however...did that.
  • Ratchet: Deadlocked (and, arguably, Up Your Arsenal) was obviously targeted towards a more mature audience:
    • Ratchet's new outfit hides his tail (and head throughout most gameplay) and makes him look suspiciously like Samus or Master Chief. (Likely intended to be the latter, considering the era it was released in.)
    • Clank, although still having a major role, had his name removed from the western titles, likely to make the game seem less friendship-themed.
    • The humour is less reliant on slapstick situations compared to the first two entries.
    • The weapons are often considered more "realistic" than those in the rest of the series, although that does not say much (even by sci-fi standards).
    • The subtitle is not an obvious innuendo like the previous two games, although the innuendo subtitles tend to get replaced outside of America.
  • Star Wars Republic Commando is dark to the point where some people complained it wasn't very Star Wars-like. For starters, no Opening Crawl is present, and there is blood and gore in heavy levels for a T-rated game. It's a first-person shooter in which you play as a clone trooper, and the scale, far from epic, is outright tiny. Not actually a bad game, but definitely darker. The Star Wars Expanded Universe is veering towards this fast these days.
  • Massive, massive change in mood between R:1 and R:2 in .hack. The good AI are dead or apathetic, and players have gone from dealing well with depression to psychosis. It's possible that the third "season" R:X is trying to regain the innocence.
  • Team Fortress 2 parodies this somewhat; in contrast with the increasing violence and realism seen in many current online FPSes, all the characters look like they're from a Pixar movie. It's gory, yes, but a game where the standard infantry character was rejected from the army during WWII and got on a plane to Poland, going on a Nazi killing spree (in 1949) and awarding himself medals that he made for himself can't be anything but outlandish and silly.
  • American McGee's Alice is almost a literal definition of this.
  • There is some of this between The Elder Scrolls III Morrowind and The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion where major plot points are concerned. Not only does the player character in Oblivion spend the main quest helping the Empire's last heir sacrifice himself in order to provide a stopgap against demon invasion while simultaneously eliminating any possibility of such protection in the future, Oblivion also has the Dark Brotherhood series of quests wherein the player character can actually become an assassin with all that this entails. Further, many of Oblivion's NPC dialogues discuss events in Morrowind and involve events that overturn previous cheerful endings, such as Vivec disappearing and Ald'Ruhn being burned down. At the same time though it also censors a few in game books, and makes the gameplay much softer (the only way to fail most quests is your death or bugs).
    • Rather, Morrowind is lighter on the surface. Daggerfall featured nudity, graphic texts in books, insane dungeons, disease is instant death if not cured in time, etc..
    • If you include the spinoffs, The Elder Scrolls constantly went through two phases of going Darker and Edgier. Arena was pretty light, Daggerfall was darker, Battlespire pushed the darkness as far as it could go. Then Redguard went back to square one, followed by Morrowind and Oblivion being progressively darker.Skyrim meanwhile goes...in a bit of a zigzag. The world in Morrowind was pretty Crapsack, but you make it better. Oblivion is in a Crap-saccharine world. Skyrim goes right back to a crapsack world...even worse than the world in the previous games! Yet the story ends on a pretty idealistic side.
  • Donkey Kong Country 2 was subtly darker than the previous, while also being lighter due to some of its more goofier and humorous aspects. Kremlings were now pirates that wielded weapons, but many of them were ripped right out of the first game, and given a coat of paint. King K. Rool, simultaneously became a more formidable and cunning villain by managing to capture Donkey Kong, while still retaining all his silly demeanor. Certain stage archetypes from DKC1: such as the mines, weren't as desolate in this sequel.
  • Blood Storm for all its Black and Grey Morality (only 2 were actual good guys, everyone else was either an Ax Crazy sociopath or a bastard) and Bloodier and Gorier worth compared to Time Killers failed miserably to compare to Mortal Kombat since even in Mortal Kombat morality wasn't that grey. This caused the company to go bankrupt as a result
    • They now exclusively make Golden Tee games, learning their lessons from following the leader too closely.
