COG games that do relationships well

Hey folks!

I see a couple of similar threads on this topic (“what makes an in-game romance interesting” and “why do you like romance in COG games?”) but I’d love to see examples of specific COG games that you all think do romance and relationships really, really well.

Understanding concepts like “romantic” is a struggle for me even though I’ve been in a long-term relationship for 15 years, and even though I actually do write quite a few short stories featuring relationships, I’m not at all convinced that they map to what most people want to see in an on-screen romance or relationship.

But there’s also a “CoG best practices” kind of angle here for me. With The Bread Must Rise, I also don’t think we handled this aspect very well, because I remember a couple of people being surprised when there was a romance option for a character. So I’d also love to see some game recommendations where romance isn’t the main thrust of the game but the romance and relationship aspect was managed really well.

What are the games you’ve played here that come to mind when you think “great relationships”?


I really like Slammed! - for one specific route anyway. Ecstasy had a lot of emotional authenticity and there were genuine moments of support through troubled times.

It is perhaps a touch on the dramatic side but it’s still a really good relationship.

I think Creme de la creme and Royal Affairs both have some great romantic writing also, including very good poly routes. What I appreciate there is that it’s not just an instant relationship moments after flirting and there’s both build up and worries/conflict. Like, in CDLC, one of the ROs can second guess entering into the relationship because of your family’s negative reputation which is both in character for them and fits with the narrative. (Though, arguably, for that series the romance is kind of a main theme)


I feel that relationships, and not just romantic relationships, are done well in the following games:

  1. CoG titles:
    • Royal Affairs
    • Parliament of Knives
    • Jolly Good: Cakes and Ale
  1. Hosted Games:
    • Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven
    • Blood Moon
    • Fallen Hero, book one and two.
    • Tin Star
    • Fernweh Saga: Book One
  1. Some other random titles off the top of my head
    • All Pro Wrestling
    • Slammed
    • Stars Arisen
  1. Specific relationships within the story:
    • Nikola Tesla: War of the Currents
    • Deathless books one and two
    • Creatures Such as We
    • Infinity series (The hidden “same-sex” relationship, as well as Wells’)
    • Donor (the MC’s relationship with the antagonists of the story)

I can go through the libraries and point to many more character relationships that were developed well, so if you wish to discuss anything in detail, my DM box is open.


reaches into pocket

Study in Steampunk! At least with Finch. You have a pretty decent relationship as coworkers that trust in each other both as people and for their capabilities. There is also a pivotal moment where the game sort of explores what happens when people put work/religion/etc above their relationships with others. I prefer the framing of the MC and Finch’s interactions as romantic, but its still interesting from the perspective of close friends and roommates who may have misjudged the other’s priorities.

I feel like someone I saw typing earlier knew this was coming


I find the journey through the romances in Heart of the House remarkably good. There’s so much tension there, and it meshes so well with the plot; there’s nothing wasted and it’s really intense.

A Study in Steampunk is tremendous: again the characters interweave with the plot remarkably well, and I particularly enjoy how the characters challenge and cause issues for the PC, in ways that feel true to their characters however stressful (or infuriating, haha!) that may be.

For more recent games, for me Professor of Magical Studies is a very good example of a game where romance isn’t the main focus but which gives a lot of room for getting to know the romanceable characters, whether or not they’re romanced. I would put Tally Ho and Cakes and Ale in this category too.

There are some others too with well-drawn ensemble casts whom you can bond with romantically or otherwise - Crown of Sorcery and Steel, Blood Moon, and Asteroid Run are ones which I like a lot for that aspect (and are very good games for other reasons as well).

Their Majesties’ Pleasure, Professor of Magical Studies, and Heart of Battle are ones in which I especially enjoyed the polyamorous romances that I played through - they felt natural for the characters and developed organically rather than feeling like they were there for purely wish-fulfilment purposes.

On the other side of the spectrum, there are some things I did with the romances in Blood Money, my first game, that I’ve since learned from/would do differently nowadays, and in some cases I did tweak in post-release updates:

  • Had one of the possible romances able to be murdered or otherwise out of the game in Chapter 2, therefore potentially locking them out of a relationship before a player might have realised they were available for romance or a major character (this also meant that I had to account for them being out of the game every time they appeared later)
  • Had a small number of opportunities to start a romance with each character; it was quite easy to miss starting a romance if you didn’t do exactly the right path
  • Had a relatively asymmetrical amount of time spent with the romanceable characters
  • Underestimated how much people enjoy weird romances, so didn’t make the ghost that you can embed into your soul overtly romanceable (though I developed the relationship more in an update)

