Valentine’s Day has put us in quite a romantic mood and what better way to spend the holiday of love than by playing a game with a great romantic subplot? Whether you’re spending this time alone or with a significant other, we’re sure you’ll appreciate those fourteen amazing interactive love stories, so let’s dive in! Warning: this list is not spoiler free! Saints Row IV Volition’s insane gangster simulator makes fun of many video games tropes, and romance is just one aspect parodied by the fourth installation of the series. The Boss can easily challenge Commander Shepard when it comes to romantic prowess – they get to have a tryst with all the crew members, including the blue-eyed floating younger brother of HAL-9000.
All it takes is initiating the conversation and pressing the correct button, perfecting (or satirising) the simplistic and straightforward romance mechanics in BioWare’s games. The romance between Corvo and Emperess Jessamine is quite low key, and the two don’t share much time on screen during the gameplay. However, the backstory makes it clear that the two had been lovers for a long time, and the fruit of this tryst was Emily Kaldwin – the girl we need to rescue in Dishonored 1 and an adult, fully-trained assassin-Empress in the sequel.
It’s a shame Jessamine only got a brief appearance, and it’s downright terrifying that one of the gadgets in Corvo’s disposal is her still-beating heart. The premise of the game might be considered controversial, because 1) it’s a visual novel slash dating sim and 2) it focuses on romantic relations between dads. But the game is surprisingly wholesome, as well as funny, cheeky and self-aware. There is a bunch of dads to romance, coming from all walks of life, from rebels to more settled and mellow, to dark and brooding types, and there’s enough personality thrown in there to make sure it’s not just a boink-a-thon usually expected in the genre. In order to resurrect his beloved Mono, who had been sacrificed to avert a catastrophic event, our hero, Wander, is ready to make a literal deal with the devil. Of course nothing ever is easy, and the deal goes south in a way that would make Greek tragedies consider it harsh.
Wander’s attempt to bring Mono back causes the second coming of a demon, the hero dies in the process, Mono potentially ends up possessed by the female half of said demon. Oh, and a weird horned baby is found, suggesting further hurt. To paraphrase Meat Loaf: he would do anything for love, but he shouldn’t have done that. Dominic Santiago and Maria Flores had a nice life, living as a family with their two kids and a white picket fence, probably.
But everything changed when the Locust attacked. During the Emergence day the kids died, and Maria herself disappeared without a trace, only to be found later on, merely a husk of herself after enduring heavy torture at the hands of the Locust. The wedding vows say ” ’till death do us part”, but after euthanising Maria to end her suffering Dominic couldn’t move on so easily. The story of Dom and Maria struck a chord with many fans of the bombastic shooter series, and with good reason. Seeing it unfold across games and books is something best experienced by oneself. Aerith and Zack?
Cloud and Aerith? Tifa and Cloud? Cid and his ship? Vincent and Lucrecia? There are several options to consider here, and most of them don’t have a happy ending. Zack appeared in Aerith’s life and died promptly after that.
Cloud smashed into her life (and flowers) and took her on an adventure that did not end well for her at all. Tifa found herself endlessly caring about the detached Cloud. Vincent spent several decades sequestered in a coffin to atone for the sin of not being able to stop Lucrecia from unwittingly becoming Hojo’s incubator for Sephiroth. Generally speaking, Sephiroth is bad news for any romantic relationship. But hey, Ferris Wheel rides are fun, right?
A story as old as time: an immortal man who lives hundreds of lives and a young tiefling raised on the streets of a bizarre city. The unlikely story of The Nameless One and Annah’s uneasy relations is rather brief when compared to other stories in the game, but it’s worth remembering nonetheless. The Nameless One and Annah tend to bicker and quarrel quite a bit, both of them headstrong and snarky, but during the events of the game there is a connection forming up in subtle ways between the lines. Sadly, the budding affection between the two broken people can’t seem to gain traction, since before long the protagonist catches up to his past, regains mortality and finds the strength to atone for the sins he committed across lifetimes. In this romantic story, Jackie and Jenny meet in an orphanage where they were raised together, and the couple is quite happy for a while… Until Jackie is adopted by a mafia boss and through a series of unfortunate events becomes the host to The Darkness, a cosmic power of evil.
