(Please note, this article contains spoilers)
In the wake of the new Red Dead game, it only felt right to talk about Red Dead Redemption (RDR). Time to reminisce! It felt great rehashing the good ol’ times corralling horses, running with buffalo, riding my horse into the Mexican sunset, and saving my dumbass son from a bear. With the game fresh in my mind, here are some thoughts.
The first time I played RDR was before my first year of college (and I remember because my mom wouldn’t let me bring my PS3 to the dorms, so I had to finish as soon as possible). Some people describe this game as the “western Grand Theft Auto”. I don’t think it’s that simple.
I look at RDR, and you can tell Rockstar put an immense amount of creative though into storytelling. The characters, the missions, the setting, the few musical numbers allow the player to immerse themselves with John’s redemption story in the wild west. Aside from John, you meet many personalities reflecting different moments of the era. Main missions and side missions feel cohesive to the backdrop with nothing out of the ordinary. Vast lands, watercolor skies, and diverse American and Mexican counties provide unique charms for every place you visit. Music creates emotion in every instance, from the subtle harmonica to the lyrical journey to Mexico. RDR provides cohesive bits to make every part of the game feel real.
Now that twist… in retrospect it makes perfect sense. But do you want it to happen? Of course not. RDR gave me a false sense of security that everything would be ok. Once I got to my farm, I noticed the missions were too simple after what I dealt with. I expected some sort of guns blazing mission would eventually happen because I knew every Rockstar game ends with some ridiculous-ass mission of everyone trying to kill you. What I didn’t expect was for John Marston to actually die, and my 18-year-old self cried many tears.
Get the former gang member to do you all your dirty work, then kill him afterwards because he too used to be part of the gang. John wanted a life of freedom, but he also commits new crimes in addition to his old. It hurts my soul, but it was told in such an incredible way. I never questioned it during my first walkthrough, but John shows little to no emotion during his crimes. Almost as if he’s used to it all. No matter the player’s perception, at the end of the day he will always be a criminal.
I’m excited for the next game. Clearly we can’t have John back, but maybe we’ll get Jack’s son or someone in the same blood line as him. Some gamers consider RDR as one of the greatest games of all time. They also laud RDR as the best Rockstar game ever made. Why do we continue talking about this game and want to bring a sequel? People love a great story, and we love the story of John Marston.