5 Best Romances in Video Games

With Valentine’s Day finally upon us, I thought it would be appropriate to ponder over some of gaming’s best love stories.  I’ve narrowed it down to what I believe are 5 of the best romances in video games.

DISCLAIMER: I specifically did not want to include any romances that involved player choice, so that means none of Bioware’s work will be in the upcoming list.  I apologize to all the Liara fans out there.

5. Red Dead Redemption – John Marston and Abigail Marston

The pair of John and Abigail Marston is the most unique on this list because at the beginning of the game, their relationship is already settled.  John is leading the married life, with a dutiful wife and a young son, Jack.  The purpose of John’s mission is to establish a more stable and peaceful life for his family, while attempting to shed his sordid past.

In an era where prostitutes were plentiful and men were often unfaithful, John staying loyal to his wife throughout his travels was one of the more touching aspects of Red Dead Redemption.

The interplay between the two don’t surface until much later in the game, when John appears to have finally discarded his bandit life.  Whether he’s is tidying up the house or tending the ranch, these interactions are simple and sweet.  It’s quiet moments like these that encapsulate the ideal that John so desperately wants: a permanently tranquil life.

4. Uncharted – Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher

Nathan Drake is the embodiment of the dare-devil figure, constantly searching for endeavors that will lead to that ultra rare treasure that will net him and his partner Sully some cash.  Elena Fisher is the ambitious journalist looking for the next big scoop, and it’s through their jobs that they end up crossing paths.  Drake initially doesn’t want to bring along Elena in his expeditions because he feels like she would only hinder his progress, but with her tenacious attitude, their lives become more intertwined than they would have ever thought.  Through their perilous adventures, Nathan and Elena form a bond that serves as one of gaming’s best romances.

Chloe, although your accent is really hot, Elena will always be number 1.

3. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Phoenix Wright and Maya Fey

Phoenix and Maya met in quite possibly the most unceremonious way possible, with Phoenix defending her in a trial in which she is accused of murdering a family member.  Through this case, their business partnership starts with Maya becoming the secretary of the Wright & Co. Law Offices.  Maya’s spiritual abilities become a significant part of the courtroom drama, and her prowess repeatedly helps Phoenix turn it around when appears as though the deck is stacked against him.  In turn, Maya always finds herself in some awful situation where it’s up to Phoenix to save her.  And it’s in these cases in which it’s obvious that Maya is someone who Phoenix truly cares for.

The Phoenix Wright series is a franchise in which eccentric, goofy characters usually steal the show.  Most people in the universe act in ridiculous fashions that give the atmosphere a lighthearted feel.  But when the game focuses on cases that involve Maya and Phoenix is when the emotional undertones kick in.  Actually, just listen to this song and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

2. Deadly Premonition – Francis York Morgan and Emily Wyatt

At first glance, this game doesn’t have much going for it.  The graphics are shoddy, the shooting feels awkward, and the mission structure is repetitive and monotonous.  But the reason Deadly Premonition stands as a shining beacon in the deluge of third person shooters is because of its dark and twisted story.  And at the kernel of this morbid tale lies a heartfelt relationship which surprisingly became one of my favorite gaming romances.

Francis York Morgan is an FBI agent assigned to a murder case in the eccentric town of Greenvale, where its denizens are nothing short of peculiar.  He cooperates with the town’s police force, which Emily Wyatt works for.  Emily initially bears animosity towards York, as he often acts like a big city, hotshot detective who operates only on his terms.  But they slowly start to form a burgeoning connection, and York realizes he cares for Emily more than he thought.  Of course, the murder case involves Emily in some absolutely shocking ways, and the conclusion ended up being one of the most emotionally stirring finales in recent memory.

Although putting up with its wonky gameplay mechanics may be too much of a burden, I believe the pay off of the excellent story is worth it.

1. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West – Monkey and Trip

Monkey and Trip stands out to me as the best video game romance simply because the entire game, from both a gameplay and narrative standpoint, revolved around the interactions between the two.  The circumstances in which they met were hardly ideal.  Trip planted a potentially fatal headband onto Monkey and gave him an ultimatum: help me find my home, or I’ll kill you.  Monkey is unknowingly thrust into this ridiculous situation and has no choice but to aid Trip.  The rocky start begins to slowly smooth out as they realize they must continually rely on each other to survive this arduous journey.

With there only being a modest number of speaking characters, Ninja Theory was able to fully flesh out and characterize the essential figures.

How their relationship developed felt extremely natural and realistic.  Their budding affinity did not feel contrived at all; it was merely a product of trying to make it through a grueling trek in one piece.  Their feelings come about in a very believable way because they are forced to assist and depend on one another.  Enslaved also boasts some stunning motion captured animations that helped breathe life into the characters.  I have no hesitation in saying that the evolution of their relationship was by far the most gripping component of Enslaved.