There are a lot of video games out there and in this era of mobile and home-based gaming, the choices have never been greater. So how do you cut through the noise and find the “Best of” for any chosen topic?
Well, we’re here to help celebrate and shine a spotlight on some of the latest, greatest and unforgettable games through the years.
For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best video games, our attention this time turns to games with a focus on romance and drama. From story-rich JRPGs to classic life simulation titles, there’s a good choice to whet your appetite.
Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below, and we’ll get them added on when we can!
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is one of the newer entries in the Fire Emblem series. This game features gorgeous visuals, fun gameplay, and different story routes to keep players engaged. This tale takes place in the medieval world of Fódlan. You take control of a professor who’ll help your students succeed in battle and in their academic studies.
This game’s twist involves you choosing between three houses. This game offers alternate routes based on which group of students you decide to lead. Each storyline is jam-packed with drama, romance, and tension. Like in other modern Fire Emblem titles, you can determine who ends up with whom, allowing you to forge a different gameplay experience from your friends.
Besides the dating simulation aspects, this game houses spectacular tactical RPG elements. You’ll move your characters across a grid to attack nearby foes. Each character has a specific trait and weapon that allows them, to deal damage and attack differently. Each battle delivers astonishing visuals that’ll fill you with exhilaration. If you’re searching for a tactical RPG with romance elements, check out Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
Final Fantasy X
The Final Fantasy series has given fans fun worlds to explore, intricate plots to unfold, and memorable characters to cherish. While each world offers its share of romance, Final Fantasy X feels the most authentic involving the companionship between its protagonists Tidus and Yuna. This romance doesn’t happen overnight.
While Tidus serves as Yuna’s protector, the story takes its time developing their relationship as you progress through the game. This helps the romance feel genuine and less forced. Granted, the game’s quirkiness and awkward character interactions make the game feel jarring at times.
However, it’s the game’s oddities that make Tidus and Yuna’s relationship feel pure and charming. Romance aside, Final Fantasy X was a ground-breaking title for Square Enix when it was released. It was the first Final Fantasy game to feature voice acting. It carried the risk of switching over to a new conditional turn-based battle system.
With some excellent puzzles and a rich soundtrack, fans should consider playing Final Fantasy X.
The Sims (Series)
There is a growing fanbase for life-simulation games despite the many jokes gamers make about them. Many of these simulation games owe series like The Sims praise for popularizing them. This is a game that allows players to recreate and experience their dream lifestyle.
This game doesn’t offer any enriching plot points or story elements. It’s straightforward. The gameplay revolves around players controlling their in-game avatars and watching their lives unfold before their eyes. Players have total control over how they experience this game, whether it’s through careers, relationships, or daily activities.
The Sims receives visual overhauls and mechanic improvements with each release. The developers do a fine job at keeping the game afloat through entertaining updates that’ll allow you to interact with your avatars in wonderful ways. With its overwhelming popularity, it doesn’t appear that The Sims will be closing its doors anytime soon.
Katawa Shoujo is a bishōjo-style visual novel game that centers around a boy named Hisao Nakai and five other women who suffer from disabilities. They all attend a school that specializes in education and hospitalization. Players will watch as Hisao slowly comes to grips with his health condition and newfound lifestyle.
This game’s cast is well-rounded. Its character sprites leave much to be desired and there isn’t much variety regarding facial reactions. The game’s conclusion leaves viewers with a sense of ambiguity. Besides those issues, this visual novel offers a compelling narrative that’s hard to put down. Each character has an interesting background and personality that some may find relatable.
Their backgrounds evoke different feelings in players. There will be characters like Emi who evoke a sense of motivation while someone like Lilly persuades viewers to look at situations from multiple perspectives. It’s these subtle distinctions that help our cast stand out from each other. As for gameplay, it’s what you’d expect from visual novels from its dialog boxes to its simple UI.
However, this game provides enough alternate routes to keep players returning to Katawa Shoujo. If you’re a fan of visual novels and enjoy romantic stories, give this one a shot.
Life Is Strange (Series)
No matter if you’re a saint or evildoer, life has its fair amount of roadblocks. Occasionally, we experience unexpected anomalies that we never could have foreseen or anticipated. Life is Strange is one of those games where the decisions you make can lead to impactful solutions and consequences.
Players can alter the series’ protagonists’ past, present, and future. The first game has you following Max, a girl who saves her friend from treachery because she can manipulate time. Toying with the past has consequences, and you must help Max realize it. This game is full of emotional dialogue and mature themes.
Some games in this series delve into topics like sexual assault and abuse. The game makes the world seem more realistic by addressing such ideas and drawing connections to players who have experienced such travesties. The choice-based gameplay and rewinding time mechanics add more depth to the game.
It gives this series some uniqueness. With the passion and effort put into these titles, it’s clear why many people can’t get enough of the Life is Strange universe.
To The Moon
To The Moon is an emotionally taxing game. It’s one of those titles that encourage people to reflect on their life’s accomplishments and hardships. Despite its simplistic structure, To The Moon leaves players with quite the impression.
