Red Dead Redemption review for Nintendo Switch, PS4

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PS4
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar Games/Double Eleven
Medium: Digital/Cartridge/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No

The two main thoughts I had about Red Dead Redemption on the Switch, in the order in which I had them:

  1. I can’t believe it looks this fantastic; and
  2. The game may not be quite as good as I remember.

As far as the second point goes: don’t get me wrong, Red Dead Redemption is still an excellent game. All those rave reviews the game got thirteen years ago when it originally came out are still valid. In fact, compare it to the other games that were raved about back in 2010, and RDR probably becomes even more impressive – nothing against any of them, but I don’t think a single one of its contemporaries holds a candle to it now. (I mean, they didn’t thirteen years ago either, but more than a decade later, the gap has become even more pronounced.)

The problem – for lack of a better term – is that Red Dead Redemption 2 is better in every way. Everything that the original Red Dead Redemption did, Red Dead 2 did it better. RDR2 wasn’t just more epic and cinematic in scope, it also gave you more to do, with a world that felt more vibrant and more alive and more brimming with secrets to discover. As well-regarded as the first Red Dead is, the simple fact is that the second one is one of the few games that’s even more acclaimed (and deservedly so).

But again, Red Dead Redemption is still an amazing game – and this Switch port shows why, which is a crazy achievement in and of itself. Plenty of other games of this size and scope have been ported over to the Switch, but I don’t think any of them have made the jump quite so well. The Witcher III, various games from both the Saints Row and Assassin’s Creed franchises, the Borderlands series, even the GTAIII trilogy – there’s a long list of open-world games that have been ported over to the Switch, and in pretty much all of them you can see the concessions that were made to get the games to run smoothly. That’s not the case here: Red Dead Redemption on the Switch looks stunning.

The game shows off what it can do right from the get-go. I’d forgotten how much of the early parts of Red Dead Redemption are spent with various townsfolk riding with John Marston across the vast, open plains of the Old West. While it obviously wasn’t intentional, these first stages serve as a showcase for what RDR can do on the Switch. There’s no horizons popping in and out of existence, there are no objects that become smudges on the screen the closer you get to them. Even the faces look like faces during cutscenes. The Switch version of Red Dead Redemption looks every bit as impressive as I remember it being, which is a monumental achievement.

It helps, too, that the gameplay still stands up, too. While there may not be as much to do in RDR as there is in its sequel, you still have a game that does a great job of offering players both a story you can sink your teeth into, and side stories and quests that you can devote hours upon hours to. I remember from my first go-around with this game that I never came close to finishing the story because of how often I got sidetracked by bounties and poker games and all the other side missions that make the game so much fun, and I’ll admit that this proved to be the case here, too. To be sure, the story is excellent, and John Marston is still a great character (brought to life thanks to his portrayal by voice actor Rob Wiethoff), but the reality is that even this relatively smaller game is still full of fun stuff to do.

All of this goes for Undead Nightmare, too. There’s more content to be found in this expansion pack then there is in some full games, and, as is the case with Red Dead Redemption itself, it mostly makes the transition over to the Switch unscathed.

Of course, that “mostly” is why some people might find this new version of Red Dead Redemption a little disappointing. Unlike the original versions, there are no multiplayer modes to be found here, which means that if you still have fond memories of playing fighting off hordes of zombies or forming posses, you won’t be able to recreate those moments here.

While I get why that may disappoint some people, as far as I’m concerned the larger point about this re-release still stands: Red Dead Redemption was a great game when it came out in 2010, and this proves it’s still a great game in 2023. While some classics from previous generations feel dated, that’s certainly not the case here – and if you missed it (or weren’t around for it) thirteen years ago, now’s the time to finally play it. And if you did play it? Maybe it’s time to play it again.

Rockstar Games provided us with a Red Dead Redemption Nintendo Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: A