Does Dark = Good?

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Recently I've been noticing a trend of things to becoming dark.

You can see this in a lot of recent media - the last of the Star Wars prequels, the later Harry Potter films, and of course the ending of Mass Effect 3. You can often converse with someone and ask about how good something is, and they'll be like "Well it was the darkest of the films." Is Dark equated with good though?

The later Harry Potter films were darker, but I definitely preferred the older ones with their childlike charm. Give me A New Hope over Revenge of the Sith anyday!

You can see this in videogames too - Dragon Age: Origins was a fairly standard save-the-world fantasy game which was great (and not particularly dark, had difficult decisions though), and then Dragon Age 2 went all dark with torture and slavery and necrophilia and stuff, but it was definitely not the better game. Same with Mass Effect, the first two games were standard space opera, but then the third shoves out an out-of-place "dark" ending down our throats.

Lord of the Rings wasn't dark but its a timeless classic and the films are great - I doubt it would have improved by an ending where Sauron wins and murders everyone, and the last film consisted of rape of Elven women by Orcs and a brooding suicidal Legolas.

Not saying "dark" isn't bad, The Witcher 2 was a great game but it was handled in a mature fashion, as opposed to just shoving in blood and darkness and sex and stuff - it was mature which meant it could handle the "dark" subject matter easily. This runs parallel to 40k which is so grimdark that it's pretty much a self parody of itself, the lack of seriousness in 40k makes the grimdark better.

So yeah, do you think there's a tendency in media to equate dark with good, and therefore make everything dark? Do you even think dark is good?Do you enjoy dark stories or less dark ones?

There's a definite perception going around that happy endings and the like are cliche, so everything needs to be dark and edgy. Rubbish of course, because all that means is that dark and edgy will become the new cliche, assuming happy endings ever were cliche in the first place. Personally I don't really give a damn either way as long as the tone fits the story, and that the story is well told.

I can enjoy dark stories and I usaully do appreciate story that is mature in how it handles things which means there may be dark moments at times. However lots of series now are just trying to be "Dark" and failing. It's actully gotten really annoying recently, ME3 is a great example of writers trying to throw in "Dark" elements because it's so much better than all those crappy cliche happy endings that all the babies and sheeple want.

It isn't "dark" stories that I like, it's mature ones which may or may not have "dark" elements. Not every story needs them. Having it shoehorned in can actully make it worse.

A badly written dark ending is still a badly written ending.

You seem to be lumping grim, bleak, mature and serious under the term "dark".

They're not all the same.

Dark is fucking good, because it's fucking mature. There's too much fucking shit that's fucking light out there, and it fucking needs to stop with that shit. I mean, fuck.

Dark can be good, but it's being overdone lately. Personally, I prefer things with a lighter tone with the occasional dark element. If everything's all, it gets boring and loses impact. Know what does it right? The Lion King. Everything's all happy and optimistic and then BAM! Mufasa dies.

captcha: heart break. How appropriate :)

Tazzy da Devil:
Dark can be good, but it's being overdone lately. Personally, I prefer things with a lighter tone with the occasional dark element. If everything's all, it gets boring and loses impact. Know what does it right? The Lion King. Everything's all happy and optimistic and then BAM! Mufasa dies.

captcha: heart break. How appropriate :)

That's a bloody good example.

Original Star Wars is pretty good too - I mean Luke's family gets massacred, two planets get blown up, Obi-wan dies and the entire Rebel attack force apart from like Wedge and Luke, dies, but there's still a happy outlook and ending and it's a light hearted space adventure film.

When it comes to various series, it almost necessitates being 'dark'.

Look at Mass Effect, the first two games were about the threat of an attack by some mystical race. The last game had you deal with this enemy head on. It can't just be your standard 'blow it up kid and let's go home' fare when the fate of the galaxy is on the line.

Harry Potter had to get darker as the series progressed. The first few books/movies were about the innocence of youth and really, the kind of blissful ignorance that comes with it. As Harry and his friends got older, the stakes got higher. He learned the true nature of his origins and his past and he slowly began to realize what was required of him. I would have been insulted if The Deathly Hallows was just a fun romp through an other year at Hogwarts... again.