Blood Moon
A Crown of Sorcery and Steel
Freshman Magic
Heart of Battle
A Player’s Heart
Professor of Magical Studies
Royal Affairs
Siege of Treboulain
Stars Arisen


Study in Steampunk 100%. A very mature story with a realistic and enjoyable romance option. (Only did Finch but my god, after all these years I still cannot get over this character.) The main reason why I enjoyed the romance in Study in Steampunk so much was that the character (Finch) fit perfectly to the MC, every dialogue, every interaction, verbal or nonverbal was so beautifully written. It never felt ooc, it never felt forced and it never overstayed its welcome when the plot called for action or other matters. I guess you could say the balance was handled with a lot of care and the end result lead to the perfection that I’d call A Study in Steampunk. Donor was also amazing but not in the classical romance sense so I’m not sure if it’s fair to list it here. The relationships between key figures is the main aspect of the game and it is sososo well written, exactly what I’m looking for. Even reading it as just a character study I’d 100% recommend it.
That is honestly it for completed books, there are plenty of books I’ve found enjoyable for other reasons than their romance. For incomplete books and romances I’d list the following:

  • The golden rose (book 1)
  • The fernweh saga (book1)

To be fair those books have patreon support so I get a deeper glimpse into those romances and I’m very much looking forward to how these specific characters develop with future entries.


100%. The other romances are excellent too in other ways, and illuminate the world and plot fantastically (even as they cause trouble for the PC). A Study in Steampunk is just generally a masterclass in writing and design.


This was asked on Reddit so I’ll give the same answer here that I did there: Samurai of Hyuga Book IV. Childhood friends are reunited and explore their past together and emotions between them. Wholesome content. :slight_smile:

Perhaps not that wholesome…

In all seriousness, it’s an example because it does a solid job of portraying an extremely bad relationship dynamic while letting the player for the most part dictate their character’s response to it. To be honest, the closest analogue (as heretical as this will be to some) is Wayhaven, but with PTSD liberally sprinkled in. Both games invest a lot in providing a relatively narrow (for a choice game) narrative while allowing the player to express their feelings on things fairly often.

And of course I recommend playing SoH Parts 1-3 beforehand so you have the full impact of the setting and characters.

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Thanks, all!

I’m excited to take a look at some of these titles.


Not sure if you mean literal COG titles instead of HG, but I really love how Golden Rose handles it while still being largely adventure driven. A big reason it’s among my favorite IFs is that they give you two ROs you can romance in the first game, that your MC also already knows, while you also spend the rest of the book getting to know the remaining ROs before officially getting together. Obviously we have to see how it turns out (seems promising based on her Patreon), but a problem I tend to run into for romance in IFs is that some books it feels like I have to engage in a relationship with them to actually get to know them. Really feel alive and natural in the first game where each of their personalities and bonds with the MC feel so natural, as well as the way they connect to the world as you delve deeper into the plot.

Also on the romantic side, I also love the little scenes like Alessa leaning back onto you during the horse ride. I love to see more little scenes like that. Sometimes the only romantic stuff present is like a kiss, sex, or flirting but not enough of the quieter moments.

I also really liked Creme de la Creme, where not only the romances but also the dynamics you can have in varied ways (ie the different kinds of tension and relationships if you join a different club for example).

Blood Moon is also a book where it may be kinda romance heavy similar to Wayhaven for example, so not sure if it entirely qualifies, but I really love how your decisions impact relationships almost immediately, not necessarily just romance. Such as with Carrie.

I, the Forgotten One doesn’t have a large cast, but I thought the way it handled relationships are also great. The straight options are a different type of play on romance (where they may make you feel uncomfortable at first and it’s up to you if it’s enough to make you bounce off of them, even though they do apologize in the end), while the main antagonist and some of the MC’s other comrades feel rather personally connected with our MC’s personal arc.

All off the top of my head but I’m sure there’s more I’m forgetting.

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Collected from the thread so far:

Writing Good Romance Guide


  • Emotional Authenticity: Sometimes to the point of melodrama
  • Reasonable Build-Up: The tension is better than the release
  • Conflict: Relationship should not be perfect and should include complications
  • Character Autonomy: Other things in their life ought to be just as important
  • Frequent Opportunities: Give the player lots of chances to initiate romance throughout the game.
  • Romances with Weirdos: They’re fun, and it may be the only time a reader gets to indulge in their weirdest self.
  • Good Writing: Goes without saying, but really try to make every RO sing with individuality and flavour. Give them lots of time and space and plenty of interactions.
  • Supplementary Materials: People watching the development of a game eat up the extra stuff like sketches and drafts and whatnot.
  • Red Flags: People like their problematic cuties.
  • Quiet Moments: The best romance isn’t the big declarations of love but the quiet knowing glances from across the room.
  • Anything A Study in Steampunk Does: It’s a clear favourite, referenced often.