  • While the first Killzone wasn't sunshine and roses, it didn't have the feel or atmosphere of a dark game. Killzone 2 plunged right through that and made everything dark and gritty, with dark and oppressive vistas of muted colors, increased character death rate, blood everywhere and a general feel of hopelessness in the fight. Quite like with Jak and Daxter, going dark and edgy was a good choice here.
    • Ditto for Resistance series which is completely bleak from the get go and only gets worse with sequel for humanity.
  • Contra: Shattered Soldier went a long way to undo the optimistic ending of Contra III: The Alien Wars. Bill Rizer, the hero of the original games, is now a wrongly accused war criminal convicted for causing the destruction of 80% of the world's population, while his former partner Lance Bean is now a a terrorist leader seeking to overthrow the Triumvirate, who were responsible for provoking the alien invasions in the previous games.
    • Neo Contra inverts this by essentially being a self parody of the series.
  • Koumajou Densetsu, fulfills this trope by putting the characters from Touhou Project: Embodiment of the Scarlet Devil into a Castlevania inspired universe.
    • Ironically just played with in the end, as only the designs and settings are truly Darker and Edgier - now that the game has dialogue (and in English, at that!) the story and characterizations are every bit as nutty as its mainstream counterpart.
    • The sequel however plays this much straighter.
  • Spyro the Dragon, When you remember that the original games have a cute dragon fighting hilarious freaks who mostly ran away from him, and you regained health by collecting BUTTERFLIES, it's difficult to see how it progressed to the level of Grim Dark it is today. And damn, Spyro got ugly.
  • Inverted with Backyard Sports. The executives wanted to make the series darker and edgier by making the kids older and giving them new designs, but it became Lighter and Softer, and its audience's age went down.
  • Square Enix has announced that Final Fantasy Versus XIII will be the darkest entry to the Final Fantasy series yet. The trailers and plot information released so far paints it as fairly bloody and bleak, so this is probably true.
    • Proven correct as it's cousin Final Fantasy Type-0 is also dark, bloody and depressing as well.
    • For 13-2, it was true with the ending. Serah is dead, her sister is Taken for Granite, the villain's Time Crash plan pulled through, Valhalla consumes the living world, the Goddess of Valhalla is dead, and the villain got off scot-free. Frankly speaking, it was a real Downer Ending.
  • The entire FF series went this direction after (or, one could say, starting with) VI, though VII and Tactics went the furthest.
  • Dragon Quest games are often pretty idealistic, but as shown by Dragon Quest V they aren't afraid to make the heroes work hard for their happy endings. However, Dragon Quest VII is easily the darkest Dragon Quest game yet, with the heroes almost always finding a part of the world that suffered (or is about to suffer) some kind of unspeakable tragedy that would wipe out everything. Normally they put a stop to this and manage to save the town (and that part of the world) but there have been instances where they were too late or there wasn't anything they could do.
  • Radical Dreamers and subsequently Chrono Cross shifted dramatically in tone from the relatively lighthearted adventurous spirit of Chrono Trigger. The fact that the idealistic heroes from the previous game are strongly implied to have been unceremoniously offed is a pretty good indicator of the general tone of the games.
  • The Legend of Zelda Majoras Mask is pretty dark for a Zelda game, especially in comparison to the previous title. Although not to the same extent, Twilight Princess is also pretty dark, suggesting that the "realistic" games are permanently taking a turn for the dark and edgy.
    • If one would branch the 3D Zelda games into two categories, Toon-style and Real-style, the "darkest" entry in the generally more cheerfully Toon-style category would be Spirit Tracks, which is one of the only two Zelda games to not receive a regular E rating (Spirit Tracks was rated E10+ ; Twilight Princess was rated T). It even features one of the shortest, but creepiest plot points of Twilight Princess as framework for a huge junk of the story: Princess Zelda's empty body being possessed by a male Sealed Evil in a Can.