Sure, some series may over-do but it's not like it's a bad thing.

The wannabe grimdark stuff in games like Origins pisses me off sometimes. Dont do it if you cant pull it off properly.

It seems to me it's a way to seem more mature and deep without actually putting more thought into the writing and story.
''Hey guys, I want to make it meaningful and... I just don't know ho-''
''KILL OFF SOME CHARACTERS!''
''I don't think th-''
''ADD A MISTY FOREST SCENE.''
''Now you're not making any sens-''
''MORE AANNGGSSTT!!''

Nah, unless it's pulled off well or done in a way that makes sense, Dark is bullshit.

Like any tone, it can be good or bad. I do agree that tonal shifts in the middle of a series frequently don't work very well.

Warhammer 40k is a good example of ways 'dark' can go. Dan Abnett can write a dark story well while some other authors just aren't good writers and just make it "dark"

Ironically the Darkness is one of my favorite games because of how well it handles it's dark content. So much dark. Dark. DARK. FUCKING DARK.

fnlrpa:
Warhammer 40k is a good example of ways 'dark' can go. Dan Abnett can write a dark story well while some other authors just aren't good writers and just make it "dark"

Dan Abnett actually writes compelling characters in the 40k universe as opposed to just power armoured action porn

endtherapture:

fnlrpa:
Warhammer 40k is a good example of ways 'dark' can go. Dan Abnett can write a dark story well while some other authors just aren't good writers and just make it "dark"

Dan Abnett actually writes compelling characters in the 40k universe as opposed to just power armoured action porn

I completely agree. I also think that Graham McNeil is good. He made the ultramarines into compelling characters

fnlrpa:

endtherapture:

fnlrpa:
Warhammer 40k is a good example of ways 'dark' can go. Dan Abnett can write a dark story well while some other authors just aren't good writers and just make it "dark"

Dan Abnett actually writes compelling characters in the 40k universe as opposed to just power armoured action porn

I completely agree. I also think that Graham McNeil is good. He made the ultramarines into compelling characters

Pfffffffft, what about Ciphias Cain HERO OF THE IMPERIUM?
I actually really enjoyed those books.

Malty Milk Whistle:

fnlrpa:

endtherapture:

Dan Abnett actually writes compelling characters in the 40k universe as opposed to just power armoured action porn

I completely agree. I also think that Graham McNeil is good. He made the ultramarines into compelling characters

Pfffffffft, what about Ciphias Cain HERO OF THE IMPERIUM?
I actually really enjoyed those books.

I enjoyed those as well. I especially enjoy amberly's footnotes

Not always...it really depends on your preferences.

For example I much preferred the last Harry Potter film because it actually stuck to the book and I like the dark... but then I also prefer to watch Spiderman 1 + 2 over 3, and I'd prefer to to watch them over Nolan's Batman..and I'm sure people would disagree with me because of their particular preference.

"Dark" has to do with aesthetic, and a good game properly handles its aesthetic. Majora's Mask and Wind Waker, despite being polar opposites on the dark/light scale (compare; MM WW Interestingly enough, MM and WW are each other upside down), are both brilliant games, because, among many reasons, they both skilfully handled their respective aesthetics.

F'Angus:
Not always...it really depends on your preferences.

For example I much preferred the last Harry Potter film because it actually stuck to the book and I like the dark... but then I also prefer to watch Spiderman 1 + 2 over 3, and I'd prefer to to watch them over Nolan's Batman..and I'm sure people would disagree with me because of their particular preference.

I would say that I had no problem with HP getting darker over time because it is a coming of age story, but the end of the Deathly Hallows just got ridiculous. Remember the deaths of Sirius and Dumbledore? They were pretty big events in the books which made everyone visibly shocked. By the end of the Deathly Hallows though she was just killing off well developed characters (like Lupin) off screen/page and it was just like "oh look Colin Creevey has died so has Lupin oh well" and it failed to make an impact, and just felt cheap and rubbish.

Regardless of whether its a light hearted tale, a comedy, black comedy, tragedy, drama, dark, or anything if it's not well written it will be rubbish no matter how many lights are dimmed!

I call it the Dark Knight effect, now even Micky Mouse can't be dark and moody enough!

