Valentine’s Day is here, and romance is in the air – and in your Xbox. Gaming romances might not be the first thing you think about when you consider booting up your console, but Xbox has been home to some very romantic stories over the years, from young love, to multi-game relationships, to bittersweet tragedies.
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite romantic moments in gaming from across the years, to help you get into the Valentine’s spirit. Warning! This article contains small spoilers for some of the games involved:
Sea of Thieves – Wild Rose Tall Tale
Sea of Thieves has become a more romantic place than you might expect for a pirate adventure sandbox – it’s been home to real-life meet-cutes and marriages, and even the game’s quests themselves have been known to err towards the romantic, too. That’s never clearer than in Wild Rose, a Tall Tale that leads players on the path of lost lovers George and Rose.
Having gone missing just before their wedding day, you and your crew use scattered diaries to learn how Geroge and Rose fell in love, got engaged, buried their treasured memories (they’re still pirates after all), had their first argument, danced their first dance, and, heartwrenchingly, met a tragic end. Thankfully, your adventure brings them back together in the afterlife, to dance together for eternity. It’s a bittersweet, but ultimately lovely reunion.
Rare has even uploaded the Tale’s soundtrack to Spotify if you want to relive the romance – why not use it as a soundtrack for the rest of this article? – Joe Skrebels, Xbox Wire Editor-in-Chief
The Outer Worlds – Parvati and Junlei
Each of the six NPC companions in The Outer Worlds will at some point ask you to help out with their personal escapades, but Parvati’s is simply delightful. On your travels, Parvati will meet engineer Junlei in a bid to learn more about how to repair your ship. Sparks fly, and Parvati will enlist your help in a series of romantic sidequests to woo Junlei, which include traversing the entire galaxy to find nice food and a dashing outfit.
One more delicate, unique element of Parvati’s fondness for Junlei is that she confesses to be asexual, and expresses that the more physically intimate parts of romance don’t interest her. Parvati is worried about how this may affect their relationship but, in the end, the feelings blossom and Parvati’s sexuality is not the hindrance she presumed it may be. A strong portrayal of love and affection from an asexual character is extremely rare in games, and this is perhaps one of the loveliest representations there is. – Danielle Partis, Xbox Wire Editor
Dragon Age: Inquisition – Romancing Dorian
Gaming romances are undeniably lovely, but very few feel as important a tale as that of Dorian Pavus. The Tevinter mage is fantastic RPG companion – a mixture of wit, increasingly lovable arrogance, and deeply powerful magic – but taking on his personal sidequests reveal a character far more nuanced than that first impression
Dorian’s homeland, and his family, are subject to a repressive regime that shunned him, in part for his sexuality. BioWare’s writing of an openly gay character remains a benchmark for gaming as a whole – a character for whom sexual identity isn’t an incidental detail, but key to his story. Falling in love allows Dorian to embrace a part of himself that he never expected to be able to, and in doing so becomes a standout moment for LGBTQ representation in gaming as a whole. – Joe Skrebels, Xbox Wire Editor-in-Chief
Persona 5 Royal – Going Dating
Love is messy, unpredictable, and oftentimes anything but straightforward. I think that’s the appeal of love: Persona Style. Through a series of 10 or so conversations, your character incrementally grows closer to certain characters. They’ll even call you first! Sure you may have to jump into the Metaverse to solve all their problems on a quick side mission, but after that, it’s up to you if you want to keep things in the friend zone or take it to the next level. No rejection, no hard feelings, just a series of cute dates at the aquarium or Tokyo Skytree, and – for that very special someone – a thoughtful gift from the Shibuya Underground Mall. Even the dateless don’t spend Valentine’s Day alone; curry and coffee with your bros? It could most certainly be worse. – Jeff Rubenstein, Xbox Podcast
It Takes Two – May and Cody’s Reconnection
Cooperation sits at the heart of It Takes Two — and it’s the perfect game to play with a loved one. Protagonists May and Cody are two parents planning to get divorced, before they’re unceremoniously transformed into small toys and forced to work together to get back into their original bodies.
One particularly wild scene in the game follows Cody and May destroying a stuffed elephant belonging to their daughter to make her cry. It makes sense in the context of the story, but it’s a tearful moment that sees our bickering couple driven to the very edge of what they will do for their family.
