The Most Heartbreaking Romances In Gaming

heartbreaking romances gaming

Everyone’s Valentine’s gaming lists feature some kind of “the greatest romances” list but you know what? True romance is as short as life itself, and because of that I’ll be looking at the most heartbreaking romances in gaming. You know, the ones where one of the characters dies, or their romance is cut short because of circumstances beyond their control.

Once upon a time, interactive love stories and romances could only be found in awkward Japanese dating sims and hard-to-find JRPG’s. Nowadays, almost every game tells its own version of romance. From Jim Raynor’s short fling with Sarah Kerrigan in Starcraft, Max and Mona’s dangerous pairing in Max Payne 2, and even Sonic’s awkward, yet sweet relationship with Elise in Sonic The Hedgehog (2006), gamers of all ages are able to empathize with even the most stoic/boring characters *Cough* Cloud or Squall in Final Fantasy *Cough* since romance is something that we all have experienced. But you’re not here for the lovey-dovey stuff, you’re here for the stunningly effective, heartbreaking romances that prove the words “happily ever after” is a crock of bull.

Great romances are as short as life itself, and these next couples did the best they could and loved as much as they could with the time that they had together. All end in tragedy, yet in that tragedy did they find true romance.

Let’s start the list shall we?

*Warning: Major Spoliers Ahead!*

gta 4 niko bellic kate

Niko’s violent past comes back to haunt him and those he loves the most.

Niko Bellic and Kate McReary – Grand Theft Auto 4

In GTA IV’s Revenge ending, Niko decides to return to the ship that brought him to Liberty City and kills his nemesis Dimitri; a kill that he needed for closure. Now he could continue living his life and perhaps start a new one with girlfriend Kate McReary. To Niko, Kate represents redemption; a chance to right the wrongs of his past and to become a better man.

However, his past comes back to haunt him as Jimmy Pegorino (whom Niko Betrayed in one of his jobs) commits a drive-by shooting in front of the church Niko and friends are located and kills Kate in the process. Seeing his chance at redemption now gone, Niko goes on a rampage and hunts down Pegorino in a thrilling chase that ironically ends at the top of the Statue of Happiness. Niko ends up alone, only having felt real happiness for but only a moment with Kate.

silent hill 2 james sunderland mary

James’ guilt for the crime he committed drew him to his purgatory in Silent Hill.

James Sunderland and Mary Shepard-Sunderland – Silent Hill 2

There’s no doubt that James Sunderland loved his wife Mary. He loved her so much that his guilt for killing her became the core of his purgatorial stay in the cursed Silent Hill. You see three years prior, Mary contracted a terminal disease that eventually led to her being deathly ill and becoming  increasingly moody. Unfortunately even James’ almost undying love couldn’t save him from the pain of seeing his wife in agony and takes up drinking to forget. With no other choices, no one to talk to, and his needs withheld (because of his commitment to the marriage) after years of suffering, James decides to end it all; he kisses his wife on the forehead, only to suffocate her with a pillow afterwards.

gears of war 2 dom finds maria

Dom is shaken to the core with his realization and says goodbye to his wife in one fo the saddest moments in gaming history.

Dominic “DOM” Santiago and Maria – Gears of War 2

Dom and Maria’s love story started out like any normal ones do; boy meets girl next door, boy and girl startsdating and eventually become lovers. Unfortunately the cataclysmic Emergence Day arrived and caused the deaths of their two children putting a strain on their already rocky relationship. Maria suffered from depression that led to her self-imposed exile; leaving whilst Dom was away on duty. For quite a while she lived with the Stranded of Sera, who took shelter underground and away from the Locust; that is until her camp was captured and put to hard labour for some time. Deprived of resources like food, water, and supplies, that was the last anyone had ever heard from Maria.

Some time later during the remaining COG’s Operation: Hollow Storm, Dom and Marcus found information about Maria’s whereabouts and were soon able to fight their way through the prison camp. There they find Maria locked in a cell pod where Dom manages to have a sweet reunion with his wife. Unfortunately for Dom, it was only in his head as the person in his arms were in fact what was left of his wife, long since broken by her Locust capturers.  Finding no way to save her and unable to help her from her suffering, Dom decides to end her pain the only way he knew how.

rdr john marson abigail

John and Abigail Marston living life on their farm in peace.

John Marston and Abigail Marston – Red Dead Redemption

After John Marston completed his mission for the feds and takes care of his old gang, the feds released his family back and they proceeded to live their lives in peace on the family farm. Even though life could be hard sometimes and family problems arose, there was no question that John Marston loved Abigail; the two of them leaving their old, adventurous lives as criminals to live together in peace. The last few missions of Red Dead Redemption consists of John spending time with his family doing what seems like ordinary farm work, when in reality, it’s this type of life that he and his wife longed for in their quest for redemption for their past lives.

That’s why it was so heartbreaking when Edgar along with the Bureau and the Army staged a raid on the Marston farm to kill John and his family. Abigail escapes with her son thanks to John as he defended the farm to the best of his abilities. Unfortunately it’s this sacrifice that ends up killing him in the end. A final act of heroism and selflessness from the once feared criminal; all done for his love for his wife and child.

the darkness jackie jenny

Saying a prayer for Jenny, Jackie now bears the guilt being powerless to save her from evil.

Jackie Estacado and Jenny – The Darkness

One of the most memorable moments of 2K’s The Darkness was when protagonist Jackie goes to his girlfriend Jenny’s apartment to spend time and watch a movie together, a sign of normalcy and romance that their hectic lives rarely allowed. In first-person view, you – as Jackie – rest your arm on Jenny’s shoulders as you two sit comfortably and watch Gregory Peck’s To Kill a Mockingbird on TV. It’s perhaps one of the most realistic portrayals of love and romance ever seen in gaming and the lovers banter was more than enough to endear the two characters to those playing the game. However, like most of Jackie’s life, nothing lasted for long as Uncle Paulie and his cohorts kidnap Jenny and murders her in front of our powerless hero. Jenny’s eventual death makes their last moments together all the more powerful.

What about you? Did any particular heartbreaking romances (or moments) stick with you after after playing a game? Share your experience with us in the comment section below.




About janhutchings

Canadian Game Industry Blogger / Contributor for @Sonyrumors & @ShogunGamer / Communications and PR Professional. Voice of Canadian and Indie Gaming.

Posted on February 13, 2013, in Gaming Top Lists and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. My most heartbreaking romance was saying one last goodbye to Garrus at the end of ME 3. Best outerspace boyfriend ever.

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