Strangly enough I'm playing through the Jak and Daxter Trilogy at the moment and theres a pretty big change in tone from the first and second game, I'm not sure I like it.

I like "dark" things because a few switches get turned on - like Anyone Can Die. Also can lead to me genuinely hating the antagonist/relating to them, depending on their actions/intentions, the protagonist not necessarily being lawful good (though this definitely doesn't mean that the protagonist is a deeper character), giving a genuine feel of danger and not already knowing the ending (protagonist curbstomps antagonist) make 'dark' stories more alluring to me. Though, it's a general guideline I guess. A story that is dark won't interest me. A story that I've been told is good AND is also dark will interest me - it enhances a good story for me, but it can't carry it by any means. You can't substitute good story telling for depth for say, killing off characters.

To take two examples off the top of my head: the Dragon Age series could lose it's attempted darkness and not lose anything in terms of storytelling - it's not been woven into the narrative and story well enough. You can't however take the darkness out of the Fate/ universe, because it's been carefully woven into it from the beginning. That and a battle royale does not make a good watch/read/play if it isn't dark.

It's just media trending based on what a person/bunch of suits believe will make the most money.

fnlrpa:
Warhammer 40k is a good example of ways 'dark' can go. Dan Abnett can write a dark story well while some other authors just aren't good writers and just make it "dark"

Abnett actually improves on the 40K formula by not making everything excessively dark. Back before Games Workshop got their heads stuck so far up their asses, the insane darkness of 40K was used as parody not unlike the Judge Dredd comics. Nowadays, they take their darkness way too seriously without any hint of irony.

Dan Abnett sidesteps this by lightening the mood. It's still a depressing situation to be sure, but he remembers the most important part of a dark storyline: Hope.

There is a reason that 28 Days Later is my favorite horror film. By all means, the events that happen in the film are terrifying and tragic, but the characters are so endearing because they believe that they can and will overcome the disaster. And when they do, it is so satisfying. The Imperium actually functions in Abnett's 40K. It gives humanity a reason to fight, even if it is misguided.

The hope that they can overcome the challenges that humanity faces is a driving theme that keeps you invested in the characters. That despite the horrific nature of the universe, good people can and still do exist.

Of course not, but I think people perceive it as being a way to avoid "and they all lived happily ever after" clichés.

The real issue is the material you're handling. Mass Effect could only have gotten darker the further along the series it went, or else the threat from the Reapers would have been non-existent. In that type of trilogy, things tend to get darker naturally because the first act is spent setting everything up. But it does need to be gradual; they couldn't have gone from the tone in ME to the tone in ME3.

Zhukov:
You seem to be lumping grim, bleak, mature and serious under the term "dark".

They're not all the same.

This man is correct. As always. How the hell, do you even do it, man? I click on a topic and one of the first responses is usually yours and almost always it's short and exactly what I'm thinking.

Anyway.

endtherapture:
the last of the Star Wars prequels

It is about how Darth Vader became Darth Vader. The movies may be bad, but it's wrong to accuse them of being dark just for the sake of it. It's exactly what we expect - we already knew Darth Vader wasn't bad from the beginning and that he used to be one of the good guys before he fell so bad that his name can almost be interchangeable with "evil". Also, we know he is maimed and scarred. Did you expect a light-hearted comedy routine with wacky characters...and...uhh. Fuck. Yeah, it's supposed to be dark at least.

endtherapture:
the later Harry Potter films

*coughBookscough*

Sorry, pet peeve.

But the HP becomes more mature and it shouldn't come off as a surprise - Voldy pulled the same shit before he was first defeated, I wouldn't expect him to come back and the series to still be about innocence and power of friendship only.

endtherapture:
Dragon Age: Origins was a fairly standard save-the-world fantasy game which was great (and not particularly dark, had difficult decisions though)

Did we play the same game you and me? DA:O is blatant a toned down version of WH40K. And considering it is WH40K, it's almost impossible to make on par with the source. The game could have physically sprayed you with blood and maggots and it would still not be the same as WH.

