February is a month dedicated to love. And this would be the ideal moment to discuss romance in video games. The search for a soul mate has been a driving force for gamers in a variety of virtual worlds since before Pac-Man found his Ms. in 1982. A handful of such relationships succeed while the majority of them fall short. Here’s a journey across the history of video games to highlight 10 relationships that stood out.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
As the focus of CD Projekt RED’s Witcher game series is to drop the player into the center of an insanely expansive environment with a ton to do, romance is obviously on the menu. When it comes to romance, the original Witcher game was a tad suss, awarding Geralt trade cards for berating women. Yet, by the third installment, we had a complete love triangle, forcing our hero to choose between the sorceresses Triss and Yennefer. Each has a compelling and satisfying plot, but if we had to choose only one for you to follow, it would probably be Yen’s.
Life Is Strange: Before the Storm
How could a series about high schoolers not contain some romantic intrigue in each of the Life is Strange games? Yet, Before The Storm(Opens in a new window), the prequel that made Chloe the protagonist and explored how the events of the first game began, is the one that succeeds the best. If you allow it, Chloe and fellow student Rachel’s relationship may develop from trouble-making buddies to something more, and everything that happens seems genuine and believable. The awkwardness, mystery, and appeal of interpersonal interactions are at the heart of romance, and Before The Storm does a masterful job of capturing these.
Tim Schafer’s 1998 LucasArts classic Grim Fandango is an excellent example of how adventure games are ideal at developing strong connections with people. You have to determine why the attractive, dead Meche Colomar isn’t scheduled to ride the express train to paradise as the skeletal travel agent Manny Calavera. The game, Capybara Clicker which spans a period of four years, follows Manny through the afterlife as he attempts to make things right and develops a romantic relationship with Meche. At the conclusion, you’ve not only made amends with the cosmos but also met the love of your afterlife, and the two ride the train out into the distance together.
Seeking vengeance for a loved one’s death is an ancient video game theme, and most of the time the player doesn’t sense the emotional connection that should exist. Yet even though it’s a short game, The Darkness from 2007 is that uncommon game that genuinely sells the relationship between the protagonist and love interest. You take on the role of Mafia hitman Jackie Estacado in this comic book adaptation. He is empowered in his mission by a mystical force. Some of the most genuine and real-world romantic moments ever witnessed in a video game can be found in the sequences between Jackie and his love Jenny. This is one that you owe it to yourself to play.
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
Putting two individuals together who don’t get along and seeing things evolve is a traditional romantic cliche. You take control of the daring Monkey in Enslaved(Opens in a new window), a 2010 video game from Ninja Theory, as she travels with Trip to her house. But he’s not going along for the voyage voluntarily—Trip has a slaver’s collar fastened to him that will go off if anything happens to her. While this metaphor is a touch kinkier than what we’re accustomed to in video game romances, what’s fascinating is how the two become more and more dependent on one another as their love develops. It’s an excellent illustration of how a game’s fundamental gameplay elements may enhance its emotional story.
To the Moon
Anybody interested in how video games may evoke strong emotional ties must play this amazing role-playing game from 2011. In the future, a business has developed technology that allows individuals who are near death to have fabricated memories implanted into them, allowing them to die away guilt-free and regrettably. In order to understand Johnny’s yearning to visit the moon, two scientists penetrate his dying mind. Instead, they discover that they are restoring Johnny’s lost memories of River, his childhood love. It’s one of the most moving video games ever created and a beautiful, depressing meditation on love, grief, and regret.