As Arthur lay dying, wheezing for breath on top of the hillside watching the sun setting. I peer at my TV through tears as I finish the gripping journey of one of my favourite games of all time.
Red Dead Redemption 2 grabbed me from the very beginning; the sheer size of the open world, the seemingly endless freedom with activities and a captivating story that you are at the forefront of. I took my time at the beginning really exploring the world around me by hunting and fishing, really trying to get a feel for the environment I was in. The game does a great job in allowing you to play as you want, and you are thrown into the conundrum very early on as to whether you want to play as a good guy or bad guy with the honour system. For my playthrough I wanted to play Arthur as though it was me making those decisions and it was me in that story. What would I do in that situation?
The group of outlaws known as the Van Der Linde gang are on the run across America, pursued by lawmen and fellow rival gangs, you quickly get the feeling of community within the rag tag bunch of misfits that make up your gang. You have excellent characters alongside you like Dutch, John and Micah who flesh out story lines perfectly and add life, meaning and consequence to everything you do. The story features everything from train robberies, shootouts, lies and betrayal to overpowering moments of friendship, caring and love which enraptured me, and even brought me to tears.
The story builds at a good pace where you always feel like it’s consistently moving forward and everything you do is meaningful. Having said that, I didn’t enjoy the part on the Isle of Guarma and thought that it did drag a little through that point, but the story was brought back and ended in a fantastic crescendo which remains my favourite video game ending of all time. (Yes, I had the good ending).
I also loved the attention to detail that Rockstar added where the campsite really feels like a living, breathing community. I would often go and sit by the fire and just listen to other characters have a conversation to immerse myself in camp life, and it really gave the game that little extra. You can help maintain and upgrade the camp by donating money to improve the quality of life for those closest to Arthur, as well as benefit him with ammo and better meals served.
This detail and world building is found all throughout the game which is again why I love this game so much. Small details like feeding and grooming your horse allow you to have a good relationship with it which in turn benefits you while playing when in gunfights as the horse remains calmer and easier to control. Another background feature I appreciated was that using different lures or bait when fishing would help ensure you caught the fish you were after.
Heading into the local town to frequent the saloon and sit at the bar and have a drink listening to the piano being played was always great, as was chatting to the locals and partaking in bar games and cards added towards the full immersion of a city and world where you feel like you are living in it without it necessarily revolving around you. All of this sets the world up perfectly for me and I’d never before seen a game of such size and significant scope. What Rockstar has achieved with this game is truly amazing.
The high level of detail, coupled with a great story and amazing characters, is why Red Redemption 2 will sit as one of my favourite games of all time.