All out relationships

Written in 2019

Married, with children

Like stated before, the story of RPGs usually covers a narrative where heroes have to save the world (or anything closely important). And if people have to save the world, there is usually no room for all out relationships, marriage or even children.

Yet, there are actually some games where players are free to lead relationships or even marry each other. And there are games where the protagonists can interact in sexual activities. For story writers, this is hard to manage - focus on the characters too much, and the bigger threat and overall story have to take a step back.

It's also very easy to fall into cliché if love, relationships and more are part of a game. If the game turns out to be too romantic, it can be easily labeled as a schmaltzy love story without respecting the bigger threat. If the game tries to display sexual intercourse and does it in too much detail, there might even be legal issues with youth protection laws. And which developer that tries to create a serious game wants it to be labeled as pornographic?

Another aspect that needs to be taken into consideration is to know what the audience of a product needs to know. Among story writers, there is a rule that the characters of a fictional work also have some privacy and that the story is received as more authentic when not every detail is shown.

The examples below include some examples where characters in a game were able to build a functioning relationship amidst the events of that game.

Story writing and sex

As Writer's Relief puts it, a badly written sex scene is like a guy at a party that does too much shots and starts to dance on the table. It's an annoyance in a nice environment and could spoil the whole experience.

It's important to know who is going to read a story - or, in this case, play a game and what they expect from the games' experience. Usually, outside of erotic literature, writing sex scenes should be avoided. And if a sex scene is included, it should help the story to progress.

Hints or suggestions would be more powerful, and if you ever read a book that just hints on sexual tension between two characters, you might agree that this could be more interesting for the story than cheap descriptions of nude bodys doing their stuff together.

Games and marriage

There are some examples below that cover the marriage of characters. At least in western societies, the importance of marriages is declining to the point where some countries established laws that non-married couples have the same rights as married couples.

In games or story-writing, however, marriage can be a display to strengthen the bond between two characters. Especially when the game is playing in a fantasy world that borrows elements from medieval times, marriage often is a required step before a family can be founded.

A selection of couples

Star Ocean 2: Rena and Claude

This is a game that I hadn't in mind when I initially wrote about couples in RPGs. Reddit user nightpop mentioned that Rena and Claude could indeed become a couple towards the end of the game. Not only that, Rena tells Claude directly that he's going to be a father.

In the game, Rena is a child of unknown heritage who is living on a planet that is similar to earth, but with society and technology not as advanced as ours. In the events of the game, a unknown force from space will enter the planet and try to capture Rena, but she will be saved by Claude C. Kenni, the second protagonist of the game.

Players can choose between either Claude or Rena being their main character. The events which unfold around the party are the same, only details of the story are different.

Claude is a young man from earth, son of a famous space admiral and part of the military of earth's international federation. He accidentally lands on Rena's planet and saves her after realizing a strong monster is threatening her life.

As the story progresses, players can interact with other party members in so called "private actions" which increases or decreases the affection that the party members have with the main character. If players can manage that Rena's affection towards is bigger than Claude's towards her, whilst no other character feels more for claude than rena and claude feels no more affection towards anyone else than for Rena, there is an ending where Claude has to leave Rena for a space mission and Rena tells him that he is pregnant with his child.

"By the time you get back, you're going to be a father."

Xenogears: Elly and Fei

When Xenogears was released in 1998, it was one of the first games I heard about after getting my first own internet access (You can find out details about Xenogears itself here). And most famous and notorious in various forums was the fact that there was a moment of sexual intercourse within the game.

All the hype aside, the story is really nice, at least if it comes to those two.

He is Fei, an Orphan who was brought into a village as a kid that was eventually attacked by a group called Gebler Force. He tries to save the village, but destroys it in the process.

She is Elly, an office from the Gebler force. She meets up Fei and they immediately get into some commotion of a war that lasts for centuries.

Fei and Elly are initially separated, but Fei is able to locate her and help her out of a dire situation where the abductors try to brainwash her. She has incredible power and is a reincarnation of a divine being in the past, while Fei also is a reincarnation of a person who was already in love with her back then.

