Red Dead Redemption is one of the best video games ever made. It's not up for debate. Rockstar took the wildly successful Grand Theft Auto open-world formula, threw it in the tumultuous Wild West, and made the story more engaging than "drive here, shoot them, drive back." Some may still dismiss it as GTA with horses, but they are dreadfully wrong.
With a setting as violent and unruly as the budding westward expansion, you can bet that Red Dead Redemption is going to be full of shocking, downright revolting acts. Let's not forget that this is a Rockstar game so the carnage and shock are going to be ramped up to eleven. It's never unwarranted; the game is that much better for it and portrays the ornery attitude of the untamed frontier better than any other form of media to date.
With that comes some of the most revolting acts ever committed in a video game, acts that burned their ways into gamers' hearts and minds indefinitely. Some are visceral and bloody, some are dark and disturbing, and some will shake you down to the emotional core. Put down your Liars Dice and let's find some pearls to clutch as we go through the Fifteen Most Revolting Acts Committed In Red Dead Redemption.
15 Giving A Cannibal A Meal
In the town of Armadillo, you’ll find a woman who pleads with John to find her son whose been taken by the people in the hills. If you investigate the area he was last seen, you’ll find a shoe and puddle of blood. Come back to Armadillo, and this time a sobbing man will ask you to find his wife who went missing in the same area. Again, you’ll the same scene, this time with a large fork next to it. Back in Armadillo for the third, and final time, a woman will ask you to look for her husband, who, you guessed it, went missing in the same area.
This time, you’ll find an injured man there who asks you to bring back a city dweller that attacked him. Bring the man back, and it quickly becomes evident that the injured man is the cannibal that’s been eating all the Armadillo residents. You’re then faced with a choice: you can kill the cannibal and free the man, or you can leave. Leave, and you just served the cannibal lunch, hogtied at his feet. Although you can save the man and return him to his wife, the fact that the game allows you to just move on while he is eaten by a crazed cannibal in the hills is revolting, to say the least.
14 Helping An Opium Addict Get High
North West of El Matadero, John will come across a man who is essentially a slave. He longs to return to his love, and his owner agrees to let the man go if John brings him a stallion. Break a wild stallion in and deliver it to the owner and the man is freed. He thanks John, vowing that he is returning to his love and starting his life anew.
A few days later, John finds the newly freed man asleep on a bench at a train station. Waking him up, John realizes that he is stoned out of his gourd on opium. John reunited the man and his true love all right, a big ol’ pipe of opium. The man nonsensically waves John off, telling him he’s waiting for the train before dipping out into an opiate laden nap. Good job John; you just threw a man headlong back into a life ending addiction.
13 Dragging People Behind Horses
One of the key features that made Red Dead Redemption such a critical success was the freedom that Rockstar allowed gamers in their conquest of the untamed West. You could clear out bandit hideouts, break wild horses for your own mount, or send John Marston skipping merrily through the dessert, picking flowers. Really, the choice was yours. With that choice came the opportunity to play out all types of evil fantasies on the unsuspecting, innocent NPCs inhabiting the untamed wilderness and even more feral towns.
Perusing John’s inventory, you’ll notice he has a lasso, which he can use to rope all types of animals, including people. If you’re on horseback, you’re able to lasso unsuspecting civilians and drag them for as long as you please behind your galloping horse. It might not seem that revolting at first, but when you realize that this was a common form of justice not only in the actual West, but for centuries all over the world, the implications of dragging someone needlessly behind your horse takes on a disturbing nuance.
12 Getting Flowers For A Dead Woman
East of McFarlane’s Ranch, John will come across a man making a bouquet for his wife. He isn’t satisfied with what he can find locally, but wonders if John can go and find some flowers for his dear wife. Being John Marston, the infamous badass who is oft spotted collecting flowers in the wilderness like a madman, he agrees, and you set off.
Now, reading the title of this entry, you might not think that getting flowers for a dead woman is revolting per se; leaving flowers on graves and memorials is a common and loving thing to do. But, John quickly finds out that the man’s wife isn’t dead and buried — she’s just dead. And sitting in a rocking chair in the corner of the god damn kitchen. While this could be seen as a testament to the man’s unyielding love for his wife, I believe it falls into the realm of frontier madness. And even if it is all in the name of love, it is still revolting to have a rotting corpse propped up in your house.
