Red Dead Redemption Nintendo Switch Review: Gunslinging on the Go

Marston's Redemption Rides Again on Nintendo's Hybrid Handheld

Few games have reached the meteoric heights of acclaim and legacy as Red Dead Redemption. This Western epic first galloped onto the scene back in 2010, leaving critics and fans awestruck. With its poignant narrative, expansive open world, and memorable characters, Red Dead Redemption raised the bar for video games as an artistic medium. Over a decade later, it remains deeply influential, especially in light of its magnificent prequel.

Yet despite its prestige, Red Dead Redemption has never received the remaster treatment—until now. This year, Rockstar Games unexpectedly announced and released the game on modern consoles. For Nintendo fans, this meant the chance to finally experience the classic cowboy adventure on the Switch. However, with no warning or fanfare, expectations going in were subdued. Would this re-release honor a genre great, or disappoint like a broken-down nag?

In this review, we’ll be saddling up to find out if Red Dead Redemption still has what it takes. We’ll gallop through its story, characters, gameplay, and presentation to see how well this unexpected port holds up. There’s a lot of frontier to cover, so let’s get moving, partner! Keep reading to see if this classic Western epic still hits its mark on Nintendo’s hybrid handheld.

Saddling Up in the Wild West

Red Dead Redemption transports players to the American frontier at the turn of the 20th century. It combines the open world freedom of Grand Theft Auto with a story and setting straight out of a classic Western film. This results in an engrossing action-adventure game rich with frontier lore.

You play as former outlaw John Marston, who is forced to hunt down his old gang members. Set in 1911, the Wild West is on its last legs as industrialization takes hold. Marston must navigate this changing landscape while confronting the sins of his past. It’s a compelling premise that fuels the game’s lengthy storyline.

Along the way, you’ll meet a colorful cast of characters. There’s the members of Marston’s former crew, government agents pulling his strings, strangers in need of help, and more. Each encounter pushes the thoughtful narrative forward. With strong voice acting and writing, Red Dead makes you care about its people.

Red Dead Redemption Nintendo Switch Review

As an open world game, you’re free to explore the majestic countryside on horseback. You can stop to camp, go hunting, take on side activities – the wilderness is your oyster. When it’s time for the main event, story missions feature third-person shooting and cover mechanics.

Combat relies on quick reflexes and your trusty Dead Eye ability. Dead Eye lets you slow down time to carefully place multiple shots. Stringing kills together with this system makes you feel like an unstoppable gunslinger. Besides blazing your way through the story, you can take on bounties, play poker, go treasure hunting, and much more.

Red Dead Redemption masterfully fuses storytelling and gameplay. One minute you’re lost in contemplative narrative threads, the next you’re in thrilling shootouts. And throughout, you’re immersed in an expertly crafted version of the Old West. Few games have balanced action, adventure, and ambience so adeptly.

An Outlaw’s Road to Redemption

Red Dead Redemption’s greatest strength lies in its narrative and character writing. This emotional journey follows John Marston’s quest for redemption in a rapidly modernizing West. It’s a tale full of nuance and moral complexity.

As an ex-outlaw pressed into government service, Marston treads a thin line between right and wrong. He wants to go straight and reunite with his family, but must get his hands dirty confronting figures from his past. This push and pull drives the story forward.

Each stage of Marston’s journey expands on his desire for redemption. There are no easy choices, with every decision coming at a cost. This thoughtful approach to morality imbues the story with richness and depth.

Meanwhile, the members of Marston’s old gang serve as perfect foils. These colorful characters provide insights into his criminal past. Figures like the idealistic Dutch offer great character development. And their philosophical debates on the end of the Wild West make you reconsider Marston’s choices.

The superb voice acting brings these personalities to life. You feel the history between Marston and his former gang in every conversation. The stellar Western accents ground you in the setting, while emotional line reads land the poignancy of each scene.

Beyond the central gang storyline are memorable strangers dotted around the countryside. Their plights lead to meaningful side quests about loyalty, loss, and violence. One standout involves a nun caring for orphans whose father you must identify from a group of bandits.

Moments like these provide inhale and exhale pacing between the action-packed main missions. One minute you’re in a tense shootout, the next quietly reflecting on morality around the campfire. This thoughtful storytelling sticks with you across Red Dead’s 60+ hour runtime.

And it all builds towards an impactful conclusion. The final train ride into Mexico, accompanied by manager Jose Gonzalez’s haunting “Far Away”, is unforgettable. The music and scenery gorgeously underscore Marston’s long road towards absolution.

Red Dead Redemption has you crossing paths with all manner of ne’er-do-wells, innocents, and psychopaths throughout its story. This colorful cast and complex central narrative exemplify video games as a serious artistic medium for storytelling.