It's all a bit mixed up and a little weird, but the scene where Fei and Elly have intercourse is presented in a very elegant way. A video shows Fei and Elly getting close to each other, then the scene turns into a white screen (remember: respect your character's privacy!) and in the next screen, you can see Elly naked in bed with Fei next to her.

The game might be a mixed bag due to its rushed development, but this scene really left a mark.

Grandia: Justin and Feena

When the first scenes of Grandia start, I guess no one would suspect that this game covers one of the most extensive all-out relationship ever shown in games. And Grandia does this in a very warm hearted, respectful way.

He is Justin, a young and innocent boy, who wants to explore the world. In his day and age, technology is already fairly advanced and the powerful forces led by Baal claimed that the end of the world has been found in the form of a gigantic wall. Justin wants to see this wall and climb over it.

She is Feena, a young but already renowned adventurer, her sister being deployed in Baal's army. When Feena and Justin meet for the first time, there is a huge gap in their personal development - he is the innocent, adventerous boy, she is the adventurer with lots of experience at her hand.

As the story progressed, Grandia became more and more serious and the events moved away from adventure and discovery towards military forces committing crimes and bringing the world on the brink of destruction. Justin also progressed in his personal development and became a reliable, trustworthy friend.

Like in many japanese games, it's the woman who confesses her feelings first. In a romantic scene, Feena confessed her love to Justin, but he didn't really get it at that time (I leave out the slapstick moment fairly at the beginning of the game where Justin accidentally inappropriately touched Feena). Still, their relationship develops, and at the end of the game, they announced their wedding plans. Right at the end of the game, the game shows a flock of children from that couple.

Lufia II: Maxim and Selan

This is another early example of a game that covers love between two characters. Or even three, if we're being precise.

He is Maxim, a kind of mercenary that does jobs of monster slaying if requested. At the beginning of the story, Maxim was already in a healthy relationship with his girlfriend Tia, who happened to own a store.

She is Selan, a general of a big city's army. At the beginning, she didn't even fit too well into the party and had troubles befriending the rest of the crew.

Still, as monsters were fought and as the evil deitys called the Sinistrals were gaining power, Maxim and Selan grew fond of each other. Maxim eventually left Tia and began a relationship with Selan.

At some point of the story, it looked like the threat from the Sinistrals was gone, so Maxim and Selan decided to marry each other. In the following scenes, players could attend the marriage and be part of a peaceful year, where Selan got pregnant and gave birth to a child.

Alas, the story had to move on, the Sinistrals were on the rise again, so Maxim and his entourage went out to battle those foes again. And it the end, even when they succeeded, Maxim and Selan went missing on a floating island that crashed down, leaving her child as an orphan.

Fallout 4

Fallout 4 has an interesting approach to relationships. It is one of the games where players can create their own character and play as they like. The story is here, but the choices of the players really decide which direction it takes. Basically, it is a typical western RPG. But it is fully voiced, and this is a part of how the game can handle relationships a little better than RPGs where all of the text a character says is limited to text boxes.

In this game, players can go into realtionships with almost all characters that are available as party members. You have to perform certain actions that are liked or disliked by the characters when they are nearby. Piper, for example, likes lockpicking. So whenever the player's avatar does some lockpicking and Piper is nearby (for instance, as a party member), affection level will grow. And when the affection level hits maximum, a loving relationship with that character is possible.

And it is indeed an all-out relationship: Whenever players spend the night in a bed to heal up and the lover is in the active party, a special bonus indicates that adult action was going on during the night. However, nothing explicit is shown here.

The heartwarming aspect of these relationships is the conversaion between the avatar and the significant other. Players can talk with their boyfriends or girlfriends anytime they want and ask about the status of the relationship. And as you can see in the screenshot (if it isn't too tiny to read), the partners say things like "Whenever I think of you, my heart beats fast and I feel like blushing. There, it's happening again."

In a world as dire and sad as shown in Fallout, these words show real affection and love. It gives players the feeling that they really found someone to love. And it is refreshing that love can happen between anyone.

