High strangeness and bewildering happenstance is found in all areas of life. So to can they be found in video games, especially in ones developed by Rockstar Games. Their expansive open-worlds hide all manner of weird moments, from aliens to chainsaw wielding madmen. Here are my top five mysteries and urban legends in Rockstar games.
There are spoilers for the following games: RDR, RDR2, GTA V and GTA: San Andreas.
5. The Time Traveler
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a massive, beautiful and teeming with eerie mysteries. One of the lighter, but no less mysterious moments in the western epic is that of Francis Sinclair. Arthur meets Francis just outside of Valentine in a wooden cabin. Right of the bat, you can tell Mr Sinclair doesn’t quite belong. Sporting an east coast accent reminiscent of a 1920s carnival barker. Arthur is asked to trace a series of carvings found all over the map that appear to show a more advanced society.
Upon completing the lengthy task, Arthur returns to the humble wooden cabin to find a young mother, baby in arms – no Francis. Our protagonist is informed that no man has ever lived there, but her young son’s name is Francis. Confused, Arthur finds an image that appears to show that Sinclair is indeed a time traveller who’s travelled through time (perhaps through the GTA universe). Presumably, he required the traced images to travel back to his time, escaping the harshness of the western frontier.
4. Do You Know Gavin?
Ah, yes… Gavin. Where is he? Who is he? We don’t have any official conclusion to Red Dead Redemption 2’s most famous mystery, but we do have some theories. For those reading who haven’t played the game, let me tell you a bit about the mystery. Throughout Arthur’s tale, he’ll continually come across an Englishman named Nigel, searching for his missing friend, Gavin. The man pops up in the likeliest and unlikeliest places, growing more manic with each meeting. There is no side-mission, no amusing content for Arthur to partake and by the time the game ends, we are none the wiser.
Some claim that Gavin is the boy found shackled in the basement of the Rhode’s Gunsmith. Others insist he was the unlucky visitor to a cave populated by the O’Driscoll gang. If you put Nigel out of his misery, you find a letter in his pocket that gives us a better idea of who Nigel was. The correspondence involves Nigel claiming that he and a friend named Tom have struck it rich in the West. This a lie of course, but it does leave us without a satisfying conclusion to Gavin’s whereabouts. For my money, Gavin doesn’t exist within the game. This was simply Rockstar doing what they do best – creating enticing stories.
3. The Murder Of Lenora Johnson
Whether real or fiction, murder mysteries have never been more popular. If you spend any time on GTA V’s mock internet, you no doubt came across the decades-old murder of Lenora Johnson. The fate of the young woman is grisly. She was raped and then murdered, but the culprit was never caught. If you type ‘who killed Lenora Johnson?’ Into the Eyefind search engine, you’ll be met with a list of evidence and leads, some conspiratorial. Those familiar with Los Angeles murder history will spot the parallels between Lenora and Elizabeth Short, The Black Dahlia.
Taking an interest, in this case, will see you becoming a gumshoe detective, searching for fifty scraps of paper that will lead you to the culprit of this heinous crime. It’s a tedious task that I presume few people completed when the game first released. However, if you can work through the tedium, the outcome is satisfying. In the end, we find that a man named Peter Dreyfus, who tortured, raped and mutilated Lenora. Dreyfus spent years tormenting Lenora’s family, going so far as to send her severed lips in the mail. As Franklin, you then have the choice to spare Dreyfus or shoot the scumbag in the head. Guess what choice I made?
2. Bigfoot – Friend Or Foe?
By far the most famous mystery in the history of Rockstar Games is the existence of the missing link, Bigfoot himself. This mystery begins all the way back in 2004, with the release of GTA: San Andreas. To understand how the Bigfoot myth came about, you must first understand how significant GTA: San Andreas was for gamers. The state of San Andreas was vast and with that came an air of mysticism and intrigue. Early Internet forums began sharing their run-ins with Sasquatch. Player’s explored the massive forestry area that took up a large part of the game map, but sightings were rare.
Despite being nothing but an internet rumour, many (including myself) took Bigfoot’s existence within the game as fact. This myth, along with the ‘hot coffee’ mod, has crystallised San Andreas in the history of video games. Years later we received Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare which finally gave us the answer to whether Bigfoot(s) existed – the answer was a resounding yes! In the mission ‘Birth of the Conservation Movement’, John Marston comes across a frontiersman shooting through the trees at a fleeing target. The man claims to be hunting the legendary Sasquatch, which Marston then attempts himself.
We expect to find a hulking monster who eats children, but what we find is much diffident. Sobbing beside a tree we find a sad wretch of a creature who explains that his kind has been hunted to extinction and that he is the last of hist species. It’s a melancholic scene that makes you question preconceived notions you make about difference. You’re left with two choices – walk away, leaving the poor creature to wander the world alone, or kill him, effectively wiping out the species. What started as a quirky theory on a forum has now begun a philosophical and moral question. Touché, Rockstar.
1. The Stranger
Perhaps no mystery has caused as much conversation and theories as the moustachioed man in black that John Marston meets early in Red Dead Redemption. Clad in top hat and tails, the man appears almost apathetic to the presence of John, though he seems to know a lot about his past life in the Van Der Linde gang. As Marston insists the man identify himself, the mysterious figure asks John whether he remembers the death of Hattie McCourt, a woman who was killed in the gang’s last big score.
Our black-clad friend pops up in the most unlikely places, from Mexico to West Elisabeth. In John’s last meeting with the man in black, days before his heartbreaking death, he loses his temper with the vagueness of the man’s answers. As he walks into the distance John shoots at him, but his bullets have no effect. There is a simple answer to who the man in black is. His dress and manner suggest either the personification of Death or even the Devil itself. Some have posited that he is the manifestation of John Marston morality as in their first meeting, the stranger claims that John has forgotten “far more than me”, suggesting a prior acquaintance of sorts.
For my money, this mysterious stranger is the Grim Reaper. He claims his profession is accountancy, which, considering the job of Death to decide whichever afterlife you deserve, depending on your deeds in life, seems to fit. There are Easter eggs in Red Dead Redemption 2 concerning the stranger, but none provide an official answer to the man’s true identity. I wish that Arthur Morgan had had a run-in with the stranger before his fate caught up with him, as that would’ve suggested the Death personified theory. Perhaps we’ll never know.
These five mysteries are far from the only ones to boggle the mind of Rockstar fans. There’s the Los Santos slasher, the Mount Chiliad conspiracy and many more. What are your favourite Rockstar games mysteries? Be sure to let us know in the comments down below. Until next time, keep watching the skies.