From fantasy to the modern-day, there are some video game couples that stand the test of time and prove to be truly unforgettable and practically relationship goals. However, while some couples are a joy to watch, there are those that leave an awkward taste in your mouth. While not quite terrible, they certainly aren’t as memorable, or at least for the right reasons. And then, of course, you have the train wrecks. The worst of the worst. The video game couples that are so painful to watch they are simply best avoided. So, from the great to the not so spectacular, here are the best and worst couples in video game history.
Oswald and Gwendolyn (Odin Sphere)
Harking back to one of my original articles, this gem of a game has a slew of romantic stories that culminate into one satisfying whole. The biggest love story within the game surrounds the Valkyrie Gwendolyn and Oswald, the Shadow Knight.
At the start of the game, Gwendolyn’s only goal is to please her neglectful father, Odin. Alternatively, Oswald’s only desire is to please his adoptive father, Melvin. Neither are seen as anything but objects by their parental figures.
During a mission, Oswald spots the warrior princess and is instantly smitten. His story takes a turn as the blue-winged woman occupies his thoughts, giving him the strength to be better. Eventually, he slays a dragon to earn her hand in marriage and dotes on her the best that he can.
Gwendolyn is initially bitter towards him, expecting to lose her freedom. However, she quickly discovers how gentle this dark knight truly is. He gives her gifts, reaffirms her importance, and never pushes her to be anything but herself. This love and kindness, while initially rejected, culminates by the end of Gwendolyn’s chapter. She realizes just how special Oswald is and returns his love tenfold.
Why Are They Good Together?
By the end of the game, the two are the lone survivors of Ragnarok, destined to revive the world. Both look on hand in hand, ready to take on the harshness of their reality together.
One thing special about this video game couple is that, even through dark times, they build each other up. Their more romantic scenes are also incredibly touching and leave the player with a warm fuzzy feeling each and every time.
Undyne and Alphys (Undertale)
Toby Fox’s indie treasure gave the gaming community so much to laugh and cry about. From Megalovania to memes, this game hit gamers in the feels for years.
One aspect people gravitated towards was the relationship between the spear swinging Undyne and the anime-loving Alphys. Both girls trying to find their way in a world deep underground far from modern society.
Undyne is captain of the royal guard, hell-bent on capturing any human that enters the home of the monsters. She’s hot-headed with a good heart and is constantly encouraging the people around her to do what they love.
Meanwhile, Alphys is the royal scientist and a nervous mess. She’s more content with hiding in her room enjoying ice cream and watching shows like Kissy Kissy Mew Mew. While she’s still exceptionally kind, she struggles with getting out of her shell.
Throughout the game, the player discovers the two ladies have feelings for the other. Neither is sure how to approach the other on the subject. Alphys believes Undyne’s out of her league. Once completing a pacifist run, the player has the option to help set the two up. This goes in some wacky – albeit heartwarming – ways as well.
How Does it End?
Through some coaching, Alphys is finally able to open up to Undyne. She confesses her feelings, comes clean about her more sketchy moments where she attempted to impress the fish lady. What could easily be an act of drama turns into a heartfelt understanding. Undyne accepts her lizard love for who she is, admitting what drove her to spend time with her: her passion and kind heart.
This small act changes the ending, allowing both girls a chance at dating on the surface. Being able to openly communicate and share your passions is important in any relationship. In a world of monsters, the most human is a lizard and fish in love.
Zidane and Garnet (Final Fantasy IX)
Square Enix has a slew of couples in their games. Final Fantasy is no exception. There are plenty of games in the series that are almost entirely centred around romance. However, one of the most special and unique romances in the franchise is between a bardic rogue and a white mage princess.
The beginning of Final Fantasy IX starts with trickster Zidane kidnapping Garnet. Unusually, the kidnapping is mutual. Garnet asks Zidane to kidnap her. She wants to discover what is going on with her mother, Queen Brahne. Not looking a gift horse in the mouth, the monkey tailed actor agrees and off on an adventure they go.
Zidane’s goofy flirtatious charm helps the sheltered fish-out-of-water Garnet to open up more. Struggling with her identity, she takes on the name Dagger after Zidane’s weapon of choice, which he’s more than happy to accept. He helps her learn to blend in with the crowd and shows her the wonders outside the castle walls.
Throughout the game, both parties grow and support each other with Zidane teaching her to loosen up and Garnet strengthening his confidence. Even when they split off into separate parties, the two are thinking of each other and concerned for the others’ safety.
Where Does Their Story Go?
By the end of the game, their relationship has blossomed from friends to a true connection. Even when Garnet leaves to run her kingdom as queen, she’s sad to see him go, torn on her heart and her duty. Zidane struggles as well with his love for her, but chooses to let her go. It only serves to make their reunion all the more impactful all the way to the grand finale.
Zidane goes missing towards the end of the game, much to the party’s chagrin. Garnet continues to run her kingdom, but the sadness of her lost love lingers. That is until the dramatic reveal amidst the play which led them to meet at the start. Before the curtain falls, the two embrace, much to the happiness of all around them.
