With Sword and Shield just a week away, let's talk about Pokémon.
What's the work
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon is a spin-off series of the iconic Pokémon game franchise based on catching 'em all. In this series, the player takes control of a human that was transformed into a Pokémon, and they explore the world around them in levels comprised of randomly generated floors while fighting other Pokémon to the stairs to the next floor.
The second game is where our candidate today comes from; Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky (just refer it as Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers). In this title, the player joins Wigglytuff's Guild to rescue Pokémon, fight villainous outlaws, and learn the secret of the Time Shifts, which have been stolen from across the region. These Time Shifts are causing distortions in time and space, causing Dialga's Temporal Tower to collapse. It's up to the player, their partner, and their friends to stop Dialga's wraith and restore the balance in time, or else the world is doomed to become a vast emptiness where only sorrow thrives.
Except it's not Dialga, Palkia, Dusknoir, or Grovyle at fault for these errors in time and space. Yet another being is behind it all, manipulating everyone with the strings from his fingers. Say hello to Darkrai.
Who is Darkrai/What has he done
Darkrai is normally a Pokémon that eats dreams, leaving behind only nightmares. But this variation wants more than to just feed off dreams, he wants the plunge the ENTIRE world into a hellscape where he can eat as many dreams as he wants. His solution is to steal the Time Shifts of Temporal Tower, where Dialga will go berserk and freeze over everything non-supernatural. Thus Darkrai can rule the world while having all the sweet dreams he wants from those frozen in time... FOREVER!!!
His motive for all of this? His own sadistic amusement.
The player and their Grovyle once tried to stop Darkrai from completing his goal by going back in time before Temporal Tower collapsed. But Darkrai attacks the portal, separating the player from Grovyle and transforms them into a Pokémon with amnesia.
It's not until after the player restores Temporal Tower back to normal when Darkrai first appears, in the "Post Game". In the form of Cresselia, his arch-nemesis and the bringer of good dreams, he tells the player in one of their dreams that they are at risk of causing a distortion in space that would plunge the world into permanent darkness, all because they came from the future. He shows this by cursing their friend Azurill, a young child, into an endless nightmare that he can't wake up from. With the help of Drowzee, the player and the partner venture into the core of Azurill's nightmare, where they find "Cresselia". She blames the player for causing Azurill's nightmare and attacks them and the partner (who she convinces that they are also causing distortions for going into the future), but is thwarted and flees once Drowzee begins curing Azurill's endless nightmare.
Later in Spacial Rift, after the player and partner defeat Palkia for believing them to be the fault of the bends in space, the two are pulled into another nightmare, this time of Palkia's. "Cresselia" shows up and tells Palkia that the two are purposely distorting space and manipulates him into destroying them. Suddenly, the real Cresselia shows up and exposes Darkrai out of his disguise, taunting the player that he will be waiting for them at Dark Crater.
Cresselia reveals that everything was caused by Darkrai, from the near destruction of Temporal Tower to the bad future where the player was turned into a Pokémon. She explains that Darkrai wanted to make a dark world for him to rule over, and sought to destroy the team because they stopped his last plan and stood in his way. She is concerned that Darkrai's challenge may be a trap, but the group decides to travel to Dark Crater with Cresselia to stop him.
At the bottom of Dark Crater, after Darkrai reveals his plan, he convinces the player to join him and rule the world together. The partner actually accepts his offer, knowing that they can't stand a chance against Darkrai. Fortunately, this turns out to be a nightmare that Darkrai cursed on the heroes they manage to wake up from. He summons a group of Pokémon to assist him in killing the group.
Upon defeat, Darkrai creates a portal that will allow him to complete his goals in another place and time. Palkia shows up and destroys the portal while Darkrai is inside it. This doesn't kill Darkrai, instead, he becomes amnesiac himself and wanders numerous dungeons. He can be recruited should the player have the right equipment.
His role is only played in the Post Game, but his manipulation goes back to the beginning.
Nope. Shows no Fredrian excuse, remorse, or tragedy behind his atrocities. Nothing but nightmares he leaves behind.
But before we go further, let's talk about the very ending, where Darkrai himself becomes amnesiac and can be recruited. Why this doesn't count as redemption is because it's amnesia. Darkrai simply can't remember his memories, there's a chance they may come back and he will return to his hateful persona. It's not like he remembers his evil ways and apologizes for his wrong-doings. It's skeptical, but through his amnesia, brainwash, or whatever his diagnosis is, all of his past mistakes cannot be atoned for.
Okay, this is where problems kick in due to the extremely large number of Pokémon villains already listed under Pure Evil. If this version of Darkrai was connected to say the anime or mangas, while he wouldn't exactly fail the standards, he would be against many, many human characters who use greed and power to take over the world with armies of Pokémon.
What makes him count, from my view, is not only that Darkrai is a Pokémon himself and not a greedy human, its the fact that the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games are normally lighthearted games with heartwarming morals of love, friendship, and survival. There are a few villains who stand out, but Darkrai is the one who stands out the most.
In the first game, the only heinous character is a Gengar who was also a human who tried to steal Ninetails' tails for his own greed, abandoned his Gardnevoir once he got tired of her, manipulates the town into turning against the player, and attempts to take the player's soul to the underworld while they slept just to make sure they won't survive an incoming meteor. In Gates to Infinity, a Munna leads a nihilist, suicidal cult worshiping Kyurem, with delusional beliefs her actions can protect the world from Kyurem's frost. In Super Mystery Dungeon, a Beheeyem and Yveltal spread countless destruction, but not under their own personalities. Both Kyurem and Yveltal are under control of the Bittercold and Dark Matter respectively, who want to reshape the world in their own images. However, neither of them can count since they're made of evil, as both are manifestations of the Pokémon's fears, anger, and sadness. All the other Pokémon I mentioned above either redeem themselves or apologize for their actions.
Then there's Explorers, which is the darkest installment to this date. Sure Dusknoir is a terrifying villain who completes a Moral Event Horizon by yanking the player and their partner into the future with him in an attempt to kill them and Grovyle. However, he can't count due to him following orders by Dialga (who is also suffering), and he redeems himself in one of the special episodes in Sky, where he teams up with Grovyle and Celebi to calm the dying Dialga from altering time any further.
Then there's Darkrai. Where to begin? From taking over the world for his own selfish pleasure by manipulating the gods of time and space, tormenting the heroes that their lives are meaningless and practically tells them to kill themselves, and gets an innocent young Pokémon child involved only for good measure. Without sorrow or redemption.
In the base games, Darkrai only eats dreams for food, making him a force of nature. Leaving behind nightmares is just what he does. This version, on the other hand, is nothing but a force of pure evil, and he enjoys every second of it.
If only if it wasn't for the amnesia, this would be an easy keeper, moving on. However, since the amnesia makes it ambiguous if he can be redeemed, I'm still going to say yes as the final verdict.
Final Score: +9
Verdict: Pure Evil