The Game of Love

Love is a wonderful thing. And I’m not just saying that because Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. I truly love love. I love reading about it, writing about it, watching movies about it, talking about it, being in it.

As some of you may know, in addition to loving love I also love video games. Especially adventurous, action-packed or RPG (Dungeons & Dragons) type games where I get to be a hero or heroine and beat some bad guys until they beg me to stop. Very few of these games include any romantic elements, which I try not to complain about since I can get my romance fix elsewhere. But still, I’ve always wondered why so many game developers seem to forget that love can be a great adventure too, and often a perilous one!  So when I encounter a game which also incorporates love – and I mean actually makes the romance part of the gameplay and not just back-story or an implied relationship – then I’m completely thrilled. THRILLED I tell ya!

Square’s RPG series Final Fantasy has always put a love story in nearly every game. My favorites so far are Final Fantasy VIII with the relationship between Squall and Rinoa, as well as Cloud/Aeris and Cloud/Tiffa in FFVII, and Tidus and Yuna in FFX and FFX-2.

Even the romance in these games were entertaining and  important parts of the story, they were linear and not really part of the gameplay, however. You couldn’t choose someone else to fall in love with it, or whether or not to fall in love at all.

So today I’d like to give a shout out to a few of the games I’ve played recently that were kick-ass and yet didn’t give love the backseat.

Dragon Age

What rocks about the romance in this game is that you have options. You’ll have 3 different possible love interests depending upon your character’s gender and the sexual orientations of the game characters. Other characters reacted to my chosen relationship (either with jealousy, disgust or warnings) and there were actual love scenes.

Surprisingly, the romance was intense enough to make me gush with joy but yet somehow the game remained gritty enough for my husband to enjoy without his manhood being threatened. And when I say “intense enough” I mean enough to actually invoke real emotion in the player.  Heh, at least for me anyways. I think I have a serious crush on Alistair. At least as serious as it can get with a digital dude. But let’s just say that I think this game is so nice, I”m playing it twice!

Fable II

Unlike Dragon Age, Fable II doesn’t have a written-out romance with a main character. Instead, the “romance” in this game is more like a mini-game, where you can flirt with random citizens of the towns you visit and possibly make them fall in love with you. What I thought was an interesting touch though was that you could choose a house to buy, get married and move your spouse into it. You can even buy furniture and decorations for your home, make love and have children. After a long, hard day’s work of beating and slicing bad guys to a bloody pulp you could return home to find your spouse and children waiting to greet you and offer you gifts.

I haven’t encountered another game yet that let’s you be a hero while also getting to play house. Nice!

Mass Effect

Mass Effect has a special place in my heart because it came out before Fable II and before Dragon Age. It is one of the first games I played that actually involved you in the romance instead of just having you watch it or hear about it, and gave you at least a couple of choice. Mass Effect 2 just came out. I bought it but haven’t opened it yet, and probably won’t get to it for a while. But I believe it will continue with the same kind of romantic awesomeness as the first installment, and therefore I will be playing it.

*sighs* Bestill my heart, o-wonderous-game-makers who aren’t afraid of a little romance! Keep them coming and I’ll keep playing them! (And with any luck, one day I’ll join their ranks with some romantic game creations of my own …)