11 False Advertising
Early on John meets Nigel West Dickens, a slimy, snake oil peddling charlatan that asks for John’s help selling some of his wares. Realizing that John is naturally talented with a pistol, he asks John to put on a demonstration of marksmanship and attribute it to his cure-all remedy, promising him a few bucks in return.
John agrees and puts on a spectacular show, ending with him knocking an unruly onlooker out. The feeble-minded crowd rushes the stand, buying Nigel West Dickens elixir en mass. Not crazily revolting, you lying piece of crap, but still dishonest. Until you find out that Nigel West Dickens elixir is poisoning people later in the game. So not are you dishonest, you’re also helping people ingest poison. Way to go John, way to go.
10 Some Pictures You Should Probably See
In Blackwater, John meets a politician in need of some help with blackmailing an opposing politician with some photos. If you view the photos in John’s inventory, you’ll see that the opposing politician has been caught in some rather…unsavory acts with a prostitute. You approach the target at town hall, show him the photos, and he changes his tune real quick.
This isn’t revolting in the violence sense, but it’s morally reprehensible. Why? Because it’s so true to real life politics that it’s sickening. This type of blackmailing is so commonplace in the back rooms of politics, that it is one of the main cogs that runs the entire machine. Another example of how Rockstar is able to work relevant social commentary into their games.
9 Family Issues
In the town of Blackwater, John encounters a sobbing pregnant woman who’s praying at a church. She asks him to go to the child’s father to ask him for money so she can have a better life for her and her child. When John finds the father, who (surprise!) is a total asshole, he challenges John to a standoff for insulting his honor. John guns him down, loots his body for cash, and heads back to the sobbing mother.
When you arrive, she gladly takes the money, until John informs her that he killed her child’s father. Even though the guy was a bonafide butt plug, the woman is still upset that her child’s father has been gunned down. A few days later, John finds her mourning at his grave, inconsolable. That’s what you get for getting in the middle of someone else’s family issues, John; nothing is solved and no one is happy.
8 Killing A Helpless Old Man For His Land
In the wilderness, a prospector asks John to peacefully acquire a nearby old man’s land so that he can dig a ground well. John heads out and approaches the old man, who stops his sweeping to give John a two barreled greeting. Once John explains that he wants to purchase his land, the old man asks for $200 in exchange for it. The game then lets you give the man $200 for the deed to the land or kill him and take the deed by force. The game even describes him as “the helpless old man,” yet gives you the option to gun him down.
Kill the old man, and you return the deed to the prospector covered in blood, to which he expresses warranted disgust in your choice to violently obtain the deed. Rightfully so, you didn’t have to kill a helpless old man, but you did anyway. You monster.
7 Killing A Reverend
On a corner in Blackwater, John comes across a reverend ranting about the evils of alcohol and calling for men to give it up in order to obtain true freedom in their lives. Although John doesn’t necessarily agree, their exchange is friendly enough, and they both continue on with their lives. Move a bit down the block, and a local bootlegger pulls John aside and offers him some money to kill the reverend and silence his loud, public sermon permanently.
The game gives you two options: warn the reverend so that he can move on alive and well, or kill him for a pile of cash. It’s as simple as walking up to the reverend (who will greet John in a cloyingly friendly manner), and use whatever facet of John’s arsenal to put the reverend down in the street like a dog. Even though it’s the Wild West, popping a reverend was —and still is— considered a bit shocking, to put it lightly.
6 Zombie Apocalypse
Awesome? Yes. Revolting? Absolutely. Undead Nightmare is an expansion for Red Dead Redemption that is essentially its own game, and what a game it is. Better than practically every other zombie game available, especially Resident Evil, it pits John Marston into a zombie-infested version of the West. While not revolting, at first sight, the zombie apocalypse in the Red Dead Redemption universe is revolting for a number of reasons.
The zombies are grotesque, bloated caricatures of the former residents and wildlife, John can ride rotting mounts, and the surviving residents are eaten and dismembered amongst their last gasping screams. The whole ordeal is disturbing to the senses; watching your favourite characters get killed or turned undead is brutal.