After several roaring rampages of revenge and many, many nightmares, Jackie descends into Abyss to discover that The Darkness kept Jenny’s soul hostage, and in the final moments it’s revealed that she is in fact reborn as an avatar of Angelus, the force of light and good. Being possessed by opposing forces entangled in an eternal cosmic war is a challenge for even the healthiest couple, and Jackie being trapped in Hell surely didn’t make it any easier. This love was clearly cursed from the start. Shepard had already been Kirking around the galaxy when Dragon Age: Origins arrived and firmly solidified the new era of prominent romances in modern BioWare games.
The Grey Warden could romance multiple characters, but none so essential as female Warden’s possible romance with an unwilling heir to the throne, Alistair or male Warden’s with witch Morrigan, whose mysterious plan can save your character’s life. The sequel and the third instalment of the series came with new romantic options for the player characters, including various gender and race variants, and getting rid of the “give gifts and agree with everything I say to get a kiss” mechanic. Ah, Shepard.
What a trail of broken hearts you’ve left in your wake. To talk about just two ME romances is to sell these games short. Even considering just the core crew of each game, there were thirteen romantic options to choose from, though some exclusive to a particular gender. As you see, picking a particular pair isn’t easy, especially since none of them carry any importance for the overall plot.
As far as personal preference goes, it would be Tali or Liara for male Shepard and Liara or Garrus for female. What can we say, interspecies relations with aliens are fun, and the best part of them is Mordin’s medical advice on what not to do with them in the sack. The story of teenage romance between Chloe Price and Rachel Amber would be rather sweet, if not for the fact that one of the girlfriends is dead by origin story, the second leading cause of death for video game characters.
The sudden explosion of passion between those two unlikely gal-pals may or may not have been manipulative on Rachel’s end and driven by her desire to escape the town she loathed, but it sure felt real to Chloe, and Rachel’s disappearance was a devastating blow for her. Good thing Max comes back to town shortly afterwards and helps Chloe get through the trauma. Or leaves her for dead to save everyone else she knows. Choices! When you take a dashing treasure hunter and a scrappy journalist you’re in for a very interesting dynamic whenever they butt heads.
They clash, make up, break up again and get together multiple times across four games, in no small part due to Nathan, being the loveable thrill seeker that he is, unable to adjust to normal life. In the end, however, as shown in the epilogue for Uncharted 4: Among Thieves, they managed to stay married for years, and they even raised a daughter together. Unlike most stories on this list, it has a happy, wholesome ending. And that’s worth celebrating. Geralt has a way with women, especially sorceresses, but none more than Yennefer of Vengerberg and Triss Merigold. Yennefer didn’t make an appearance until the third game, but her tumultuous relationship with Geralt was a major theme of the original books about the Witcher.
The on-off relationship with Triss has been cause for some tension, and she’s been a prominent romance option in the first two games, building up the conflict for the last entry. There are many choices to make in TW3 regarding Geralt’s love life. One of the most satisfying was a chance for breaking the djinn wish binding Geralt and Yennefer together, a delightful nod to the short story describing their first meeting. So, what’s your choice? A happy, if mellow, relationship with Triss, or a passionate and stormy one with Yen?
Maybe you prefer your Geralt alone, or are saving yourself for Shani in the DLC? Just remember – trying to score with both Yen and Triss will not end well for anyone. Both of you have been riding with a gang romping around the Wild West, but you fell in love and ran away, leaving your past behind. You got a cottage, you have a son and had a daughter, free from the past you ran from. You are respectable, productive members of your community.
That’s the story of John and Abigail Marston of Red Dead Redemption before the game begins. And then the federal Bureau of Investigation comes knocking and kidnaps Abigail and Jack in order to force John into cooperation. They want the remnants of his old gang gone from the Old West. They don’t care that they have reformed, John has dropped his criminal, violent ways. The country needs you, whether you want it or not.
Red Dead Redemption has a really harsh, but captivating story, and John’s hopeless final stand so that Abigail and 16-year-old Jack can escape remains a fantastic, heartbreaking moment, possibly one of the best in the entire line-up of Rockstar games. That’s it for our list! Do you agree with our choices? Or did we forget about a love story that captivated your heart?