One special thing about their relationship is how grounded it is. The two start off as mutual partners, but through the game, their dynamic slowly changes. No fancy romantic set pieces, just a gradual progression to friends and eventual lovers. It’s simple, sweet, and a fantastic journey to watch overall.
James and Mary Sunderland (Silent Hill 2)
It is fair to say that a horror game is not the best place for relationships. It is perhaps even fairer to say that Silent Hill is an even less appropriate place to explore themes of love. The second game in the much-beloved series makes that fact even more obvious.
Our protagonist James begins the tale by receiving a note from his wife Mary to come and look for him. The only thing is, Mary has been dead for three years. An illness he states is what eventually killed her. So, with nothing else to live for, James ventures in search through their “special place” to get his answers.
James’ lack of self-preservation such as jumping down pits and sticking his hand in clogged toilets, becomes worse as he continues farther into the fog ridden town. His desire to find Mary even with Pyramid Head looming above shows his dedication even in death. This is a man without much else to live for, holding out hope for news of his wife.
How Does it End?
The struggle escalates upon discovering that Mary’s death wasn’t due to sickness, but by her husband’s own hands. A culmination of pain and resentment led to him suffocating her with a pillow and hiding her body before the haunted town got hold of him and distorted his memories.
This guilt accumulates throughout the whole of the game with each encounter from the femme fatale Maria who serves as a stand-in for his late wife. Each death Maria suffers is James’ personal punishment for what he did to Mary. Depending on the actions of the player, James’ acceptance of the truth will decide the ending and it can often be unpleasant, to say the least. While James’ love for Mary is strong, his ultimate actions make this couple a very mixed bag.
Sly Cooper and Carmelita Fox (Sly series)
Who knew a platforming game about anthropomorphic animals had a romantic subplot? One of Sony’s star mascots, Sly Cooper has seen his fair share of the spotlight. His love life on the other hand is a mix of emotions.
All four games centre around this cheeky raccoon and his friends performing mass heists, usually related to Sly’s family. Our masked protagonist meanwhile gets pursued by Inspector Carmelita Fox at every turn. She’s a hot-headed and kickass detective that’ll stop at nothing to put Sly behind bars. While Sly could likely easily avoid her at every turn, let’s just say he has his reasons for keeping the fiery police officer on his trail.
They say opposites attract, but this combo has a slew of obstacles to get over. Being on opposite sides of the law for one example. Another is that only one party is more eager to pursue the ill-fated relationship. Carmelita strives to put Sly behind bars. There’s little that’ll change that subject, no matter how much Sly flirts.
Small moments do occur in which the vixen shows interest in the ring-tailed thief. So, it’s fair to say that the potential is there for a relationship. They are a dangerous combo with fun chemistry, but her civic duty always wins out even when admitting she and Sly make a great team.
Do They Work It Out?
By the end of the third game, Sly has to fake amnesia in order for her to accept dating him. A lie that goes to bite the master thief in the butt come the fourth game. The two go back to square one with an added spice of resentment on Carmelita’s end. The rest of the game has the fox accepting flirtatious advances from some of Sly’s ancestors as a way to get back at him.
The two eventually start to mend and understand each other in a way they never had before. Carmelita starts to accept that she can’t reform him of his thieving ways and that they are on the side of justice despite being on opposite ends of the law. By the end, she’s determined to find Sly again. Though this time to make amends rather than lock him up.
This animal duo is fun at the best of times and sketchy at the worst of times. However, it is admittedly always a blast to see where the fur will fly next.
Guybrush Threepwood and Elaine Marley (Monkey Island series)
LucasArts had its fair share of unique gaming titles, with The Monkey Island series being one of the most popular. It is a goofy tale filled with pirates and puzzles, but one that also features a very unique love story.
Guybrush Threepwood washes up on the shore of Melee Island with one goal in mind. He wants to be a pirate! With no other motivation, our protagonist goes about trying to impress the locals through bizarre tactics. Upon breaking into the governor’s mansion, he meets said governor and goes completely tongue-tied.
Elaine is more than capable of handling any opposition that comes her way. She’s bold, clever, and not afraid to speak her mind. A ghost pirate stalker doesn’t stop her from being a natural leader. Alas, she falls hard for Guybrush just as easily as he does her, mainly due to him having a “sweet” face and finding his name fascinating.
Their relationship starts off rocky with Guybrush’s attempts to save Elaine being more of a hindrance than a help. The attraction is there, but the would-be pirate only makes her job more difficult. By the second game, they had split up with Elaine writing a book about their doomed affair. She considers taking him back, but his obsession with pirating is too much of a deterrent.
Does the Love Return?
The third game has Elaine singing a different tune. Amidst a battle, Guybrush hears her finally admitting her love for him. Before the player realizes it, there’s an engagement. It is a shame then that the ring cursed her and turns her into a gold statue. That just leaves Guybrush to do what he does best and go on another adventure to undo his mistake.
That’s not to say their relationship is all damsels and drama. On off days away from pirating, they have adorable nicknames for each other. They can laugh off all the messy moments and have each others’ back when needed. And even though Guybrush constantly messes up, the two always find ways to save the day together. For a fun time, the games are well worth it. For the relationship, however, these plunder bunnies are definitely a mixed bag.
