If you’re the kind of person that loves looking at intertwining plot lines and examining character development, you know that certain games can deliver a prolific experience filled with dynamic relationships and complex situations. One of the delivery mechanisms for this feeling combines intrigue and emotion, a phenomenon known as romance. Below, we have compiled our favorite couples in the history of gaming based on memorability, longevity, and universal appeal.

Master Chief and Cortana
from the Halo franchise

Cortana may be artificially intelligent, but her loyalty, devotion, and love for Master Chief are completely real. Monitoring communications and providing important backstory, the hologram’s relationship with the iconic gaming figure might be platonic on the surface, she is programmed to be with Master Chief. As for the Chief’s feelings, he loves Cortana as much as any superhuman Spartan can love anything.

Dom and Maria
from the Gears of War franchise

Married in the Gears of War universe, Dom’s love of Maria is the driving force behind the second iteration in the critically-acclaimed series. After being kidnapped by the Locusts, Dom feels obligated to find and save his wife, a mission that displays emotion in a title that lacks the characteristic.

Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher
from the Uncharted franchise

The Uncharted series has seen critical acclaim for its cinematic, story-driven feel. Much of the character development in the series is driven by the awkwardness between Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher, the two protagonists in the series. Drake puts his complete trust in Elena, who is one of the only consistent characters in the series. Though their relationship is tumultuous, gamers root for its success throughout the franchise, hoping that one day the two will end up together.

Commander Shepard
from the Mass Effect franchise

What? How can one person make the list of top ten couples in gaming history? Well, Mass Effect offers users with many choices, including who to take a romantic interest in. There are numerous stories on the Internet that detail rejections, some of which are depressing, while others will make you fall on the floor and laugh.

Cloud and Aerith
from Final Fantasy VII

Though their romance is ultimately short-lived, many gamers will look at Final Fantasy VII‘s iconic couple and say that it is the epitome of love in gaming. It left many yearning for more, as Aerith is killed in the middle of a game. It left many feeling the same way as Cloud – heartbroken.

Wander and Mono
from Shadow of the Colossus

With hardly any backstory, the love between Mono and Wander is one of the most apparent story elements in Shadow of the Colossus. Wander must kill each of the Colossi in order to wake Mono from her slumber, though she has no apparent ties to him. The ending of the game paints the relationship in an entirely different color, capping off one of the greatest romances in gaming history.

Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance
from Half-Life 2

In the Half-Life universe, Alyx Vance, who is arguably gaming’s most independent, vibrant female character, cares deeply for her fellow protagonist, Gordon Freeman. Through her wonderfully rendered facial expressions, players are exposed to her undying love every time the two part.

Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man
from the Pac-Man franchise

We’ll admit the fact that there is no profound connection between Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man, but it is undeniable that the franchise has had incredible influence on the direction of gaming. By simply slapping a bow on top of Pac-Man’s head, a heroine was born and horizons were expanded. The two yellow pie-shaped icons defined the 1980s, which is no small feat.

Link and Zelda
from the Legend of Zelda franchise

While many love the Legend of Zelda franchise simply because of its massive environments and challenging puzzles, one must make note of the fact that Link is motivated by his pure love of Zelda. Because their relationship is never overtly called-out, it has never been actualized, meaning that players are constantly curious about the status of their relationship.

Mario and Princess Peach
from the Super Mario Bros. franchise

Mario and Princess Peach are the defining couple. They fit a well-known romantic stereotype: plumber meets princess, princess gets captured by over-sized lizard, plumber saves princess. Though the story is extremely predictable, their relationship has occupied a nostalgic niche in many of our hearts.

Who are some of your favorite romantic gaming couples?