5 Running People Over With Trains
A mainstay of cartoon villains, everyone has seen a mustachioed scoundrel throw a woman on the train tracks as a locomotive powers toward her. Cue the hero who saves her moments before the train turns her into tall stack of damsel-in-distress-pancakes. The idea of being the villain that tosses the damsel on the tracks is rarely visited, until Red Dead Redemption that is.
As I’ve mentioned before, Red Dead Redemption allows players a level of freedom that is expected in Rockstar’s open-world games. As I’ve mentioned, John does carry a lasso that he can use to wrangle animals and NPCs, which allows him to hog tie those NPCs and carry them on his horse. Transporting said NPCs to train tracks and waiting for a locomotive will result in John’s victim being turned into a splattering cloud of gore. When you actually think about it, all those cartoon villains were a lot more bloodthirsty than you originally thought as a kid.
4 Wiping Out A Species
In the Undead Nightmare expansion, you’ll encounter zombies, undead wildlife, and even come in contact with a cryptozoological legend: Bigfoot. Just north of Tanner’s Reach, you’ll find a mountain man who claims that a Bigfoot tried to eat his dog, and tasks John with eliminating them from the woods around his cabin.
The task proves easy enough, as all the Bigfoot that you encounter are peacefully meandering around the wilderness, minding their own business and doing nothing malicious in the least. As John closes in on the last Bigfoot, you’re treated to a cutscene that shows him sobbing openly and begging John to shoot him. When John accuses him of needing to eat babies to survive, the Bigfoot reveals that they were all herbivores, eating berries and mushrooms. Congratulations, you’ve effectively wiped out a peaceful, sentient species; another case of man's fear of the unknown driving him to violence against what he will never have the chance to understand.
3 Pretty Much Everything Seth Does
John Marston first comes across Seth as he’s waist-deep in a grave, digging through a recently surfaced corpse, which pretty much sets the course for Seth’s character in Red Dead Redemption. Grave robbing, suspected necrophilia, and pretty much anything nasty dealing with the dead is his forte.
Seth is disturbing. Not only because he has obviously lost his mind, asking the dead for kisses and goading them to whisper to him, but because of his misanthropic tendencies. “I feel less alone with them than I do in a crowd of people,” he tells John, before rifling the pockets of corpses and throwing them off of a moving wagon. He constantly waxes poetic about the merits of the dead before breaking the laws of man and God for his own gain, obviously loony beyond any reckoning. Plus, he smells a corpse’s shoe — that act alone should have its own entry on this list.
2 Forbidden Love
In the stable at Rathskeller Fork, John will meet a sobbing man who claims that bandit stole his love and made off with her a few days ago. He berates John to go and recover her so that they can be together again, and who is John to disagree. Go to the spot on your map, and you’ll meet a woman standing next to a horse. John tells the woman he’s here to take her back to her love, to which she bursts out laughing. She informs John that it isn’t her the man is interested in, it’s the horse. She agrees to take the horse back to him, and they joke the whole ride back about the man's forbidden relations with the poor animal.
When you return steed to its owner (lover?), he embraces its return a bit too warmly. “I know this place can make people crazy. "My father had goats,” the woman tells John before they part ways. The fact that she acknowledges bestiality as a normal facet of existence on the frontier is revolting, but John just returned a horse to that guy to do…God knows what with.
1 Stay In The Barn John!
This isn’t revolting physically — it’s actually some of the best writing ever seen in a video game. Red Dead Redemption isn’t a happy story; it’s a tale of failure, meeting unpleasant change head on, and realizing that some fights are futile, no matter how hard you dig in your heels. It’s no surprise then that the ending takes a piece of you and never gives it back.
The last main story mission finds John repelling a massive gang of federal agents from his homestead after the government breaks its promise to let him live in peace after doing their wet work, deciding he’s a loose end that needs to be snipped off rather than tied up. Eventually, John finds himself in front of a mob of heavily armed feds. Even though the game allows you to shoot as much as you can, he is inevitably gunned down.
At first, I thought I had failed the mission. But no, Rockstar just decided that I needed a bit more despair in my life by offing one of the most likable protagonists in a video game and subsequently creating one of the best endings to a video game, ever. Physically revolting? Not at all. Emotionally? Yes, emotionally it was damn devastating. And then you have the audacity to force me to play as John’s squeaky son? I would have rather played as his wife — she was definitely more of a bad ass.