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Top 5 Video Game Characters That Should’ve Been Love Interests

Witcher Love Video Game Interest

Plenty of us fall in love with video game characters and their love interests. Whether you adore them as silent protagonists taking you on wild adventures into beautiful new worlds (think Pokémon or The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim), or quippy side characters with quippy one-liners (how about GLaDOS from Portal or Handsome Jack from Borderlands?), you can’t help but form some sort of relationship with them. How about the ones you wish you could romance?

While some serve as love interests for your main character, others are side-lined, destined for platonic supporting roles. But, sometimes, it’s hard to ignore the chemistry sizzling between two characters, the options sadly blocked off. These are the ones who got away.

There are a few plot spoilers in this one, so make sure to skip through the games you haven’t played yet.

Aerith, Final Fantasy VII

Ethereal Aerith brings stoic Cloud out of his shell. She offers him flowers, makes him complete a list of odd job side quests as her “bodyguard”, and playfully flirts with him, giving us fantastic awkward moments where Cloud stutters and stumbles over every word. She laughs at his somewhat cruel jokes, and even fits him into a wig and a dress for an audition. She is also clearly at one with nature and magic in a way Cloud often ignores in favour of combat and machines.

This is a true example of “opposites attract”. Whilst Tifa, Cloud’s other love interest, is his serious and supportive childhood friend, Aerith is mischievous and foolhardy, bringing an element of playfulness to an otherwise dark story. She’s incredibly independent; a woman who knows what she wants and puts herself in harm’s way for those she cares about. This instant chemistry makes Cloud and Aerith a fantastic match.

So, why is she on this list if she is a love interest? I won’t give full spoilers for this 25-year-old game, but it’s just not possible. I don’t wish for the story to change, but after investing hours into romancing Aerith for it to be somewhat of a waste of time, I thought she deserved a place here.

Goro Akechi, Persona 5 Royal

When Persona 5 Royal was first announced, many hoped that this meant that Joker, our debonair protagonist with the sexy glasses and the ability to connect deeply with everyone he meets, might be able to romance men. He can get into a relationship with a gothic doctor, an alcoholic journalist, and his own teacher, but apparently male love interests are a no-go.

But how about Goro Akechi, the most divisive character in the fandom?

Now, hear me out. He does awful things, and he’s stuck up and maniacal in equal measure. But Royal fleshes him out a lot more than the original. He and Joker get their own confidant path, allowing them to go out on dates and get to know each other better.

I’m not really exaggerating when I call them “dates”. Many of the other confidant paths involve Joker listening to their problems, helping them grow emotionally, and navigating them through some hurdle or internal issue. He helps Futaba come out of her shell, Ryuji to reinstate the track team, and Haru to gather the strength to refuse an arranged marriage with a total jerk. However, with Akechi, they just…hang out. They play darts, go to a jazz club, an arcade, and even a bathhouse. Looking from the outside in, they just love spending time together. And…more?

The “enemies to lovers” scenario that Akechi and Joker fall into is one of the most popular tropes in romance and video game love interests. They bicker and it seems like they are sniping at each other a lot of the time. But then Akechi goes off on how much he “hates” Joker, telling him how interesting, unique, and skilful he is…wait, what? He sees Joker as his equal, as partners that challenge each other every day—like in plenty of romantic stories.

What’s more, Joker seems to return the feelings. Akechi calls a threat to his life “trivial”, and Joker replies, “This isn’t small potatoes”. This could be a reference to a Russian proverb, that suggests Joker does not think Akechi’s life is trivial and should not be thrown away…because he loves him. It’s a love confession hidden behind a proverb, showing a deep understanding between the two boys who love to speak in riddles and ambiguity.

The icing on the cake is how you feel for Akechi once you learn more about his backstory. What he’s done is in no way excusable (and hence he’s not higher on this list), but you can sympathise with him. And maybe that’s the thaw Joker needs to invite Akechi into his heart once and for all.

Riley, Life is Strange: True Colors

I’m not sure many people who played Life is Strange: True Colors were that interested in a romance between protagonist Alex and Riley, the flower shop girl with a troubled (ex) boyfriend. After all, you have Steph, a LiS fan favourite tugging on players’ heartstrings from the get-go. Steph is a passionate music fan who encourages Alex to try new things and gets adorably tongue-tied at even the littlest hint of romance. She even gets a DLC exploring her backstory.  

So, why do I want to date Riley so much? 

I’d argue there’s a lot about Riley that is overlooked. Not only is she attractive, but Alex’s empath superpowers allow us to get to know Riley more, revealing her kind heart. She looks after her grandmother’s flower store, with obvious love and affection for the old woman. She is empathetic and willing to give people more than one chance, as shown by her rocky relationship with insecure Mac. She has ambitious dreams of leaving her small town to go to college—and she loves her grandmother so much that, if she finds out about her condition, she won’t go. She’s also a tech whizz, which just gives her a whole heap of cool. 

