TV Editor Alex Taylor reminisces on Red Dead Redemption II and how it is a marked note of quality in media releases of the time
Red Dead Redemption II (2018) is unrivalled in its ability to evoke a powerful and deeply emotive response from the player. This epic western redefines what can be achieved through story-driven, open-world games, in a way that no other release has for years prior or since.
The setting doesn’t provide an ambiguous representation of spaghetti-western America, but a comprehensive and diverse portrayal of the relationship between urban and rural life in the latter-half of the nineteenth-century, with a little suspension of disbelief sprinkled in. It presents a nutritious marriage between the America that cinema tells us existed, and the reality of social-injustice, Native-American oppression, and the regression of social freedom experienced during the period.
The game is beautiful, wild and pensive, boasting a detailed ecosystem, an array of animals, plants and trees, that provide a deeply immersive experience for the player, all supported by its sublime cinematography. The storyline varies from the jovial to the melancholic to the distinctly tragic and guides the player on an emotional journey through the magnificent wilderness and industrial municipality. The level of detail and depth that the developers have imbued the world with is almost unnecessary (your horse’s gonads shrink in the cold).
This level of thought goes hand in hand with the side-missions, of which are interwoven in a way that continues the protagonist’s storyline regardless of the order you play them in. The main protagonist Arthur Morgan, the thirty-something gruff classic cowboy, is provided with a depth, variety, and character development that far exceeds most cinema of today.
This distinct lack of filler is reminiscent of the game’s overall thought out and ‘un-rushed’ nature, which continues into the game’s original soundtrack and scores. The original songs, one of which has been since covered by Willie Nelson, not only transports the player into nineteenth-century western America, but also into every western movie, TV programme, and country song the player has ever experienced. No rating, review, commentary or critique could ever do the beauty of this game justice; its characters, story, and setting are all imbued with an unrivalled depth that leave the player simultaneously satisfied, heartbroken, and wanting more.
Watch the trailer for Red Dead Redemption II here:
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