Despite Valentine's Day being a stupid holiday created by greeting card companies to make more money, I've always been a bit of a sucker for it. I love romance in all its forms, but I'm especially guilty of becoming deeply invested in fictional relationships. Deep friendships and blossoming romances have long been a staple of various mediums, and videogames are no exception.
Whether they're used as a vessel for storytelling or simply as a fun little side story, there are tales of love to be found all over our Steam libraries. I asked the PC Gamer team to grab their Cupid's bow and tiny heart-shaped arrows for the best romances (or bromances!) PC gaming has to offer.
Tidus and Yuna – Final Fantasy 10
Mollie Taylor, Features Producer: If there is one videogame love story that consistently puts me through the emotional wringer, it's Tidus and Yuna's in Final Fantasy 10. You spend so many hours watching these two characters falling in love with each other—occasionally played out in painfully cringeworthy laughing scenes—and the way both characters grow both together and apart.
The whole build-up culminates in one of my favourite scenes from any game, where the two finally have their big moment (opens in new tab) in Macalania Woods. It's a story filled with heartbreak too, and no matter how many times I play through the game I still cry like a baby.
Harry and Kim – Disco Elysium(opens in new tab)
Ted Litchfield, Associate Editor: There's nothing explicitly romantic about the relationship between Precinct 41's Lieutenant double-yefreitor Harrier "Harry" (to his friends) Du Bois and Precinct 57's Lieutenant Kim "Kimball" (to his enemies) Kitsuragi, but nevertheless I care about Kim and Harry's relationship more than any Final Fantasy fling or Bioware beau I've ever looked up a guide for.
Whether "DuBoitsuragi" is canon or not is of no import—their working partnership and blooming friendship is just masterfully done, standing alone as a platonic relationship or gelling nicely with whatever saucy dimension you want in that mind palace of yours. The fact that you have to earn Kim's trust, and that it's something you can waste away, makes his approval all the more meaningful to me. If you played a fascist Harry who got Kim's favorite radio DJ to hate him or, god forbid, left him hanging on an Ace's High, meet me out in the Walgreens parking lot in 15 minutes so we can settle this like adults.
Osiris and Saint-14 – Destiny 2
Tim Clark, Brand Director: Destiny 2 is fundamentally a game about committing extra-terrestrial genocide through the medium of space magic while hoovering up loot to do more massacres with. Not a great backdrop for romance, but it's a testament to the strides made by Bungie's narrative team that the remarkably tender romance between Osiris and Saint-14 has formed a major part of recent seasons.
For those not keeping up with the increasingly soapy storyline, Saint-14 is a legendary Titan Exo (ie sentient robot) once thought lost in time, fighting an eternal battle against the Vex. Having been rescued by the player, Saint rekindles his affair with the grumpy but brilliant Warlock Osiris. But—twist!—soon after, Osiris was ambushed by the Hive, who also killed his Morena Baccarin-voiced Ghost. The Witchqueen then took the bodily form of Osiris (don't ask how) to infiltrate both the Last City and his relationships with many of the game's major characters, including an increasingly suspicious and upset Saint.
Anyway, the resolution of that mess left Osiris in a coma from which he woke at the end of last season having drunk a mug of steaming tea boiled down from parts of the desiccated corpse of Nezarec, a long-dead Disciple of the Witness, which all things considered seemed to have a surprisingly restorative effect. At his bedside, the couple enjoyed a rare same-sex smooch considering this is a mainstream looter shooter. The Destiny 2 community mostly reacted happily and immediately christened the hot beverage 'Nezcafé'.
Leliana and the Grey Warden – Dragon Age
Lauren Morton, Associate Editor: Left to my own devices, I'll always return to a Morrigan or Fenris or Dorian romance but the best Dragon Age romance has to be Leliana and the Warden. She starts out Origins as a rather delusional follower of the Maker with a dark past, but throughout the game the Warden is there beside her as she questions her faith, confronts an old lover, and begins to truly make her own destiny during the blight. She becomes more contemplative and self-assured, making it clear that the Warden found her at one of the most pivotal points in her life—the makings of a lifelong relationship.
She returns throughout the series, though not as a romance option for later player characters. Despite BioWare's habit of the occasional retcon, Leliana's optional romance with the Hero of Ferelden remains untouched. Dragon Age: Inquisition's final DLC takes place 13 years after the events of Origins and their relationship is still ongoing, reuniting as often as their separate duties allow. Even if she's elected as the Divine (the Dragon Age Pope), she keeps the Warden by her side as her mortal spouse. Theirs is a romance of character growth, dedication, and a decade of yearning that spans the series.
