Many RPGs feature compelling love stories, and it’s a pretty common genre trope for the protagonist to be an irresistible ladies’ man. Since the ‘best waifu’ debates have waged for decades, a growing trend is to offer a choice of which character – or characters – to romance.
These choices allow each player to settle down with the partner that suits them, leaving everyone happy… in theory.
Here are some of the best RPGs with romance and relationship options.
Persona 5 Royal
Persona is one of the biggest trailblazers when it comes to in-game relationship options. From Persona 3 onwards, the series has gradually gained incredible popularity, before Persona 5 Royal emerged at the top of the tree. Persona 5 Royal is the definitive edition of Persona 5, and definitely the best way for first-timers to experience the journey.
When Joker, the protagonist, is not battling monsters in an alternate dimension, he’s usually hanging out with a wide variety of confidants. This results in many optional romantic trysts with high school classmates, who have many of their own personal tribulations throughout the 10-stage confidant arcs. On the more risqué side, the likes of the local doctor and high school homeroom teacher are also susceptible to Joker’s charms.
It’s not all about the romance – the protagonist invariably has a wide selection of male friends, which also bestow special abilities both in and out of battle. The bonds forged also help power up the all-important Personas, as well as occasionally giving other stat boosts. There are often deep and interesting backstories for each character, leaving no doubt that Persona is one of the best in the business when it comes to relationship building.
If you have already played and loved Persona 5, then Persona 3 and Persona 4 are definitely worth exploring. The gameplay is not quite as polished, but they both contain plenty of the same quality – and similar relationship choices.
Trails of Cold Steel series
Rean Schwarzer leads this excellent Falcom turn-based RPG series, which takes him to Thors Military Academy in the fictional country of Erebonia. The four titles centre around the adventures of Class VII, an experimental mix of students from all corners of the world. Cold Steel is renowned for its superb world building and huge array of likeable characters.
Every so often, Rean is granted a free day and given bonding points. These are utilised to hang out with classmates, or indeed the class instructor. Building bond levels leads to battle perks, such as striking consecutively or protecting each other from attacks. This adds a neat gameplay reward to these events, and can also be built up simply by battling alongside each other.
Now, Rean’s a pretty well-liked fellow throughout, but by the latter titles he is one of gaming’s most eligible bachelors. Party members and NPCs alike swoon over his every move, ending in a choice of female suitors that borders on the ridiculous.
Trails of Cold Steel should only be attempted if you have a lot of time on your hands – these titles are easily 70 or 80 hours each. However, over the four games it’s really hard not to buy into the camaraderie and friendship of the cast.
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age
Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Romantic: Sort of
The enhanced version of Dragon Quest XI sprung a little surprise by giving the main character a choice to cohabit with one of the other characters. This is unlocked in the post-game, and is actually pretty tough to reach, requiring numerous quests and battles.
There are eight to choose from and this includes some of the male characters. However, I have to say that there aren’t really romantic undertones to most of these relationships. The bulk of them tend to look platonic, with a vibe more suggestive of living together as friends.
Without spoiling anything, there is only one you could definitively say is romantic. The rest can probably be left up to individual interpretation. This doesn’t really compare to some of the other games on the list with bonding events dotted throughout the game, but it’s nice to have the option.
Again, bear in mind this is only available in Dragon Quest XI S, and not the original version, which has only one such relationship option.
Yakuza: Like A Dragon
Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC
Yakuza: Like A Dragon bravely switched the action combat of the series to a traditional turn-based battle system. It also substituted leading man Kiryu for a new protagonist in the form of Ichiban Kasuga. This makes Yakuza: Like A Dragon a terrific starting point for newcomers to the series.
The main setting of Yokohama has a wonderful mix of activities, most notably a huge abundance of minigames that can easily distract players for hours. However, Ichiban can also spend time bonding with party members and a handful of NPCs, with six potential romantic partners in total.
The romantic relationships are a bit of a mixed bag. Most of these are as simple as giving a bunch of gifts and completing another arbitrary requirement. Whilst these ones don’t feel very authentic, a couple of others hit the mark better as the women in the playable party have more wholesome scenes and arcs.
Typical of the game itself, they culminate in some pretty hilarious resolutions. Yakuza: Like A Dragon is one of the best RPGs of the generation, and comes highly recommended.
