Yes, you can make grimdark work with "down to earth" and otherwise positive characters, but that requires there's actually characters that aren't ethically too compromised, are willing to work together, not just to survive, and that there's some sort of hope of changing the world into something better. It requires a setting where these kinds of characters aren't ludicrous or destined to die. In fiction like Warhammer, the best you can seemingly hope for, is continued survival amidst overwhelming outside threats and the deeply corrupt societies people are stuck serving. There's actually a complementary way to sort of double down on this type of grimdark by actually including characters that seemingly embody the hope for something better in a dark world, and then "instructively" killing them off, which to me, seems to account partly the appeal of fiction like The Walking Dead.
Thrythlind, I don't think it matters how grimdark the other games are in this discussion, but I don't think the PoE series is grimmer than what I've seen of Bg3. In PoE you're way less fucked up in the beginning and there's a more or less clear path to (personal) salvation. In BG3 you're much more deeply compromised body & soul, and in contrast to the watcher's situation, there are really no positive elements to your squicky condition. Also, the quest to defuse the booming timebomb(or two, depending on your PC choices) inside you is way more trickier and potential helpers more malevolent/inept. Companions aren't that pressganged into the party either in PoE. In BG3 it sort of starts to seem that the sadistic GM-fates are against you, taunting you at every turn. Even the narrator(though I like the voice talent) seems to have something against you.
Yes, In PoE series the world is a rather dark place, and there's the ever present inertia of failed and only partially successful past revolutions that tried to change the autocratic world for the better(though Poe 2 sort of doubles down on the notion, that nothing good will come from the change given that all the systems looking to fill the power vacuums appear inherently corrupt, abusive and hierarchical), but there are people like Eder who are willing to learn from past mistakes and also maintain a certain integrity while fighting on. In contrast to PoE, the primary revolutionary backdrop in it BG3 is the gith slave revolt, that has already metamorphosed ages ago into something that somewhat resembles the flayer empire they toppled, with the main bulk of the gith empire being reliant on autocratic misrule by a literally soul devouring insane lich queen, slavery, endless expansive warfare, xenophobia and racism.
I guess they could for example, add harper origin character into this mix, that would sort of add a bit of hope and integrity into the story, but the way I see it, Larian is embracing the kind of grimdark setting, where this kind of notion of change for the better, or revolutionary sentiment, is (enjoyably) denied again and again. So instead of comradery, there's mostly just betrayal, foolish optimism, mistrust, apathy, baseline survival instincts and pointless death, that's supposed to be a realistic depiction of all that people are capable of.
So, basically the setting, together with the approval system, sort of dictates what kind of relationships/romances and characters we get, by turning relationships into essentially market transactions devoid of ethics, that emphasize the threat of betrayal inherent to this type of social being, and therefore force on the player the need to max the approval, otherwise your "companions" are likely to get a better offer elsewhere.
Last edited by IdPreferNotTo; 15/08/21 11:21 AM.