In it, players follow Johnny Wyles, an elderly gentleman who dreams of visiting the moon before he passes away. He’s unsure why the moon fascinates him so much, but he makes it known that he desires to travel to it. Two technologically-advanced doctors named Eva Rosalene and Neil Watts must plant a fake memory inside his skull by traveling into his mind.
It’s one of those titles best experienced without any knowledge besides its synopsis. The gameplay isn’t anything noteworthy or grand. You simply solve puzzles by scouring the areas of Johnny’s memories for clues. This is generally a game where you play it for the story and not its gameplay. It’ll take you roughly five hours to complete, so if you’re looking for a small yet impactful game to play, consider picking up To The Moon.
Before viewers experienced the cheerful and heartbreaking moments in Clannad via its anime, visual novel players witnessed it beforehand. Although many prefer Kyoto Animation’s adaptation over the source material, the visual novel offers better pacing and explores many routes not touched upon in Clannad.
The visual novel’s take on the narrative is like the anime’s. It follows a delinquent turned father-named Tomoya Okazaki. It highlights the relationships he establishes with the series’s female cast alongside his friendship with a male classmate named Sunohara.
What drives fans to this visual novel is its interpretation of the events that occur in Clannad’s second season, dubbed After Story. The visual novel’s take on After Story provides slower pacing and gives some characters more screen time.
This helps players grow attached to characters who were sidelined in the anime’s adaptation. For instance, Tomoya’s relationship with Nagisa Furukawa’s (the show’s female protagonist) parents is explored to a greater extent and helps them feel more rounded. Furthermore, the game offers players the freedom to steer the story in a direction of their choosing via its alternative routes.
The Fruit of Grisaia
The Fruit of Grisaia is an extremely long but worthwhile romance-themed visual novel. This game can take players up to 70 hours to complete and follows the traditional gameplay formula established in previous visual novels. You’ll read the dialog present on the screen while clicking away at your keyboard or controller’s “A” button.
Nonetheless, after a solid session of playtime, players may find it difficult to remove themselves from their television screens or monitors. This game follows a boy named Kazami Yuuji, who’ll encounters many girls while trying to lead a mundane school life. You must guide Kazami toward a direction that pleases you by reading each conversation and making challenging choices.
Despite its lackluster opening, the drama ramps up quite nicely in The Fruit of Grisaia. The story will thrust you into some fun comedic sessions between Kazami and the cast to keep your attention. The jokes can feel slightly uncomfortable as they tend to lean toward sensual territory. However, the game presents these jokes in a nonchalant manner which should put those worries at ease.
This is a game that features some clever writing techniques. There are some moments worth revisiting to see how they foreshadow later events and the romantic options presented to you in this title will warm or torture your heart. If you’re looking for a fabulous visual novel that will surpass your wildest expectations, check out The Fruit of Grisaia.
Catherine: Full Body
Catherine: Full Body is a story-rich game with puzzles and visual novel elements. It boasts multiple branching paths that’ll help players take in the title’s world and attach themselves to its cast. This game features 13 different endings for players to discover and offers a slew of fun mind-numbing puzzles to solve.
This game has players take control of Vincent, a protagonist that must overcome his romantic hardships with two girls named Catherine. However, one of them starts with the letter K. Regardless, you must help Vincent settle his multitude of issues by completing the game’s various dating-sim and action-platforming levels.
This game doesn’t encourage players to traverse through an ideal route. It entices them to form conclusions that best represent their moral values. This allows them to forge different experiences separate from other players. It also provides some excellent replay value.
The action-platforming elements will remind folks of Tetris. You’ll help Vincent swiftly climb towers that represent the mental phases in his mind. These towers start slow but get inherently fast in time. There are several hazards that come into play only to make matters worse. While the game sounds like a breeze, it’ll leave your brain confuzzled with its speedy puzzles and difficult life-oriented scenarios.
Calling Florence a simple visual novel or interactive novel would be doing it a disservice. This game was made with immense passion and excellent artistry by indie developer Mountains and artist Ustwo. This is a short and sweet narrative that carries immense weight and will leave a lasting memory in many players’ heads.
Our story follows 25-year-old Florence Yeoh, who is stuck living a mundane life. It isn’t until her fateful encounter with a cello player named Krish, that her life takes a dramatic turn. In this game, you’ll witness Florence and Krish’s bond steadily grow throughout the game.
From flirting to fighting, you’ll be mesmerized by how relatable and impactful this story can become. This game boasts an incredible art style that evokes creativity and emotion. Despite having little gameplay interaction, players will enjoy exploring and interacting with Florence’s colorful surroundings.
Unfortunately, the game doesn’t last too long. It’ll take you roughly an hour or so to complete it. While this may sound like a buzzkill, you’ll find its shortened length to be effective and adequate. With its simplistic gameplay, engrossing narrative, and enchanting soundtrack, Florence is a classy yet powerful game that’ll move you.
So, there we have it, our pick for the best video games through the years about romance and drama!
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!