Week of Love: The Ultimate Romantic Tragedies in Gaming
Yes, it is the week of love here at Leviathyn. Valentine’s Day is nigh upon us, and if you’re like me, it is often a day you reminisce on romantic blunders rather than the magic of love. In commemoration of all the lonely hearts, I present to you some of the ultimate romantic tragedies in gaming. Spoilers will follow, obviously.
Final Fantasy X was heartbreaking. There was something in its atmosphere that just alerted me from the get-go that this was not going to be a happy ending. Tidus, as it turns out, is a mere dream of the Fayth, who yearn to end their dreaming, thus putting an end to Tidus. Not your fairytale ending for poor Yuna, who had already endured enough suffering, what with her father undertaking a death march to temporarily rein in the giant fish terrorizing the land, dying in the process. Tragic though it was, the ending was cathartic and rewarding. Yes, they got their happy ending in X-2, but let’s forget that awful game ever happened, okay?
Wander & Mono - Shadow of the Colossus
While it’s never specified that the two are lovers, Wander obviously has a strong bond to Mono (and if Mom can give you a Valentine, they can be on this list!). The tragedy of this relationship doesn’t simply end with Wander dying and Mono living without him; Wander took it a few steps farther—sixteen, to be exact. That is the number of innocent, minding-their-own-business colossi he slew to satisfy his selfish desire. Never mind the fact he crossed into a forbidden land seeking banned magic from what we can only assume is an evil pagan god to achieve his ends. And he didn’t even live to reap the fruits of his labor. Tsk tsk.
This is one not many people think of or mention. While Kratos is a bit of an a-hole, his past is a bleak one, rife with desolation and, yes, romantic tragedy. See, Kratos was at one point a normal guy, a real family man, his profession of leading Greek armies into battle to slaughter, rape, and pillage barbarians notwithstanding. That is, until he pledged his life to Ares. Everything went sour after that. Ares, being an even bigger douche than Kratos, duped him into hacking up his darling wife and the fruit of their loins. What bigger tragedy is there than a man unwittingly cutting down his beloved wife and daughter?
I could just as easily give this slot to Aerith and Cloud or Zack. However, the relationship between Vincent Valentine and Lucrecia Crescent is much more unique and explores an entirely different facet: unrequited love. Lovestruck Vincent laid eyes on the beauty and couldn’t seem to let her go; Lucrecia, meanwhile, had eyes for her colleague, Professor Hojo (though the Planet knows why). Hojo, being the sadistic experimentalist he was, impregnated her and proceeded to conduct tests on the fetus (and her), leading to the creation of Sephiroth. All the while, Vincent is forced to watch while being continuously repudiated until Hojo shoots him down. Lucrecia, already guilty since Vincent’s father had also sacrificed himself for her, saves Vincent via a mixture of zombification and mutation before, instead of finally returning his love like a chivalrous woman, turns into a reclusive cave-dweller. Talk about melodrama!
Straddling an ambiguous line between adventure pals and romantic partners, the conclusion of Twilight Princess seems to allude to a romantic connection between Link and Midna. Even if it’s not, their story is still poignant. Initially seeking to use Link for her own ends, mischievous Midna is moved by his courage and grows to care for him in a palpable way. Though Link is a silent protagonist, through his actions it’s obvious he shares her affection. Sadly, after all the pair go through, once Midna is finally restored to her Twilit form (when the two could actually have a relationship without raising questions regarding some weird cross-species breeding), the Twilight Princess returns to her realm and destroys the sole gateway between her and Link, all for the good of Hyrule, as well as her own subjects. Though noble, it is no less lamentable.
This one evokes more feelings of acrimony than sorrow. From the moment they meet, it’s quite obvious Snake and EVA are going to have something of a romance, despite EVA giving herself to Sokolov and Colonel Volgin for clandestine purposes. In a game where the protagonist is already dealing with the betrayal of his former mentor and finds himself with virtually no one to trust, it’s almost too much to ask of the player when EVA casually leaves off with intelligence Snake had gathered, imparting a tape saying she is actually working for the Chinese and spared his life in violation of her orders because of a promise to The Boss. (Wasn’t that sweet of her?) Though the two had an on-again/off-again relationship throughout the series, she ultimately carried his clones as a surrogate mother against his wishes and later assisted him, though without allowing him to know her location. No wonder Big Boss turned out to be the terror that he was in the original Metal Gear.
I considered opting for Llewelyn and Millia, as theirs is a tragic love through and through, but my personal distaste for Llewelyn’s character and the prominence of Lenneth’s and Lucian’s story made me choose otherwise. As teenagers, Platina and Lucian are involved in a cutesy high school romance—until Platina’s austere parents decide to sell her into slavery. Lucian whisks her away to the only place they’ll be safe: a meadow abundant in flowers that release lethal toxins. (Nice one, Lucian!) Platina dies, because that’s what happens when people inhale poison, and Lucian continues living out his commoner life. Years later, Lenneth, who is unknowingly Platina reincarnated, has a chance meeting with Lucian, who becomes her Einherjar and eventually unlocks her memories from her human life. Having done this, Lucian has violated Odin’s commands, but it’s Loki who exacts punishment, killing Lucian and using him as a deterrent in his god-slaying schemes. True enough, their tragic story takes a happy turn in Ending A when Lenneth recreates all of humanity, Lucian included, but in Ending B they don’t get their happily ever after.
There’s nothing like watching helplessly while your loved one suffers increasingly from mental deterioration until you’re finally forced to off her yourself. That is the short and skinny of Dom and Maria’s fate. After getting pregnant as teens, wedding, and, in Dom’s case, deeming it the best option to provide for the family by taking a job that certifies death as an occupational hazard, the duo’s two children are killed during an attack by the Locust Horde. Oh, and so are Maria’s parents, effectively leaving her in solitude while Dom’s off making a living (or rather, trying to hold onto his). Unsurprisingly, Maria begins to suffer from clinical depression, believes her children to still be alive—even risking her life in pursuit of this fantasy—and, after a string of crappy events during which her husband is all but absent, is captured by the enemy and enslaved, lobotomized, and tortured. By the time she is finally found by her husband, she is completely lost to lunacy and her loving husband ends her life with a bullet to the head. Dom would live on, growing vegetables that he related to his wife and children (you get the connection, right?) and suffering from thorough depression, until that sweet day when he sacrificed himself by driving a truck into a fuel pipe and exploding in a ball of fire.
So, there you have it: a few romantic tragedies to make you single hearts feel a little better about your circumstances! Now, what are you favorite romantic tragedies? We have a comments section for a reason!