An exploration of masculinity lies at the core of the stories told within Rockstar’s beautifully crafted open-worlds. What does it mean to have it? What does it mean to want it? What does it mean to lose it? Women are more often than not extras and foils in these stories, or, in the case of GTA 5, easy punchlines (“I am woman, hear me roar!” chants Franklin’s pointedly middle-aged aunt).
But not in Red Dead Redemption. Unlike GTA, which is played entirely through the lens of satire, Red Dead’s treatment of its characters is uncharacteristically sincere. While it’s still very much a story of men – and John Marston in particular – Red Dead’s women are imbued with an underappreciated – and unexpected – spark, wit, and humanity.