Picture this: the sun sets over the silhouetted outline of the complex protagonist as a perfectly-timed musical score kicks in to take your breath away.
You’ve just witnessed themes of sexism and racism, and seen the main character’s loyalty be challenged. On top of that, a lost love has reappeared, pulling his loyalties even further apart.
Sounds like a brilliant movie, right? Probably one that would be Oscar nominated for its ability to deal with complex issues. But I’m not talking about a film; it’s the powerful story of Red Dead Redemption 2, and sadly it won’t get the recognition it deserves outside of the gaming media.
Take-Two Interactive described Red Dead Redemption 2’s opening weekend sales as “the single biggest opening weekend in the history of entertainment”. A record-breaking $725 million was earned during the opening weekend, which makes Arthur’s journey much more successful than Avengers: Infinity War, which made $640 million in its opening weekend – the biggest opening weekend in movie history.
Despite the highly impressive figures for Red Dead Redemption 2, it suffers from one overriding issue: it’s a game. Games just don’t get the mainstream attention they deserve. In fact, instead of being praised, often they’re presented as negative influences in the modern media. It’s a label that’s completely unfair, and no game proves that more than Red Dead Redemption 2.
Despite not being a film, it’s hard to disagree that the game is a cinematic masterpiece. From the most incredible settings, to the tiniest of butterflies, Red Dead Redemption 2‘s portrayal of nature is breathtaking. It’s a glorious example of mise en scene done right. Morgan’s journey is a difficult one. His character slowly, and realistically, adapts to the plot, and the challenging themes presented within his adventure. He changes, and it’s completely believable. It’s a story that challenges the player to think, contemplate, and consider Arthur’s journey. There’s many moments that can play on your mind for hours.
Arthur Morgan’s journey is one worthy of an Oscar. Red Dead Redemption 2’s cinematography is worthy of an Oscar. The soundtrack is worthy of an Oscar. But sadly, Take-Two Interactive will only receive the plaudits they deserve from those within the gaming media and industry.
Personally, I don’t believe that’s enough to honour one of the greatest stories told in the last decade. Red Dead Redemption 2 makes us, the players, see the world differently due to all the complex themes within the story, and how Arthur changes due to them. And surely that’s the definition of true art: making the audience see the world differently because of what has been presented to them.