In the end, May and Cody’s relationship is rekindled, and the stuffed elephant that they mutilated in their madness is also stitched back up, almost as effortlessly as their marriage. It truly is a tale of romantic resilience between two soulmates, but not without a tinge of chaos, which all the best relationships should have. – Danielle Partis, Xbox Wire Editor
Stardew Valley – Married Life
You might think Stardew Valley is about building and tending to the perfect farm, but what it’s actually about is finding love. The game has a selection of eligible candidates, and you must slowly build up a relationship by tending to their individual wants over time.
Much like real life, the bachelors and bachelorettes of Stardew Valley will make you work for their affection, demanding gifts that accrue friendship hearts until you present them with flowers. From there, you can put in more work until they eventually agree to marry you, and move into your farm.
That’s it, you’ve won right? Absolutely not. You must continue to work every single day to keep your spouse happy, and in return they might make meals or help out with tasks around the farm. They’ll also bring a unique space with them, which may entail horrible wallpaper or ugly clutter that you just have to deal with.
But that’s what love is about. It’s ultimately not about grand performances or fairy tale romances. It’s about the little things, the daily graft, and an ongoing exchange of small gestures that say “I love you,” no matter how much mud you traipse through the house (looking at you, Shane.) – Danielle Partis, Xbox Wire Editor
Psychonauts 2 – The Meeting of Minds
Lili and Raz are gaming’s embodiment of young love, kids who know they feel something for one another but haven’t yet learned quite how to express it just yet. Their puppy love is deeply cute, and never more so than in this early moment from Psychonauts 2.
Lili manages to open a locked hatch with her mind, and Raz asks her for the solution. She gently puts her forehead to his, explains how this psychic key works, and Raz smiles at getting to be close to her – then she punches him in the arm, tells him he’s dead if he tells anyone else how to do it, and runs off. The grin left on Raz’s face says everything – it’s a wonderful evocation of the first flush of romance. – Joe Skrebels, Xbox Wire Editor-in-Chief
Return to Monkey Island – Bumping Into Elaine
Unlike many of the entries on this list, the story of Guybrush and Elaine isn’t about falling in love, it’s about being in love. The couple’s unconditional support of one another – Guybrush of Elaine’s charitable work, and Elaine of Guybrush’s bonkers quest to find a secret treasure that may or may not exist – leads them to spend a lot of time apart, but their love never dims.
Throughout the game, Guybrush will bump into Elaine, and every time will see them absolutely delighted to see one another again. My favorite example remains the very first: “I was hoping you’d turn up in this story,” says Guybrush. “I was hoping you’d turn up in mine,” replies Elaine. It’s understated, it’s appropriately meta, and it serves as a wonderful continuation of this series-long romance. – Joe Skrebels, Xbox Wire Editor-in-Chief
Grim Fandango Remastered – Meeting Meche
There’s no Grim Fandango without Mercedes “Meche” Colomar. She is the driving force behind everything Manny Calavera will do throughout his four-year journey in this masterful, classic adventure game from Tim Schafer.
A love story at its heart, Grim Fandango is also a tale full of adventure, intrigue, double-crosses, and friendship. A tale that begins as a selfish endeavour for Manny to atone for his personal sins soon evolves into a story about righting a wrong, to that of desire, and ultimately love.
But it’s that first encounter in Manny’s office, shortly after he “steals” Meche from his co-worker at the Department of Death, that we feel there might be something in the air between these two. It’s in that true film noir setup, the classic “And then – she walked in…” moment, giving us instant mystery to her and the larger world that Grim Fandango exists in. She has suddenly given purpose to Manny, something he has been searching for before we first meet him.
And then… she’s gone.
But all is not lost. Meche’s arrival is what sets the wheels in motion for Manny to learn that there may be some hope left for him after all — maybe even love — here in the Land of the Dead. – Mike Nelson, Xbox Wire Editor
The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine – Yennefer Moves In
The Blood and Wine expansion is a multi-hour farewell to the Continent’s favorite monster slayer, wrapping up three full games of the saga of Geralt of Rivia. It’s appropriately fairy tale-themed and, if you’ve chosen to stay true to his first true love, it’s also a fairy tale ending for long-time sorceress and love interest Yennefer.
As you approach the end of the expansion, Yennefer will unexpectedly move into Geralt’s new vineyard home of Corvo Bianco, and the two lovers begin to finally settle into a true life together, uninterrupted by unexpected sidequests, dangerous contracts, or world-threatening incursions. They sit on a bench together, discuss the weather, ponder their future, and reminisce on their past. It’s just… peaceful, and it ends perfectly:
“Talk again later?”, says Geralt. “Of course, I’m not going anywhere,” Yennefer replies with a smile. – Joe Skrebels, Xbox Wire Editor-in-Chief