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Western Horror: Red Dead Redemption

In 2004, Red Dead Revolver was created. A fun western game that takes place in the 1880s, during the American frontier. It follows bounty hunter Red Harlow's quest for revenge after the murder of his parents. The game received mixed reviews and was canceled until its rights were bought by Rockstar Games and re-released. This followed a sequel, Red Dead Redemption which unlike its previous game is a darker and edgier game and is in fact a western horror. Red Dead Redemption is set in 1911, during the decline of the American frontier. It follows the new main character John Marston, a former outlaw whose wife and son are kidnapped by the government in ransom for his services as a hired gun. Wanting to find them, he sets out to bring three members of his former gang to justice. What makes it a western horror is its uses and themes of violence, masculinity, redemption, and the American Dream.

The game is played from a 3rd person perspective and they can freely roam in its interactive open world, a fictionalized version of the Western United States and Northern Mexico. They can achieve this by means of horseback, and on foot. Gunfights are simulated by emphasizing a feature called "Dead Eye" that allows players to mark multiple shooting targets on enemies in slow motion. This feature makes gameplay less stressful and easier for the player when facing multiple opponents. The game uses a morality system by which the player's actions in the game affect their character's levels of honor, fame, and how other characters respond to the player. This system is similar to the ones used in the Grand Theft Auto and Assassin’s Creed franchises with slight and varying differences. Because of the fact that it became widely successful, the game included a standalone expansion called Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare.

It adds a non-canonical zombie horror theme, two multiplayer modes, and a vast number of additions to the environments and characters of the original open-world Western action game. Set in an alternate timeline from the original game's story, the plot follows John Marston, a former outlaw who sets out to find the cause of and possible cure for a zombie plague that has infected his wife and son. This differs from the regular game as his wife and son were taken but in this they become zombies. Marston liberates towns overrun by the undead and assists non-playable characters with side quests along the way. The game is extremely fun and one can in fact find themselves getting lost in the altered western horror world.

This game is a great example of the western horror genre and in many ways helped people appreciate the subgenre. Red Dead Redemption and Undead Nightmare have become so successful that a sequel, Red Dead Redemption 2 was released in 2018 online. With the Red Dead World expanding it’s no wonder that the weird west and western horror genres are also in return expanding themselves.


For more info on the series be sure to check out this article all about it on Wikipedia.

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