Zagreus and Thanatos and Megaera – Hades
Jody Macgregor, Weekend/AU Editor: There's a quote from Parks & Rec that's become a bit of a meme, the one where April says, "This is my boyfriend Derek, and this is Derek's boyfriend Ben." Hades is that, only instead of Aubrey Plaza it's the fury Megaera and she's introducing her boyfriend Zagreus, prince of the underworld, and his boyfriend Thanatos, the embodiment of death. This is Greek mythology, have you heard what Zeus gets up to? Compared to that, polyamory is no big deal. Even if your girlfriend is the game's first boss, who probably kicked your butt a bunch of times. Zagreus has a kink, and that's OK. It doesn't involve turning into a swan or a shower of gold dust, so again, our short prince has got nothing on Zeus.
Noctis Lucis Caelum and Lunafreya Nox Fleuret – Final Fantasy XV
Robert Jones, Print Editor: This doomed and largely seen/hinted at only indirectly in flashbacks romance has really stuck with me largely due to how complex and it is. One of Final Fantasy XV’s greatest and, in my mind, overlooked qualities is how it seems to mirror a hauntingly real lifepath for its protagonist, with the dreams and freedom of youth giving way to the duty and restricted circumstances of adult life. This is even mirrored in the game’s structure, with the first half of the game taking place in an open world and letting the player explore and be free, only to then funnel them into a super linear experience for the back half. Noctis and Luna may have been friends since childhood, and that friendship may have developed into love, but regardless of their desires their union and happy ever after in life never materialises, with both having to sacrifice it - and indeed their very lives - in the name of duty. When Noctis and Luna are finally reunited and married in the afterlife, after so much pain and strife, it is a beautifully touching moment.
Aribeth de Tylmarande and Fenthick Moss – Neverwinter Nights
Robert Jones, Print Editor: Another doomed romance that has stuck with me largely due to its consequences rather than the shown interaction between its two characters and how their relationship is written. And boy, the dooming of this relationship almost brings doom upon the entirety of Faerûn. As Neverwinter Nights starts, the player is soon introduced to the relationship held between Lady Aribeth de Tylmarande, the elven paladin of Tyr, and Fenthick Moss, an elvent cleric of Tyr. Their devotion to each other is only second to that of their faith. So when Fenthick Moss is betrayed by a mentor and setup as the fallguy for the terrible crime of unleashing the Wailing Death plague upon the city, before then being brutally hanged and his body dumped in a pit, the fallout impact on Aribeth is devastating. Indeed, in a great twist only revealed late on in the game, Fenthick’s death drives her to renounce her faith, side with Neverwinter’s true enemy, and then as a fallen paladin lead an army in all-out war against the city. Aribeth feels she has nothing to lose now her great love has been taken from her and, with her future obliterated, is overwhelmed with vengeance and glorious purpose.
Iron Bull and me – Dragon Age Inquisition
Fraser Brown, Thirsty Editor: Since Ted cruelly took Harry and Kim before I could get in here, I have to go with my runner up: Freddie Prinze Jr. playing a one-eyed horny monster man. Yes, it's Iron Bull, one of Inquisition's top tier companions, and also a certified hottie… at least if you like giant, scary-looking dudes who are all fucked up with scars. And let's face it, who doesn't?
I'm a bit ambivalent about BioWare "romances", and for all the characters you can date across all of its games, it seems a bit scared to make them sexy or even slightly erotic, but romancing Iron Bull is a tonne of fun. You learn a bit more about Qunari culture, which is probably nice if your sexuality is "more lore, please", but what I really appreciate is how BioWare playfully juggles bawdy and caring. Iron Bull is a thirsty boy whose flirting is very direct, but he's also a very sweet dude who wants to make sure his partner is completely comfortable. It's probably one of the healthiest relationships BioWare's portrayed. So yeah, go ride the bull.
Kane and Lynch – Kane and Lynch: Dead Men
Dave James, Hardware Fella: Seriously, the fan fiction is off the hook.
Max Payne and Mona Sax – Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (and I don't care if it's obvious or cliched)
Love hurts. Happy #ValentinesDay from Mona Sax and #MaxPayne 💔 🔫 pic.twitter.com/mRUvIDAjRYFebruary 14, 2018
Andy Chalk, NA News Lead: Why has nobody done Max Payne and Mona Sax? This is peak stuff, an absolute classic: A doomed love between a broken-down cop and a stone-cold contract killer hell-bent on revenge, their fates irrevocably intertwined by bullets, blood, and a hot shower in a cold warehouse. Max kills for Mona; Mona saves Max. And in their final desperate moment, with Max at her mercy, she refuses to pull the trigger, and her life is traded for his.
"She was dead. The bullet in her head had come to the end of its slow-motion journey. Now, like all my loves, she is mine forever. She has brought me here, to this moment of clarity, where time slows down, and I choose to look back, to see myself. And in that act of seeing, I am reborn.
"I had a dream of my wife. She was dead. But it was alright."
There's actually a secret ending, for players who can finish the game's most difficult mode, Dead on Arrival. But in true Max Payne fashion, it's not real: In the canon, Mona Sax is dead, and Max is alone. It's so goddamn good.