Video games have a lot of growing up to do when it comes to the subject of love. Decades of catering to the taste of young boys has left the content a bit…emotionally-stunted. As such, those looking for a love-related content fix will heavily gravitate towards other mediums such as film, music, and literature instead.
To gaming’s credit, steps are being taken in the right direction. Gaming is starting to take on the subject in more thoughtful ways and I’m here for it! As we head towards Valentine’s Day, maybe a few of these games can get you in the spirit of the season, whether you’re madly in love or wrestling with heartbreak.
Florence is a visual novel that follows the life of Florence Yeoh. Though the actual game is only 30 minutes, it guides players through a beautiful story of life and love. It uses minigames in unique ways to help communicate how she thinks and feels in each moment. Amplifying every moment is a minimalist orchestral soundtrack that is guaranteed to pull at your heart strings.
Sayonara Wild Hearts
Technically, Sayonara Wild Hearts is a story about a super hero returning harmony to the world by defeating evildoers. But really, all of the motorcycle chasing/sword fighting/flying serves as a metaphor for the trials and tribulations that come with overcoming a breakup. Even after you’ve finished the game, its catchy songs about heartbreak will stick with you.
The dating sim is likely the oldest genre of gaming to tackle the subject of love. Dream Daddy adds its own twist with lots of humour, relatable writing, and so many dreamy daddies. Steff and I need to get back into this one!
Catherine: Full Body
In a world where games about love are a rarity as is, Catherine goes a step further by tackling the subject of infidelity. I don’t think any major game has tackled the subject in any meaningful way before…or since. It does so by putting players in a one-of-a-kind mash-up of puzzle game and dating simulator. Will you stay true to Katherine? Or chase new love with Catherine or the recently-added Rin in the remaster?
The inclusion of Stardew Valley on this list is a bit of a stretch. You don’t have to engage in the romance at all and dating largely boils down to giving people gifts until they marry you. Even so, the game has its merits. Its relationship cutscenes add a lot of depth to these characters and are written to feel very genuine. Once you marry, you get access to a hug button that let’s you embrace your partner anytime you want. Most notably, there are no gender restrictions for partners. In Stardew Valley, love always wins.
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