I’ve done it! In just over 40 hours of play I’ve completed the main story of Red Dead Redemption 2. What a ride it was.
The last time I wrote about my experiences, I was a little dour and perhaps negative. In truth, I was in the midst of a long slog through a game that many are heralding as a masterpiece, when all I was seeing were the cracks in the paint.
I’ve maintained focus and gone through all of the story (apart from where decisions to choose a mission meant other missions were no longer available). Now I have come out of the other side with a very different perspective.
This is arguably the focal point of Red Dead Redemption 2 (despite the massive open world, the aesthetic, the intertwining systems that help the world come to life etc….), and it’s where I’ve found myself reeling at certain beats, then smiling and laughing at others.
Initially continuing where the Van Der Linde gang left-off after some trouble in Blackwater. You’re learning about your place as Arthur in the gang, the motivations of everyone involved, and of course trying to earn as much money as possible.
Soon, it’s a study in the downfall of man. Watching the slow decomposition of someone who feels they’re in control but they clearly aren’t.
I don’t want to spoil it, but I will say that I felt like I was really a part of it all, playing the role of Arthur. The bad times had me starting to feel dread and frustration, and actually impacting my level of enjoyment. The good times had the opposite effect.
With excellent scriptwriting and incredible voice acting for the whole cast, you are truly immersed, and it’s a wonderful thing. Even in the low points.
Some real standout characters to me, were of course Arthur and Dutch, but also Sadie Adler, Lenny, Charles, Uncle and John Marston. So much commitment to providing exposition to most of their lives and characters really pays off, especially towards the last chapters.
One of the most outstanding elements at play, all throughout the game is the score and the soundtrack. What a work of wonder it is. Bringing in all the expected sounds of strings, banjos and guitars, but then a modern twist. Distortion, almost electronic sounding bass beats, dirty riffs and lines.
Everything here just works incredibly.
Better still, are the moments in the game when it cuts to the cinematic camera, seeing you and your friends travelling across the country. Or the wonderful montages in the epilogue, all with songs set to them. Exquisitely selected and executed.
Where the dialogue is excellent, and the voice acting brilliant, the score and soundtrack elevate the whole game to the next level. Absolutely superb.
I just hope that it gets released for purchase some time soon.
The end of the story is pretty rough, but the epilogue is the sweet at the end of a big old meal. You didn’t think you could fit it in, but it just goes down so well.
For fear of giving anything away, all I can really say is that I felt that there was enough resolution here, and better still, some new beginnings.
Whilst it was at times dark (Skinner brothers!), it was often light and almost happy. So much of the world from Red Dead Redemption 2 and the original Red Dead Redemption meeting and blurring together. What a wonderful way to finish the game, and to tie the stories together.
The montage sequences that were quite frequent here were all excellent. As previously mentioned they were off-set with some really nice music choices and lifted the tone of the whole game.
Arguably, these two sections of the game wouldn’t have been quite so sweet and enjoyable, had the game not gotten into some dark territory. Had the whole of the game carried the same tone, it wouldn’t have been quite as enjoyable at the later stages.
More of this in every game please!h3>The final take on Red Dead 2
I’ve written a lot about this game, and I’ve burned through it relatively quickly. So it’s mostly well documented.
To summarise, and to offer the perspective of having been through everything, I think it’s fair to say that Red Dead Redemption 2 is excellent, and a million miles ahead of 95% of other games on the market.
It looks good (although there are flaws) and it sounds amazing. The story is one of power and control, and it’s genuinely struck some chords with me, identifying with some of the concepts presented.
Execution of the script and story is wonderful. Voice actors, motion capture, and the writing itself. All well above-par here.
Beyond the story, though. You have this massive world to roam, to explore and to live off. Setting up camp in the sunset after a day spent hunting and fishing is theraputic.
The npc’s and animals are what bring the world to life. Everyone and everything is setting out living their own lives. You’ll stumble upon them and interact with them (every single person has dialogue!), and sometimes share an experience with them.
Helping stranded people, freeing them from bear traps, watching them rob trains. You’re part of the world, but you don’t have this overall impact on it, like you do in other open-world games. You’re not really getting any more powerful or domineering. You simply eke out your own life and unless you interfere with others, you feel almost incidental in the wider world.
What a wonderful thing it is to live in this place.
Is it worth the cost and the time?
This is pretty simple really. Yes. 100% yes.
There is so much entertainment to be had here that even if you costed out the hours per pound (people do!), you’d feel like you’ve had more than your money’s worth.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a masterpiece in many ways, a triumph in modern gaming. It hasn’t hit me in quite the same way as the first Red Dead Redemption, but it has elevated that experience at every other level.
It’s a grind, but it’s a labour of love. The investment in time from the player is massively rewarded.
While it’s a grind, it’s never particularly challenging, certainly this isn’t a game about AI difficulty, but a game about human struggles, and to be honest, that was enough for me.
I had unusually low expectations which were shot in minutes of starting the game. I’ve felt joy, anger, frustration and relief. This game has everything, and then some. Almost infinite attention to detail, and so much to still learn and find, I’m sure I’ll never truly complete it.
Without a doubt it gets the highest Ninja Refinery rating.
Now I can focus on finding hidden secrets, hunting legendary creatures and capturing rare horses. There’s undoubtedly another 40 hours here for me if I want it, and honestly, I really do!