Dragon Age Inquistion

This game is the third installment in the Dragon Age series and also a western RPG. Being in this genre, the game als offers players the option to create their own avatar character. And like Fallout, the game is fully voiced, so that every line the avatar says is really spoken out.

In terms of relationships, the game goes in a different direction than Fallout. In Dragon Age, players can acquire a fortress, and every possible party member can be found in that fortress between missions. And in those peaceful times, relationships can be built.

However, not every party member is open to every gender. There are some characters that are only attracted to the opposite sex, others are open for both and there's a third category that' strictly homosexual. It's an interesting approach because if you as a player are attracted to a certain party member (with your avatar at least), you need to respect that person's choice and cannot approach him or her.

Whenever the avatar is in a relationship with another character, there are several options to spend some time alone, talk deep about issues that trouble the characters or have a moment of love and kissing for each other.

And, at a certain moment, there is the possibility to have sex with the lover. I am not completely sure if this was a good decision. It's there for the show and of course its a bit scandalous, but honestly I could not enjoy the scene (sample depicted above) when I first saw it. It feels awkward to see one of the most intimate moments of the avatar. I would have granted them a bit of privacy, just as Xenogears did.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Rex, Nia and Pyra / Mythra

When in Xenoblade Chronicles 1, a possible love relationship between Shulk and Fiora was only hinted on (albeit later on confirmed), Xenoblade 2 went full all-out on the relationship side - it honestly even became a bit ugly at times

He is Rex, a young teenager that lives on a small giant who also acts as some sort of his mentor. Giants are beings that float atop a sea of clouds, with a toxic wasteland of days gone beyond. He accepts a job with a group that tries to kill him after completing his duty, but a special being, a "Blade" called Pyra saves him, by giving him some of her life force.

Part of the group that tried to betray rex was also Nia, who later on joins Rex on his adventures to help Pyra find her destined Land, Elysium, while also climbing the huge tree that sits in the middle of the ocean. As the story progresses, Pyra turns out to be just a half of a being, the other is Mythra.

Eventually, Rex can decided if he likes Pyra or Mythra more, while Nia also starts to have a crush on him. Towards the ending of the game, the Blade Rex chose as his favorite will talk to him.

As confirmed later on, Rex does indeed not only get into a relationship with his favorite Blade (as both became their own entities), but instead he opted for a polyamorous relationship with all three girls. And he had children with all three of them. One daughter is Glimmer, who is a main heroine in Xenoblade 3's "Future Redeemed" expansion, the other is Mio, who is the heroine of Xenoblade 3 and...

Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Mio and Noah

... Mio, who is subsequently one of the main heroines in Xenoblade 3.

He is Noah, a young man of Keves, one of the nations that emerged in the world of Aionios, that happened to exist after the two parts of the world split by Klaus rejoined. As Kevesian, he has Homs roots - not unlike Shulk in the original game.

She is Mio, a young woman from Agnus - the other nation who is at war with Keves. Being Nia's daughter, she shows Gormotti traits.

The world of Xenoblade 3 is in a constant loop of life and death, and yet, at some point in the past, Mio and Noah met and became friends, lovers even. They tried to escape the trials of war, but died over and over again, just to be reborn again. They also seemingly met each other over and over again, and in one of their incarnations even had a kid, a baby boy, together.

In the game itself, Mio and Noah's reincarnations are reincarnations of hope, and they manage not only to meet again (in a fierce battle), but also end the endless repetition. Just to find out that their world is being rebuilt. In the end, they can confess their story, but there's just a hint that they might meet again.

A past incarnation of Noah decided to get out of the cycle and become a Consul - who also opted to revive the Mio of that time. However, that Mio didn't really understand Noah's decisions, and over time, they got distant - just to be reunited towards the end of the game.

These little paragraphs here can't do the relationship of Mio and Noah any justice. They are told in a hundred hours long game full of emotions and feelings. It is one of the most intense, dramatic and devastating story of love, despair and hope.

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