Blade Runner is a Westwood Studios game based on the 1982 film of the same name. Released in 1997, the game was advertised as "the first real-time adventure game". The story features Blade Runner Ray McCoy hunting replicants in Los Angeles, California in the year 2019.
It is generally agreed that the game's graphics and sound (music composed by Frank Klepacki) succeeded in adapting the cult film's haunting atmosphere. The designers' attempt at innovating game-play such as simplifying the interface, adding action elements, replacing a traditional inventory with a database of clues, randomization of some events as well as multiple endings were innovative at the time, garnering critical acclaim.
In March 2020, a remastered version by Nightdive Studios, Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition, was announced for PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, due to release on digital storefronts. Physical copies will be released in limited supply by Limited Run Games. Initially planned for a 2020 release, the game was later delayed to an unspecified date.
Background and Plot
Spoiler warning: Plot or ending details follow.
The game is based on the 1982 movie of the same name. It is set not long after the beginning of the movie (we can see this as Eldon Tyrell hasn't been killed yet and Holden had been attacked and taken out of commission). In an optional meeting with Tyrell, he mentions that he had already spoken to another Blade Runner earlier, implying it was Deckard.
In November 2019, Ray McCoy, a rookie Blade Runner under command of Lieutenant Guzza, investigates a case of animal murder that turns out to be a part of a larger plot that involves replicants that have escaped to Earth. True to the film, the environment is a dystopian, heavily polluted Los Angeles, brought to life by the fledgling 3D Real Time technology of the day. The player is given the opportunity to visit landmarks from the movie, such as the dominating Tyrell pyramid structures, the Yukon Hotel and Bradbury Apartments.
McCoy is faced with the task of tracking down a group of rogue replicants and retiring them. The game is unique to the point and click genre in that it begins in a highly complicated fashion and continues that way until the game's conclusions. You progress through a number of crime scenes, in which you must gather evidence, this is a matter of being highly observant of surroundings as well as using techniques typical of detectives. The clues gathered are all kept in one place, the KIA database, in-game.
Player choices and randomization made by the game itself change the story-line, with the result being one of the game's thirteen different endings:
- McCoy hunts down the replicants
- McCoy sides with the replicants
- McCoy's sides with neither; he leaves the city:
- With Dektora
- With Lucy
Divergence from the film
In the 1982 movie, it was made clear by Dr. Tyrell, the creator of replicants himself, that lengthening the lifespan of an already-made Nexus-6 was technically impossible. This theory was the key assumption of the movie.
However, in the game, there is a possible 'happy ending' for replicants. If McCoy sides with the replicants and manages to piece together all 4 key pieces of Nexus-6 DNA information from different top Tyrell scientists, namely Eldon Tyrell, Marcus Eisenduller, J.F. Sebastian and Luther and Lance, Clovis will be able to (or at least he claims to) restore the normal lifespan for any Nexus 6s. This ending is not canon, and it is not known whether Clovis eventually succeeded with his experiment. After all, it could just be another false hope for the optimistic replicants.
Variables at the Start
When the game is started a few random variables are determined. The variables generated will determine which endings are available. All the variables are related to whether a given character is a replicant or human, and the final replicant of act 3.
Lucy - Human or Replicant
Dektora - Human or Replicant
Gordo - Human or Replicant
Izo - Human or Replicant
Sadik - Human or Replicant
Act III Final Replicant - Dektora, Lucy or Gordo.
These are all randomly generated, so it is possible that all these characters could be replicants or all, except one, could be human. There must be at least one replicant of this group because the final encounter in Act III is always a replicant.
Investigation and Combat
Clues are found by searching crime scenes and areas in general, the first such scene being a trashed pet shop. Clues come in the form of items, photographs, personal interviews or unusual markings. One can also use the ESPER system, located in the police precinct and in McCoy's apartment, to enhance photos, potentially finding some crucial information. Blade Runner can become very difficult as it requires some deductive skills to solve the difficult puzzles.
Combat in Blade Runner is occasional and extremely simplistic. There is one weapon in the game; Ray's standard issue police pistol. However different varieties of ammunition are available.
