Love, romance, sexual attraction, all the good stuff that we lonely and emotionally fragile humans yearn for and will do all kinds of crazy things in order to try and secure. Is it any great wonder that as video games increase in sophistication, the most complex element of human interaction is addressed more regularly: the affairs of the heart?
Here are the front runners of memorable romances from my gaming history. Let us know in the comments which games really struck a chord with you by adding a touching and believable love story.
SPOILER ALERT: The following romances discussed contain details about the endings or major plot points of the games they feature in.
Ada and Leon (Resident Evil 2 & 4)
Ada Meets Leon Years After Racoon City Incident – Resident Evil 2 Remake 2019
Bless them, Ada and Leon aren’t a regular couple by any stretch of the imagination. Where Leon is essentially a good-natured soul fighting on the side of law and order, Ada is an inscrutable and capricious mystery whose own ends come first.
However, even in the (comparatively) jerky animation and stilted dialogue of the legendary 1998 classic Resident Evil 2, Capcom did a good job of fanning the flames of a hopeless romance. Leon’s impassioned efforts to haul her over the railing near the game’s conclusion and his cries after she falls are a formative memory of my gaming past!
Fortunately, Ada is back to watch over Leon from the shadows in Resident Evil 4, showing that although they aren’t together, she clearly cares deeply for him too
Cloud and Aeris (Final Fantasy VII)
This tops the list of many RPGers as the most tragic romance of video gaming history. The flower seller who asks the mercenary to be her bodyguard for the price of a date. It’s hardly a classic romance story but it is an exciting one.
Aeris might have been pretty annoying as she ran off without telling Cloud where she was going, but the climactic death scene was a nasty shock nevertheless! The cinematic may not look like much now but at the time it was moving enough to pump me up to really lay some hurt on Sephiroth!
Me and Viconia (Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn)
Legendary RPG makers BioWare have almost always added a romantic element into their games. From Neverwinter Nights to Dragon Age, the player will have a range of options regarding who to seduce in the attempt to move things towards an awkward fumbling and heavily implicit sex scene… and towards true love too, of course!
Baldur’s Gate 2 is my favorite RPG of all time and one of the reasons for this is the genuine sense of attachment I felt to the cast of party members who come and go throughout the vast adventure. While there are plenty of memorable characters, Viconia holds a special place in my heart as the tortured and impossible-to-please Drow beauty who cannot resist giving you the sharp edge of her tongue.
She was incredibly moody and haughty by turns but once I’d won her affections she showed a deeply emotional and fragile side that made her a truly well-rounded character.
She also kicked ass the best cleric in the game. Hands down!
John Marston and Bonnie MacFarlane (Red Dead Redemption)
Another tale of love that simply isn’t meant to be. However, it’s the unspoken depth of feeling that makes this one memorable. Bonnie’s proud independence and Marston’s inconveniently existing wife mean that this is a romance that is doomed never to blossom fully.
Having said that, there are many touching moments of affection and “Will they? Won’t they?” dilemmas that keep you guessing until the game’s conclusion.
Guybrush Threepwood and Elaine Marley (Monkey Island series)
These two have perfect chemistry that plays out across the many Monkey Island games as the noble yet often bumbling Guybrush gels with the decisive and intelligent Elaine.
It’s gratifying to see Elaine take the lead and for the two of them to get each other out of peril so often. In an equal partnership with no “damsel in distress” syndrome, theirs is a romance that is as touching as it is frequently hilarious.
Commander Shepard and Liara T’Soni (Mass Effect 1 & 2)
Once again, BioWare presented the player’s character, Commander Shepard, with a whole bevy of male and female romance options to distract them from the minor business of saving the galaxy. There’s nothing like an emotional attachment to get in the way of making important decisions that might affect the lives of untold millions.
As the hot blue bisexual alien, Liara presents the player with a “Captain Kirk” situation where they can boldly go where no man –or woman – has gone before. The furore over this rather tame human-on-alien dalliance was certainly memorable from a media perspective as several news outlets (ahem, FOX) jumped all over Mass Effect and its developers for the game supposedly “pornographic” content. Anyone who romanced any of the NPCs to the point of consummation will know how ridiculous a claim that was.
So there you have it. While games may not often be able to tell a love story as effectively as a movie or novel, examples abound where well-crafted and believable romances can blossom in the middle of situations as diverse as a zombie virus outbreak or galaxy-spanning war.
Which game has your favorite or most memorable romance?