It’s February, which means love is in the air, and Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. While some gamers may be out and about celebrating with a loved ones, others may choose to celebrate by enjoying a little romance in their favorite video game. Plenty of video games have romance options but few get it right. Here are some of our favorites.
For those invested in BioWare’s Dragon Age series, there is a level of romance here that really pulls on the heartstrings. As the Inquisitor, players have the choice of a variety of romances, each tailored uniquely to that love interest. However, regardless of whom the players choose to pursue, these romances will stand by the Inquisitor’s side at the end…with the exception of Solas. Arguably the most stringed-along, heartbreaking romance in the series, Solas is returning for Dragon Age 4 in a way that will likely put an end to this romance, for some.
Far Cry 3 may not be the most conventional or expected game to find on this list. The protagonist, Jason Brody, is tasked with saving his old life, his old friends, and his old love — Liza Snow — while simultaneous being pulled into a realm of darker love by Citra. While it is clear that Jason and Liza were heavily romantic at some point, the events of the game exacerbate a growing rift between the two. And once Citra enters the picture, the game offers a deep commentary on love, as Jason eventually has to choose between his old life (Liza and his friends) and new life (Citra). Now, thanks to the release of the Classic Edition, fans can witness this dark, obsessive romance on PS4 and Xbox One.
Fire Emblem Awakening gives players the option to marry off a number of their characters, which usually results in these characters fighting side by side before and after the marriage. This semblance of union gives players’ characters’ buffs and penalties and builds on the connections the player creates. In other words, this game requires players to put more thought into marriage than they would initially expect.
When players dive into the prequel story of Life is Strange: Before the Storm, they may already know where things are headed. But over the course of this game, they get to choose whether Chloe’s and Rachel’s relationship was romantic or platonic, with both being of equal measure as far as the storytelling goes. This choice naturally fits into the narrative, doesn’t feel forced, and is incredibly rewarding no matter what the player chooses. Moreover, if a player does choose to romance Rachel, it still works organically and perhaps tugs at the heart more.
Over the course of Mass Effect 2‘s campaign, players can choose to romance a number of crewmates and characters and strengthen that bond by way of loyalty missions. They can portray Commander Shepard as a lone wolf with no ties, or a dedicated partner who cares for only one mate. Whatever the case may be, BioWare’s beloved sequel gives players tons of choice and helps make those choices matter. Whether players choose the Justicar Samara, the vigilante Garrus, the assassin Thane, the Cerberus Officer Miranda, or any of the myriad options, players can be sure that they are in for a true blooming romantic subplot.
Although players may now want to wait until the release of Persona 5 R, the base Persona 5 release offers a variety of romance options that lead to growth for both the protagonist and those characters that they romance. The visual style may suggest otherwise, but Persona 5 goes much deeper into the dynamics of a relationship and how those can influence an individual’s personality.
On the surface level, romance and marriage in Stardew Valley may seem like a contrived mechanic, but some may enjoy the “work” that goes into wooing a town resident. Then, the married life begins, as this character will move into the farmhouse, perform chores, and grow jealous if the player decides to pursue other characters. Divorce is even an option. While this may all sound mundane, it is a realistic romance done right with all the Stardew Valley options befitting the real-world equivalent.
In The Darkness, players take on the role of Jackie Estacado as he uses the power of the darkness to avenge the death of his girlfriend, Jenny Romano. Not only are Jackie and Jenny one of the best gaming couples, but also their relationship is portrayed naturally with what little screen time is available.
Only in the world of The Sims can a couple meet, get together, get married, and conceive a child all in one day. Of course, for those who prefer a more natural pace, The Sims 4 provides plenty of features to get the mood just right. This ranges from the date option to a variety of romance moods and flirts. And for those who want a real whirlwind romance, The Sims 4 will even let players romance Santa Claus.
While fans of The Witcher franchise may be waiting for the mature experience promised by the Netflix series, there is nothing stopping them from experiencing it for themselves in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Because of Geralt’s role as a Witcher, he has an overdeveloped libido, which leads to a series of romances between characters like Keira Metz, Shani, Syanna, and more. Even amidst the potential for promiscuity, the game does an excellent job of dealing with the matters of the heart via Triss and Yennefer. The game may let Geralt choose freely who he romances but many players will face a truly tough decision when it comes to a potential commitment.
All things considered, romance can do much for a video game, whether it’s up to player choice, as a subplot, or woven into the narrative. Because it can add so much, romance in video games is not likely going away any time soon, and hopefully, more games learn from those experiences listed above.