DA:O is not "a fairly standard save-the-world fantasy" it is a bleak setting full of grey and more grey morality. The main heroes are essentially zealots with terminal illness. All the origin stories set you up for "people will die here". The dude who takes to look after you after whatever bad event you suffered in the beginning, dies miserably. Along with the only character who genuinely belongs in "a fairly standard save-the-world fantasy" and thinks he is on one.

I don't understand how you managed to classify that game as not dark.

endtherapture:
So yeah, do you think there's a tendency in media to equate dark with good, and therefore make everything dark?

I'm thinking more the media thinks dark equals "mature" and hence will appeal to a wider audience. Yes, the media mostly fails to understand how to make an actual mature story. Dark and gritty are not spices you pour into a story, you actually have to build a story around them. Also, I'm guessing it has something to do with core audience growing up. That's part of the reason why we get dark and edgy reboots of stuff.

endtherapture:
Do you even think dark is good?Do you enjoy dark stories or less dark ones?

Oh, yes I do. I find them incredibly...hmm, "satisfying", I suppose, although it's not the right word.

I love Stephen King's works and there is always something capital B Bad going with the characters. Most of the time, the ending is downright good considering the rest of the story. I consider bittersweet good, anyway.

I also love Lovecraft's works. I can honestly say that they are darker than the Warhammer 40K universe. The latter has a faint glimmer of hope that is constantly diminishing. Lovecraft just goes "fuck that shit" and there is no hope at all. In fact the humans are just insignificant insects among beings with incomprehensible amorality each of which does not even fit on the same powerscale as humanity as a whole.

And there is the World of Darkness. Name says it all. You get a choice of either slowly going disillusioned and mad from your mere existence there, being a victim of inhuman monsters, being a victim of Lovecraftian beings, being a victim of an invisible struggle in the grand scheme of which you are less than a pawn, submitting yourself and others to Evil just for fun, becoming an inhuman monstrosity and so on and so forth.

Soxafloppin:
I call it the Dark Knight effect, now even Micky Mouse can't be dark and moody enough!

Strangly enough I'm playing through the Jak and Daxter Trilogy at the moment and theres a pretty big change in tone from the first and second game, I'm not sure I like it.

It gets better, trust me. While Jak does turn into a misanthropic jakass (c wat I did thar lol), he does become more compelling as a character. And if Jak 2 gets you down, Jak 3 and Jak X Combat Racing are more lighthearted. They balance out the moody prick with more humor, and 3 in particular gives Jak something to fight for.

Soviet Heavy:

fnlrpa:
Warhammer 40k is a good example of ways 'dark' can go. Dan Abnett can write a dark story well while some other authors just aren't good writers and just make it "dark"

Abnett actually improves on the 40K formula by not making everything excessively dark. Back before Games Workshop got their heads stuck so far up their asses, the insane darkness of 40K was used as parody not unlike the Judge Dredd comics. Nowadays, they take their darkness way too seriously without any hint of irony.

Dan Abnett sidesteps this by lightening the mood. It's still a depressing situation to be sure, but he remembers the most important part of a dark storyline: Hope.

There is a reason that 28 Days Later is my favorite horror film. By all means, the events that happen in the film are terrifying and tragic, but the characters are so endearing because they believe that they can and will overcome the disaster. And when they do, it is so satisfying. The Imperium actually functions in Abnett's 40K. It gives humanity a reason to fight, even if it is misguided.

The hope that they can overcome the challenges that humanity faces is a driving theme that keeps you invested in the characters. That despite the horrific nature of the universe, good people can and still do exist.

Thant is the same reason mass effect is compelling along with the characters. Despite the reapers being unstoppable, there is a glimmer of hope, no matter how bad the situation is.

Soviet Heavy:

Soxafloppin:
I call it the Dark Knight effect, now even Micky Mouse can't be dark and moody enough!

Strangly enough I'm playing through the Jak and Daxter Trilogy at the moment and theres a pretty big change in tone from the first and second game, I'm not sure I like it.

It gets better, trust me. While Jak does turn into a misanthropic jakass (c wat I did thar lol), he does become more compelling as a character. And if Jak 2 gets you down, Jak 3 and Jak X Combat Racing are more lighthearted. They balance out the moody prick with more humor, and 3 in particular gives Jak something to fight for.

Oh I'm still enjoying the game, I do prefer the overworld of the first game, Jak 2 is kind of like Babys first GTA lol.