The Allure of the Wild West

Red Dead Redemption’s open world is a superb realization of the romanticized American frontier. You’ll lose countless hours simply wandering its rugged landscapes and ramshackle towns. This immersive setting truly transports you back to the dying days of the Old West.

The enviroments capture the beauty and desolation of the region. One minute you’re trotting through green prairies teeming with wildlife, the next traversing sun-bleached deserts and snowy mountain ranges. Dusted with amber hues, each area oozes Western atmosphere.

And the urban areas feel plucked right out of a John Wayne film. Their wooden buildings and dusty streets are populated with grizzled cowboys, noble lawmen, and shady criminals. The rural-urban contrast heightens the sense of a civilization in flux.

Traveling by horse lets you soak in the scenery and ambience. As you trot the backroads and trails, you may encounter travelers in need or get ambushed by bandits. These random events make the world feel alive with possibilities.

You can stop to camp almost anywhere, using these sites to swap outfits, quick save, or fast travel. Finding a spot with the perfect vista, brewing some coffee, and watching the sunset is a simple pleasure.

For more structured activities, each town offers diversions like playing poker, blackjack, and other card games. Or you can go on nightwatch patrols, track down outlaws with bounties, or break wild horses at a ranch. Strangers will also flag you down with side quests.

There’s an incredible amount of depth beyond the main story. Challenges tracking stats like distance traveled or enemies killed provide long-term goals. You’ll spend hours hunting wild animals, gathering herbs, searching for treasure, and more.

Few games can match the breadth and immersion of exploring Red Dead Redemption’s West. It provides endless opportunities for adventure, discovery, or just soaking in views. Even after beating the story, the open world continued beckoning me back for more.

A Visual Step Back in Time

Given its age, expectations for Red Dead Redemption’s visual presentation were modest. Surprisingly, this release looks noticeably improved from the 2010 original. While not a proper remaster, extra graphical tweaks have this classic shining on Switch.

The most obvious upgrade is increased environmental draw distance. Distant terrain and foliage pop-in much less prominently. This enhances the sense of scale when gazing across landscapes.

Additionally, lighting appears warmer and more vibrant compared to the flat wash of the original. Shadows have better depth and textures exhibit greater detail. Improved anti-aliasing smooths out jagged edges too.

Of course, character models remain dated, with their lower polygon counts and blurry texture work. And the animation can look stiff, especially during cutscenes. But otherwise, the visuals exceed expectations.

In handheld mode, thepresentation really shines. The smaller screen hides most graphical imperfections. Everything remains crisp and clear, making the Wild West pop with color.

Docked on a TV reveals more flaws, like the sometimes muddy backgrounds. But the bump to 1080p output is welcome. Ultimately, the game looks great in both playstyles.

As for performance, Red Dead Redemption targets 30 FPS on Switch and largely delivers. Only during intensive shootouts did I notice minor dips. Load times were fast traveling between regions. And besides an occasional wonky physics glitch, I encountered no major technical issues.

It’s clear some extra effort went into enhancing Red Dead for its Switch debut. The improved visuals and stable framerate recapture the magic of the original. This may not be the full remaster some hoped for, but it exceeds expectations for a basic port. The game both looks and runs beautifully on Nintendo’s hybrid console.

For a 2010 title, I was consistently impressed by how good Red Dead Redemption still appears. It may show its age in places, but the excellent art direction shines through.

Saddle Up for Adventure

While its story stands the test of time, Red Dead Redemption’s gameplay can feeling a bit antiquated by today’s standards. However, the core mechanics still capture the thrilling danger of the Old West era.

As an action-focused open world game, shooting takes center stage. Gunplay leans into the cowboy fantasy, letting you quickly draw and fan the hammer on pistols. Shotguns, rifles, and other archetypal weapons fill out your arsenal.

Gunplay relies on a soft lock-on system that prioritizes targets in your field of view. This allows for swift gunslinging during frantic shootouts. However, movements feel loose and aiming lacks precision. Taking cover is essential to survival.

The iconic Dead Eye mechanic offsets these shortcomings. Activating Dead Eye slows down time, letting you paint targets for rapid execution. The upgraded ability feels endlessly badass, allowing cinematic multi-kills. It transforms you into an unstoppable gunfighter.

Unfortunately, the Switch version lacks any gyroscopic aiming options. This could have enhanced free aim and scoped weapons. As is, handheld shooting requires a steady hand. The lock-on assist does help compensate.

Outdoors, your trusty horse is your main mode of transport. Mounted traversal feels smooth, allowing you to appreciate the scenic views. However, hitches like awkward maneuverability and random horse collisions occur. Still, horseback remains the quintessential way to explore the frontier.

Missions range from exhilarating to frustrating. Story events and side quests result in memorable adventures full of charisma. However, most mandatory tasks rigidly require specific solutions, limiting your options. These linear designs can feel restrictive following modern open world games. But they do help pace the lengthy campaign.