  • One could argue that Wild Arms 3 is the darkest entry in the Wild Arms series due to having the most sinister villains, Filgaia (normally A World Half Full) being a flatout Death World, and arguably having the bleakest ending in the franchise.
  • While not to the extent as other examples in this page, Tales of Rebirth is probably the darkest entry of the Tales (series). Overall, the game has a more grim atmosphere and serious story than its predecessors and successors (doesn't mean that the game doesn't have humor, mind you, it's just in smaller amounts). The game isn't universally considered the best of the franchise, but it's pretty high up there; so, an example of the trope working.
    • Tales of the Abyss qualifies as well. It followed the much Lighter and Softer Tales of Legendia and more idealistic Tales of Symphonia series. (Including Phantasia, which received a Game Boy Advance release months before Abyss was.) The game's Wham! Episode involves Luke being tricked into causing a mining town full of people suffering from Miasma-poisoning into the Qliphoth. Those who didn't die in the initial fall then sank into the mud and died. Nothing quite like that happens (unless you include the mass-Suicide of the Replicas) later, but almost all the characters wind up losing someone important to them or going through hell to earn their happy ending. And even then...they got a Gainax Ending. Not to mention the characters themselves. Jade is the only one who doesn't go through some kind of traumatic event. And given that Jade kind of created a Humanoid Abomination and nearly killed himself when he was younger...yeah.
  • Homeworld Cataclysm. Although we don't witness it directly, the Beast easily trumps the Taiidan in terms of brutality; at least the Taiidan stopped at annihilating a planet, the Beast only cares about making more of itself in a gruesome and (by the sound of it), REALLY F***ING PAINFUL way.
  • Army of Two - The 40th Day was a much darker compared to Army of Two, Morality decisions that is in the Black and Grey Morality section. A much darker plot and quite the number of people killed off.
  • Max Payne 3, as if the series wasn't already dark enough. There may be Creator Breakdown involved.
  • Tales of Monkey Island. For starters, the sex jokes and double entendres are more frequent and overt. The comedic, silly deaths from previous games are mostly replaced by gruesome, occasionally-tragic deaths. LeChuck tones down his Large Ham persona. There's almost no fourth wall breaks. Oh, and Guybrush DIES...he gets better later on, but still.
  • Doom 3 is pretty much this compared to its predecessors. Especially darker.
  • Zork: Nemesis was a black sheep in the series, largely eschewing the light-hearted, satirical nature of the rest of the series for a dark, grim story set in an abandoned and ruined temple, where the only characters to interact with are four self-aware corpses and the Eldritch Abomination who killed them, and that's just the first area.
  • For a while the third sequel to Kid Icarus seemed to be heading this way, looking more like Nintendo's answer to God of War. [1] Apparently, Pit was a adult and was "cursed for thousands of years for a crime and becomes a 'Fallen Angel" and had a Tattooed Crook on his arm bearing the inscription of said crime. Most of the fans did not like it. Fortunately for them, they went with the Brawl redesign and appear to have scrapped the old ideas.
  • In King's Quest, first three games were relatively bright, cheery, and full of in-jokes and humor. But this didn't stop later games from being accused of becoming darker, edgier, or more 'evil'.
    • Roberta noted around the time of KQ 8's release: "First of all, I have to say that King's Quest comes from ME and each one is different and has its own flavor. Some have a darker tone, and others have a lighter tone. Some touch upon violence, and some don't. King's Quest reflects the mood that I am in when I go to tackle another one."
