Think Valentine’s Day means soppy films, a box of tissues and a loved up couple? Think again. Here’s a collection of games and songs that will either get you snuggling up with your loved one or singing to be a singleton…
Jason Rohrer – Passage: Jason Rohrer’s indie masterpiece has been rightfully hailed by game critics but it’s still unknown outside of gaming’s notoriously insular inner-circles; a real shame, since it’s one of the most succinct and elegant explorations of the most universal themes of all – love and death – in any medium. Packed full of potent symbolism, you’ll be left wondering how a game so short and so visually basic can leave you on the verge of tears.
Broken Social Scene – Anthems for A Seventeen Year Old Girl: There’s no denying that Your Forgot It In People was one of the best records of the last decade, but even on an album that mesmerising Anthems stands out as something truly spectacular; it’s a rumination on teenage crushes, lost loves, and the fact that no matter how much emotional turmoil we went through in our teenage years, the saddest part is that we’ll never get all that back.
My Bloody Valentine – Loveless: Do Hipster porn films exist? ‘Oh, Mr Ironically-Moustached Repairman! I’m a sexy Barista and my coffee machine is broken!’ is probably an approximate storyline. And in place of all that stereotypical wah-wah softcore funk guitar in the background, you’d have My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Loveless’. The glistening feedback, the titanic waves of unearthly guitar-sound, the faintly sexual vocals – this is the album of choice for both indie-lovers and indie lovers.
Love Will Tear Us Apart: Ian Curtis’ tragic (yet seminal) post-punk wonder – written in the midst of the breakdown of the relationship between him and his wife Deborah – is one of the most beautifully bleak songs rock songs ever written; and it’s all the more powerful because we know how Curtis’s story ended. And though leaving this world in the way Curtis did probably won’t work out well in the long run, this will be the inevitably the song of choice for the more misanthropic single folk amongst us for years to come.
Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago: What do you get when you combine the following things: a bearded man, the ruins of a relationship, a case of glandular fever, a cabin in Wisconsin, a poor grasp of French and a few instruments? Bon Iver’s debut album ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ of course! The album is a suitably basic, rough and stripped down affair from a musical point of view, but the lyrics, the lyrics! Justin Vernon’s odes to his failed relationship are some of the most emotionally evocative songs in recent memory and have rightfully won him thousands of fans across the globe. So if you’re feeling alone this Valentine’s Day, the cure’s a simple one – just hitch up to a cabin in the Lake District, take a guitar, grow a beard, catch glandular fever, unlearn your secondary school French and become a rock star. Nothing could be easier.
Final Fantasy X: I’ll admit it, this was the first game to make me cry. With full on tears and everything. It’s a preposterously good game in its own right, massively subverting the usual video game notion of heroism – white bloke with big sword/gun slays monster/terrorist and saves world – leaving you with a game that doesn’t blush in the face of the big questions about love, death, religion, sacrifice and the very nature of reality itself. But the relationship between doomed protagonists Tidus and Yuna, that unfolds wonderfully as all of these themes tangle around it, is a thing of heartbreaking beauty. If you’re not left in tears by the end of it then you’re almost certainly a heartless husk of a human being.
Prince of Persia – The Sands of Time: Those who have played this game may not understand why this game appears here. Non-gamers might not even know what Prince of Persia is – though you may have seen the film, where, despite starring two leads who were extremely aesthetically pleasing, the romance of the game was completely lost. But the first modern installment of the excellent Prince of Persia series was notable for the unique relationship between the eponymous Prince and the brilliantly realised Farah. A few standout examples excluded, The Sands Of Time was one of the first video games to successfully portray a romantic relationship, and it did it with some style, mainly as a result of the absolutely fantastic writing. A love story for the ages that easily stands up to anything from the movies.
Cannibal Corpse – Addicted to Vaginal Skin – Though better known to the public for their harp and harpsichord-based waltzes, Cannibal Corpse have a hidden soft side. It really is Chris Barnes’ soaring and impassioned vocals that carry this song. Even though he’s been dismissed as lightweight by many – he was once famously described as ‘too fey for Belle and Sebastian’ – it’s only through his beautifully delicate grasp of the song’s intricate melodies that the themes of marriage and comfortable family life come to the fore.