Justin and Feena (Grandia)
Intended to be a competitor to the Final Fantasy franchise on the Sega Saturn, Grandia is a unique JRPG series. With the HD Remasters released in 2019, Game Arts’ title has more eyes on it, including its romantic subplot.
Justin is a fourteen-year-old who longs for the thrill of adventure. In his quest to achieve that goal, he meets the fifteen-year-old adventurer Feena. The two form a friendship very quickly, both longing for more than their provincial lives. Then inexplicably Feena’s hormones start raging and it only falters from there.
Throughout the game, the relationship’s one-sided. Feena keeps trying to attract Justin in the most cringe-worthy ways possible and Justin keeps being utterly clueless. One can make an argument that it’s because they’re teenagers. However, this explanation does little to help, and the relationship only gets worse as it becomes a huge part of the plot, especially by the second disc.
How Bad Can It Be?
Throughout the game, various party members and NPCs want them to be romantically involved. At one point, even an entire town claims them to be a couple as a scapegoat to sacrifice to a dragon in a volcano. But again, this does little to convince the player that their relationship is anything more than a one-sided cringefest. To add insult to injury, the story sidetracks multiple times due to Feena’s pursuit of Justin. Feena also repeatedly plays hot and cold with Justin’s feelings, being supportive one minute she’s supportive and shoving him away the next.
It’s especially painful when Feena’s twin sister Leen gets involved and makes a grand speech about how their love will defeat the evil once and for all before dying. If the fate of the world rests on one horny teenager pursuing an oblivious thrill seeker, then there are some serious problems with that world. Lack of trust, communication, as well as added cringe makes this relationship a bad one to witness.
Matt and Emily (Until Dawn)
Before the Dark Picture Anthology, SuperMassive gave the world Until Dawn. This PS4 exclusive explores horror in a multitude of ways, including through the lens of ill-fated romances.
Three prevalent romances exist within the game, all of which experience a varying degree of intimacy. The most destructive of them stems from drama queen Emily Davis and sports fan Matt Taylor.
The two hooked up after Emily broke up with her previous boyfriend and since then has been running her new love ragged. There is a deep level of distrust among the two where Emily purposely deceives Matt about her luggage (which she makes him carry) to go chat with her ex upon meeting after a year apart. The tension ramps up depending on the player’s actions with the two arguing and pointing fingers at who is the least trustworthy.
How Toxic Does it Get?
As the story ramps up, the arguing and distrust continues regardless of the player’s input. Emily especially is vicious towards Matt, ordering him around, putting him down, and manipulating him. Only Matt’s displays of submissiveness to her and aggressiveness towards others keeps the man in good graces with his own girlfriend. One possible reveal heavily implies Emily cheated on him at some point too.
If both parties survive to the end of the night, they are the only potential breakup during the credits. Emily in particular is vicious in her police reports if her affection for him is low. Matt meanwhile beats himself up over not doing enough and mourns only if she dies. The pendulum of their love life is continuously in motion, mainly teetering on toxicity and mistrust. Not even the threat of wendigos can save this doomed relationship.
Ayumi and Yoshiki (Corpse Party series)
Team GrisGris’ Corpse Party series has its ups and downs, both from a horror perspective and especially romance. This series loves to play on anime tropes and graphic horror, both to startling degrees of fright.
The most frightening couple in the series belongs to the duo of Yoshiki Kishinuma and Ayumi Shinozaki. While not officially dating, it’s clear the blonde bad boy has deep feelings for the occult loving class rep. The man goes out of his way to protect her through the corridors of Heavenly Host, nearly dying in the process. His presence and words keep her safe from possession and her own self-doubts with no expectation of returned favours.
Ayumi on the other hand, not only pays no mind to everything Yoshiki does for her because she’s busy lusting over another guy, but actively yells and abuses him at every turn. The one time she stuck up for him, which Yoshiki remembers fondly as his path to redemption, she only does so to get back at a terrible teacher. She can’t even admit he hugged her after he helped free her from a nasty possession or blows her nose on his shirt when he voiced concern over a nosebleed.
Do Things Improve?
After the events of the first game, Ayumi becomes obsessed with reviving the friends lost in the haunted school. A way out presents itself in both the ending to Book of Shadows and the sequel Blood Drive, one ending in her sister’s death and the other getting her into deeper trouble. This obsession grows into something ugly as it becomes less about saving her friends and more about relieving her guilt on the whole scenario.
Blindly trusting a mysterious hooded teen named Misuto, she finally admits to Yoshiki that she needs his help, begging him to go with her back into Heavenly Host for this dangerous mission. Instead, he goes out of his way to trick her into giving up the magical items needed to return and threw them out the window towards a passing truck, yelling at her how reckless and dangerous she’s behaving.
The two eventually come to a mutual understanding. Ayumi admits to noticing how he cares about her and Yoshiki willingly gives up his old life to nurse her back to health after the end of the game. But the damage by that point is too great to overlook. Too many hurt feelings, toxic behaviour on both sides, and a lack of trust in each other make this relationship painful to witness.