It’s almost February 14th-ish again. Well, it’s been a year (since the last Valentine’s Day), so it doesn’t surprise me. Since your hands aren’t wrapped tight around your controller playing console release of Darksiders Genesis, we have a little feature on some of the most prominent video game trysts, romances, tragic love stories, and relationships in general. 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!

List of Top 20 Romances in Gaming

GameGenreRelease yearCheck price below
Saints Row IV
Action-adventure2013Buy now!
Dishonored
Stealth, action2012Buy now!
Dream Daddy
Visual novel2017Buy now!
Shadow of the Colossus
Action-adventure2018Buy now!
Gears of War
TPS2016Buy now!
Final Fantasy VII
jRPG2016Buy now!
Planescape: Torment
RPG, Fantasy2017Buy now!
The Darkness II
FPS2012Buy now!
Dragon Age
Fantasy2014Buy now!
Mass Effect
Action RPG2012Buy now!
Life is Strange: Before the Storm
Graphic adventure2017Buy now!
Uncharted 4: A Thiefs End
Action2016Buy now!
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Action-RPG2015Buy now!
Red Dead Redemption
Open-world2010Buy now!
Assassin’s Creed OdysseyStealth2018Buy now!
Deus Ex: Human RevolutionFirst person shooter2011Buy now!
Divinity: Original Sin 2Role-playing2017Buy now!
Fallout 4Action RPG2010Buy now!
GreedFallAction RPG2019Buy now!
L.A. Noire: Complete EditionAction-Adventure2011Buy now!

Saints Row IV

Genre:Action-adventure
Release year:2013
Romance status:Free-for-All

Hey, Kinzie!
Volition’s delightfully cooky third-person insane gangster simulator takes a lot of piss out of video games in general.

Saints Row IV: Game of the Century Edition - gameplay

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.

Dishonored

Genre:Stealth, action
Release year:2012
Romance status:Canon, but death did them part

Un-Attano-ble love
Kind of low-key romance video game, 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.

Dishonored - fighting gameplay

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.

Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator

Genre:Visual novel
Release year:2017
Romance status:Multiple possible romance options

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.

Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator - gameplay

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.

Shadow of the Colossus

Genre:Action-adventure
Release year:2018
Romance status:It’s complicated

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.

Shadow of the Colossus PS4 - gameplay

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.

Gears of War

Genre:TPS
Release year:2016
Romance status:It’s complicated

All hope is Santiagone
Yet another sad story, because apparently people can’t get invested in happy ones?

Gears of War 4 - the main characters

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.

For a 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.

Final Fantasy VII

Genre:jRPG
Release year:2016
Romance status:Several possible romance options

Material girl
No, it’s not about Yuffie.

Final Fantasy VII & Final Fantasy VIII Double Pack - gameplay

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.

Planescape: Torment

Genre:RPG, Fantasy
Release year:2017
Romance status:It’s complicated

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.

Planescape: Torment Enhanced Edition - gameplay

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.

The Darkness II

Genre:FPS
Release year:2012
Romance status:It’s cosmically complicated

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.

The Darkness II Limited Edition - gameplay

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.

Dragon Age

Genre:Action RPG, Fantasy
Release year:2014
Romance status:Several possible romance options

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.

Dragon Age: Inquisition Game of the Year Edition

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.

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.

Mass Effect

Genre:Action RPG
Release year:2012
Romance status:Several possible romance options

RPG with romance options
Ah, Shepard. What a trail of broken hearts you’ve left in your wake.

Mass Effect - gameplay

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.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm

Genre:Graphic adventure
Release year:2017
Romance status:It’s temporarily complicated

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.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm

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.

Overall, there isn’t much joy left for anyone involved, but life lessons and valuable experiences rarely are joyous.

Uncharted 4: A Thiefs End

Genre:Action-Adventure
Release year:2016
Romance status:It’s very dynamic

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.

Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

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.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Genre:Action RPG
Release year:2015
Romance status:Two main romance options and a few more on the side

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.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - gameplay

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.

Red Dead Redemption

Genre:Open-world, action adventure
Release year:2010
Romance status:Canon

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.

Red Dead Redemption - gameplay

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.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Genre:Action role-playing, stealth
Release year:2018
Romance status:It’s complicated

It’s all Greek to me

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey wasn’t particularly limiting as far as romances go. Whoever you chose as the Misthios, be it Kassandra or Alexios, could romance just over a dozen different characters non-exclusively.

Assassin's Creed Odyssey

Most of them are affairs more than romances, but they still play out over several missions in a questline, and have time to develop a bit. Which is nice. Things change in the DLC.

