What kind of art is more quintessentially American than the Western? Stories of rugged journeys across vast, untamed landscapes; a lone rider casually tears through with the single focused aim of revenge and reclamation. These are images that uniquely dot the broad historical canvas of this country, which felt like a literally wide-open world.
In more recent years, the idealistic view of that Old West has fallen in and out of favor. Those who dare traverse this nationalized genre, now fraught with tensions hardly probed in its height, do so rarely. But when they do, like with the Red Dead Redemption series, we’re reminded of how the Western has the power to force us as players, readers and viewers to face our fears of the unknown, while also challenging our romantic notions of an unruly Wild West life.
In anticipation of another trek into the open world, Polygon is looking back at all things Western, taking us right up to the launch of Red Dead Redemption 2. —Allegra Frank