Red Dead Redemption 2

After breaking my GTAV habit, I swore I wasn’t going to get caught up in another video game, but with the new Red Dead Redemption coming out in late October, just in time to give me an excuse to stay inside where it’s warm, I got sucked in. But really, they deserved it, because the game makers really made something special with this one. It felt more like being caught up in a movie than playing a game, and in spite of the action always being directed back to the story they wanted to tell, somehow it still felt like I was mostly in control.

Night view of mountains

This was a game I could get completely lost in. Trotting around the map on my horse, doing this and that, hunting for food to bring back to camp, interacting with other characters, and basically just running around and having adventures. There were surprises sprinkled throughout this game, in ways they didn’t really have to do, but they did anyway. Tons of details that made it feel like an authentic experience. Little interactions that were inconsequential to the plot, but were really cool to experience. And of course, horses just being weird.

Horse being weird

My playthrough ended up being a love story between Arthur and his faithful horse Maggie, who I picked up early on and stuck with through most of the game.

I love the horse animation so much, sometimes I just pick a point far away and send them off to it just to watch them trot along, and see the wildlife that scurries away as they pass.

Unlike most video games, where your character grows stronger and stronger, Arthur grew weaker and weaker as he was consumed by tuberculosis – a heartbreaking death sentence. So even though I was playing ‘good’ as opposed to ‘evil’, there was no reprieve for Arthur as his time wound to an end, no matter how many people he went back and did right by. It was moving and made me reconsider how I was spending my precious allotment of lifetime (paying video games probably isn’t the best use of my time, but hey, you gotta do something after work).

In spite of playing good, I had one very funny incident that was pretty bad. I was riding away from camp, and a guy ran into my horse, and then started shooting at me, so I shot him in self defense. But as I was hauling his body off the road a witness came along, and I tried to convince him not to report me, but I ended up shooting him too, and as I was dragging his body off the road..well, you get the picture. It was comical as I had to keep shooting witnesses and drag them away, and after about 6 of them, the next guy came along, I clicked the button to reason with him, and he says “I didn’t see nothin'” and rides away.

By the lake

Aside from inadvertent mass-murder of NPCs, this game was full of exploration, beauty, wild animals populating the land and sky. Some of my happiest memories are of just camping by a lake, fishing, cooking over the campfire. All things I’d like to do in real life someday. At one point my character stayed out so long just hanging out in the woods that the gang sent someone out to bring him back to the main plotline!

outside the map elk 2

After I finished the game, there was still months of entertainment in completing all the challenges, encountering stranger missions, finding little secrets and surprises scattered around the map, and even escaping the confines of the map to wander in the back-country outside the borders. There is so much in this game, I am still being surprised by little things, and only now, 5 months after I bought it, am I starting to run out of things to do.

sitting at fire

This article explains it much better than I could. Reading the Game: Red Dead Redemption 2 It has been not just a game, but an experience. Something amazing, and beautiful, and moving, and really unlike any video game I’ve ever played. It felt like a step forward in video game development. Not a constant shoot-em-up of bigger and bigger bad guys, but a game that required thought, and where the action was interspersed with quiet times. Now, when I’m tired at the end of a long day, I like to take John and ride out to Cattail Pond, and watch the elk splashing through the pond, fish until the sun sets and then sit by the fire and watch the clouds pass over the moon while the coyotes sing to it. It’s what Arthur would have wanted.



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