Legacy of the First Blade deals, in part, with continuing the bloodline, since genealogy is extremely important in this franchise. Since the game doesn’t limit the trysts to heterosexual relationships, the DLC, in its present state allows the player to choose whether Alexios/Kassandra settle out of love for their partner, or they state it was just a matter of duty. As a result, the romance might not even be there, even if a child was born and cared for by the parents. It’s complicated.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Genre:Action role-playing, first-person shooter, stealth
Release year:2011
Romance status:Canon, but complicated

He really didn’t ask for that

Every playthrough of Deus Ex: Human Revolution begins with you a gruff security chief Adam Jensen, casually speaking with your ex, Megan Reed.

Deus Ex Human Revolution - shooting

And it sounds nice, although brief, it sets up their relationship nicely, suggesting well that they had a lot of history. Despite their pre-story break up it’s clear they still care about one another.

Of course, things go pear shaped quickly and Jensen ends up getting the Robocop treatment minus the brainwashing. Regardless, when Jensen gets back in the swing of things, his feeling for Megan remain essential, and they get very complicated later on, but that’s what makes it interesting. One might argue that since they were one another’s exes it shouldn’t count as a romance, but it plays out like one, so it ends up here.

Divinity: Original Sin 2

Genre:Role-playing
Release year:2017
Romance status:Several possible romance options

EnSourcelled

Original Sin 2 gets a spot here by virtue of providing options that few games, except maybe BioWare productions, dare to have, so let’s go over them. There is a human minstrel haunted by literal demons.

Divinity: Original Sin 2 - description of the protagonist

An elven assassin with a needle she needs to bury in a few throats. A dwarven exiled noble turned…revolutionary. A haughty lizard prince, also exiled. A human ranger with a few plot-relevant grudges. And an undead, or rather: undying scientist from a forgotten are in Rivellon’s history.

The funny thing is that you can play as any of them and romance more or less any other, or you could make an original character…and romance others as well. And the relationships take their sweet time to develop, since a linear progression through regions and events allowed the writers to handle pacing pretty well. Some prospects are more rewarding than others, but pursuing certain romances is quite nice and involves building trust and support. Very good voice acting also helps.

Fallout 4

Genre:Action role-playing
Release year:2010
Romance status:Several possible romance options

Single parent, will travel

The presence of romance options in Fallout 4 is a bit amusing, because, from your (customisable) player character’s point of view, they’ve only JUST lost their son to kidnappers, and only JUST lost a spouse to a destroyed cryopod.

Fallout 4 - the characters

But since you’re a fresh widow/widower there’s no harm in looking around, is there? There are eight prospective partners total, and with high affinity.

The weird thing about Fallout 4 romances is that should you work the Affinity up, and take a nap alongside your partner, you get a minor experience gain rate bonus. And you can nap with the likes of Preston Garvey, if you’re into powerful men, or Magnolia, if you take a shining to a more artistic soul. Either way, you’re likely to find an agreeable companion and a nice bedfellow.

GreedFall

Genre:Action role-playing
Release year:2019
Romance status:Several possible romance options

Love is the cure

GreedFall doesn’t get much exposure, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to write about. The romances, for instance. If didn’t know better, you’d be able to mistake GreedFall for a BioWare RPG, so of course there are romance.

GreedFall - the monster

There are only five options, rookie numbers by standards set by BW, but that means they could have received more attention from the developers.

Every romance subplot plays over a few quests, and depending on who you want to woo, you will face a different amount of time before you’re able to finalize the relationship. The characters are quite likeable, because they are given the time to be, and their personal questlines give the player a good chance to see what matters to them, and to show support. Like the game itself, romances are worthwhile while they last.

L.A. Noire: Complete Edition

Genre:Action-adventure
Release year:2011
Romance status:Canon, and complicated

Drown your regrets

L.A. Noire, like any good noir crime story, an ill-fated romance was bound to happen, the genre demands some adherence.

L.A. Noire: Complete Edition - the protagonist

As a result we’re dealing with a story about Cole Phelps’ troubled marriage with Marie Phelps, as well as his extramarital affair with a singer, Elsa Lichtmann. The story doesn’t end well, and the causes for the stem from Phelps’ time as a soldier during the Okinawa campaign.

His time as a soldier changed Cole, he returned to Marie and their two daughters as an emotionally distant man, who threw himself into his work. This is where he met Elsa, amid an investigation. Their affair ended up costing him a rapidly developing career, and his marriage. Like many other romances on this list, this one gets only a bad ending, but it also plays out true to the literary genre it refer to. And the real, human drama underlying the story beats of Phelps’ romantic meanderings can be quite sympathetic, even if you disagree with his choices.

Happiness is out there. Somewhere probably

Yeah, the list turned out to be a little bit less upbeat than originally intended. Sorry about that, but apparently video game writers tend towards sad and ill-fated romances over happy and rewarding ones. Possibly it tells something about us as consumers that we gobble such stories whole. Either way, PC and console games with romance options are plenty, and most people will find one that suits their dramatic or emotional preferences.

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, hopefully you’ve found some inspiration and renewed hope from at least one love story in the games we covered.