Red Dead Redemption 2 is depressing as all get out

I’ve played enough of Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption 2.

I didn’t remember much of the first Red Dead Redemption. RDR was a massive “open world” western game. You could wander all over the map and do whatever you wanted.

I found Red Dead Redemption kinda boring.

I know I played it! The game was a big deal at the time. Friends in my small community of life-long video game aficionados were super excited to see this new installment: a modern massive “open world” western game.

Red Dead Redemption 2 depresses me in the range of 2000’s dreary movie Requiem for a Dream. Everything in the old west goes to shit for everyone. Nothing is working out well for you, or any NPC you meet.

Life super sucks in the old west.

You start the game as a grizzled and worn Old West bandit. Apparently your character is the #2 in a gang of broken down heist pullers who are on the run. Your leader, Dutch, really screwed up your last job, got some people killed or captured, and lost the loot. You are destitute and hunted by the law.

Things don’t get a lot better. The nature of western gunslingers is that death can come at any moment, so in RDR2 you are surrounded by it. Most encounters, even if you are working incredibly hard to be a nice guy and move through your world without too much violence, turn into murder.

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Roaming around the open world resulted in some dark adventures:

I went to help a young journalist collect some research and ended up killing most of the people he needed me to interview. I also helped one of his subjects knock off a dozen bounty hunters.

I tried to aid someone struggling with their horse, it kicked them in the head. I looted the body. When I succeeded in calming another riled horse for an NPC, I was branded a horse thief.

One sad NPC needed me to suck the snake venom out of his leg. That was exciting.

Aside from encountering people who need to die, or will anyways, RDR2 involved a lot of riding your horse. You can put the horse into autopilot, and watch beautiful scenery pass by, or you can steer said horse on your own. As soon as you take the reins, however, expect an NPC to pop up, ask for help and likely need to be killed.

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The actual game story is nothing but depressing. Everything is going wrong for your gang, your leader is a mostly unlikeable douche, and your compatriots most complain you aren’t doing enough to help out. I have not really felt compelled to keep playing through.

In an attempt to reengage with the game I tried to capture the best horse in the game. This resulted in 90 minutes riding across the map on auto-pilot, quietly stalking a horse, and then scaring it away. It did not help me want to play more.

I have found the in-game combat systems to be a little confusing as well. The “dead-eye” bullet time mode, wherein you slow time and can aim better doesn’t seem to offer me much advantage. Aiming is very hard for this inverted-stick FPS enthusiast. I also find the menus used to figure out what missions you can run, in game progress, etc to all be fairly useless and lacking information that helps me.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is hard for me want to play, but I feel like I should as there is so much there. I have yet to try the in-game fishing, or gambling, but the short hunting adventures and train robbery were fun. Regardless how enjoyable the in-game games may be, I find the amount of time in-between engaging activities discouraging. I don’t want to ride my horse for 20 minutes to find out I can’t go fishing because I forgot to buy worms.

Red Dead Redemption II is worth checking out, but I wouldn’t count on playing all the way through.

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Jason Weisberger

Jason Weisberger is Boing Boing’s publisher. Nemo is Jason’s Great Pyrenees. You can find Jason on twitter at @jlw

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