Review – Red Dead Redemption (Switch)

I am possibly one of, like, six people who had never played Red Dead Redemption prior to the re-release of the game on more modern platforms. As a result, these new ports did look interesting at first glance, at least to me. I even had a sizeable amount of cashback credit on my eShop account to bite the bullet without paying a stupendously idiotic price tag asked by Take-Two, deemed “totally fair” by its CEO. So if you are here looking for a nostalgia-filled love letter to the original release, you’re not going to find it here. I am reviewing Red Dead Redemption as a first-timer. Off we go.

Red Dead Redemption John Marston


Reviewing this game in 2023 feels like a retro rewind, because in all honesty, Rockstar did the absolute bare minimum in terms of remastering efforts. I can’t even call this Nintendo Switch version of Red Dead Redemption a remaster at all. It runs at 1080p in docked and 720p in portable modes, and that’s basically all of the improvements when compared to the original releases, as per information provided by outsiders. As a result, sure, the visuals are indeed dated. The mechanics feel dated. There’s still a fantastic game for 2010 standards in here, but there are also some elements which have aged horrendously, and if you have ever played a Rockstar game from that era, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Oh boy, these Rockstar controls. How did I put up with those when playing Grand Theft Auto IV (and completing it a whopping four times) back in the day? The clunky character movement, mandatory tapping of the B button in order for protagonist John Marston to not move like a snail with a hangover, equally clunky horse riding controls, and off-putting physics. Everyone feels heavy, just like Niko Bellic did in GTA IV. The problem lies in the obvious lack of modern vehicles, so having to put up with dated horse riding mechanics in order to traverse the immense (and somewhat empty) map the game provides can be tough at first.

Red Dead Redemption combat

Gotta love slowing down time in order to aim and shoot precisely, like I’m Clint Eastwood or something.

On the other hand, I don’t think I have ever played a Rockstar game with better shooting/combat mechanics. It’s not just because of the excellent “focus” feature, which allows you to slow down time and blast enemies with precision, like how a badass gunslinger would. Shooting feels precise, and each shot feels impactful. Each bullet expelled from your revolver packs a punch, shaking the screen a bit, sounding like a cannon. Given how Red Dead Redemption feels a bit more limited in its scope than Grand Theft Auto, for obvious reasons, turning each gunfight into a memorable confrontation was a smart decision.

There’s something about how Rockstar designs its open worlds that makes them interesting to explore and waste time on. Unlike Ubisoft sandboxes, I like branching out of the main path in order to look for new sidequests and bounties. I kept on coming back to the overly linear and limited main missions for the strong storytelling as well. Granted, Red Dead Redemption is not a cathartic sandbox like GTA is, but it more than makes up for these shortcomings with excellent characters, story sections, and voice acting. And don’t even get me started on the phenomenal Morricone-esque soundtrack.

Red Dead Redemption bounty

They say dead or alive, but we’re here for the carnage. Dead it is.

But yeah, even though this is, at its core, a really good game, it is a really good game for 2010 standards. The Switch is not a powerhouse by any means, but even this dated portable can do a lot better. I am glad that this port of Red Dead Redemption is completely glitch-free and its framerate is stable, but it’s stable at 30fps. It still looks like a game from 2010, and even then, there were titles from the era that looked better. Excusable if you just decide to play it in portable mode, as it runs well there as well, but character models and animations feel jurassic for today’s standards. John Marston’s running animation makes it look like he needs to take a dump.

Finally, the big, fat, cataclysmic elephant in the room: the price tag. Fifty bucks for a port of a game from 2010 is way too much. There is a lot of content, sure, but given how you can find copies of Red Dead Redemption for the Xbox 360 for less than ten bucks, and play them via backwards compatibility on the Series S and X to this very day, what warrants this pathetic asking price? Especially after the release of Nightdive’s pristine remaster of Quake II, complete with improved visuals, performance, and even new campaigns, all for a FIFTH of the asking price.

Red Dead Redemption open world

There are lots of old town roads to take your horse to.

This game has aged a lot. Although I did have fun with Red Dead Redemption, I can’t help but think this is just a bit below the average of what we expect from a 2023 title being released at a ludicrously premium price. Having this on-the-go, whilst a novel concept, is a bit detrimental to its epic, movie-like plot and structure. This benefits from being played on a bigger screen, and by doing so, it looks a bit worse. Not to mention the fact its controls and physics are simply too clunky, even for Xbox 360 standards. In short, this might not exactly be a bad game (quite the opposite), but I cannot recommend it. It’s just not worth fifty bucks.


Graphics: 7.0

With the exception of an increase in resolution, this is exactly the same Red Dead Redemption from more than a decade ago. Excusable if you just decide to play it on portable mode, as it runs well there, but character models and animations feel jurassic for today’s standards.

Gameplay: 6.5

How did we put up with these dated Rockstar control schemes for so long? Even though the game is responsive, being forced to constantly tap a button to run is a ludicrous decision, even for its time.

Sound: 9.0

The excellent voice acting and Morricone-esque soundtrack are the game’s main highlights.

Fun Factor: 7.0

It has a good story, and its map is fun to explore. There is a ton of empty space in it, however, and you can help but feel like you’re just playing a really overpriced port of a game that just hasn’t aged that magnificently as others from the same generation.

Final Verdict: 7.0

Red Dead Redemption is available now on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.