It’s February, and of course that means that Valentine’s Day is almost here. Love is in the air, couples are acting extra sweet towards one another, and people are getting engaged or married.
While many of us have seen (or been in) some very healthy relationships over the years, we gamers have also been witness to some pretty messed up romances in our chosen hobby. I mean, how often is it that you find a game that has any kind of romantic subtext, where the characters are well-adjusted people who are truly honest with one another? Therefore, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I would like to share with you, dear readers, my picks for some of the most dysfunctional romantic relationships in gaming.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Geralt, Yennefer, and Triss
Look, we all know that Geralt is not the most emotional character in gaming. Hell, the man underwent the Trial of the Grasses in order to purge himself of emotion, so that he could rely on objectivity & his senses in his profession as a monster hunter. For those of us who’ve played this game, however, we know that there is a romantic subplot for our eponymous hero, and that it also involves a choice between two of his lady friends: Yennefer of Vengerberg, and Triss Merigold. As we find out during the course of the game, Yennefer and Triss dislike one another a good bit, and rightly so. Each of them has had feelings at one time or another for Geralt, and he seems to have gone off to do his own thing, only recalling those feelings in a cursory way. Sure, the game allows players to make decisions which affect which lady Geralt will end up with, but in the grand scheme of things, does ANYONE really want an emotionally cold partner who has a history of bedding multiple people?
HALO 4 – Master Chief & Cortana
Throughout the HALO series, Master Chief and his AI companion Cortana have had an…interesting dynamic. However, their relationship seems to have been all but cemented in HALO 4, when Cortana tells MC that the “life span” of AI companions (like her) is seven years, and she has just entered her eighth year of existence. This means that she is on the verge of intellectualizing herself to “death”. Upon hearing this, Master Chief promises to get Cortana fixed, and almost becomes emotional at the conversation (as emotional as a biochemically and cybernetically-enhanced supersoldier can be). However, could a romantic relationship between a space marine and an artificial intelligence actually ever work? You essentially have two completely logical and near-emotionless characters who, for lack of a better term, love one another. I get that they’ve been companions over a long period of time, but I highly doubt that anything could ever come of their union.
Uncharted – Nathan Drake & Elena Fisher
Ah, Nathan Drake. A rugged adventurer, with good looks and a quick, sarcastic wit. What woman wouldn’t find that enticing? However, let’s take a look at what their relationship has been over the years. In her quest to document Nathan’s adventures, Elena has faced a multitude of dangers, and still has to deal with Nathan’s apparent fear of settling down for a “normal” life. This factor even comes into play in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, when he lies to Elena in order to be able to go on one last quest for the treasure of Captain Henry Avery, so that he can save his brother from a cartel boss. Couple that with the fact that the pair always seem estranged at the beginning of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Uncharted games, and it would seem like this is not a relationship on which you’d want to model your own.
Metal Gear Solid 2 – Raiden & Rose
This one kinda gave me the creeps, because Rose is basically the gaming equivalent of the Overly Attached Girlfriend meme. Consider that she’s constantly harping on Raiden about being distant, interrupting sensitive missions, and asking asinine questions that can obviously wait until later when he’s not, y’know…TRYING TO SAVE THE PRESIDENT! I mean, c’mon! She breaks into the man’s bedroom and then says that he has no soul? Not to mention that she ends up being nothing more than a plant from a clandestine organization bent on world domination… Does Raiden have no self respect? What does he see in this woman??
EVERY SUPER MARIO GAME – Mario & Princess Peach
I can hear it now: “Awww, Doug! You’re not going to $@!% all over one of the most iconic couples in gaming, are you?” Yes. Yes I am, but hear me out.
While on the surface, the relationship between our favorite plumber and our lovely fruit-named princess may seem like it’s on par with that of Barack & Michelle Obama, you’d be wrong. There are a lot of hidden issues in that relationship, which would be deal-breakers for most of us out there. Think about this for a moment: Mario’s entire reason for being SUPER Mario, is to rescue the princess when she’s repeatedly captured by Bowser. Essentially, Peach has to be placed in mortal danger, and experience trauma after trauma, in order for Mario to get off his butt & be the hero. Look at the opening cinematic for New Super Mario Bros. U, for a great example.
Mario is forced to attend another soul-sucking tea party, and only perks up when Bowser attacks & puts Peach in danger – yet again. Then, they inevitably enter into a long game of cat and mouse (which is reminiscent of some twisted version of foreplay, if you ask me), wherein Mario puts himself through hell to traverse castle after castle, only to be told at the end of each one, that Peach isn’t there. Is Peach really even getting captured, anyway? Maybe she & Bowser have something going on on the side….?
Ok, dear readers…there you have them. After decades of gaming, and my eventual rise to misanthropy, these are my picks for the most messed up, codependent, dysfunctional relationships ever to be seen in gaming. What do you think? Did I miss any that you thought were worth noting? Let me know in the comments section!
Have a happy Valentine’s Day, however, and with whomever, you choose to spend it!