Red Dead Redemption

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Red Dead Redemption Game Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Epic but adult Western game is definitely not for kids.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 97 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 130 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

This game glorifies Wild West violence and behavior stereotypical of outlaws of the era. If players stick with the spirit of the narrative, their characters’ aggression will be directed only at villains. But it is possible to take on criminal jobs and even shoot civilians, though there are penalties in the form of a more notorious reputation. Note, too, that while some of the main women in the game are liberal and intelligent, others are heavily sexualized.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Our hero is a reformed outlaw who is trying to pay for past crimes -- and save his wife and son, who are being held hostage by unscrupulous lawmen -- by hunting down the bandits he once rode with. He seems intelligent and honest by nature, though players have the option of directing him toward criminal activities. Regardless, he is a hard, violent man who plies his abilities with a gun to make his way through the world.

Ease of Play

Three levels of difficulty affect the ease with which players can target enemies, helping ensure that players of all skill levels will be able to find their footing in the game fairly quickly. The controls are sometimes complex, but always tight.


Gunfights involving rifles, pistols, and slow motion effects occur frequently. Players can also engage in visceral melee fights with knives. Characters are shown hanged and lying dead in ditches. Blood can be seen spurting from wounds and gathering in puddles on the ground. You will see a hung man who is naked with his genitals cut off. Characters yelp in pain when injured. Players can also skin and gut animals they kill in the wild, with blood spattering the screen.


The game contains a scene in which a man and woman have sex, with the woman’s breasts clearly visible. Another scene involves women who are about to be raped by bandits, though the crime is stopped before it is committed. Women who seem to be harlots dressed in provocative attire loiter around some buildings. A painting showing the back side of a naked woman hangs in a saloon. A naked man can be seen hanging from a barn, his genitals cut off.Cartoons that are shown at the cinema depict sexual acts.


A broad swath of profanity is clearly audible throughout the game. Examples include “s--t,” “f--k,” “bitch,” “damn,” “bastard,” “hell,” and “piss.”

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many of the game’s characters smoke and chew tobacco, and an article in a virtual newspaper discusses how frequent smoking can help stave off tuberculosis. Various kinds of liquor are on display in saloons, and the player’s character can order and become drunk on bourbon, which will cause him to stumble about and eventually fall down and pass out. Optional side missions involve couriering hard drugs, including opium.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Red Dead Redemption is a violent western game with very mature themes, and not suitable for kids or young teens. The action involves frequent gunfights that are both bloody and highly stylized. Players will also hunt and kill wild animals, then skin them with blood spattering the screen. Our hero, an ex-outlaw, is honest and good by design, but players can have him kill civilians (with a penalty in reputation) and take on criminal missions -- including drug running challenges -- if they choose. Tobacco and alcohol use occurs frequently, and their effects are made clear in the game. There is a sex scene in which a woman can be seen naked, and women in saloons are dressed provocatively. Foul language abounds in the dialogue, and players are at risk of being exposed to more should they try the online mode, which offers open voice communication. (Common Sense Media does not recommend online play with open voice communication to children under 12 years of age.)

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bygrahameberesford October 22, 2014

Great game, but a bigger deal than people make it out

Speaking as an adult, this is a great game...I loved it. It's fun, it's engaging, and the possibilities are endless. I've owned the game for we... Continue reading
Adult Written byChristina_Gibson April 7, 2019

Good game but be cautious

You have the ability to be a good person or a bad person the whole reason of the game is to change the character to a good person thus “redemption” they’re is v... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byctth75 April 24, 2011

Common sense?

Not for kids? Really? I'm sure if you want your parents to hate you and have them grow up a sad, lonely life you won't let them play this. Red Dead is... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bywhomadewho20 August 15, 2010
Great western game, but obviously made for older teens

What's it about?

The decidedly adult-oriented RED DEAD REDEMPTION, developed by the same people who make the Grand Theft Auto games, offers players an extraordinarily large, detailed, and authentic recreation of the Wild West circa 1911. Players take on the role of an ex-outlaw who must hunt down the bandits he once rode with in order to secure the safety of his wife and child, who have been taken hostage by corrupt lawmen. There are countless precursor and side missions for players to lose themselves in along the way, ranging from cattle herding and bronco busting to helping sheriffs round up or eliminate local thieves and murders. Strangers in need of help are everywhere, and there are also some criminal outfits that try to enlist the player’s help. An online mode provides the ability to freely roam the game’s massive world alone or with friends in the form of a posse. Players can also enter traditional deathmatch-style events.

Is it any good?

Few games aspire to the sort of scope achieved by Red Dead Redemption. The world players inhabit is breathtaking in its beauty, mind-boggling in its enormity, and almost incomprehensible in its level of authentic detail. Horses animate just like the real thing, clouds create shadows that roll over the landscape, faux newspapers contain complete articles and ads appropriate to the time and place, and characters chat with one another with marvellously authentic accents and dialects.

The things players can do in the game are even more impressive. Whether it’s living off the land by hunting and skinning wild animals, joining an armed posse to go save a homestead, or heading out onto the range to capture and break some wild stallions, there is never a dull moment or a shortage of activities. Adult gamers looking for something meaty, lengthy, and beautiful are in for a treat.

Online interaction: This game supports online play with open voice chat, which means players are free to use harsh language, exchange personal information, and share inappropriate ideas. Common Sense Media does not recommend online play for pre-teens.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the use of violence in this game. Would the game been as fun without the extreme violence, sex, and cussing?

  • Families can also discuss Red Dead Redemption’s depiction of women. Many of the female characters in the game are shallow and appear to be little more than harlots, but a few are given legitimate and even liberal personalities.

Game details

  • Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
  • Price: $59.99
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Rockstar Games
  • Release date: May 18, 2010
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • ESRB rating: M for Blood, Intense Violence, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs
  • Last updated: June 19, 2019

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