Video games are a multifaceted art form, with stories to enrage, sadden, and inspire. But they're also fantastic vehicles for romance, like you've no doubt experienced at some point while playing them. If you've ever become attached to a character and cried over their death (like a certain Final Fantasy flower girl) you can attest to gaming's powerful storytelling, and its ability to weave believable relationships between characters.
That's why, in celebration of Valentine's Day, we've pulled five powerful moments from gaming that struck us as pretty romantic. There are far more than these, and scenes from games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect haven't been included since there are simply far too many of them to list, depending on which character you decide to romance.
These choices should help inspire that next date night you've got planned, or at the very least demonstrate some of the most touching moments out there in the gaming landscape. You may want to get some tissues ready.
Tidus and Yuna's watery love story (Final Fantasy X)
One of the most memorable scenes in the whole of Final Fantasy X, seeing lovebirds Tidus and Yuna share their first kiss—beneath a full moon while embracing in the forest's springs—is absolutely breathtaking. Watching Tidus comfort Yuna as they confront their growing feelings for each other and hearing one of Final Fantasy's most beautiful pieces of music is sure to bring a tear to your eye. "Suteki Da Ne" (literally "Isn't it wonderful?") is the best way to describe this heartrending expression of love and passion shared between two very important characters. You'll be wishing you could recreate it by the end.
Jackie and Jenny's movie night (The Darkness)
The Darkness' Jackie Estacado is in love with his girlfriend Jenny, something the game makes absolutely sure you know at every opportunity. Before he was equipped with demonic powers and a bloodlust to sate, Jackie was just one half of an ordinary couple who would spend time cuddling on the couch watching TV. Having grown up in an orphanage together, the pair fall for each other, which eventually results in a heartbreaking end. But for a shining moment, you snuggle with Jenny on the couch and watch TV as she falls asleep on your arm. It's an instant of simplicity and quiet grace quite unlike anything that's been in a video game since, and it makes later scenes in The Darkness 2 feel that much more powerful.
Master Chief and Cortana's emotional reunion (Halo 4)
This may seem like an unlikely pair, given how Cortana is AI created in the image of a real-life scientist, but hear me out. Halo 4 was full of some of the most touching moments between our favorite space soldier, Master Chief, and Cortana, whose rampancy would eventually have to be dealt with. Hints about her feelings toward Chief were always littered through the games, but they came to a head when Cortana was finally able to reach out and touch Chief, nearly in tears as she proclaims how long she's been waiting to do just that. Without spoiling things, it's the moment many in long-distance relationships have fantasized about. You'll definitely feel it somewhere deep in your heart.
B.J. and Ana get intimate (Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus)
Too often, sex is portrayed in a weird or taboo manner in games, with too many decrying it as "unnecessary." That couldn't be more incorrect, as demonstrated by this bit of intimacy between B.J. Blazkowicz and his future wife Anya Oliwa. It takes place after a very traumatizing moment for B.J., and acted as refreshing oasis of reprieve that the pair desperately needed. B.J. is focused on making sure the pair's children don't grow up under a Nazi regime and is, for narrative reasons, concerned he's going to eventually die. Once this melts away, he and Anya share a closeness that illustrates how important two people can really be to one another, and it's beautiful.
Squall and Rinoa's journey home (Final Fantasy VIII)
Squall and Rinoa of Final Fantasy VIII have some of the most heartwarming scenes out of the entire cast, but this one is the clear winner. It's so sad, but it's also touching and pure. Squall learns a devastating fact about Rinoa that can't be ignored, and as such he's savoring every moment with the woman he loves, unsure he'll ever get to do it again. Squall pulls Rinoa into his arms for a loving embrace, one that he never wants to end. He has no way of knowing if he's about to lose her, and it's hard not to get choked up thinking about how much they care for each other. I... I need some Kleenex now.