It’s February 14th again. Well, it’s been a year (since our last Valentine’s feature), so it doesn’t surprise me.

Since your hands aren’t wrapped tight around your controller playing yesterday’s releases Kingdom Come: Deliverance and Dynasty Warriors 9, we have a little titbit on some of the most distinctive video game trysts, romances, and relationships. Happy, sad, or funny, we don’t discriminate.
So, without further ado let’s plunge right into the main event. As always, these are our subjective picks, so if you want to suggest more positions, do let us know in the comments.

OH. OH! I forgot.
THERE BE SPOILERS!
SPOILERS!

14. Saints Row IV

Hey, Kinzie!

Volition’s delightfully cooky third-person insane gangster simulator takes a lot of piss out of video games in general. With the insanity ramping up to 11 in the SR4, so did the humour and since the “real world” sections of the game take part in a spaceship, it created a perfect setup to poke BioWare’s Mass Effect in the ribs with a cattle prod.
Proving that he (or she) isn’t worse than The Shepard, the Boss gets to have a tryst with all the crew members. Yes, even the blue-eyed floating younger brother of HAL-9000. All it takes is initiating the conversation. Only two characters voiced by Keith David aren’t open for casual boinking on the bunk, but their cutscenes are funny nonetheless. And all it takes is pressing a button, perfecting (or satirising, your choice) the simplistic and straightforward romance mechanics in BioWare’s games.
What makes this whole thing even better is that the lines don’t change between female and male version of the Boss. It’s cheesy, it’s surprisingly genuine, and not at all preachy one way or another. Fun times all around (the ship).

You’re watching at your own risk. Snickering guaranteed.

Buy Saint’s Row IV now.

13. Dishonored

Un-Attano-ble love

Kind of low-key romance, as long as only the events depicted in the games are considered. During gameplay Corvo and Empress Jessamine shared maybe two minutes before things came to a head.
In the backstory, however, it’s clear that Jessamine and Corvo were 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.
The misalliance didn’t go unnoticed, of course, and rumours spread, especially since babies usually don’t pop out spontaneously after nine months of confusion.
It’s a shame Jessamine only got a brief appearance, and it’s goddamn terrifying that one of the gadgets gifted to Corvo by the Outsider is her steam-punked still beating heart which tells secrets about locations and people.
Talk about “My heart will always be with you”.
Sheesh.

Buy Dishonored now.

12. Dream Daddy

Bear-ly acceptable dad jokes

Who would’ve thought that a silly dating sim game likely made on a lark would possibly be an example of a game showing a pretty healthy way of meeting new people.
Sure, the premise is controversial, because 1) a dating sim, and 2) it’s all about relationships between, well, dads. Yes, it’s a game about same-sex romances. it’s also funny, cheeky, self-aware, and kind of heartfelt, even, although the last part mostly comes through in the relations of the protagonist-dad and his teenage daughter.
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 of visual novel/dating sims.
It’s a nice game, and a brief one, too.

11. Shadow of the Colossus

Monogamous Wanderer

What is it with sad stories that sticks with people? Shadow of the Colossus (recently remade by Bluepoint) is a remarkably sad game, whichever way you look at it. Take the basic premise.
A young man called Wander travels to a remote temple, carrying a body of a young woman named Mono. His goal? Resurrecting her, after a seemingly undeserved sacrifice to avert some sort of bad fate. Wander makes a deal with a devil, quite literally, and is willing to kill several enormous beasts as payment for the resurrection.
Of course nothing ever is easy, and the deal goes south in a way that would make Greek tragedies consider it harsh. In attempting to resurrect a woman close to him Wander allows the second coming of a demon, dies in the process, Mono may or may not be possessed by the female half of said demon, and a weird horned baby is found, suggesting further hurt.
To paraphrase Meat Loaf: he would do anything for love, but he shouldn’t do that.

10. Gears of War

All hope is Santiagone

Yet another sad story, because apparently people can’t get invested in happy ones?
The story of Dominic Santiago and Maria Flores dates back to the times when the two of them were still kids, way before the Locust emerged.
Fora while everything seemed fine, good, even. They married, and got themselves two children. But then 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 (“Processing”) 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.
For a series of bombastic shooters, the story of Dom and Maria struck a chord with many people, and with good reason. Seeing it unfold across games and books is something best experienced by oneself.

Buy Gears of War now.

9. Final Fantasy VII

Material girl

No, it’s not about Yuffie.
Aerith and Zack? Cloud and Aerith? Tifa and Cloud? Cid and his ship? Vincent and Lucrecia? There are several to consider here, is what I’m saying. And, true to this lists running motif, they all end in hurt.
Zack smashed his life in Aerith’s life and died promptly after that, leaving a strong impression on her and the flowers. Cloud smashed into her life (and flowers) and took her on an adventure that ended with the, admittedly rather cocky and headstrong, woman dying by being drowned (Sephiroth did nothing wrong).

Tifa found herself endlessly caring about the detached Cloud fixated on Aerith and his own unclear past. Vincent spent several decades sequestered in a coffin to atone for the sin of not being able to stop his love Lucrecia from unwittingly becoming Hojo’s incubator for Sephiroth.
Somehow all of it bounces back to Sephiroth and Hojo being big ol’ Richard-blockers.

Buy Final Fantasy VII (with FF VIII bundled in) now.

8. Planescape: Torment

Hot blood, cold steel

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 P:T, but worth remembering nonetheless.
It’s almost a non-romance, in a way. TNO and the young tiefling (a descendant of a tryst between a demon and a human sometime in the bloodline’s past) 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.
Black Isle, much like its direct descendant Obsidian didn’t like love stories, so the budding affection (even punctuated with a rather evocative description of a literal hot kiss) between the two broken people can 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.

