The Best — And Worst of Video Game Romances
by Robert Wery & Tracie Hearne
Mass Effect - Perhaps one of the most notable games with romance involved is the Mass Effect trilogy. It is very easy to become attached to each of Shepard's squadmates, choosing different dialogue to learn about their past and connecting with their stories. With some flirty exchanges, you can watch a budding romance grow into a full-blown cutscene. There are almost too many options of potential romances within the Mass Effect trilogy that can be followed through each game. Unless you choose Thane, because you know it will end in sadness because of his terminal Kepral's Syndrome (but he still is one of the best FemShep romance options, ‘nuff said).
Knights of the Old Republic - With only two options in this game (three if you count the secret Juhani fling) between Bastila or Carth, Bioware made the choice to pursue love a difficult one. If a male Revan is chosen, the dark side turned Bastila attempts to seduce the PC both religiously and romantically. If accepted, the party is ripped apart with betrayal and murders, making for a difficult to swallow ending. One of the most heartbreaking things about this series, however, is the tantalizingly nonexistent third installment. And don’t tell me to play SWTOR, it’s not the same!
Dragon Age: Inquisition - Yet another Bioware special, Dragon Age: Inquisition brings some fully fleshed out characters with options to enter relationships, if the player so desires. Filled with mortal danger and plenty of political intrigue, Dragon Age isn't just about who the player finds most attractive, but also about actually getting to know your party members. As time passes and actions occur, not only do the party member's opinions of you change, but the more you get to know them the more your opinions may sway as well. Decisions, decisions...
Stardew Valley - You could work day and night on your farm, maintaining the crops in the fields, venture into the mines for valuable treasure, or you could put all of your time and energy into wooing single townsfolk. While actually presenting the special bouquet from Pierre's store initiates marriage with the NPC, it's more the friendship that Stardew Valley is known for. How else are you supposed to get into their locked rooms for the sweet quest items?
Fable - Nothing quite says true love like a Heroic pose into Flirt spam. Fable's "subtle" British humor and romance system was a little crude, but taught young gamers the value of spending time with your crush, building a relationship with them, doting them with gifts, making sweet black screen moaning, and then rotating to the other towns to keep up with your side bae(s).
Saint's Row 4 - When it comes to engaging in romantic activities (as the kids say) Saint's Row 4 took a more direct approach. Rather than beat around the bush through character development, the game allowed you to romance everyone. EVERYONE. Even the robot. But not Keith David, he has standards.
The Sims - The Sims is an iconic "romance" game in the sense that it is a cornerstone of the game's focus of raising a family. Or, you can choose the aspirational route of a "Romance Sim", where your Sim's dream is to have as many romances as possible in his or her lifetime without commitment. Watching your Sims cycle through different options to "flirt" with each other is half the fun -- the best part is when your two Sims have a high enough romance that inevitably leads to the famous "WooHoo" scene.