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Cyberpunk 2077 and Red Dead Redemption 2 altered my perception of life

Cyberpunk 2077 and Red Dead Redemption 2 altered my perception of life

Cyberpunk 2077 and Red Dead Redemption's doomed narratives inspired me to live

This article contains references to suicide.

We have perhaps all wondered what we would do if we were told our demise was imminent. The knowledge that we were doomed and our future had finally been decided would be a tough one to bear.

However, there was a time when this would have suited me just fine. The future that was undecided was a future that I couldn’t see happening at all and the only thing that felt doomed was that I had to live at all.

Despite this, and the reason I am here writing this today, is because there was still some part of me that remained stubborn. Or hopeful. Hopeful that there would be something worth living for one day and that by carrying on, the long and arduous journey might be worth it.

Fast forward some years and I found myself finally playing both Red Dead Redemption 2 and Cyberpunk 2077 in the year 2023. As with many colossal RPGs, I had put them off but some time off work saw me diving into both Arthur Morgan and V’s worlds respectively.

Red Dead Redemption 2 /
Rockstar Games

Other than both titles being RPGs and following the common format of the genre, the two don’t have much in common on the surface. Red Dead Redemption 2 follows ruffian gunslinger Arthur Morgan as he and his gang operate in 19th century America. On the other hand, Cyberpunk 2077 is set in the not-too-distant future as we take on the role of V, a mercenary who lives in the corrupted metropolis of Night City.

What I expected to be fun and surface-level gameplay soon turned into something more as the story of both protagonists continued, and it wasn’t long before I found myself relating to the pair.

Within the first hour or so of gameplay in Cyberpunk 2077 and past the halfway mark in Red Dead Redemption 2, both V and Arthur are told some life-altering news; they are going to die. V from a chip that has been placed in their head and now mimics that of a ticking time bomb and Arthur from the effects of tuberculosis.

Despite being separated by time and circumstance (and game studios), they are now both faced with what literature calls a doomed narrative.

Cyberpunk 2077 /
CD Projekt Red

A “doomed narrative” or a character that is “doomed by the narrative” is usually fated to die and are unable to change their fate in any way. Additionally, we as the player are also unable to change the outcome of the story, as much as we feel the need to try.

Although I am yet to come into contact with any virus-filled computer chips and am lucky enough to not have a terminal illness, I still know the feeling of doom well. I know the feeling of staring down the edge of the precipice after living with depression for over 10 years. I know it is inviting but oh so final.

When V and Arthur are handed their diagnoses, both the game and the player are asked one unspoken question: what now? When faced with the knowledge that everything they do from now can be considered for nothing, what now? Do we deem that there’s no point and shut down the game? Unlikely.

What I and many others in my position do is keep going.

Sure, I’m not going to attempt to topple a corrupt corporation like V (as much as I would like to) or even help everyone in need like Arthur. However, as much as those things can give your life meaning and a goal to achieve, I wanted to keep going for the small moments.

Much like when V sat around the campfire with the Aldecaldos and Arthur did much the same with the other members of the Van der Linde gang, I found myself following in their footsteps recently. It was in that moment that I felt connected to everybody who had come before me and everybody that would come after. All the billions of humans who had also sat around a campfire, under a canopy of stars and felt at peace.

Red Dead Redemption 2 /
Rockstar Games

When I first got diagnosed with depression, I tried in many ways to search for happiness, to still convince myself it was there but even things that made me happy before felt as though they were only visible through a veil. The despair ate at me and chased that happiness even further away.

However, now 10 years on and despite still living with depression, I have learned to stop chasing happiness and still settle for the quiet moments that remind me of why I decided to keep going.

Much like when V falls in love or finally comes to an understanding with Johnny Silverhand, or when they accept that they are but a cog in the great corrupt machine of Night City and yet keep trying to make it better. Or it is like Arthur who wordlessly accepts his diagnosis and his doomed fate and yet still lends a helping hand to his loved ones or enjoys a ride through the swamp lands on his mount.

Perhaps, at the end of the day, we are all doomed and perhaps, that is what makes life all the more beautiful. Maybe knowing that we will one day cease to exist is the reason the sunset never gets any less breathtaking or we keep trying to make our loved ones laugh despite hearing it a thousand times.

It is the doomed narrative, such as V’s and Arthur’s, and their willingness to keep trying anyway that have inspired me, as a gamer and as a human, to do the same.

Featured Image Credit: CD Projekt Red, Rockstar Games

Topics: CD Projekt Red, Cyberpunk 2077, PC, PlayStation, Red Dead Redemption, Red Dead Redemption 2, Rockstar Games, Xbox, Opinion