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Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Fire Emblem Three Houses was a highly successful entry in the long-running series, topping over three million sales and giving it some welcome rejuvenation. This was likely in no small part due to its huge leaning into the romantic relationships that are becoming a Fire Emblem staple.
This time, the trademark grid-based strategy battles are mixed with a Harry Potter-esque school setting where Byleth, the main character, delivers classes and training. There are a huge number of choices to make throughout Three Houses, which affect the romantic fate of your character.
Namely, your character’s gender and the actual decision of which of the three houses to join will determine some of your future options. Whatever you choose, there are still many, many potential partners. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is also a rare instance where some same-sex partners are available.
Your pick will give the chosen character the all-important S-Support status, which unlocks an extra bespoke cutscene and ending segment. Most of the relationship options are your students, but don’t worry if this sounds inappropriate. Before any romance happens, a convenient time jump solves any ethical issues.
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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch
The exceptional title from CD Projekt Red is simply one of the best games ever made. The wonderful, deep characters fill a world packed with detail and content. Exploring, plundering and playing cards are all fun, but The Witcher 3 truly revolutionised sidequests, with their depth and twists unmatched elsewhere.
Geralt of Rivia is often a man of few words, but his monster-slaying prowess is certainly a hit with the ladies. He has an abundance of prospective romantic partners throughout his journey, usually ending with some X-rated scenes. You’re advised to play this one without your significant other within earshot.
The most notable romance options are sorceress love interests Triss Merigold and Yennefer of Vengeberg. Choices really matter in The Witcher 3, and I can honestly say this was one of the hardest of the game. The history and emotion behind each of these relationships make it an agonising decision, which considerably affects the ending.
If this conundrum proves too much to bear, then you can always ditch both of them and head to a brothel. Seriously.
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Tales of Arise
Platform(s): PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox X/S, PC
Tales of Arise marks the return of Bandai Namco’s popular RPG series after a five-year hiatus. It departs from some of the common tropes within the series, but still packs a sizeable dose of classic Tales charm. A terrific opening cinematic makes way for a fun action-based battle system with remapped controls and an interesting cast of characters hiding a host of secrets within their backstories.
In all honesty, the bonding mechanic is not particularly deep. When resting at the common campfires dotted around the world, protagonist Alphen can choose to spend a bit of time with his teammates and dig deeper into their personalities, eventually unlocking some of the game’s most powerful attacks in the process. There’s some romance within Tales of Arise itself, but the relationship and bond events don’t come with a choice of prospective partners. Rather, these are telegraphed conversations with each party member that don’t have any player choice beyond which character you select.
Nonetheless, Tales of Arise is a great RPG that undoubtedly brings the series forward. The graphics and cut-scenes are far beyond anything that came before, and the tweaks to the battle system open up some interesting possibilities in future. Fans of classic JRPGs should definitely check it out.
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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Platform(s): Virtually all of them
If you haven’t experienced Skyrim by now, then it’s time to immerse yourself in the wonderful world of knights, wizards and dragons. It’s never been more accessible, now available on most platforms including the Nintendo Switch, so there’s no excuse to miss out.
Skyrim has so much to do and remains a hugely popular game a decade after release, boasting endless quests and mods to spice things up. In amongst the content is the possibility of finding a life partner who can cook for you, gift some money, or even join you in battle.
Once you get your hands on an accessory called the Amulet of Mara, you’ll be granted the ability to proposition potential suitors. There is a huge array of possible partners around the land, who may promptly agree to marry you if you appeal to them.
Granted, these aren’t the deepest or most meaningful gaming relationships. They generally consist of a few lines of dialogue and a wedding scene, but Dragonborn warriors surely need some love and affection sometimes. You can actually marry more than once… if you kill your spouse first. Till death do us part, indeed.
Platform(s): PS4. PS5. Xbox One, Xbox X/S, PC
The release of Cyberpunk 2077 was one of the biggest gaming controversies of the generation. After years of hype, undoubtedly helped by CD Projekt Red’s huge success with The Witcher 3, the glitches and general performance issues let many people down. Even several months and patches later, issues have persisted.
Underneath the mountain of bugs, there’s a good game here when it works. Night City is home to many romantic partners, whose availability can depend on the gender and voice type selected when customising the main character.
