It’s not you, it’s me.
Originally published November 16, 2018 at Doublejump.co
Like the rest of the planet, I was excited for Red Dead Redemption 2. I was one of the millions who bought a copy at launch, though mine arrived late and I missed the launch weekend (thanks, JB!). Eventually it arrived, I waited the half-hour or so for it to install, and I tested it out.
In its first few hours, Red Dead Redemption 2’s glacial pace is refreshing. It’s something of a ‘life simulator’ with this leisurely, relaxed rhythm that wants players to embrace its elderly gait. Its mood is calm. It’s a game where rushing through it, or even focusing on the main story at all, feels like the ‘wrong’ way to play it. It might be the first game where I find myself walking all the time because sprinting looks weird and uncanny in its convincing natural world. I almost never sprint in real life, so why would I sprint here?
There’s an art to this pace. It wants players to take it slow, to engage with the world around them naturally. By randomly filling in the world with scenarios – a bandit ambush, a hold-up, a bystander asking for a ride, a convict on the run from the lawman behind them – Red Dead Redemption 2 asks players to embrace opportunity where they find it and progress through its main story in the same way.
Four to five hours in, though, I hit a wall. Compared to all the other long-winded experiences on the market, or even just other Rockstar titles, Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the most transparently time-dependent games I’ve ever played. It vacuums my time away. It’s hours later and it feels like almost nothing happened. While I respect the ambition and intent, I just can’t justify playing Red Dead Redemption 2 when it feels so wasteful of my time.
So, I’m dumping Red Dead Redemption 2.