In 1997, Westwood Studios, creators of the legendary Command & Conquer series, released Blade Runner, a point-and-click adventure based on Ridley Scott’s influential 1982 sci-fi film. This clever and atmospheric detective game was highly critically acclaimed at the time, but soon faded into obscurity. Complicated licensing issues meant it was never republished, so it went virtually out of print, and even if you did own a copy, you had to wrestle with Windows to get it to work properly. These days, however, it’s a very different story. The game has been available on GOG since 2019, allowing you to play it hassle-free on Mac, Linux, and PC. Better yet, starting today you have even more ways to play it thanks to a new remaster from Nightdive Studios. Westwood’s forgotten classic is now playable on PlayStation and Switch, making it more accessible than ever.
In the Blade Runner game, you play as Ray McCoy, an android-hunting LAPD detective who is the complete opposite of Harrison Ford’s jaded Rick Deckard. Deckard was a cynical and washed-up veteran who was forced to retire against his will; McCoy is a relatively fresh rookie who loves his job. Both characters share a love of sleek trench coats, blaster pistols, and dimly lit apartments, but they couldn’t be more different. After a mysterious killer kills a store full of pets, a crime on par with homicide in Blade Runner’s dystopian vision of the future, McCoy finds himself hunting down a group of rogue replicants: synthetic humans outlawed on Earth. As a Blade Runner, McCoy’s job is to ‘remove’ them, a euphemism for execution, which is easier said than done when they have superhuman strength and intelligence.
Blade Runner is a point-and-click adventure game in the classic ’90s mold, but with a greater focus on detective work. It’s more about interviewing witnesses, looking for clues, following clues, and analyzing crime scenes than it is about combining random items to solve wacky puzzles. There are no rubber chickens with pulleys inside here. Occasionally you can draw your pistol and chase down a fleeing replicant, but for the most part it’s a thoughtful, slow-burn game where you spend a lot of time wandering the rainy, neon-lit streets of Los Angeles. The intentionally languid pace mirrors that of the film itself, which is just one of the countless ways Westwood perfectly captured the look, feel and sound of the source material. The game has the dreamy setting, brooding tone, and palpable sense of loneliness that makes the film so profoundly compelling.
There is also an intriguing dynamic that gives the game an unpredictable element. There are clues that can be missed, characters that can leave a location before you have a chance to talk to them, and timed and random events. It’s possible to miss a meeting with Tyrell and Rachael, the film’s two main characters, voiced by original actors Joe Turkel and Sean Young, if you don’t speak to someone at a specific time. A video game would never do that today. By the way, kudos to Westwood for bringing together most of the original cast. Brion James (Leon), James Hong (Chew), and William Sanderson (JF Sebastian) appear as his iconic characters. But the coolest feature is how, every time you start a new game, it randomly decides which of the main cast are replicants. There is also some ambiguity as to whether, like Deckard, McCoy himself is secretly an android.
The game also lets you get your hands on future technology that steals scenes from the movie, including the ESPER and Voight-Kampff machines. The first allows you to move within the photographs to discover clues; the latter detects whether someone is a replicant or not through the use of questions and statements that arouse emotions. Both are perfectly recreated, as is Los Angeles itself. Each pre-rendered background is drenched in atmosphere and detail, brought to life with animated details like flashing neon billboards, roving spotlights, backlit fans (a Ridley Scott classic), and the relentless, heavy rain that is so crucial to the future of photography. movie. film noir feel. Add in Vangelis’ beautiful and haunting musical score (expertly recreated by Westwood’s in-house composer Frank Klepacki) and you’re left with one of the most powerfully atmospheric video games ever created.
So yes, it is safe to say that I am a huge fan of the Blade Runner game. I’ve played the PC version maybe 20 times over the years, which made me particularly intrigued to see how Nightdive would handle this long-awaited remaster. Playing the Switch version, I was delighted to discover that it’s incredibly faithful and largely untouched. Previously rendered backgrounds have been smoothed out, but the voxel rough character models are the same as ever. night dive could I’ve redone these, but I like them the way they are. They are part of the grungy and distinctive aesthetic of the game. Personally, I prefer a remaster to retain the original art style of a game, and that’s the case here. It basically looks the same as it did in ’97, which, to be fair, might put off some first-time players. It will be interesting to see how it is received by a new audience.
Nightdive has done a fantastic job of mapping this previously PC-only game onto a gamepad. It retains the original point-and-click interface, but the cursor moves smoothly with the analog stick, and I like how it slows down a bit when you pass an interaction point. However, the new user interface is a bit disappointing. KIA’s interface (where you can sort and analyze the clues you’ve discovered) has been tidied up and improved, but the menus, subtitles, and dialog boxes are so basic they seem like temporary placeholders. Just plain text and boxes. The game has such a strong and defined aesthetic that it only highlights how disconcertingly under-designed this aspect of the remake is. I also found some cutscene interruptions, audio skipping, and minor visual glitches on Switch, but nothing that actively ruined the experience. These things could be patched.
I understand that some people might have expected more from this remaster. Improved audio, updated 3D models, or maybe a shiny new UI. It’s certainly not on the level of Nightdive’s amazing Quake remaster. But I don’t mind if it’s basic, because I think people should experience Blade Runner the way it was. What’s great about this re-release is that the game can now be easily played on non-computer platforms. It means more people can play it, on a TV or handheld, which alone is worth celebrating. I’ve been playing it on my OLED Switch in undocked mode and it looks and feels great. For years, Blade Runner has been a cult classic, but now it may just be a classic. It took too long to get to this point, but I’m glad I made it in the end. Westwood Studios may be long gone, like tears in the rain, ‘retired’ by EA, but this is a fitting tribute to their legacy.
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