"Real Time" System
In 1997 when the game was released, Westwood promoted the game's then-unique "Real Time" system, which mainly comprises a series of scripted character paths and events; which should in theory add up to a highly replayable game. The game also includes considerable randomization of certain events, but ultimately these do not have a major effect. The alignment of certain characters (whether they are human or replicant) also varies between playthroughs, and an experienced player can tell what certain characters will be from the evidence collected - e.g. whether McCoy perceives a suspect as an expert or amateur bomber. The game includes four different endings, some of which vary slightly depending on choice. Much akin to Philip K Dick's writing (or many crime novels), the game deceives and confuses the player intermittently, before eventually allowing them to witness Ray's destiny.
The Blade Runner video game is notable for its accurate, even lovingly imitated environments and for remaining quite true to Philip K. Dick's novel. The game is in some ways even truer to the book, in that Ray McCoy is more troubled by his identity than the film version of Deckard - much like the book's version of said character. Ray laments through a character named Lucy, who faces a similar dilemma; the theme is carried further by the many choices the player can make for Ray, which determine his eventual fate. Unusually for games of that era, Blade Runner has full voice acting for all dialogue. Puzzle solving is a major element of the game: one must solve a number of compulsory puzzles and find a number of clues in order to progress the game's story-line.
The soundtrack for Blade Runner, composed by Vangelis, was allowed to be used for the game. However, Westwood Studios was not granted access to the master recordings and had to remake them by ear alone. The game's composer, Frank Klepacki, created a soundtrack that remains lovingly faithful to the film's and, like the movie, adds to the atmosphere of the world, while also creating new, original tracks that fit in well.
- Mark Benninghoffen as
- Ray McCoy
- Male Announcer
- Lisa Edelstein as Crystal Steele
- Mark Rolston as
- Vincent Schiavelli as Bullet Bob
- Stephen Root as Early Q
- Alexander Mervin as
- Bruno N. Oliver as Gordo Frizz
- Signy Coleman as Dektora
- Jeff Garlin as
- Lieutenant Guzza
- Early Q Bartender
- Pauley P as Lucy Devlin
- Tim Dang as Izo
- Joe Kucan as Crazylegs
- Jason Cottle as
- Luther & Lance
- Michael McShane as
- Tom Jourden as Spencer Grigorian
- Victor Gardell as Gaff
- Warren Burton as
- Tyrell Guard
- Toru Nagai as Howie Lee
- Mark Worden as Baker
- Jerry Kernion as Holloway
- Gerald Okamura as Zuben
- Tony Mitch as Governor Kolvig
- Gloria Hoffman as Mia
- Jerry Lane as Murray
- Iqbal Theba as Moraji
- Anthony Izzo as Officer Leary
- Joseph Zeoli as Officer Grayford
- Myriam Tupert as Insect Dealer
- Billy Wade as Hanoi
- Richard Kimmel as Desk Clerk
- Karen Maruyama as Fish Dealer
- Martin Azarow as Dino Klein
- Stephen Sorrentino as
- Shoeshine Man
- Gwen Castaldi as
- Jessica Straus as
- Answering Machine
- Female Announcer
- Rosalyn Sidewater as Isabella
- Gary Colombo as General Doll
- Ron Snow as Blimp Announcer
- Sean Young as Rachael
- Joseph Turkel as Eldon Tyrell
- James Hong as Hannibal Chew
- Brion James as Leon Kowalski
- William Sanderson as J.F. Sebastian
- Lloyd Bell
- DeMarlo Lewis
- Dwight Okahara
- Eric Gooch
- Mike Grayford
- Shelly Johnson
- Jim Walls
- Jennifer Hoge
- Gerald Deloff
- Gary Freeman
- Kia Huntzinger
- Michael Legg
- Sandra Wang
- Melonie Wang
- Tse Cheng Lo
- Mohanned Mansour
- Etsuko Mader
- Blade Runner on GOG.com
- Blade Runner Zone – Hosted by BRmovie.com
- BladeZone – Blade Runner the Game
- BRmovie.com – Blade Runner FAQ
- GameRankings reviews