Valentine’s Day, the most sacred day of love ever conceived of by greeting card companies. What better time to reflect on all the ways that love can really screw you over. Here are a few examples of games where love makes everything worse.

Spoiler warning for every item on the list. If you don’t get why a certain game is here, you should probably skip that entry and go replay it.

Doki Doki Literature Club

This psychological horror title comes rolled up in a sweet candy wrapper. In what is ostensibly marketed as a dating sim-cum-visual novel, players romance cute anime girls. The first part of the game closely follows all the standard genre tropes and then all hell breaks loose.

See, the club’s president, Monkia has fallen in love with the player. Not the protagonist, you the actual flesh and blood human playing the game. She’s willing to do whatever it takes to convince you to love her back. Even if that means eliminating the competition in psychotic ways. All the horror that follows could have been avoided if only she didn’t love you so damn much.

Why can’t you accept that from now on there is J̢̙͎̟͓̒̇̽͑͂́̅̋͘Ų̛̭̼̝͓͈̮͑̏̊́̋̉ͅŞ̛̯̬̭̬̭̰̳̓̍̾̿̇̆͞ͅT̵̥̖̳͓̰́̿́̓͆̓͒͢͜ M͚̼̜̱͔̉̉̐͑̍O͕̩͖̗̥̾̌͊̀͂͌̈́̆͜͟ͅN̵̢̛͎͚͚̘̹̝̙͌̎́̚̕ͅI̥̥̞͓̪͔̥͛̓̇͒̆͆̈̀̓ͅͅK͕̦̤̙͈̭̼͒̀̒̈́͞͞A̸̟̘̗̮̤̔̏͑̋͌͂̓͜ͅ

Life is Strange

In a game about time control and selfies, how does love become the culprit? In Life is Strange the entire plot hinges on your willingness to let your BFF/soulmate die horribly to save everyone else. Our protagonist Max is given the amazing ability to rewind time so that she can repeatedly suffer the death of her ill-fated friend Chloe.

In fact, at the start of the game, Max hasn’t even talked to Chloe in years. The whole point of her sudden time control powers is to give you the chance to rebuild their relationship so it’ll hurt more when you utterly destroy it. On the flip-side you can decide to embrace love and save Chloe, but then you’re personally responsible for the death of an entire town. Ain’t love grand?

The Binding of Isaac

Is there anything more sacred than the love between a mother and her child? This maternal bond is what’s helped to preserve our species for hundreds of years, except when the parties involved are fervently religious and also nuts. Then the results are a bit more homicidal in The Binding of Isaac.

The whole game centers on Isaac trying to escape his abusive mother. Which he eventually does, by killing her before dying anyway, probably. It gets a little confusing. Suffice to say the events are made all the more horrible when taken in the context of a child trying to understand why their parent wants to kill them. The person who should be most invested in protecting them is suddenly a monster and they’ll never understand why.

Dream Daddy – Joseph’s Ending

As the name implies, Dream Daddy is all about dads meeting other dads and eventually falling in love. It’s silly and sweet and (typically) all-around fun. Unless you make the mistake of romancing Joseph, then it’s all pretty much terrible.

Unlike the rest of the game’s eligible dads, Joseph isn’t actually eligible. He’s still very much married to his wife. Initially, the game tries to paint her as a bitter harpy, but a quick glance beneath the surface reveals a different story. She’s just an overwhelmed mother trying to do her best to make things work with her unfaithful husband. Joseph has cheated on her in the past and if the player decides to go for him, totally will again.

It’s an uncomfortable and sad situation for everyone involved. This is further compounded at the end when Joseph decides to remain with his wife. If you get the “good” version he’ll at least make a clean break with you to focus on his family. In the “bad” version he’ll offer you some side action while he stays with his wife. Infidelity is so romantic.

Till the Dawn, Waiting

Seriously, if this game doesn’t absolutely break your heart, you probably don’t have one. Till the Dawn, Waiting has you play as a lovable pup named Barney. Our pooch protagonist has inexplicably found himself abandoned on the side of the road by his owner Jack. The already pitiable story is made all the worse because of Barney’s love for his shitty owner.

Despite Jack’s betrayal, Barney is determined wait for him. No matter what happens, he wants to remain loyal. This love and devotion causes Barney to suffer immensely more.

Till the Dawn, Waiting

Really, is there anything more devastating than a one-sided love? Being willing to give anything for someone who wouldn’t do the same for you?

In conclusion, love is the worst and everything is awful. I need to go cry and eat baked goods now. Thanks a lot Valentine’s Day.

About the Author

Joanna Mueller

Joanna Mueller is a lifelong gamer who used to insist on having the Super Mario Bros manual read to her as a bedtime story. Now she's reading Fortnite books to her own kiddo while finally making use of her degree to write about games as Cliqist's EIC.

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