I prefer Jak not being mute, when he spoke his first line I was like "WAAAAAAAAAT" I'm also glad they explained why hes speaking now! Good Trilogy so far!

fnlrpa:

Soviet Heavy:

fnlrpa:
Warhammer 40k is a good example of ways 'dark' can go. Dan Abnett can write a dark story well while some other authors just aren't good writers and just make it "dark"

Abnett actually improves on the 40K formula by not making everything excessively dark. Back before Games Workshop got their heads stuck so far up their asses, the insane darkness of 40K was used as parody not unlike the Judge Dredd comics. Nowadays, they take their darkness way too seriously without any hint of irony.

Dan Abnett sidesteps this by lightening the mood. It's still a depressing situation to be sure, but he remembers the most important part of a dark storyline: Hope.

There is a reason that 28 Days Later is my favorite horror film. By all means, the events that happen in the film are terrifying and tragic, but the characters are so endearing because they believe that they can and will overcome the disaster. And when they do, it is so satisfying. The Imperium actually functions in Abnett's 40K. It gives humanity a reason to fight, even if it is misguided.

The hope that they can overcome the challenges that humanity faces is a driving theme that keeps you invested in the characters. That despite the horrific nature of the universe, good people can and still do exist.

Thant is the same reason mass effect is compelling along with the characters. Despite the reapers being unstoppable, there is a glimmer of hope, no matter how bad the situation is.

Indeed. To go back to the 40K example: Ollanius Pius. Back before Games Workshop got their pauldron fetish on, Ollanius Pius was the most badass figure in all of 40K. Who was he? A single human who stood up to Horus in the darkest hour.

He has armor the equivalent or cardboard and a glorified laser pointer. And he fearlessly stood between the Emperor and Horus, two literal GODS, to stand up for what was right. He was obliterated instantly, but his sacrifice gave the Emperor clarity for two things.

#1: Horus was so far gone that he would be petty enough to stomp on someone who wasn't even a threat.
#2: Ollanius represented the hope of humanity. That someone so small and insignificant would lay down his life for what he believed in, standing against impossible odds and facing total annihilation was proof that humanity deserved its place in the galaxy.

The point of Ollanius's sacrifice was that it gave the Emperor the resolve to keep fighting.

All of that was thrown out by Games Workshop when they replaced Pius with a Terminator and then a Custodes, changing the Emperor's attack from resolve to getting a second wind while the Supersoldier kepts Horus busy. Completely missing the point of what Pius's sacrifice meant.

Dan Abnett brought Ollanius Pius back. He's back in the canon as of the latest Horus Heresy book, and I hope he gets to do his original sacrifice once again.

Soxafloppin:

Soviet Heavy:

Soxafloppin:
I call it the Dark Knight effect, now even Micky Mouse can't be dark and moody enough!

Strangly enough I'm playing through the Jak and Daxter Trilogy at the moment and theres a pretty big change in tone from the first and second game, I'm not sure I like it.

It gets better, trust me. While Jak does turn into a misanthropic jakass (c wat I did thar lol), he does become more compelling as a character. And if Jak 2 gets you down, Jak 3 and Jak X Combat Racing are more lighthearted. They balance out the moody prick with more humor, and 3 in particular gives Jak something to fight for.

Oh I'm still enjoying the game, I do prefer the overworld of the first game, Jak 2 is kind of like Babys first GTA lol.

I prefer Jak not being mute, when he spoke his first line I was like "WAAAAAAAAAT" I'm also glad they explained why hes speaking now! Good Trilogy so far!

IT gets better still.

Kahunaburger:
Like any tone, it can be good or bad. I do agree that tonal shifts in the middle of a series frequently don't work very well.

It seems modern day storytellers have forgotten the wonders of subtly. As far as I can tell there are two main ways to successfully shift the tone of your franchise:

1. A pivotal even happens that changes everything
2. Gradual change as a result of events in the story

For some reason games like to pick a 3rd option that is, "this game is going to be the 'darker' one so lets make it dark right off the bat for some stupid reason/no reason at all."

I always thought Shepard's death to set the mood in ME2 was totally stupid and the textbook example of what not to do.

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