Overall, Red Dead Redemption’s gameplay can’t match its superb writing and worldbuilding. But there’s still a rewarding mix of freedom, challenge, and cinematic excitement to be found across its expansive frontier.

The Complete Wild West Package

At $60, some may balk at the pricetag for a decade-old game. However, Red Dead Redemption on Switch packages the complete Wild West experience.

First up is the full original story campaign and open world. This epic adventure will keep you saddled up for dozens of hours through its twisting narrative and wealth of side content.

Additionally, you get the entire Undead Nightmare DLC included. This spooky expansion provides a fun remix on the core game with a supernatural twist. Though shorter than the main story, the zombie horde hunting provides hours of B-movie thrills.

Some new accessibility options are welcome too, like menus for tweaking subtitles and UI text size. It’s a basic inclusion but greatly improves play for the visually impaired.

However, the popular multiplayer from the original release is absent here. Saddling up with posses to explore the world would’ve been incredible. Unfortunately, those servers remain shut down.

While the lack of multiplayer is disappointing, the complete single player package is hard to fault. The exceptional open world design has unlimited gameplay possibilities. And Undead Nightmare provides a goofy and thrilling epilogue.

For first-time cowpokes or those keen on revisiting the West portable-style, few games can match the value proposition of Red Dead Redemption on Nintendo Switch. Just brace yourself for the hefty price of admission.

A Wild West Masterpiece

Upon release in 2010, Red Dead Redemption was showered with praise as an instant classic. Reviewers applauded its poignant story, living open world, and meticulous details that brought the Wild West to life. It became one of the highest rated games of its generation.

The impact on gaming was immediate. Red Dead Redemption redefined public perception of the open world genre as more than just wanton violence simulators like Grand Theft Auto. Its focus on storytelling and immersion inspired the industry.

Over a decade later, and Red Dead Redemption’s brilliance still shines bright. The thoughtful pacing stands out in today’s age of endless icons cluttering game worlds. Its patient approach to narrative remains engrossing.

Technically, its age shows in clunkier gameplay elements like controls, mission structure, and dated graphics. But the core experience remains amazingly fun and engaging. The ride through John Marston’s redemption arc continues to satisfy.

And appreciation for Red Dead Redemption has only grown after its magnificent prequel in 2018. Seeing connections between characters like Marston, Dutch, and Bill Williamson adds new dimension. And the sequel’s improvements make you appreciate the original’s technical achievements even more in retrospect.

In the pantheon of video game masterpieces, Red Dead Redemption deserves its place. While various aspects have aged better than others, it set a new bar for open world adventures. Truly a watershed release that influenced gaming forever after.

Final Thoughts

Red Dead Redemption’s unexpected arrival on Nintendo Switch let’s a whole new audience experience this open-world classic. Over a decade later, its brilliant storytelling and living game world remain captivating. This Straightforward port lets the Western epic’s strengths shine.

However, its gameplay and technical aspects unavoidably expose the game’s age. Restrictive missions, clunky controls, and dated visuals show the limitations of its 2010 origins. Some quality of life improvements could have smoothed rough edges for this re-release.

But taken as a faithful port, the core experience sings. Marston’s redemption arc still tugs the heartstrings through excellent writing and voice work. Exploring the wilderness with unpredictability around each corner never gets old. Hours fly by as you lose yourself in this vividly realized West.

For an accessible price, Red Dead Redemption on Switch would be an absolute steal. However, the $60 entry fee may seem steep for a decade-old game. But with dozens of hours of epic single player content included, plus the Undead Nightmare expansion, it’s hard to argue with the value proposition for new players.

In the end, Red Dead Redemption remains a must-play open world classic, and this Switch port is the perfect doorway into its frontier for a new generation. Saddle up and enjoy the ride – you won’t regret embarking on this legendary Western adventure.

The Review

Red Dead Redemption

8 Score

Red Dead Redemption's unexpected arrival on the Nintendo Switch opens up this Western epic to a new generation of players. While essentially a straightforward port, the strength of the original game's story, characters, and immersive frontier world continue to shine. Some awkward controls and dated design hold it back from feeling truly modern, but at its core Red Dead delivers a memorable journey filled with top-notch writing, impactful moral dilemmas, and an incredible sense of time and place. For anyone who hasn't experienced Rockstar's Wild West masterpiece, the Switch release provides a great opportunity to saddle up for an unforgettable adventure.


  • Engrossing narrative and well-written characters
  • Vast open world full of atmosphere and adventure
  • Memorable Mexican soundtrack
  • Improved visuals over original release
  • Performance is smooth and stable
  • Complete single player content included


  • No multiplayer included
  • Controls and mission design feel dated
  • Lack of modern enhancements or extras
  • Expensive for a decade-old port

Review Breakdown

  • Score 8
Exit mobile version