    • The "Two Guys from Andromeda" (who worked on KQ 1 and KQ 2) viewed King's Quest and most other sierra games at the time as dark and serious, being more somber and medieval, and they wanted to design a series they considered 'silly', which became Space Quest. They began development around the time of the development of KQ 3 (with both games being released around the same time).[1]
    • KQ1 artwork is fairly bright, but the game and its manuals (especially the second version of the manual) touches on a couple of mature themes including the fall of a kingdom, and its ailing monarch. The manual discusses how the king's queen was possibly poisoned and murdered, three times Edward tricked and betrayed by people he thought he could trust. The manuals also discuss how kingdom has been destroyed by war, famine, plague and pestilence, that populous whoever hasn't been killed by invaders is starving, the countryside has become remote, and taken over by invaders, and monsters, and the kingdom is about to fall. Even Graham's mission is thought to be foolish or impossible by some. While Graham is successful in the lonely and largely abandoned landscape, he returns for his king to die... stepping over the dead body of his former liege he crowns himself the new king...
    • Though KQ2 can be seen as largely a continuation of KQ1 in style of puzzles and design, it's often noted (for example in the King's Quest Companion) that the world it takes place in is a darker and lonelier land, ruled by vampires, ghouls, ghosts, and a witch. The 'former?' The princess of the land was kidnapped by the Witch, and locked away in a tower in another land. Even the name Kolyma is a reference to a bleak region of Siberia. Perhaps, though, it is best described as a land of contrasts in that it's a sunny place during the day, and turns into a very dark place at night (this is represented by the third key sequence to confront Dracula in his castle, though there is not really any day and night mechanic in the game). Graham even begins the story with a prophecy by the ghost of the former king, stating that if he doesn't find a queen soon, he will end up cursed like the former king (shades of Hamlet, without the murder) to die without an heir and the kingdom to fall into ruin. The Companion noted this addition of darker and more isolated feelings and ideas, and expanded upon the role of the monks as the only protectors in the land, trying to keep evil at bay.
    • KQ3 was accused of being satanic due to an evil wizard and use of magic spells. Some fans considered the concept of kidnapping children and slavery to be darker and edgier than previous games. However, KQ3 still maintains the high level of humorous narrative commentary of the previous two games, and almost all the punishments are done in a tongue-in-cheek manner, and often accompanied with a 'bad pun' (such as Alexander subjugated to 1980's aerobics, down to the 1980's pop music). According to Roberta Williams (in comparing KQ3 to KQ8): "KQ3 was very dark, and it utilized lots of magic and magic spells with the basic idea of finding ingredients for "black magic" spells and then casting those spells. (Certain religious groups were upset with me over that one!)"-Roberta Williams, 1997
    • KQ4 changed the artwork to something more realistic and less cartoony. One anecdote mentioned that fans, upon seeing the intro, left the theatre crying. Some consider the game to be darker than previous games because of its topic of 'death and dying' of a major character, and some of the creepy regions that Rosella has to pass through to save her father and Genesta. The King's Quest Companion pointed out this 'change in tone' (as it saw it), and even tried to tie Tamir into the H.P. Lovecraft Mythos (with ideas of zombies, mummies, dholes, fishmen, Innsmouth, and night gaunts/goons). A fishman (righout of Creature of the Black Lagoon, and likely inspiring the Innsmouth fishmen references in the Companion) actually can be encountered in the swamp. When day turns to night the land becomes a lot more dark and sinister especially around the old manor house and graveyards, and tomb. The game was given a very dark and bleak live action advertisement in which actress playing Rosella is exploring troll cave, and is captured and dragged off into the cave by a fear inducing troll (Jump Scare). This and a couple of other sequences gives the game somewhat of an early Survival Horror feel.
    • The SCI remake of KQ1 changed the artwork from the bright cheery appearance of the original to a more diseased and decaying Daventry, with darker regions and a more mature script. Even the topic of Edward's death is taken more seriously. It's no surprise that many fans consider this the darker version of the game.
    • KQ5 saw yet another change to the art style. The concept of family being kidnapped and Graham witnessing his son being tortured, made this game's plot the darkest yet, and the darker regions explored (and some cases downright demonic imagery) gave the series a darker and more realistic feel.
