Blade Runner. Westwood Studios (1997) PC

Cards on the table, I love this game. It has taken me about 10 years to get it working again and in that time my enthusiasm never dipped. I can take or leave the film, but the game. Yes please.

Story

Occurring at the same time as the Blade Runner movie, Blade Runner is set in L.A 2019. The distant future…

Acting as a side-sequel, events of the film are mentioned in passing and a number of plot points from the game tie in with the film. However, the game is it’s own story and many of the original cast reprise their roles from the film.

You take on the role of Ray McCoy a newly appointed Blade Runner, and the game starts with you investigating the murder of some animals. The story will take you to many of the films locations such as; China Town, Sebastian’s Lab, and Animoid Row, and these have been beautifully rendered for your viewing pleasure. For a PC game released in 1997, the graphics hold up surprisingly well if you ignore the pixelly faces.

Good splotchy Mr Splotchy

The graphics were achieved by using Voxels instead of Pixels, it allowed the developers to make a pre-rendered background with 3d character models that don’t clash quite as badly as they did in games like Final Fantasy VII.

The Voice Acting cast is pretty good too, Lisa Edelstein (Cuddy from House) plays Crystal Steel the badass Blade Runner you encounter throughout. Lt Guzza is played by Jeff Garlin, Clovis the main antagonist is played by Mark Rolston (Drake from Aliens, or Bogs from Shawshank Redemption), and Lucy Devlin, the girl who the story takes shape around is played by Abby from NCIS (Pauley Perrette).

So expect a well thought out story, that looks good, and has pretty solid Voice Acting – before the A-Listers started whoring all the VA jobs.

Point and Click to shoot…

Gameplay

Blade Runner is a Point and Click/Adventure game, you move from screen to screen searching for clues, make enough progress and you will be allowed to move on to the next section. However, what I love about Blade Runner is that none of this is ever obtuse. You don’t have to apply adventure game logic to a situation. You ask people questions, and you search for clues, it is all very simple and you rarely hit a roadblock to progress.

You can miss clues, and you can annoy people with your line of questioning which means certain paths will lock themselves. But, at the same time there are dozens of potential paths so the game feels open and organic. You don’t have to tie up EVERY loose end to proceed, if you have a shitty item in your inventory you *CAN* find out it’s purpose, or you could treat it as a shitty item that you didn’t really need. This mechanic rewards exploration and intuition, but also allows players to be lazy and ignore things and still progress.

The Green Arrow means something is clicky!

Ultimately, all items and clues have a use, but if you ask the wrong person the wrong question you block yourself off on one strand of the story, but not all strands.

All of this builds, and the ultimate outcome is around 20 very different endings. If you have seen the film, and the *MANY* director’s cut of the film then you can aim for one of *those* endings. Or, there are different endings. I saved a lot on my playthroughs, it meant I could reload earlier points and try for different endings. It is a nice touch, and it means that you’re not Fallout 3’d into an awful binary choice 3 seconds before the ending.

Heeeeeeyyyy, I recognise you!

Getting the damn game to work

A slightly off-piste section for our site, but Blade Runner can be a massive pain to get working, especially on 64bit Windows. So if you scoot on over to www.replaying.de there will be a patch/installer that’ll get everything working for you.

Difficulty

Blade Runner is a fun game, and as mentioned, it doesn’t rely on obtuse puzzles. However, there are some instadeath sections that can annoy you if you don’t save often. For example; in the sewers, you need to kill things in a specific spot to avoid a bridge collapsing. It isn’t obtuse, but if you don’t know it is coming it could set you back.

The Voight-Kampff machine makes an appearance, and you get to run tests on people. You can annoy people with too many hard questions, so that they refuse to answer anymore, closing off storylines. Or you can spook a Replicant so they’ll run off before you can administer the test. Again, this rewards skilled players, but doesn’t punish the newbs making the game very accessible.

On these tests you ask a series of questions, and the perp answers them, if you ask enough questions, and the right balance of questions you’ll get a result. Again, failing on these tests doesn’t prevent you from continuing, it just closes off certain paths.

If you got the optimum path on a playthrough I reckon you’d beat the game in about 4 hours, otherwise it should take around 6-8 hours.

It took me a while to realise how to do this properly…

Conclusion

Blade Runner is probably my favourite Point and Click, it doesn’t have the same humour as Grim Fandango, but that doesn’t stop it being almost as awesome.

The soundtrack is faithfully reproduced (they weren’t allowed to use the original film recordings in the game), meaning the game also sounds almost exactly like the movie.

And with 20 different endings it means Blade Runner has tonnes of reasons to replay. Be it Voight-Kampff-ing to your hearts content, Murdering every disgusting Rep out there, or becoming some libtard Rep Sympathiser, if you want to do it, you can.

Very rarely do you get an open story that actually allows you to choose your own path, and Blade Runner was one of the first to do it right that I’m aware of. To be honest, I can’t think of many games to have done it better either.

Pros: 20 Endings, no obtuse puzzles, dozens of potential paths to go down at any one time, looks like Blade Runner, Sounds like Blade Runner. Is Blade Runner

Cons: The story with Lucy is a little bit pedo…

93%

Back in the day:

The reviews were all over the shop for Blade Runner. Despite winning many “Best Adventure Game” awards, the scores varied from 75s to 93%. It was criticised for being too easy compared to other point and clicks, while also being praised for the multiple endings.

 

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2 thoughts on “Blade Runner. Westwood Studios (1997) PC

    • I’ve never really been a fan of the film, but the game was the first Point and click I played that I got into. Only in later life I’ve had the patience for P&C.

      I love that you can fail on things and progress, and that the game adapts to you.

      Liked by 1 person

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