  • Wish Fulfilment Fantasy: People can tell.
  • Complicated Code: Keep the RO stories straightforward and don’t provide a tonne of branching paths that might remove them from the game.
  • Author Favourites: Give the ROs roughly equal face time.
  • Romance-Only Content: Obviously unavoidable to some degree, but don’t cut off a character’s best writing from players that don’t romance them.

Hard agree re: Professor of Magical Studies. Kayla and The Lodger are some of my favorite ROs in IF, and even a platonic relationship with The Lodger can be really emotionally intimate and satisfying.


Wonderful list, one point I want to add, Not from this thread but most of the other relationship Threads:
The way is more important than the Goal. And a relationship is not fulfilled when the sex-scene is reached.


The journey is as important as the destination, as with all other features of a story and a game.

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Keeper of sun and moon
Keeper of day and night
Champion of the gods
Exile of the gods
Unnatural s1
Unnatural s2
Wayhaven book 1
Wayhaven book 2
Wayhaven book 3
War for the west
Cliffhanger challenger of tomorrow
Sword of rhivenia
A mage reborn
Samurai of hyugai book 1
Samurai of hyugai book 2
Samurai of hyugai book 3
Samurai of hyugai book 4
Samurai of hyugai book 5
Creme de la creme
Royal affair
Star arisen
New witch in town
A crown of sorcery and steel
The hero unmasked
Siege of treboulain
Werewolves haven rising
Werewolves 2: pack mentality
Dragon racer
Life of a wizard
Life of a mercenary
The passenger
Blood moon
The nascent necromancer
The golden rose book 1
The last wizard
Love at elevation
After the storm
Soul stone war 1
Soul stone war 2
Lost heir: the fall of daria
Lost heir 2: forging a kingdom
Lost heir 3 demon war
A kiss from death


Nikola Tesla: War of the Currents is one of my - if not my absolute - all time favorite game, on both the HG and CoG platforms. I was so genuinely invested in the entire world and story and the relationship with the titular Tesla (even if he can’t actually be romanced, even when your character admits to loving him romantically) and the ending hit me so hard that I immediately decided to replay it. Which usually never happens, mind you; I always tend to be a one-and-done kinda gal, even with games I enjoyed.
But he and MC can have such a powerful and intense bond that I almost feel like it goes beyond love and romance in a way. It’s almost something stronger.

(Mind you, I also could never bring myself to be mean or manipulative to him, because… I mean, c’mon, look at him. I just wanna wrap him in a blanket and give him a cup of hot chocolate lmao.)

That one specifically has now kinda become my gold standard for fictional relationships. Which is unfortunate, because I know not many games might ever reach its heights. Not for lack of trying, mind you. But just because the conditions and characteristics that made it so perfect might not show up ever again.

The Golden Rose too, definitely. Like them or hate them, you have to admit the relationships with Hadrian and Alessa are incredibly fleshed-out, and they always felt very real to me. Combine that with all the little moments the author has written in that give the world more personality and the incredible writing style, and the entire game felt very alive in a way that few games do. The amount of detail that went into it all is awe-inspiring, really.

And something really important that it does really well is that every RO is distinct, and each and every one of them is memorable in their own way. All of their introductory scenes has a certain ‘oomph’ that makes them naturally stand out from the side characters in a way that’s not just the mc or narration commenting on how drop-dead gorgeous they are (though you can choose to do that as well if you want lmao).

I remember not only every single one of the ROs, but every single one of their introductions too, which is incredibly impressive.

I’d have to second Professor of Magical Studies as well. Whether you like him or hate him, the relationship with Darcy is one of the main driving forces of the game (at least the teaching segment of it), and just in general all of the ROs, whether they already be in the magical community or not, have or can have a vital involvement in the main plot, especially the final few chapters, and it’s something that I really appreciate the author writing in. It makes them feel like a more integral part of the world and story, and not just something tacked on on the side.


Man, why’d you have to call me out in particular? XD

While I can’t really speak as to its romantic angle, because I didn’t engage with it, I still maintain that Social Services of the Doomed really made a compelling case for just being good buddies with the cast. The casual dialogue between you and the ROs just worked so well, I was perfectly okay with hanging out with them at any given opportunity because I was excited to see how the next conversation would go.

And honestly, I liked the silly banter in TBMR, even if the romance angle wasn’t quite its strongest point. I think that goes a long way to making a good romance: make the characters so charismatic and fun to be around that you want to see more of them.