Video games can make us laugh, love, and cry. Today we explore the latter with the top six tragic romances in video games. The events surrounding these romances are as memorable as they are tragic. I won’t lie, I shed a few tears myself when playing these games. As usual I am going to stick to one game per developer, and there will be major spoilers so read at your own risk. Grab a tissue and let’s begin.
6. Cloud and Aeris (Aerith) – Final Fantasy 7.
Let’s get this one out of the way. In Final Fantasy 7 you can clearly see a budding romance between Cloud and one of his companies, Aeris (or Aerith). The two compliment each other well and their bond seems to only strengthen. But like all games on this list, tragedy strikes. Aeris is impaled by Sephiroth, killing her in front of Cloud. What ensues is an emotional scene as Cloud holds Aeris body, shaking in disbelief as incidental music plays. As the player is still in disbelief, a boss battle begins, cementing the fact that Aeris is truly dead.
What makes this death especially tragic is that the player loses a group member. Suddenly all your efforts seem wasted, as the character you worked so hard to level is gone. Players even sought ways to revive her, believing she wasn’t truly dead. But sadly that was the end of her story, and the best we could do was avenge her. Even 18 years after my initial playthrough that scene can still bring tears to my eyes.
5. Isaac and Nicole – Dead Space franchise.
Horror games and romance do not mix, just ask Isaac Clarke. After receiving a message from his girlfriend, Nicole Brennan, Isaac ventures to the remains of the USG Ishimura to try and save her. What awaits him is a nightmare. The reanimated remains of the ship’s crew quickly mutilate the rescue team and begin to hunt Isaac down. Isaac must fight countless necromorphs before finally being reunited with Nicole.
It seems like Isaac and Nicole may actually have a happy ending, but then you learn the truth. The Nicole you’ve been interacting with is a hallucination, a symptom of dementia. The real Nicole has been dead the entire time, committing suicide to avoid being slaughtered by necromorphs. What’s worse is that the hallucinations become darker, driving Isaac to the brink of insanity. The person he loved was now slowly killing him.
4. The Bellic Family – Grand Theft Auto IV.
Grand Theft Auto IV is unique on this list because the player’s actions determine which romance ends in tragedy. You have two choices: Deal or Revenge. Choosing “Revenge” leads you to a quest to kill Dimitri Rascalov, unknowingly angering his partner. Later Niko and his girlfriend, Kate McReary, attend his cousin Roman’s wedding. As Roman and his new bride celebrate a car drives by and shoots at the crowd. Kate is killed, leaving Niko devastated.
Maybe revenge isn’t your thing, but money is. Taking the “Deal” option has even worse consequences. Instead of following his principles, Niko listens to Roman and works for Dimitri. Kate becomes angry at this fact and refuses to talk to him. Niko attends the wedding alone, where he is assaulted by a man with a gun. As he wrestles the gun away it discharges and shoots Roman in the chest, killing him in front of his wife. Talk about a no win situation. Rockstar clearly wanted us to suffer the consequences of our actions, while leaving us with a crushing guilt.
3. Red and “The Boxer” – Transistor.
Little is known about the couple’s past or The Boxer’s true identity. What we do know is that they are targeted by the Camerata because of Red’s influence. During an attack, The Boxer dies while protecting Red. However, his “trace” (consciousness) is uploaded into the assailant’s weapon, The Transistor. While he can communicate with Red, she can only listen to her disembodied lover as the attack left her mute. Seeking answers, Red pulls the sword from his body and the pair begin their journey.
Sadly things don’t go as planned. Not only can’t they recover Red’s voice, but they’re unable to bring The Boxer back either. After defeating the Camerata, Red decides to make the ultimate sacrifice to be reunited with him. She sits next to her lover’s body, and lifts The Transistor into the air. The Boxer begins to plead with her, but to no avail. Red impales herself, uploading her trace into the sword and reuniting them in a virtual world. It is a very emotional scene that still makes me cry today.
2. Wander and Mono – Shadow of the Colossus.
What’s worse than losing your loved one? How about being tricked into killing 16 innocent colossi to bring her back! That’s the story of Shadow of the Colossus in a nutshell. The colossi were actually very peaceful, never attacking until you engaged them. Of course Wander doesn’t know this, but I don’t think that would’ve stopped him either. Tricked by a demon into killing them, he became more corrupt and demonic with each successful kill.
Ultimately he sacrifices himself to bring Mono back to life (and possibility becomes a demon baby?). So while she is revived, Wander is gone and innocent creatures are dead. Seems like a sick joke to me, but tragic nonetheless. Events like this beg the question, how far would you go for the person you love?
1. Dom and Maria – Gears of War franchise.
Admittedly I’ve never played Gears of War, but I’ve heard about Dom and Maria’s story. The couple were happily married before the events of the series, even parenting two children. Then came Emergence Day, the day that broke the family apart. The Locust Horde attacked their planet, killing a quarter of the world’s population. Among them were Dom and Maria’s children. Unable to cope with the loss, Maria exiled herself from the survivors. Dom searched for her, remaining hopeful.
What transpires next would break anyone. Dom and Marcus track Maria down to a Locust Prison. After fighting off hordes of enemies, they are able to find her cage and release her. They are shocked by what they find. Maria was alive, but no longer herself. The Locusts tortured her, breaking her mind and body. The Maria he loved was gone. As Dom repeatedly apologized for not saving her, he came to decision: he had to end her suffering. Dom was forced to euthanize his wife. This emotionally crippled Dom, until his death in a later title.
Even though they are fictional characters, it’s hard not be sympathetic to their situation. I just hope none of us ever has to face the tragedies in this list.
Thanks for reading!