This time every year, men and women across the globe are professing their mutual love for one another. This being my first Stir, I wanted to pick a topic that felt apropos.
I have been with my wife for over nine years. I knew that when I met her, I could stop looking. Stories in some of our games show examples of this as well. My personal favorite couple is Kaim and Sarah from Lost Odyssey. Both immortal, they can truly spend eternity together. To some, this may seem like it would get old and annoying, but people truly meant for each other will always find a way to work things out.
Romance and love are almost never at the forefront of a game’s storyline. They really make interesting subplots, though. In the case of Final Fantasy X, love plays a very healthy role in the storyline. In the case of Gears of War, one has to work to see the role that love plays there. In other titles (Mass Effect franchise, Dragon Age Origins, etc), love isn’t even a mandatory part of the player’s experience, but a path that is available to them. If you are a completionist like me, though, you will end up with someone.
If video games are going to be treated as a serious medium on par with film, then I urge studios to incorporate the emotions of the heart more often. Red Dead Redemption is a fantastic story, mainly due to the fact that Marston is going through all of the game’s events in order to get back his son and wife, whom he loves dearly, regardless of their past. The Grand Theft Auto franchise has never really gone the ‘love’ route so much as the occasional smattering of sex (which doesn’t count, in my opinion).
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Some may see this as cheating, but my personal favorite love story in a videogame is that which appeared in the smash indy hit, Braid. Not only is Braid my favorite videogame love story, but also happens to be one of my favorite games of all time.
For those of you that have played through Braid, and obsessed over its complex story, will find one so deep and rich, and most of all, unexpected. On the surface it appears to be simply about one man –Tim, who’s Princess was snatched up by evil, and as a result is left with nothing but ill feelings of regret. As you reach the end you as the player realize that things may not be how they seem. Your rescue mission ends up not being a rescue at all.
The game had a huge impact on me, and I delved deeper into the story once reaching the end and finding the mysterious clues strewn about, along with the hidden stars that need to be collected in order to get the real ending. You find that the Princess actually represents the atomic bomb, and the story is not only one of love, but obsession. If you’ve yet to experience the beauty of Braid, please download it, and play it with your Valentine. Your mind’s will be blown.
Also, download one of the songs in it, “Lullaby Set” by Shira Kammen and Swan, from Wild Wood.
Of course mine is Tidus and Yuna from Final Fantasy X. The storyline for that game is fantastic as far as a love story goes. Tidus finds out that Yuna has to give her life to save the world, but he refuses to let that happen and wants to find an alternative method. I won’t spoil the ending, but I cried!
The first thing that springs to mind about romance and/or love in games is the Mass Effect franchise. In both games the romance subplot has been well written and always felt natural without being the main story driver or something was tacked on to sell games and/or gain publicity (not that it didn’t also do this) From the two games my favourite “romance” was with Tali, her story seemed the most realistic having being developed over two games and multiple years (in game time)
As couples go, I liked the unsaid and unexplored bond that developed between Monkey and Trip throughout the Enslaved game and I hope that they are revisited in the future (but I doubt this will ever happen) a special mention has to go to Heavy Rain, not for merit but for most obvious and most tacked on romance plotline.
At the end of the day, I appreciate a good love story and I’m not ashamed to admit it, but it needs to feel real. If you want to tell the story of a couple then you need to tell the story of the couple. Both characters need to be developed; they both need personalities, thoughts and emotions. If one character only exists as a love interest for another then you will rarely get a believable story.
Finally, if I had to pick 5 characters who I would like to send a card to or receive one from the in no particular order:
- Jade (Beyond Good and Evil)
- Rikku (Final Fantasy X and X-2)
- Alyx Vance (Half Life 2, and Half Life 2 Episodes 1 and 2)
- Tali (Mass Effect 1 and 2)
5. Zoe (Left 4 Dead)
Mitchell Broussard | ChaosWalking | Twitter |
My earliest experience with how deep a romantic storyline can go, but yet staying pretty damn simplistic, was in Shadow of the Colossus. There are many reasons the game is one of my all time favorites (haunting open world, epic boss fights, simple yet engrossing game design) but it’s really always been the sweet and simple story of “save the princess” that gets to me. This guy brings a girl over from some other land, and commits to destroying 16 giant beasts just to bring her back to life? The two barely speaking a line of dialogue (well besides the endless amusement of mashing the “call horse” button) throughout the entirety of the game? That, to me, must be one hell of a devotion to someone. Seriously, when you know someone would destroy over a dozen ancient colossi for your undying love, lock that one down. It doesn’t beat you over the head with how much they’re in love (hell she could even be his sister for all we know), it’s about as subtle as you can get. It assumes it’s audience is grown up and mature enough to grasp these concepts, and for that reason alone the love story in it deserves to be called one of the best in gaming.
MY FINAL STIR
Love is an essential life function. People who have experienced the emotion know what I mean. Those few of you that haven’t experienced it, you have my sympathy. I’ve always made it my personal goal in life to find that special person that God (or whatever diety/higher power you believe in, or even the universe itself) placed in this universe. Many would perceive this as a ‘soul mate’, but I don’t really believe in soul mates. I believe that each person has a set personality that melds well with certain other people’s personalities. It just takes time (and sometimes, just dumb luck) to find one of those special people.
What do YOU think, Platform Nation?
THE RULES FOR STIR ARE SIMPLE
I pick a topic and ask the Platform Nation writers, editors and staff to send me their opinions. Thanks go out to all the Platform Nation writers who contributed to Stir this week. They are all part of the best writing team in the industry and I couldn’t do this without them.
Now, drop down into the comment box below and let us know your favorite couple, female or male character (that you would ‘love’ if they were ‘available’), or romantic storyline/niche to a game’s story or even universe. Basically, if it has to do with the emotion of love in video games themselves, it’s fair game, so hit me with it down below.
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**Much thanks to YRPT at deviantart.com for the image of Sarah and Kaim, as I scoured the web and found no other images. Very well done, sir.**