Review: Red Dead Redemption 2

Chenxiao Ma | February 11, 2019

I love wandering around in the wilderness. That's part of the reason why I loved all three of The Witcher. It is even more enjoyable when the wilderness is not so muddy and filled with deadly ghosts and monsters. I can see rabbits, maybe even dears and bears when I go off of the twisting and turning paths made by my fellow travelers, who will always shout out greetings to me. The tranquility and solitude was much more convincing than what Justin Timberlake pictured in Livin' Off the Land. I wanted to say "authentic" but that would be arrogant.

There are certainly absurdities. A scene I really disliked was where Dutch killed a woman who extorted them for more money after already got a gold bullion to lead them down a secret path. Why did Arthur get mad at him for killing her? They were killing people for much less money and this is where Arthur would draw the line? Also why didn't any of them get the bullion back? I would have but there was not an option for me. Don't extort people if they can kill you! Know what your leverages are!

Seeing Arthur getting tuberculosis made me acutely aware of how fragile life once was. Riding a horse sounds all poetic and wild but it was actually messy and dangerous, not to mention slow. Knowing that there was not much time for Arthur also made me make choices differently. I decided I was going to stay loyal to Dutch just because it's easier on me.

Turns out that was a big mistake. I really wanted to stop playing once I blew up and bridge for no reason and Dutch wanted to incite a war between native tribes and the US army. I didn't want to get into yet another conflict, especially when it won't end well for anyone and Dutch was just using this conflict to divert the government's attention. Also turns out the girl who were killed for telling on us was innocent. She just said those words to make Dutch see her. I was mad because Arthur got soft and I couldn't understand why he wanted to spare someone who I thought got Hosea killed. How foolish of me. Arthur was a better man than me.

As I rode back to the camp to confront my last enemy, I looked back at my life. I heard the people I've helped telling me I'm a good man, and every word made my heart coil in pain. They truly mean it but I don't deserve it. What they saw was a snapshot: I helped them and saved their live. But I have also left strangers behind to die. I have also robbed and killed innocent people, I made killing my living. How can I ever die in peace? What have I done to make my life worthy of the name "a good man"?

As I watched the last sunrise in my life, I felt the enormous pain that I died in vain. I lost. I couldn't defeat the disease, I couldn't defend my friends and my belief, and I couldn't decide my fate. I was part of an era that is ending and my demise means nothing against the backdrop of the booming civilization. From now on, everything will get more formal, more complex, more pleasant and more confusing. There won't be good or bad, wrong or right. I tried and lost. Nobody could save me. Not even myself.