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Bright night skies in open worlds are lame as hell, and at this point this is not just a trope but the norm.

I grew in a rural town in Chile. As the sun set, there was something romantic about seeing the light poles go on while the sky still lit red. Downtown, the night wasn't much different than any other town I've been since: a light pole stood lit outside every home, and lights from all directions coalesce in the air, forming something like a dimly-lit cloud that hangs over the town.

However, a large portion of the population lived past the outskirts of the town, far from the comforts of the city. Spending the night at places like those was a common reminder of the profound and all-consuming darkness of the night. Going for a blind walk into the deepest dark is a common dare and it's often incredibly unnerving. Humans are naturally on-edge in the dark, it heightens your senses and being unable to make out anything beyond your reach induces anxiety.

The only time an open-world game made me feel something like this was Dragon's Dogma. In Dragon's Dogma, going out on adventuring at night is absolutely different than during the day:

  • Unique enemies lurk at night (this is still a common trope).
  • You can no longer rely on just looking around and finding your path or even your destination far ahead. You can hardly make out anything beyond the reach of your lamp, which makes going out on foot incredibly disorienting.
  • You can't tell when something is going to jump at you out of the blue. Sometimes you can hear beasts and monsters stalking just outside your field of view, and you start looking left and right trying to make out what the hell is going on.
  • Your lamp will suddenly go out when it runs out of oil or you're hit with water, and it often happens in the middle of combat, leaving you to fend whatever is coming at you in the pitch-black dark.
  • Going out at night, or staying the night in becomes a deliberate decision that impacts how and what you do in the game.
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Then, there's every other open-world (as far as I know). Because of the game philosophy to never inconvenience the player, nights are now just pale-lit days. And because they often use ambience lights, you don't even see cool things with shadows. Like, entering a thick forest should drown all of that night light.

Am I crazy? Is the experience of a true outdoors night not compatible with modern open-world games? I know that horror games tend to do it right, but I guess that's a different conversation.


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