Blade Runner from developer Westwood has received more than its fair share of hype in its day, an element that often serves to polarize opinions. But in this case it was actually worth it – Blade Runner, as is often the case with Westwood products, is excellent, and does justice to the movie license it’s based upon. In this case the game is great even if you’re not a particular fan of the legendary 80s movie – it can stand on its own legs.
Blade Runner is set in a dark version of Los Angeles, circa 2019. Humanity has expanded into space, but earth itself has been ravaged by a legacy of pollution and war. Central to the theme of the story are the Replicants â€“ artificial constructs created by the genetic engineers of Tyrell Corp. Replicants are made illegal, and enforcement of this law is the domain of the police Blade Runner units, of which your character, Ray McCoy, is a part of.
The story itself starts simple but gets progressively darker and more entangled. While most adventure games consist of a linear series of obstacles which must be overcome to advance the story, Blade Runner focuses on creating situations within a continuous environment. Other characters move between different scenes on their own agendas, and while some of their movements and appearances are scripted, a surprising number of them are not. This exploration-heavy game is not a race, and while it does involve shooting, it’s not very combat-heavy.
As with any solid adventure, the artistry, story and characters reign supreme, and Blade Runner does better than most by providing an element of non-linearity through its incredibly detailed world. The choices the player makes have a serious impact on the story, which features not only a number of different endings but also a variety of twisting paths to reach those endings. Many events and choices are optional, and it is possible for the player to finish the game without meeting every character or visiting all of the game’s locations.
To take things one level further, the game randomizes which characters are actually Replicants at the start of each game, and conclusions the player has drawn in previous sessions will not necessarily be helpful in determining who to “retire” this time around. While Blade Runner isn’t the most replayable game ever, it is heads and shoulders beyond other adventure games in this respect.
The puzzles add much to the gameplay as well, and they’re well integrated. As a Blade Runner on an investigation, your goal is to collect evidence. The player is equipped with a PDA, which organizes and retains any clue or useful info. Information is as important as physical evidence, and advancing in the game is often a matter of finding the right person and asking him or her the right questions. Most of the puzzles are moderately challenging, although you will find a few really difficult ones mixed in as well.
If your a fan of adventures in need of a solid gaming experience – look no further. Westwood has done a great job creating this movie-to-game rendition, a feat that’s so often botched by lazy developers looking to make a quick buck. Not here.
System Requirements: Pentium 90 Mhz, 16 MB RAM, 175 MB HDD, Win95