    • Some reviewers of KQ6 saw it as a huge departure from previous games. According to Donald Trivette, in the Official Book of King's Quest, 3rd Edition. "KQ6 can be seen as a sharp departure from the previous quests, in large part because it was the first quest in which creator/designer Roberta Williams had a collaborator. There is a darkness to the scenes not found in earlier quests. Overall the sixth has an ominous tone." (The Official Book of King's Quest, 3rd Edition, pg 10). In an interview in the book: Trivette comments; "This quest seems to have a darker, more ominous tone than the other King’s Quests; it is also more wordy. Is there a reason?", to which Roberta Williams replied: "I was thinking that same thing the other day, but I don’t believe we made it intentionally ominous. It just turned out that way."
    • In some ways, it might be seen that King's Quest 8: Mask of Eternity, after the atmosphere of KQ7, returned to a darker, more realistic style. King's Quest Mask of Eternity took the series in a direction that embarrassed Sierra's designers. Among them were Jane Jensen, who wrote: "Me and my poor befuddled brain, trying to fathom a Sierra where... the most recent King's Quest involves killing things? Whatever happened to saving the cute little bee queen? HAS THE WORLD GONE MAD?"[2]
    • Roberta noted: "When we say that the story is very dark that's really not true; it's just that the story is more profound and seriously looks at the struggle between good and evil. Rather than taking a bubbly, Disney view of good and evil, I chose to look at the struggle between good and evil from a more serious, traditional, almost spiritual, viewpoint. If you look at the traditional stories of the Grail and even in past Christian legend, you find that it is not light-hearted, gooey, and bubbly. Those stories are filled with conflict, peril, finding ones own morality, proving oneself a hero by overcoming evil creatures of Chaos, but yet proving oneself virtuous and good with all things good. That is the theme with this game."
    • "I think the ambiance, I think the game has a wonderful mood to it, it's kinda of dark and mysterious and look of the screen and the music and the sound effects just make for a wonderful experience. I don't think it would have gotten the same experience from cartoon animation." -Mark Seibert, Talkspot Part 2.
    • Note: KQ8 actually does have 'cute' bee-like wisps, among its more zany characters. Quite a few of the characters are nods back to similar characters in previous games (including ice queens, crystal dragons, evil dwarves, etc). The 'encounters' can be seen as a nod back to the "Bad Guys" 'encounters' in the earliest King's Quest games, such as KQ1, that were included as a kind of 'arcade' moment to hinder, block, or annoy the player, and add something to do in largely desolate and unused screens, but at the time could not be 'fought' due to limitations in the game mechanics. However some might argue KQ8 went past Darker and Edgier reaching shades of Bloodier and Gorier in its portrayal of some character and enemy deaths (though there is actually very little blood (possibly less blood than the Dragon or Goat let out in KQ 1 AGI)). However some might argue it went past Darker and Edgier reaching shades of Bloodier and Gorier in its portrayal of some character and enemy deaths (though there is actually very little blood (possibly less blood than the Dragon or Goat let out in KQ 1 AGI)).
    • Quite a few Sierra adventure game series turned Darker And Edgier around the fourth installment: King's Quest IV, Space Quest IV, and Quest for Glory IV, for example, had more Nightmare Fuel than their respective predecessors.
  • The Mother series falls under this somewhat. Mother 1 and 2 were relatively cheerful and funny, then comes Mother 3 where Your mother dies (in the first 30 minutes of the game, no less), your brother goes missing after trying to avenge your mother's death (although its implied the main character thinks he's dead), your father dedicates his life to finding him, your brother is used by the big bad to pull the seven needles which if he gets more than half the WORLD ENDS, the big bad is an insane person who is thousands of years old and has the mind and body of a kid, and in the end your brother kills himself. Amazingly it does retain the humor of the previous games though.
  • No More Heroes 2 is a slightly darker version of the first game. While it still retains the quirky, paradoxal, fourth wall-breaking, Tarantino-esque qualities of the first game, it continues the series’ theme of revenge that was only brought up at the end of the first game, a noticeably angrier Travis, and the brutal murder of Travis' friend Bishop, with his severed head in a paper bag being thrown through Travis' window at the beginning of the game. Interestingly, the second game also features some actual Character Development, with Travis starting to get sick of mindless killing and eventually deciding to quit the UAA because it disgusts him, as opposed to the first game, where he was just a violent, foul-mouthed Blood Knight.
