Love them or hate them, you can’t escape a love-story subplot. Films, books and more importantly games see them as a means of creating empathy, increasing the drama, character building and all that fancy jazz. Whether you’re a closet Romeo or a die-hard Marcus Fenix you can’t deny that when a love-story is so well executed, so unique in its emotive significance within a narrative, it deserves the utmost praise. Well here’s our praise; behold our top 5 most unique love-stories within the past few generations of gaming.
- 5. Super Mario 64 (1996, N64)
The love-story that created icons. Due to the franchises’ saturated popularity, you may feel that Mario and Peach are just too stereotypical and mainstream to make it onto our list about distinctive relationships. Well let me tell you, this couple’s loving legacy is more unique than you think – and no, not because she’s a princess and he’s a plumber… The inspiring aspect of Mario and Peach’s relationship is that it teaches people of all ages about clear binary oppositions, about fighting for the ones you love and – most importantly – fighting for the promise of cake (I quote: “Mario, please come to the castle. I’ve baked a cake for you”.) Atta’ boy, Mario!
- 4. Heavy Rain (2009, PS3)
Living proof that “love-stories” can explore more than just male and female traditionalism; Ethan Mars is a model protagonist who demonstrates that love for a child possesses so much emotional depth that it helps gamers feel constantly motivated to progress through the experience. Combine that with an engrossing and original storyline, unique gameplay mechanics and an intuitive control system – Ethan’s emotional state in response to his multitude of destructive relationships within the game helps to make Heavy Rain one of my standout candidates for containing one of the most unique love-stories in gaming history. Congratulations, Quantic Dream.
- 3. Gears of War 2 (2009, Xbox 360)
On paper, Dominic and Maria Santiago are by no means a unique couple. Their cheesy Hispanic/Hollywood romance glistens in the occasional flashbacks we see throughout the game – rarely creating a sense of empathy within the player. Yet when the going gets tough and the atmosphere of the trilogy reaches its peak moments, their doomed relationship perfectly encapsulates the raw emotional and psychological toll that this war is having on the people of planet Sera. This is something that the franchise needed; the moving moments that touch the deepest core of our emotions help to separate the series of testosterone-fuelled fire-fights that make up the bulk up the game. Gears of War wouldn’t be half the game it was without the grounded, sensitive sub-plot of Dom and Maria and in a franchise this large and successful that has to be worth something.
- 2. Catherine (2011, Xbox 360, PS3)
Catherine was billed as a dark, erotic puzzler for the more mature gamer – and as it succeeded in living up to that particular billing (check out our review of it here) it has to be said that the games’ romantic elements are as original as they are intriguing. Vincent is an ordinary man unsure of what he wants from a relationship; commitment or hot hot hot sexy time (I’m not biased at all…) Katherine (with the K) represents the former and Catherine (with the C) represents the latter, but when details emerge suggesting that Vincent’s imagination is getting the better of him – questions of love and sanity begin to emerge. Definitely one of the more unique gaming love stories we’ve ever encountered here at Explosion.
1. Silent Hill 2 (Xbox, PS2, PC)
If you’ve yet to play Silent Hill 2, you’ve yet to experience one of gaming’s most hauntingly beautiful and most unique love stories. Regardless of whether you enjoy horror or not, the wonderfully crafted narrative in which you slowly uncover the real story behind James and Mary Sunderland’s tormented past is second to none – a real triumph in videogaming writing, pacing and overarching themes. Combine that with a stellar sub-cast that help to question James’ emotional state whilst offering various romantic, paternal and psychosexual avenues of audience interpretation – Silent Hill 2 is a zesty horror title with one of the most unique, cinematic love stories you’ll ever experience. I urge you to give it a go, you won’t regret it…
Do you agree/disagree with my choices? What about Ico and Yorda? Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher? Freeman and Vance? Let us know who stars in your list for the most unique gaming love stories of all time!