Blade Runner is perhaps the pinnacle of science-fiction movies and it's only right that a lovingly crafted game be made from a team that respects the source material. Thankfully Westwood Studio's 1997 attempt is a fantastically crafted adventure that's yearning for an modern update.
The game's story doesn't replicate the film's layered dystopian noir, but runs parallel with it. You are Ray McCoy, a rookie Blade Runner tasked with tracking down and retiring a load of replicants (artificially intelligent cyborg robots). Along the way, you will visit locations and meet characters from the film as you shadow Harrison Ford's replicant cop Dekkard during the same time-frame. Some characters will comment on events from the movie, for example, Rachel will be visibly irate when you ask her for a Void-Kampf test as Dekkard himself had examined her only moments ago. It's a great technique that brings you into a cohesive Blade Runner world than a straight re-telling ever could.
I don't want to give too much of the plot away as it is an experience that all players should discover for themselves. Not only does it takes you to different places than the neon original, but it's different every time you play. When you begin a new game, the replicants are assigned to random characters. In one play-through, one of the characters will be outed as a non-human, while in another you may not meet them at all. This will lead to up to 15 different endings which can vary drastically.
The graphics are excellent and still hold today, barring a few low-res niggles. The backgrounds are pre-rendered with character models rendered using voxels, a type of 3D rendering that can get a lot of detail out of modest PCs. The downside to this is that they look very pixellated the larger they get which makes some screens show their age.
Throughout your adventure, you'll be able to make use of several pieces of equipment that were memorably featured in the movie. As well as the aforementioned Void-Kampf machine, the Esper can scan 3D images and allow you to search for details in that snapshot of time. Both of these are immensely satisfying and the geek in me can't help but let out a squeal of joy every time I use them.
It's very easy for me to be nostalgia blind to this game - it took up a lot of my time when it first came out and both it and the movie remain amongst my favourites in their formats - but I would be amiss if I didn't mention some of the negative, however minor. Let's begin with the randomised elements of the game. Upon release, many people didn't like the fact that they couldn't get the 'good' ending if the game didn't see fit for you to meet a certain person. I take this as a minor flaw as I quite enjoyed replaying the game like I enjoy re-watching a favourite movie. I don't feel like you have to meet every person or get the best ending every time - the Empire Strikes back was no less of a movie for ending on a downer.
The other flaw that critics liked to point out is the combat. While brief and serving only as a mild change of pace, there are some segments which play a little like a shooting gallery. Your cursor will turn red once you take out your gun and you can shoot in certain situations. It's pretty clunky and barebones, but it is sparingly used. It adequately suits its purpose for an adventure game.
All negatives can easily be put aside by the enormous amount of things it does right. It is one of the best adventure games out there and can easily hold it's head up as the best movie adaptation ever to grace our gaming screens.
As of 17th December 2019, Blade Runner is now available to buy on GOG.
Buy from GOG
Blade Runner (the game) is © Westwood Studios
Blade Runner (the movie) is © Warner Bros
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me