Perhaps it’s the desire to save a character from a relationship that’s no good for her. Maybe it’s the longing for another LGBTQ+ relationship option in a franchise known for it. Or maybe I’m a sucker for a girl who loves both flowers and computers. Either way, she should have been an option for Alex. 

Erik, Dragon Quest XI: Echoes Of An Elusive Age

When it comes to video game love interests, you might say Sylvando is the obvious choice for an LGBTQ+ relationship in Dragon Quest XI. He is the explicitly queer coded character: a bundle of joy, fully dimensional, and the epitome of a strong and proud gay character.

Sorry, Sylvando. Erik and the Luminary have the best chemistry in the game.

Erik is the blue-haired streetwise rogue, who you (the Luminary) first meet when you are both locked in the castle dungeon. He offers to help you escape and, in return, you will help Erik get back his prized red orb. The rest is history, with Erik steadfastly and loyally following the Luminary wherever he goes, helping him get out of scrapes and save the world.

Importantly, this meeting is prophesied. A typical romance storyline is the fated lovers trope—the belief that you are destined to meet, fall in love, and be together forever. Even with the wide array of fantastic and colourful characters you meet along the way, Erik and the Luminary are together from the very beginning. It feels like he is the one constant in this looping and lengthy story. At one point, when you ask him to be the bride to your groom in a wedding, Erik is keen to do so before he knows it is simply a rehearsal.You can’t fool me, Square Enix—Erik wants to be the Luminary’s partner, til death do them part.

Sadly, whilst in Dragon Quest XI S you can pick any of your eight companions to “have join thee forever more”, the overtones are that of platonic friendships, rather than a romance process akin to Persona. Well, we can dream.

The Boys, Final Fantasy XV

Is this a push for a polyamorous romance fuelled by a roadtrip gone wrong, a fantastical adventure to save the world, and a friendship group dynamic written so tenderly your heart breaks every time tragedy strikes? In the number 1 slot on this list? Yes, yes it is.

As one user on the Final Fantasy XV Steam reviews page puts it, “Get together with the biggest bromance boyband of the century and go camping.” That’s what the first few hours of the game amount to.

Noctis, the heir apparent to the Lucian throne, is travelling across the realm to marry his betrothed. He has angst abound, which is balanced out nicely by Prompto’s silly jokes, Gladio’s tough-guy affection, and Ignis’ nurturing instincts to keep you fed and safe. Together, they take silly selfies, race around on chocobos, and accept each other for who they are, no matter what—and this is tested hard in the story. It’s clear how much these boys love and respect each other, even when the world is collapsing all around.

Big spoiler alert now, so be warned!

The whole story is too convoluted to explain, but when Noctis sleeps inside a Crystal for 10 years to help banish darkness from the world, I was devastated. Not because the world has been plunged into darkness and ravaged by daemons. Not because his betrothed is dead along with so many others.

It’s because that meant 10 years apart from Prompto, Gladio, and Ignis. And, even more heartbreakingly, he couldn’t say goodbye before stepping into the Crystal, meaning they had no idea if he would even come back. It devastated me after hours and hours of gameplay getting to know the boys—and to say nothing about the ending itself.

Noctis has to marry Lunafreya for the sake of binding their kingdoms together. If he had a choice, I have no doubt that he would choose not one, but all three of his closest friends. No matter what you think about FFXV, there’s no doubt that their bond is unbreakable. I wish we could do even more with that in the story itself.

Legend of Zelda

Sheik, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

… I’m sorry to all the Zelda fans out there.

As someone who had never played Ocarina of Time until it became available on the Switch, I went in knowing next to nothing about the story. I kept saying to myself: Zelda’s hardly in this game! Why does everyone ship them so hard? Why does Link feel compelled to save her, other than because she’s a royal princess?

Enter Sheik, the debonaire Sheikah ninja who pops up throughout the game to help save Hyrule from Ganondorf’s oppressive rule. He teaches Link the Ocarina of Time songs at different intervals, giving him the ability to teleport, make it rain, and more. They build a rapport as they work to save the world, making Link feel a little bit less alone on his solitary quest that involves him losing seven years of his life to a comatose sleep.

It was here that I felt the spark. The duets Sheik and Link perform using their harp and ocarina respectively hold palpable romantic tension, even in old-school N64 graphics. At one point, they even stare back and forth at each other in an almost comedic camera POV swap sequence…before Sheik smoke bombs Link to blind him temporarily and vanish from sight.

This relationship is what inspired me to write this feature in the first place. Why can’t Link run away with mysterious Sheik, instead of a princess he hardly knows?

We all know why. And, yet, once the credits rolled, I still yearned for what could have been.

And there it is. I really do believe these could make another amazing story if these video game characters became love interests. It would make for a new and exciting story and plot, which could branch off into a whole bunch of different directions!