Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Feb 262021

We’ve talked about a lot of visual novels this month.

And there are a handful of romance-focused games in other genres.

And a lot of RPGs have multiple romance options that you can choose between.

But what about games that fall into other genres and are about more than just romance, but also feature one canon romance at the center of the plot?

That’s the type of game we’re going to focus on today, and so here are my picks for five great games that feature a central romance.

5. Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

You might argue that the love story isn’t exactly at the center of a story about Professor Layton getting sent forward through time and trapped in a future London, but Professor Layton and the Unwound Future prominently features flashbacks that show Layton getting to know and fall in love with a woman named Claire. Their story is actually much more important to the main plot than it might first appear, and it’s one of the things that makes Unwound Future one of the best in the series.

Without that romance, it wouldn’t be nearly as powerful as it is.

4. The Last Story

I played The Last Story for the first time just a few months ago, and I stand by what I said in my review – this Wii action JRPG deserves a lot more recognition than it gets. Now, why is it on this list? Well, while the story follows a band of mercenaries, a fair amount of time is also devoted to the growing relationship between Zael and a young woman named Calista. There’s a lot more going on in the story besides just that, but it’s a sweet romance that really helped it stand out.

I just wish The Last Story would get a re-release to make it easier for more people to play it.

3. Final Fantasy IX

That’s not a problem for our next game, however, because not only is Final Fantasy IX still readily available for the original PlayStation, but they’ve since ported it to pretty much everything. Now, I know a lot of you are raising your eyebrows at me for not picking Final Fantasy VIII or Final Fantasy X, and I’ll admit I’m biased toward Final Fantasy IX because it’s one of my favorite Final Fantasy games, but for me, the romance in Final Fantasy IX just outshines the others. Watching Zidane and Garnet go from strangers to friends to falling in love with each other felt natural to me, and the song “Melodies of Life” just makes it even better.

(I also loved the romance between Beatrix and Steiner, so that’s yet another reason for me to pick Final Fantasy IX for this list.)

2. Trails in the Sky

Okay, there’s a lot of Trails games I still need to play, but I wanted to highlight Trails in the Sky for this list. As I mentioned in my review, it’s a slow-paced yet highly story-driven JRPG that is well worth taking the time to see through to the end. And yes, there is a slow-burn romance between the two main characters that is also worth playing it for. The relationship gets a fair share of (in my opinion undeserved) criticism, but as long as you aren’t put off by a romance between two characters who are seen as adopted siblings (but aren’t related by blood and met each other when they were old enough to know that), I think you’ll enjoy taking this journey with Estelle and Joshua.

Now, I need to get back to playing Trails in the Sky SC to see the rest!

1. To the Moon

But if you play only a single game on this list, make it To the Moon. To the Moon is on PC, mobile, and now the Switch as well. You play as two scientists going back through an old man’s memories to fulfill his dying wish in his mind, and while there is no romance between the actual main characters you play as, the love story in the past as you explore Johnny’s memories is truly central to the story.

In fact, of all the games I’ve covered today, this is probably the one that most requires the romance for the rest of the game to work. It’s a wonderful, beautiful game that you really need to play.


And there you have it, five excellent choices if you want to play a great game with an important romance as part of its plot. I was really tempted to include Yakuza 0 on this list, but I couldn’t figure out a way to talk about it without spoilers. So, uh… play that one too!

Anyway, what do you think? What are your favorite games that feature a canon romance, and what do you think of my picks? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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  6 Responses to “Celebrating All Things Romantic: Top 5 Games With a Central Romance”

  1. Of course, I love Professor Layton, great choice.
    Last Story seems fun, I would buy a re-release.
    I never did beat FF IX…. oh well!
    Never played a Trails game
    As for To The Moon, fantastic first choice. Though there is some subtext there between Dr. Watts and Dr. Rosalene, though hard to know how serious to ever take it…. like it is playing with our idea that as the leads they just have to get together, or maybe they don’t!

    • I did think about some of the hints between Neil and Eva, but I think it’s too light to really count as a romance (at least enough of one to qualify for this list).

      I’d definitely recommend Trails if you get a chance to play them, since they seem like your sort of game. Unfortunately, I think the Steam version is the only easily accessible version right now and it doesn’t look like there’s a Mac version. Here’s hoping they re-release them someday!

  2. FF9 is just the best FF so your selection is only natural.

  3. I won’t object to FFIX being placed high. ^_^

    Though I do wish Freya got… more to her story in general, and with Fratley.

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