  • Sengoku Basara is a game series that's known for being ridiculously over-the-top with all its character designs, Engrish, attacks, plotlines, ham, silly humour, cheese and the tendency to ignore actual history. Basically, everything was turned Up to Eleven, and it was awesome in its own way. Kind of. Then along came Sengoku Basara 3, kicking the previous poster boys out of the way and taking over with new serious plotline. Capcom also decided to be more history-accurate, making them NPC/killing off important characters along the way. Result? Previously "LET'S PARTY!" -characters overrun with angst.
  • The Star Fox series continuously bounces between this and Lighter and Softer. The lighter games are Star Fox 64 and Star Fox Adventures, both containing amusing dialogue spoken in rather dire situations. The darker games are Assault (following Adventures) and the original SNES game to a degree; in the latter, virtually no humor exists, and when your wingmen are shot down, they're Killed Off for Real. The former features a Hive Mind assimilation plot leading to The End of the universe as we know it, and rather painful sacrifices on the parts of Peppy and the Star Wolf Team, but they manage to survive. Command is somewhere in the middle; cheesy dialogue and story with rather questionable Multiple Endings.
    • If you count it, the unreleased Star Fox 2 is dark by the fact that interplanetary ballistic missiles are used to destroy Corneria. To top it off, the entire game is on a time limit of sorts. Don't take out the missiles, and Corneria is hopelessly destroyed.
  • Syphon Filter was already rather dark to begin with, but Logan's Shadow especially turns up the angst factor, with the IPCA shut down, Logan sent on a botched mission by corrupt bureaucrat Robert Cordell, Lian accused of treason by Cordell, and Logan's and Teresa's possible death at the end. Ironically, it has a T rating, as opposed to the M rating of previous games.
  • Patapon 3 is a rather mild example. The art style is much darker in this one and music has lots of heavy guitar riffs in it.
    • The sequel is notably darker, instead of leading an army of Patapon, the Patapon are left to 4 survivors who are tossed into a dimension filled with dark demons and must fight them off with masks that can corrupt them.
  • EA released a game that plays like Diablo in a dark and gritty sci-fi universe. It's called Darkspore. Yes, that Spore.
    • Just like Spore, The Sims Medieval is darker than the older sim games as it breaks the three rules of Simology which is no religion, no murder (You can kill people in swordfights and executing them) and no alcoholism. It also introduces some things such as breastfeeding for instance.
  • While Transformers has had darker and lighter reboots multiple times, Transformers: War for Cybertron seems to be one of the darkest takes yet. For once it focuses on the fighting on Cybertron and how absolutely brutal it was, and we see cities getting torn apart, a nightmarish Decepticon war prison, and it's not just the Decepticons who have large numbers of unnamed expendable soldiers.
  • The "Wonderful Life" subseries of Harvest Moon are extremely dark compared to the other games. For one, unlike the other HM games, once you've chosen who to marry, the game clearly spells out to you that the lives of the other potential brides are now completely, irrevocably ruined.
    • For the second, characters age in real time, which means the end of A Wonderful Life is a wonderful death.
  • Arc the Lad 2: the game takes every trope and cliche found in Japanese RPGs, then apply with bullheaded consistency Murphy's Law, turning the sequel of a generic RPG into one of the most sadistic game on the first Playstation.
  • The general direction of Dwarf Fortress updates is that each is darker and edgier than the last, if it's more than bug fixes, to bring more Fun. Highlights include:
  • Compare Robot Unicorn Attack to the sequel. The original is fabulous, while the sequel is Darker and Edgier.
  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is extremely dark and cynical for a Castlevania series. For better or for worse.
