I don't mean to single you out but it is truly astonishing to me in general how many people these days say stuff is "too dark" when the trends of nearly all media are in the opposite direction.
There's "dark" and there's "dark". There's a game like The Witcher, where there's a lot of violence, blood and death, grey moral areas, war, burning witches at the stake etc. but in a world that also has humor, beauty and isn't trying to be edgy, and then there's "The Penitent One - a sole survivor of the massacre of the ‘Silent Sorrow’. Trapped in an endless cycle of death and rebirth" wearing a ridiculous iron mask as tall as he is with a crown of thorns and crying bloody tears. I mean, they seem to be trying a bit too hard, don't they?
To each his own, I'm not one for Marvel-type bland, boring brand of entertainment myself. I'm just saying, to me this kind of wallowing in darkness and sorrow and yadda yadda does not appeal. I like dark settings and stories when they are a bit more subtle about it.
Fair enough. I do agree not all "darkness" is created equal and obviously that's true of games in general...very few can hope to reach the peaks of something like The Witcher, in dark tone or anything else. And the different styles of darkness are certainly a matter of preference too. For me, all else equal, I will take dark over non-dark. But I will go further and also take "dark flawed game" over "non-dark less flawed game" in many cases. I just feel like my preference for darkness in this way really isn't all that catered to in the market and general media culture.
Let me use a different example. On GOGdownloader ("Galaxy done right"), there are ads for various games. It is remarkable how every time one happens to mention darkness, there is a mention of how the game also has humor, to offset the darkness. Iirc a lot of the gamepages on the website itself are this way too. It is like clockwork. As soon as somebody makes something dark, there is this cultural-based scramble to also emphasize the comedic elements in it. The games/media that defy this convention, get told they are trying too hard or are too grim, etc.
I do not deny the possibility that some devs do "try too hard" so to speak, but I think a lot of the pushback is based more on the defying of the cultural convention. Just food for thought.