Rockstar’s sequel to the 2010 game, Red Dead Redemption, was possibly 2018’s biggest release and had fans hyped to dive back into the wild western world. The first game made a huge impact on me personally, so I was excited to jump into number two. On release, the game seemed to divide fan opinion, and like many people, I found myself unable to really connect with it, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why that was.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a huge, beautiful world filled with diverse characters. It follows the story of lifelong outlaw Arthur Morgan as he gradually begins to rethink his life and attempt to leave behind a positive impact on the world when faced with his own mortality. It is a narrative game with a stunning ope world to explore. On paper, it ticks all of the boxes that I want in a game, but in practice something was missing. After a lot of thought, I think I now understand what.
It’s a common thing that players need to suspend their disbelief when playing games. It is also a common occurrence for certain games to suffer from ludo-narrative dissonance, the idea that the narrative tries to present one thing while the gameplay mechanics show the opposite. The current aim of many AAA games is realism. Realistic graphics and characters that players can relate to. Games want to be movies even though movies already exist as a separate medium, and will often do everything they can to distance themselves from the interactivity and potentials of the gaming medium to chase Hollywood trends. But where games such as Naughty Dog properties such as Uncharted and The Last of Us try to achieve this by being linear experiences with a heavy focus on cutscenes, Red Dead Redemption 2 attempts it by the hyper-realisation of its gameplay. Continue reading