Most of the main romance options include side jobs that help add authenticity and depth to these relationships. But if your character is instead in the mood for something with no strings attached, options with lower commitment levels will also present themselves throughout the story. Whilst you can enter multiple relationships at a time, bear in mind that your customisation choices will limit this, so you can’t romance everyone.
If you’re on a high-performance PC or a next-gen console, Cyberpunk 2077 might be worth your while. Otherwise, better to wait for the next patch or five.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Platform(s): PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC
The Dragon Age series is no stranger to a romantic tryst or two, and Inquisition opens up a wider range of options than before. There are eight potential romantic partners for the main character to choose from, ranging greatly in variety. Other games may have more plentiful options, but there’s probably somebody for everyone here.
As we’ve seen before, these are restricted based on the gender or race chosen by the player but generally there’ll be at least four options. The relationships tend to require a decent amount of work to nurture. These involve completing a selection of specific quests, leading to some rather explicit scenes where the relationship is consummated.
On a non-romantic note, Dragon Age: Inquisition represents a peak for the high fantasy WRPG series, building on everything that’s gone before whilst being a great place for new players to start.
Platform(s): PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC
Scarlet Nexus is an interesting action RPG from Bandai Namco, creators of the Tales series. The futuristic setting is dubbed “Brain punk”, featuring a cast who join a military force tasked with exterminating mutated creatures known as Others. This is done through brain power, and each character has a bespoke ability such as super-speed, invisibility, pyrokinesis and many more.
There is a choice of protagonist, with male and female options who each possess the power of psychokinesis which is great fun to use in battle. However, the best feature of the combat is the potential to share powers with those in your team. Switching the right powers on to tackle the different foes is a great joy, which looks just as stylish as it feels when you finish them off.
In between each story segment is an intermission known as a standby phase, presenting an opportunity for your chosen protagonist to bond with other team members in bond episodes. Raising bond levels boosts abilities in battle, and is key to unlocking the best powers in the game. These relationships can also be enhanced by giving gifts and spending time battling alongside them, though the gift-giving mechanic was somewhat frustrating. Bond episodes are fairly deep, with four or five per character that significantly adds to their backstory.
Scarlet Nexus is an excellent game, with a superb battle system and a deep, complex plot. The two protagonist routes have huge differences, and both are recommended to fully grasp the story. They also come with completely different bond events, giving another reason to play through twice.
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Tokyo Xanadu eX+
Platform(s): PS4, PC
Tokyo Xanadu eX+ is a solid JRPG by Falcom, the same creators of Trails of Cold Steel and Ys. There is a significant gameplay overlap with both, with an action-based combat system reminiscent of Ys and an interface and format strikingly similar to Cold Steel.
One of these latter similarities is in its bonding events. The main character, Kou Tokisaka, is occasionally given a day off and a handful of affinity shards. These are used to spend time with other characters, boosting bond levels and adding to battle power in the process. There are definite hints of romance within these relationships, but admittedly nothing as explicit as most other games on the list.
Set in a fictional suburb of modern-day Tokyo, there are some neat insights into Japanese culture, such as a visit to a hot spring resort. Another nice touch of Tokyo Xanadu eX+ comes in its interludes between chapters, where other party members get a chance to hang out. I liked the inclusion of other relationships which didn’t just revolve around the main character, adding a touch more realism.
Tokyo Xanadu eX+ is a good choice for Cold Steel fans in search of their next vice.
Many games on the list have relationship events on the side of the main story, but Sakura Wars places them right at the heart of the experience. Main character Seijuro Kamiyama leads a band of powerful women in a 1940 version of Tokyo, who battle monsters in robots alongside their day job as a theatre troupe.
An action-based battle system and a main story involving a demon invasion are balanced against slice of life conversations that make up the rest of the game. Throughout the adventure, regular dialogue choices affect the Trust Level built up with each female character, which can boost performance in battle. These dialogue options must be made against the clock, which adds a sense of urgency to your words.
Raising Trust to a sufficient level which each character will also unlock romantic events later on. There are five romanceable characters in total, split into daytime and nighttime dates – and a daytime date can actually be spent with every character. However, there’s only one lucky lady at night depending on whose Trust has been built up the most over the course of the game.