  • Telltale's Sam and Max Freelance Police games went from being a collection of lighthearted (but satirical) stand-alones in the first two seasons, to the much more serious and epic Season 3, The Devil's Playhouse, which (while still a total comedy) had a strong overarching plot, was less satirical, and deconstructed the Dead Baby Comedy stuff into more serious and emotionally-affecting Black Comedy. It went down really well with the fanbase, though.
  • Hard Truck series started out as a trucking simulation game. Then Hard Truck Apocalypse spinoff was released where events take place in post-apocalyptic Europe.
  • Would you believe Little Big Planet 2? It's still a fairly light, silly game, but... well, the previous titles were about traveling an imaginary world, helping people. This one is about stopping an Eldritch Abomination from destroying an imaginary world, complete with some genuinely creepy levels and enemies.
  • According to Kevin Conroy, Batman: Arkham City would be this compared to the first game. That's saying something considering how dark Arkham Asylum was.
    • Batman: Arkham Asylum itself was essentially a MUCH darker version of the animated series. In fact, it was so dark and filled with so much Nightmare Fuel, that many people who play are shocked that it didn't get rated M. One wonders how they got away with a Teen Rating for Batman: Arkham City.
  • Tomb Raider went this direction. The first game had Lara Croft simply hunting for artifacts and getting into shootouts for self-defence. As the games progressed the character became darker and more violent, with the player being unable to avoid killing in order to proceed with a level in some cases. One game's cutscene has Lara cold-bloodedly allowing a man to fall to his death, while a mission in Tomb Raider Anniversary chronicles Lara's first killing of another human being. (See Literature for how Lara got even more darker and edgier.)
    • Especially with a new reboot of the series recently announced, this E3 trailer definitely contains a much darker and emotional-scarring experience for our young heroine. Can't shake the feeling of Survival Horror on this one.
      • If you didn't feel anything at all watching the goddamn trailer, you are a horrible, horrible person.
  • Tenchu isn't exactly a family friendly game but its prequel, Birth of the Stealth Assassins, got rid of the supernatural elements and the soothing music and elaborated on Rikimaru and Ayame's tragic back story.
  • Golden Sun Dark Dawn is darker and edgier than its predecessors. Weyard in the two previous games was largely at peace, and the only characters who tended to kick the bucket were the villains. Now Angara, and very likely the other continents of Weyard, is full of budding countries who frequently war with each other, and once the the Grave Eclipse is activated, townspeople start dropping like flies in the face of an overwhelming monster horde, with even a few named characters both good and bad getting Killed Off for Real.
  • Portal 2, while still being as hilarious as the first game, has a noticeably darker and more serious plot.
  • While Mabinogi isn't exactly one of the cheeriest games around, its prequel game Vindictus, focusing on humanity's war against the Fomors to reach The Promised Land (Mabinogi's original setting Erinn) is as violent as all get-out and has a lot more serious themes. In the third major episode, a young cadet that you spent the first few episodes getting to know is viciously murdered, and as the game goes on, we learn it's only the beginning of how worse things are getting.
    • It doesn't help that the cutscene where he's killed is right before the boss fight in a mission. And it's unskippable. Given the luck-factor in finishing quests, it's not uncommon to see him murdered over and over and over again.
  • Rocket Knight Adventures was a cute game about a silly opossum who wears knight armor and a jet pack, and fights an army of pigs, who, when defeated, run around in their underwear after their armor is knocked off. There were two sequels released shortly after, both named Sparkster, one for the SNES and one for the Genesis. The music is no longer as upbeat, the enemies are replaced with wolves or lizards (depending on which sequel), the humor and silliness are gone, Rocket Knight (now Sparkster) himself is no longer chubby and happy looking but instead slim and grim, and a lot of the original charm is gone.
