Okay people, first things first. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. I am not shipping Lee, a grown man, with Clementine, a nine year-old girl. I’ve seen some terrible fan art made by some real sickos but I am not one of them. Yes, today’s topic is favorite game couple, but I’m choosing not to do a romantic couple. You see, in most types of media (especially video games) there are very few instances of a well-written romantic relationship. Exactly zero of these are found in romantic comedy films, but I digress.
These relationships usually have shortcomings like being shoehorned into the story and even ruining certain characters. I’m sorry romance-lovers, but the video game industry just has a lot of growing to do when it comes to this. Just look at this year’s Metro: Last Light. Not only does the story between Artyom and his love interest fall into both of the traps I mentioned before, but it also adds a totally unnecessary nip slip that was just really out of place compared to most of the rest of the game. The most sincere relationship of any kind that I’ve seen between any two game characters is between Lee and Clementine.
Lee met Clementine at the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. Lee was limping away from a car accident when he stumbled upon her house. He was nearly killed by a walker (zombie) but was saved by Clementine coming out of her treehouse and saving him at the last second. Ever since then they’ve been taking care of each other for the entire game. As you progress through the game, a kind of father-daughter bond grows between them. Lee wants to protect Clementine and will go to Hell and back to do it. Clementine knows this, and she does her best to help Lee whenever she can. Both sides are invested in the other and that fosters a lot of genuine compassion between the two. Because the connection between Lee and Clementine is so well-done, the players get wrapped up in it too. I won’t spoil it, but the final episode was downright heartbreaking. I can’t even think of any game that’s come anywhere close to pulling me in like that.
Good writing in video games can be frustratingly hard to find sometimes. But if you want a game with meaningful character interactions, you know exactly where to look.