The 2019 release of Sakura Wars was actually a soft reboot of a series that dates back to 1996, making it a good place to jump in without any knowledge of the other games in the series. Fair warning: This is probably as weeb as it gets.
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android
This free-to-play gacha RPG took the world by storm in the latter part of 2020. Whilst free-to-play games are usually met with justified skepticism, Genshin Impact included a surprisingly large amount of content without the need to spend a penny.
The great open world, fun combat and wide selection of nicely-designed characters appealed to lots of RPG fans upon release. It also predictably opened up a lot of ‘best girl’ debates. Version 1.4 has later added relationship mechanics in the form of hangout events.
Like any free-to-play game, there is a bit of a catch. These cost two story keys, which will require a total 8 daily commissions (ie, tasks that must be done around the map). Hangout events result in dialogue options being selected, where a wrong choice can lead to a bad ending. On a brighter note, you can reattempt the event until you get a good ending with no further requirement to farm story keys.
The update that included hangout events resulted in four being added, but the selection of these is only likely to increase over time.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Tokyo Mirage Sessions is a pretty niche affair, crossing Shin Megami Tensei with Fire Emblem in the weird, wonderful world of J-Pop and idols.
Shin Megami Tensei gets the greater share of attention, meaning Tokyo Mirage Sessions is a solid option for Persona fans. Tokyo plays host to dangerous creatures called Mirages, who attempt to literally steal the power of performing arts for evil purposes.
There are 9 characters for main character Itsuki to bond with, who have three side stories each. Despite being one of the blandest protagonists around, Itsuki somehow manages to woo his way into the good books of every female character with some pretty mundane dialogue.
In amongst the Japanese madness are dramatic costume changes, party members bursting into song during battle and energetic anime scenes. It’s not for everyone, but is a decent game that will greatly appeal to J-pop fans.
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Ys VIII and Ys IX
The Ys series is going from strength to strength at the moment. Consistently fun action combat and increasingly strong storytelling have elevated the series to new heights. In fact, there’s never been a better time to join Adol Christin on one of his adventures.
One of its recent additions is in the form of affinity events. Both Ys VIII and Ys IX contain a huge number of characters with whom to bond. These typically involve completing a quest, giving a gift, or both. Final affinity events are then unlocked, giving Adol some quality time with his companions.
Adol Christin’s swashbuckling lust for adventure and striking red hair earn him a fair bit of romantic interest, but he’s far too free-spirited to settle down. I therefore couldn’t say with good conscience that these are romantic. Saying that, there are plenty of characters for shippers to speculate over.
Ys VIII and Ys IX are both great starting points for new players of the serious. Ys VIII finds Adol washed up on a mysterious island, whilst Ys IX involves Adol gaining special abilities and living as a fugitive in the prison city of Balduq. Whichever you pick, you can’t go wrong.
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Honourable mention: Catherine: Full Body
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Catherine is not an RPG, but since this unique, edgy puzzler is made by Atlus then I thought it was worth bringing to people’s attention. The whole game revolves around the protagonist’s relationship status, and the unusual concept earns Atlus some plaudits for originality.
The main character Vincent cheats on his partner, Katherine, with younger lady… called Catherine. Steady girlfriend Katherine represents a safe, more boring option, whist younger, carefree Catherine represents adventure and excitement. In a strange twist of fate, Vincent is voiced by Troy Baker and Catherine is voiced by Laura Bailey – namely Joel and Abby from The Last of Us Part 2. It’s fair to say their relationship here is very different.
Anyway, the barmy plot sees Vincent battle his demons and guilt in a nightmare world where he must solve puzzles and climb a tall tower block every night, or die. By day, he hangs out at the Stray Sheep and spends time chatting with the various characters, drinking and playing minigames.
Catherine: Full Body is the definitive version of a title first released on PS3 adding another notable character named Rin and a host of different endings depending on player actions and choices. Some of these get really trippy, making Catherine an unusual choice, but one you won’t forget in a hurry.
As you’ve seen from the list, those in the mood for some RPG romance have plenty of choices. Whether you prefer JRPGs, WRPGs, action or turn-based, there’s something to fit the bill.
Hopefully with all of these games at your disposal, you’ll find the perfect match out there somewhere.
Are there any other great RPGs with romance options? Comment below!