Get outta my dreams
Video games have grown from clusters of pixels on a black screen to cinematic adventures with lifelike characters voiced by all-star actors. And sometimes, these characters are so well-developed that we find ourselves emotionally drawn to them. In movies, the experience is over so quickly this doesn't have a chance to go any further, but in games, we have upwards of 100 hours with someone, and after all that time... well... emotions are silly things.
What can we say? The heart wants what the heart wants, and here are fourteen characters that still reside within our chest cavities. Er, hearts. Yeah, definitely sounds more romantic when you say 'heart'.
Big Bo (Binary Domain)
No one is more deserving of the phrase "I love you, man" than Roy "Big Bo" Boateng. The Rust Crew's machine-gun-toting, catchphrase-spewing heavy weapons expert is almost too much to handle and, in any other game, Big Bo probably would just be obnoxious. But he's such a great foil to Binary Domain's transhumanist melodrama, hooting and hollering about sweet headshots as the rest of your group grimly considers global politics.
French robo-commando Cain may be more charming and well-spoken, but Big Bo is your buddy through thick and thin. And Binary Domain's voice command system makes it such a bizarre joy to interact with his big, effusive personality. Rather than picking options out of a menu, you spend the campaign shouting stuff like "Big Bo! Cover me!" and "Big Bo! Nice work!", and listening to him bellow back solid gold like "THAT WAS SAH-WEET!" If you haven't fallen in love with Big Bo by the end of the game, you must not have a shred of joy in your heart.
Rose of Sharon Cassidy (Fallout: New Vegas)
By the time you meet Rose of Sharon Cassidy (just call her Cass), she's already lived a long, hard life. Not that anybody's life is particularly easy in the Mojave Wasteland, but hers has been particularly rough - rougher still when she hears her caravan's been burnt to the ground and decides she has nothing better to do than go traveling with you.
But even with all that taken away from her, she's still held onto two things: a dark sense of humor and a killer moonshine recipe. And those are two very good things to have in a post-apocalyptic companion. If you traveled with her father, Cassidy, in Fallout 2, you'll definitely see the resemblance - and your love for her may be more of 'daughter-I-never-had' kind than romantic. Either way, it's tough to travel with this rough-and-tumble desert flower for too long without getting sweet on her.
Sully (Uncharted series)
Not the heart-stealing thief you were expecting? Yes, Nathan Drake is a lovable rogue, but his mentor Sully has him beat in two very important areas: style and confidence. Alright, alright, three very important areas: style, confidence, and facial hair. Sully just oozes 20th century pulp-hero panache (seriously, he probably slicks back his hair with the stuff), chomping on a cigar and hopping behind the stick of his bombshell-bedecked propeller plane. It also doesn't hurt that he's the spitting image of a latter-day Errol Flynn.
But awesome adventurer traits aside, the fact that he managed to shape Nathan Drake from a roguish little pickpocket to a good-hearted treasure hunter - and that he's always willing to come back out of retirement to help him out - says it all. One of these days those endless calls to adventure might be the end of him (Uncharted 4 is subtitled A Thief's End, after all) but until then, we'll cherish every minute.
Roll Caskett (Mega Man Legends series)
Throughout Mega Man Legends 1 and 2, Roll is the rock of the Caskett clan. She keeps Mega Man outfitted with gear and up-to-the-minute intel when he's on a mission, looks after her retired adventurer grandpa Barrel, and deals admirably with robo-monkey Data's endless hijinks. Any one of those tasks would be a full-time job by itself, but still she somehow keeps it all together. It'd be tough enough not to fall for the girl who builds you awesome new weapons with a smile, but add to that how conflicted she seems about putting you in harm's way, and resistance is futile.
Roll's so lovable that it almost sucks to see her falling for Mega Man. After all, this is the guy who 'accidentally' walks in on her changing clothes, then while she's in the bath, and pumps his arm victoriously after both occasions. That's not OK, Mega Man - you'd better treat the girl who's willing to work with her arch nemesis to build dozens of rockets so she can retrieve you from the moon right.
Celes Chere (Final Fantasy 6)
In any Final Fantasy game less-packed with memorable characters (let's be real, here, any other Final Fantasy) Celes Chere would clearly be the main character. Why? She kicks ass with all the strength and smarts of an imperial super-soldier. But regrets from her years of unflinching service to an increasingly evil Empire keep her aloof, even as the rest of the game's many heroes begin to relax and develop new relationships. She's like Squall and Cloud put together, minus most of the whinging.
Suffice it to say, Locke isn't the only one who's quickly infatuated with her. There's just something about Celes' confidence that makes her immediately appealing, and something about her vulnerability that keeps her in your heart. You even get to know her softer side with intimate moments like practicing for the opera and caring for her old friend Cid. No joke, Celes had us fawning like starry-eyed recruits.
Vamp (Metal Gear Solid series)
Vamp is kind of an asshole, but he's also pretty sexy in that hangs-out-at-goth-clubs kind of way. There's something about a guy with long, dark hair, fangs, and a Romanian accent - the fact that he can predict your movements just by watching your muscles tense and relax is the maraschino cherry on top. Speaking of thick red liquids, he also drinks blood, which is admittedly kind of a turn off or turn-on, depending on where you're coming from in life. Not judging.
Unique talents aside, you have to appreciate Vamp for making Raiden a more interesting character purely by osmosis. And his story is actually pretty tragic - he's the literal embodiment of Metal Gear's "cycle of death on behalf of nations and ideals" theme. Metal Gear's given tragic deaths to many adversaries, but Vamp's plucked at our heartstrings more than most. When he finally croaks for good in Metal Gear Solid 4, it's more "goodnight, sweet prince," than "and stay dead, you son of a bitch".
Chrom (Fire Emblem: Awakening)
You can't spit without hitting a brash, adventurous prince in the canon of fantasy RPGs, but it's less often that you get to watch them grow into strong and noble kings. In a game that's all about staying loyal to your friends and your ideals, Chrom is dealt the harshest blows of any, eventually casting aside his youthful commitment to peace and preparing his nation to fight for the greater good.
Of course, it helps that female player Avatars can marry him and have kick-ass future babies. But even if you decide to have your kick-ass future babies with someone else, the bond that Chrom shares with his rag-tag crew of adventurers is truly something special - in particular his total trust and support of your Avatar. It's enough to send your heart all a-flutter when he compliments your choice of tactics.
John Marston (Red Dead Redemption)
John Marston's a unique guy. Though at first he appears to be a typical gunslinger, he eventually grows into a fully fleshed-out protagonist with morals and scruples we sympathize with. He's not riding around the wilderness skinning rabbits and murdering people because he wants to - he's riding around the wilderness skinning rabbits and murdering people because he has to. For his family.
Yes, Marston is a family man, and that's the reason we ended up falling for him. He's a kind soul who will do anything and everything to look out for his family. He's the kind of guy you take home to your family; the kind of guy who your father would love to go hunting with. He's just a hell of a guy. Plus, you know, he's ruggedly sexy. Gotta love a guy with some wicked scars.
Our love for Yorda was less like a relationship and more like a sibling thing. These emotions didn't form right away, however. For the first hour or so she was an inconvenience and nothing more. She managed to be annoying despite being mute, which is a feat in and of itself, and her helplessness was nothing if not infuriating.
It wasn't until Yorda was put into danger that we realized how attached to her we were. She was like a little brother or sister we had to protect, and even though our on-screen character was technically younger, we still felt like the bigger sibling. We worried for her not just because her capture was the failure state, but because of an honest-to-goodness attachment.