Permanently Post-Meridiem Municipalities

I don't even know what you'd call that type of wordplay. Alternating assonance? I think the technical term is "a bunch of words stuck together".

But yes, this is a list of video game cities that seem to be stuck in a perpetual night. Often there's a narrative reason for this, and the heroes must go sort out whatever is causing it. Usually, though, it's a stylistic decision to make a city seem all dangerous and noir-y. Or it just happens to be under the ocean or in a cave and the city council has an endless supply of electricity (or candles) to go around. In any case, cities like these certainly leave an impression, especially compared to all the generic European castle towns and other medieval fantasy clichés.

I mean, who wants to live in a city where you can see where you're going? Or can support plant life? Dullsville.

(Suggestions, as always, are welcome. Bound to have missed several. Sorry I don't always get around to adding them, but then the comments sort of follow on like extra list items anyway, right?)

List items

  • Fair warning: Most of these cities come from Final Fantasies for whatever reason. Maybe I'm just blanking on less memorable JRPGs that have them. Either way, Midgar is perhaps the jewel in the Final Fantasy city crown. Its permanent darkness is a product of its lifestream siphoning, which has also killed off most of the nearby vegetation. It's an impressive, expansive metropolis and you'd better enjoy exploring it because this is all Final Fantasy VII is for the first six hours.

  • But let's backpedal a bit to what may be Midgar's antecedent: Zozo. Zozo is populated with the ne'er-do-wells that were kicked out of the nearby snobby town of Jidoor. This might sound as if Zozo is the more preferable down-to-earth option of the two, but honestly Zozo is incredibly obtuse and annoying to get around and people keep attacking you. The constant rain, darkness and goofy music really help give it a personality.

  • I'm tempted to just run through all the Final Fantasy cities I have here, but instead I'll just bookend the list with them so you don't all get sick of it. Final Fantasy VIII's Deling City is an unusually anachronistic depiction of a modern European city, with shades of Paris (the game kind of shamelessly copies the Arc of Triomphe) and Rome. It's also in permanent night to give it a cosmopolitan feel.

  • Nightless City Guara Bobelo is a little confusing to explore and Wild Arms 4 isn't perhaps the best game in the series, so this is a city I've chosen purely for its background music. It's this really intense mix of late-night Jazz Club beats, Las Vegas sleaze and ominous Latin chanting. I've never heard anything like it in a game before.

  • The city headquarters of the big bad guys is naturally enough going to be locked in eternal darkness, but in Valua's case it's because they had the misfortune (or fortune, given its prosperity) of living under the Yellow Moon, one of the many multicolored satellites of Skies of Arcadia. Maybe living under that ominousness is what bred their totalitarian temperaments? Makes sense that a nation wracked with rickets would be belligerent.

  • In what is perhaps one of the most unfair city names ever, the city of bookish, antisocial geniuses is named "Aspio". An underground city intended for research and study, Aspio is where Vesperia's token tsundere spell-slinger Rita Mordio hails from.

  • I'll just break off from the JRPGs for a while for a few big-name places regular people might be able to recognize. Rapture's in the dark both figuratively and literally, as an underwater city driven to ruin by the self-destructive Objectivist philosophies of its founder Andrew Ryan. Well, that and a population of insane mutant junkies with superpowers. I think it's fair to blame Ayn Rand for both those things.

  • Probably should've mentioned Gotham sooner, right? Though technically not locked in perma-night, it's not like we ever get to see the place when the sun is out. At least never in Batman games, because then you're just playing as Bruce Wayne and who wants that? Actually, if they made it like a corporation sim kind of thing that ties in with the Batman universe and plays around with... okay, wait, I might actually want this.

  • Fireburg is locked in constant darkness due to being in the quadrant of the world devoted to fire, which presumably involves numerous active volcanoes blotting out the skies with clouds of ash. It's the rock and roll capital of Mystic Quest's world though, and where armored idiot Reuben can be recruited. Its awesome remix of the standard town theme isn't even the best VGM in the game (have I ever mentioned how much I like FFMQ's music?).

  • We'll end, for now, on Final Fantasy IX's Treno: another nightless city that seems to be permanently dark for atmospheric reasons only. Like Deling City, it evokes a modern age European city in which nobles walk around being egregiously wealthy and outbidding me on all the auctions. Those bourgeois swine! What are they going to use all that powerful equipment for anyway? Interior decorating?