  • Final Fantasy also has its fare share of Darker and Edgier moments. A particularly notable example is Final Fantasy VI: There are hints at unethical experimentation towards a sentient race by The Empire, the amnesiac main character, when knocked out, experiences a particularly horrifying recollection about her being outfitted with a slave crown in a manner that is implied to be unwilling on her part, then being forced to torch fifty of the imperial troops alive, and the war speech made by the Emperor. In addition, the main villain, a psychotic jester named Kefka Palazzo manages to gleefully poison an entire civilization's water supply and was implied to have wiped out said civilization in what is essentially an act of Genocide, with the Empire also suffering losses from the same poison as well, and then proceeds to stab the Emperor in the back and cause the world to be significantly ruined, remaining this way throughout the second act, and it is implied that the world's condition is slowly getting worse, with the main bad guy (now a god) murdering various people with his Light of Judgement, even orphaning various people, and then trying to destroy the entire planet.
  • League of Legends' newer skins as of August 9th, all of them felt a lot darker and grittier.
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia was a fun light-hearted Console Wars game filled with a fun cast and a happy game overall. The second game starts off with the four goddesses on the receiving end of a curb stomp, piracy monsters are rampant, and in one of the endings murdering fellow goddesses to power up the sword, only to find out that Nepgear was being controlled by the Big Bad.
  • Need for Speed is seemingly heading into this territory with Need for Speed The Run.
  • Compared to the rest of the series, Hitman: Contracts is probably the darkest. All of the missions take place at night and it's usually raining. The game also has really haunting background music, and at least 4 of the missions have already dead bodies, one who was horribly butchered.
  • Darwinia, released by Introversion Software, centers around saving a race of small, green machine-intelligence entities known as Darwinians from a virus that has infected their computer system. However, in the process, the player introduces the Darwinians to a previously unknown concept: organized conflict. The result can be best seen in the slogan for the sequel, Multiwinia:

 Multiwinia ~ Darwin is dead. Prepare for war.

  • NHL '99, where the menus had a grittier feel to them. However, this didn't change the content of the game.
  • Although Metroid is already a darker and edgier Nintendo franchise, it reached a new level with Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. In addition to including a Dark World, its backstory tells about much more tragic events, including the rise, decline and near-extinction of the Luminoth, the death of the Galactic Federation soldiers, and the Space Pirates being frightened before the presence of an Evil Counterpart of Samus Aran. The next game, Corruption, didn't have a Dark World, but Samus does witness the death of several fellow hunters, several (not just one anymore) planets being affected by Phazon, the renmants of a merciless attack towards a GF ship, and she being gradually corrupted herself by Phazon.
  • Playing the first few games of the Soul Series, you think that the Soul Calibur is the "good" sword to the evil of Soul Edge, right? Not as of IV - Calibur is Knight Templar, just as evil as Edge. Previously-sympathetic characters like Taki become major bitches. Justified as Soul Calibur was made from a purified shard of Soul Edge.
  • Sly Cooper had a major shift between the first and second game. The first had Spyro like gameplay with a slightly darker story, the second had actually thieving, a "spice" smuggling business, an evil FBI authority that tried to brainwash Carmelita, and so much more.
  • X3: Albion Prelude compared to X3: Terran Conflict. The previous game's eponymous Space Cold War goes hot when one of the characters from X3: Reunion suicide-bombs Earth's Torus Aeternal (a massive space station ringing Earth), killing millions of Terran civilians instantly (never mind the surfacer deaths from deorbiting debris). The Terrans deploy their entire fleet in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the Argon, who retaliate with artificially intelligent warships reverse-engineered from the Xenon.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer compared to the original campaign. So much so that some people wonder how the same company could have created the lighthearted Troperiffic romp through the Sword Coast, then turned around and created an original, dark, atmospheric campaign in MotB.
  • Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six shifted to a darker direction as the newer soldiers are more like Military Mavericks than by the orders soldiers and Spec Ops, Tom Clancy Rainbow Six Vegas exemplified the notable shift.
  • Perfect Dark was the first M-rated game published by Nintendo, followed by Conker's Bad Fur Day and Eternal Darkness (contrary to public belief, Eternal Darkness was the third one, not the first).

Notes

  1. Games vs. Hardware. The History of PC video games: The 80's, pg 296
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