With love in the air around Valentine’s Day, the Sandbox team thought we’d take a look back at some of our favorite and most memorable video game romances from over the years.
Dan: One of the first game romances that comes to mind for me is Sora and Kairi in Kingdom Hearts. Ironically, I’m not sure it’s ever even confirmed they’re a couple and they spend limited time together throughout the adventure, but it’s heavily implied they have feelings for each other. I rented the first Kingdom Hearts at Blockbuster a handful of times before buying it, and my intrigue over their story was a big part of wanting to finish the game.
Elena: The Sole Survivor and Paladin Danse of Fallout 4. Even though the Brotherhood of Steel betrays him, you, as the Sole Survivor, have a beautiful opportunity to stand by him while he fights through an unimaginable identity crisis, and he will then stand by you in return.
Pat: I’ll go with Gone Home. Despite launching nearly a decade ago, Fullbright’s debut (and best) title remains an impressive achievement in interactive storytelling – especially in the way they depict Sam’s story. The game is short – so I won’t spoil the details – but what makes Sam’s particular love story stick out is the way it’s told entirely via a hodgepodge of contextual clues that players can discover in any order. You never actually meet Sam, or anyone for that matter, in the game but the way in which the character comes to life through scribbled notes, cassette tapes, SNES cartridges and more still lives rent free in my mind after all these years.
Rob: I really liked the romance options in Divinity Original Sin 2. Just the variety of options and storylines made things interesting and fun. The way the characters in the party interacted with each other throughout was great.
Sam: “Never Thought It Would End Like This, Huh Maria?” -Dominic Santiago, Gears of War 3
Though we all knew it would never end happy, the love story told of Dom and Maria in Gears 1 and 2 was heart breaking, part of me believed she would be ok. Doms love for Maria is one of purity that is hard to capture in real life, let alone a video game and is what spurs him on throughout Gears 1 and most of 2 until he finds her *spoilers* and then moments later has to end her suffering in a hauntingly beautiful moment in gaming history.
Tim: Unpacking delivers two memorable depictions of coupledom that both feel nuanced and real, all without ever showing us the characters themselves. It excels at creating spaces and objects which steadily insinuate details about their owners, especially as we move forward in time through the main character’s life. Moving into your first serious partner’s slick city apartment can feel like such an exciting step forward into love and maturity — until it becomes clear they didn’t make room for you or your things in their life (red flag, honey). But finding the right partner after some lessons learned and filling out a space together that reflects you both as individuals and as a couple offers its own form of romance.
Tyler: Having grown up on BioWare game romances, there are a million options that come to mind – but I have to go with a more recent find for me. Cloud and Aerith in Final Fantasy VII are just perfect. The brilliant performances of Cody Christian and Briana White in Final Fantasy VII: Remake brought together just how charming and sweet that duo could be. Going back to the original release for the first time, I still found their story heartfelt and impactful. The Gold Saucer date is I think one of my favorite gaming memories, and will stick with me forever.
Val: As far as game romances go, I have to pick my forever favorites, Zelda and Link. The Legend of Zelda is one of my all-time favorite franchises, and I’ve loved seeing how their story has been shown throughout the games’ various iterations and styles.
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