Red Dead Redemption is one of my favourite video games of this decade. As its sequel looms on the horizon, I replayed Red Dead Redemption. I wrote, narrated, and edited this 32-minute short film which summarises the game’s story with period-appropriate narration.
Warning: This video spoils all of the main story missions of the first Red Dead Redemption. There is barely a story element that escapes spoiling in this video.
On the one hand, this video will refresh your memory on all the characters and story situations of Red Dead Redemption (or show you them if you never played).
On the other hand, Red Dead Redemption 2 takes place 12 years before Red Dead Redemption, so you probably don’t need to have played the first game to play the second one.
On the third hand, you could watch this video because it is the result of a bizarre experiment I have been itching to perpetrate upon this website.
Aside from helping people be ready for the new game, my thought behind the experiment is this: “If I summarise an open-world game’s story exactly, beat for beat, and treat every single molecular element of even the most mundane mission as a valuable plot point, and if I write this summary with a disciplined aspiration toward literary detail, would the result resemble nonsense?”
I chose Red Dead Redemption for this experiment because I love it, and I felt like it would work as a short film.
Maybe I love Red Dead Redemption because I love cowboy fiction in general. You may not know this about me, though I have written over two dozen unpublished cowboy novels. I never show them to anybody. The writing in this video, while admittedly a little bit jokey and over the top, is the closest I’ve come to publishing cowboy fiction.
I tried my hardest to only use period-appropriate vocabulary and slang. In gloriously coincidental fitting with my personal brand, “heck” and “tarnation” were in fact considered profanity in the time that Red Dead Redemption is set, so if you were born around about 1870 and it’s only 1886 in your time zone, this video might be what you call “for mature audiences.”
Also peppered throughout this video are allusions to western films and fiction that I love—the films Unforgiven and Johnny Guitar and books like Forty Lashes Less One or Blood Meridian.
I lost count of how many allusions are in there. Maybe there’s more than a hundred.
There’s also an ending I’m proud of, so I hope you’ll watch to the end.