Buy Planescape: Torment – Enhanced Edition now.

7. The Darkness 1 and 2

Celestial shenanigans

There were one two powers before the world was formed. Angelus and the Darkness. In addition to an eternal war between what they represented, they had a thing going on, from which the Witchblade was born. But that’s another story, best read from the pages of the Top Cow-published comic books.
Skip eons forward. Jackie Estacado is a boy living in an orphanage, where he met his life paramour, Jenny Romano. They spent years together, but things started to go south when Jackie was adopted by a mafia boss to be trained as a contract killer. They stayed in a relationship, until Jackie’s boss executed her in front of him, while Jackie, now a freshly awakened Darkness host, was forced to watch, immobilised by the entity.
After several roaring rampages of revenge and many, many nightmares in the second game Jackie descends into Abyss to discover that The Darkness kept Jenny’s soul hostage, and in the final moments it’s shown that she is in fact the new host of Angelus. The game end with the reborn avatar of Light leaving and Jackie and the Darkness trapped in Hell.
This love was clearly cursed from the start.

Buy The Darkness II now.

6. Dragon Age

Finding love in weird places

When Shepard was already Kirking around the galaxy there came Dragon Age: Origins, which solidified the new era of prominent romances in modern BioWare games.
The Grey Warden (a unisex title attributed to the player character to avoid confusion) could have trysts with multiple characters (not at once,unless it was Zevran and Isabela), but none so essential as female Warden’s possible romance with an unwilling soon-to-be-king Alistair or male Warden’s with witch Morrigan, whose mysterious plan can save your character’s life.

dragon age 2 anders romance

Source: CTRL+ALT+DEL

In Dragon Age: Inquisition the Inquisitor has many more romance options, including a cynical incognito god and a Templar going through withdrawal.
The quality differs from game to game and from character to character, but it’s usually cheesy and harmless enough, and the BioWare characters typically have enough personality and identity to carry the writing when needed.

Buy Dragon Age: Inquisition now.

5. Mass Effect

Reach and flexibility

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, male Shepard could smash bits with Ashley, Liara, Miranda, Tali, Jack, Samara, Morinth, or Kaidan. FemSheps could romance Kaidan, Liara, Jacob, Garrus, Thane, Samara, Morinth, Javik, or James. Yes, there is overlap, because apparently fighting a war against primordial biomechanical ships from the void makes people more open with their sexuality.
As you see, picking a particular pair isn’t easy, especially since none of them carry any importance for the plot. As far as personal preference goes, it would be Tali or Liara for male Shepard and Garrus for female. Word is he has reach.
Either way, the best part about having trysts with alien species are Mordin’s medical matter-of-factly advices on what not to do with them in the sack in Mass Effect 2. Good stuff.

Buy Mass Effect Trilogy now.

4. Life is Strange (Before the Storm)

Teenage Rampant Edgy Students

Much like Dream Daddy, the brand of romance shown here isn’t going to be for everyone, not least because you could package it neatly in a “teen love drama” paper and mail it to Edgy Magazine. Depending on where you are standing in your life, the convoluted, exploitative and, honestly, pretty messed up story of Max, Chloe and Rachel’s relation(ships) may be either a cathartic return to teenage years or a schmaltzy drama you can’t resonate with. Or anything in-between. But let’s get through the basics.

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 influenced her life forever. Good job being terrible, Rachel.
Over all, there isn’t much joy left for anyone involved, but life lessons and valuable experiences rarely are joyous.

Buy Life is Strange: Before the Storm now.

3. Uncharted

The true Drake’s fortune

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, called Cassie, who seems to take after her parents as far as character and interest in adventures are concerned.
Nathan and Elena’s twisting and turning relationship takes the best hints from decades of adventure fiction, perhaps most notably Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood. And unlike most stories on this list, it has a happy, wholesome ending. And that’s worth celebrating.

Buy Uncharted: Nathan Drake’s Collection now.

2. The Witcher 3

Yen, dos, Triss

Geralt has a way with women, and especially sorceresses are all over him, but none more than Yennefer of Vengerberg and Triss Merigold. Although in the games Yennefer has been mentioned only in the second game and wouldn’t appear until the third, her tumultuous relationship with Geralt has been explored at length across the original books by Andrzej Sapkowski. The on-off trysts (it really is a wonderful word) 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 choices to make in TW3 regarding Geralt’s love life. One of the most satisfying to this writer was a chance for breaking the djinn wish/spell binding Geralt and Yennefer together, a delightful nod to a short story describing their first meeting. In my playthrough Geralt broke up with Yennefer, after years of mutually assured headaches.
Who’s the better pick for your image of Geralt? A warm, love-struck Triss, for a happy, if mellow relationship? Or stormy Yennefer, guaranteeing many ups and downs along the way? Another alternative is making Geralt alone, that works too. Just don’t try to score with both Yen and Triss, it won’t end well for Geralt. Mildly NSFW.

Buy The Witcher III: Wild Hunt now.

PS: #teamShani

1. Red Dead Redemption

Good days are over

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 have 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.

Happiness is out there. Somewhere

Probably

Yeah, the list turned out to be a little bit less upbeat than when I set out to write it. Sorry about that, but apparently video game writers tend towards sad and ill-fated romances over happy and rewarding ones. I guess it tells something about us as consumers that we gobble such stories whole.
Alas, to close it off on a slightly more positive note, may your own romances be like Nathan and Elena’s – adventurous and dynamic. And if you’re going to be out there hunting for love, tune in to G2A’s livestream on February 14th to expand your library or horrible gaming pick-up lines and grab some loot in the process.
Cheers!