It’s Valentine’s Day, and the popular choice is to dig into a box of chocolates and put their feet up and watch a soppy rom-com. Although video games aren’t really renowned for having much to do in the way of romance, many people are surprised to see that video games can tell some of the best love stories out there. So, for Valentine’s Day, here are my top ten love stories in video games.
10) Jackie Estacado and Jenny Romano – The Darkness
Starbreeze Studios can pat themselves on the back for managing to achieve something that not many games have done before: Humanise a monster. Most people know the Darkness for its blood, violence and (as its title suggests) dark storyline however one of the most memorable parts for the players is the romance between Jackie and Jenny. The scene that will stick out in gamers who have played the game is Jackie’s birthday. It’s not over the top, there’s no triumphant quest to save Jenny, or soap opera dramatics between the top it’s just a normal everyday experience. It’s simply watching TV with your girlfriend. And that’s what makes it work. The realism; you can actually relate to the characters a lot more here, possibly more than any other on this list.
9) Dom and Maria Santiago – Gears of War
For a lot of first time players of the series Dominic Santiago was your brother in arms and between the two of you there was Locust blood spilled. Although the storyline was memorable Dom’s relationship often slips under the radar. In fact it’s only really eluded too in flashbacks and Dom’s dialogue, and one very emotional cut scene. You have to dig deeper to find out about their past but it adds a lot of depth to the characters.
Dom and Maria were childhood sweethearts, grew up together and fell in love. By the tender age of sixteen the couple were already married and had their first child. They have two more children in the following years; what could possibly go wrong? In a tragic turn of events the locust strike and kill the children and Maria’s parents. Unable to come to terms with the loss of nearly everyone close to her Maria disappears. It’s been ten years by the time of Gears of Wars 2 and Dominic has still not given up searching for his love. By the time you find her Maria is just an empty shell of a woman. It’s one of the stand out moments in the series, which is known for remarkable cut scenes.
It’s a tragic tale, yes, but this leaves a lasting impression with even the coldest player.
8) Max Payne and Mona Sax – Max Payne 1 & 2
Not many people try to kill the girl they end up falling for. Not many people though would fall for Max Payne though. It was always going to be tricky from the start, Max very much a tortured soul and Mona a cold contract killer. However their time together was very memorable and the duo had quite the screen presence. Having the chance to shoot Max she instead spares him and saves Payne from an ambush. And then once the story progresses and she has the same chance but again can’t bring herself to shoot him. Any doubts to their love are wiped away in one of the last scenes where Mona leaves a message on an answering machine confessing to be in love with Max.
7) Alan and Alice Wake – Alan Wake
Now here’s something a lot of couples can relate to, problems. The game goes along way into detailing how Alan became consumed by his work and how he looks to be driving away his wife with his antics. But the couple’s love for each other never dies and you can see throughout the game that they would both do anything for each other. Alan goes through hell on earth to help Alice, he descends into madness and the stuff of nightmares becomes a very dangerous reality. Nevertheless he pulls through, Alice on his mind and number one priority throughout. Alice has put up with the wedge that is being driven between the couple, but you always get the feeling that she will be there by his side no matter what, even if you are being a pain in the neck. That’s true love, right there.
6) Master Chief and Cortana – Halo
It’s very rare that you would ever find yourself warming to a blue hologram quite as much as you do to Cortana. Playing as Master Chief you develop such a strong bond between yourself and the AI, with a relationship based on the most fundamental aspect at all, absolute trust. There was always a flirtatious side to the pair throughout the series, even when Chief is faced with death they still flirt, but players’ ummed and arred as to whether anything will materialise between them. It wasn’t until Halo 4 where we see their true feelings show for each other. Never have the lines between man and machine been blurred so much.
5) Commander Shepard & your choice – Mass Effect series
I left this open to everyone because one person’s experience will no doubt be different to someone else’s. Being given the choice of who the player wants to peruse makes the love story a lot more real to the player because it replicates real world. Players choices lead to different storyline plots and drama can unfold just like real life. Learning the personality of the character while making your advances on them can be very entertaining, and gives the characters more depth. You have more freedom to project yourself onto Shepard through the choices you make. It’s a more realistic love story (bar the whole sci-fi element) because like the real world, you live with your actions.
4) John Marston and Abigail Marston – Red Dead Redemption
Some of the best love stories are not just about how two characters got together but the devotion to each other after the honeymoon period. John Marston is in the perfect location to do anything he wants. Surrounded by prostitutes and booze, he can easily disguise himself and get what he wants. Instead John passes up every single opportunity because the bond between him and his wife is so strong. A very unfamiliar characteristic of a western outlaw. John spends the whole game trying his best to free his wife and return to her. He even ditches the exciting life of crime and being an outlaw so he can fulfil a modest, happy life with his wife. If only things could stay like that forever eh?
3) Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher – Uncharted series
There’s no denying that these two unlikely individuals make quite the pair. Naughty Dog have done a great job of evolving the love interest between Drake and Fisher to make the Uncharted series stand out against competitors. And why does the love story work so well? Because the two shouldn’t be right for each other at all. Both are very independent, both have hectic life styles and you would think neither of them have time for a relationship. Yet these two love birds keep bumping into each other and we knew it’d only be a matter of time before the two eventually fell for each other. The witty banter, sentimentality and on screen chemistry make these two more real than a lot of couples out there in the real world.
2) Anyone – The Sims
For all those trying to get a date for Valentine’s Day or don’t have the confidence to approach people, why not create them virtually! The Sims is the perfect tool for creating your perfect house with your perfect life and your perfect version of you (let’s face it, who makes themselves ugly on the Sims.) . Throw into that your perfect date and sparks are bound to fly. Here you play God, whatever takes your fancy you can get. If you want to take the time forging a romantic relationships, creating an unbreakable bond between two virtual beings, then Sims is definitely the game for you. Whatever your idea of love is; whether that’s luring a one night stand into the pool and removing the ladder or a heartfelt embrace on your wife, The Sims has you covered.
1) Mario and Princess Peach – Mario series
Even if you’ve never picked up a video game in your life you have heard of this famous couple. Despite never really knowing if the two are an item or if Mario’s efforts are in vein one thing is clear; Mario loves that princess. The small Italian plumber works tirelessly to save his girl, overcoming near impossible odds to rescue the Princess for what seems the hundredth time of doing so. And his reward? Well it started with a simple thank you, grew into a big cake and then a good ol’ peck, so something is brewing there. In the short times where Peach isn’t in Bowsers’ castle the two are together side by side, whether that’s playing tennis, golf, go-karting or just having dinner waiting for Bowser. They are inseparable.
You could say it’s a tad one sided love affair, but the story is the cornerstone to gaming romances and almost 200 games later fans are still buying into it.