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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Minor spoilers for Red Dead Redemption 2 plot points

Butch:

It’s Tuesday, right? Right. My internal calendar still hasn’t reset from Nashville.

I miss Nashville.

Anyway, what did I do….stole some medicine from a stagecoach, lost honor. The recap would’ve given me a check mark had I stolen it without being detected, but what the fuck? It was on a moving stagecoach. The only option I saw was “threaten,” so I did that, and they shot at me and I shot back. What was I supposed to do?

That and I spent the time wondering if they really had vaccines back then. I’m not sure they did.

But did that.

And then blew up a bridge with John.

Now….there’s real themeage there. Someone who only had loyalty, only had one way of life, wondering now if that was right, and deciding to “be loyal to what matters.” This all had the feel of a parent urging his kid to be the first one in the family to go to college, sort of saying “My way of life is ending, but you….go live a different way of life. I may not understand it, shit, I may have spent my whole life hating people who had that way of life, but go get it. It’s your only shot.” That’s a tough conversation that people have been having for generations, and a conversation that may well be happening far more now. John’s hesitation worked, too. He’s a) not sure that he can just run and b) he’s not sure he wants to. That was a great scene.

But here’s what I wonder: This is a prequel. People know what happened to John. I know he lived, cuz he’s the protagonist in the next game, but I don’t know how, where he ended up, etc. That said, lots of other people do. People know if he ended up on his own, a criminal, a rancher defending his own, still with Dutch, etc. I am not one of these people.

So what does the game want, here? We see Arthur pushing John towards a future, and John struggling with it, and it’s a great, great scene. But I think it’s great because of that uncertainty. Is John going to do it? That uncertainty, I think, is part of the metaphor. If this was a modern drama, and Arthur was a coal miner pushing his kid to go to college, that uncertainty would BE the drama.

So…what? Are we supposed to pretend this isn’t a prequel and erase all knowledge of everything from our minds (or just studiously avoid spoilers)? Are we supposed to judge this game as a separate work of art and see the drama for what it is? Does the game want me to know the outcome because that would change the metaphor and that’s the metaphor they want? Or is it just cool that millions of people will play this game and they will have different reactions based on what they know of the first game?

I’m leaning towards the latter, which is kinda cool. But I may be wrong.

Feminina:

It was a well done scene, I agree. And certainly it works in different ways depending on what you know about the first game. Is it kind of ironic that Arthur’s urging John to leave, given that we know all about where he wound up? Does it make perfect sense now when it didn’t before?

Or, since we know nothing except that he survived, does it just feel like interesting prequel drama? Or if we don’t even know that, are we genuinely wondering whether or not he’ll make it out of the game alive?

I think it works OK regardless. Although…I honestly just can’t get into John Marston. Even though I know he’s a protagonist later, he’s just not that interesting to me. I appreciate the tension of his situation, but I don’t CARE about it that much.

Butch:

I’m sorta with you on Marston. I think they were expecting people to care because they spend sixty hours or so being him in the first game, like, if you played a Witcher game as Ciri, say, (which needs to happen but I digress), you’d still care a lot about Geralt because you played a game or two or three as Geralt. That said, expecting people to have played the game, and using that as a short cut to making someone care about character (instead of, say, good writing) is too much of a cheat. If they used that cheat in that hypothetical (but make it happen CDPR) game, we’d be all “DUDE! Geralt!” and people who hadn’t played it would be all “what’s with gravel voice? Why do people care so much?”

I’m only sorta with you because I care about Marston, not for Marston, but because his fate, it seems, is linked to Abigail and Jack and I care about them. They did a good job making me care about Jack with the fishing trip and getting him back from Bronte and whatnot, so when Arthur’s all “Get out of here…save yourself…” I care that Marston does because I want Abigail and Jack to be ok.

Feminina:

I agree, I care about Abigail and Jack. It meant a lot more to me when Arthur was talking to Abigail about getting out–they could have spent as much time on that as on the conversation with John, for my money. John is just…bland. I can’t get into him.

I’ve come to care a bit about Arthur, after not liking him at all at first, but I can’t get into John.

Butch:

Yeah. They’re relying way too much on us knowing him from before.

Feminina:

Though a note on something I did like: I thought it was cool how they did the bridge blowing up. The tension leading up to it was all right, I thought it was effective, and then they actually push the lever and the explosion is…almost muted.

It felt a lot more realistic than the smoke-billowing, flame-spewing run-run-leap-ahead-of-the-boom explosions we’re so used to from movies and other games. I mean, it was an explosion, it was destructive, but it felt appropriately minimalist for the distance they were watching from, not all cinematically overdone.

So props for realism on the explosions there, folks.

Oh, and the internet says Edward Jenner developed the first smallpox vaccine in 1796, so they’re good there too. Potentially. I mean, they don’t say what the vaccines we’re going after here were for, so who knows. But it could be.