Pick your path!
This write-up is about the PC video game, not the movie.
This is the first one of these I’ve written in maybe three years. The game itself dates from 1997 and could be considered vintage. Nonetheless, there are no problems installing it or playing it on a modern system with Windows XP.
The game was lauded nearly universally upon its release for many aspects. Its feel was one of the bigger things; it has succeeded mightily in capturing the urban hell and decay of the 1982 movie. As you play this game, and move between the rain-sodden and gloomy streets, you often feel you’re part of the film, acting out a parallel part to that of Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard. Which is precisely what you are doing.
It was also praised for its non-linear game play. You aren’t manoeuvred down a straight line in this game at all and you’re quite free to choose certain paths along the way which have an effect on the outcome of it. Westwood’s boast that you’ll never play the same game twice is reasonably true. While it was lauded for this, some reviewers also criticised it. You can’t please everyone.
Many of the actors who participated in the film returned to do voice-over work, namely Joe Turkel (Tyrell), Sean Young (Racheal), Edward James Olmos (Gaff), and Brion James (Leon). You never meet Deckard in game, but you can see his shooting range results if you pull them up back in Police HQ.
You play Ray McCoy, a rookie Blade Runner assigned to the Los Angeles Police Department. From the get-go, McCoy attempts a worldly and hard-boiled style a la the writing of Raymond Chandler, but as you progress, that some gives way to a more bewildered and ingenuous character. Things aren’t what they seem later on.
The game starts off with McCoy investigating an animal murder crime at Runciter’s. The murdering of animals in the Blade Runner universe, is a major crime, as nearly all animals are extinct. So, a lot of the in-game reactions you get from people about animal deaths or harm to animals evokes some pretty over-the-top responses.
From here, the game is pretty much up to you. You can hunt down replicants, or you can sympathise with them. The choice to either be with or against them is posited to you fairly early on, though the game may still diverge a little later. I sympathised with them.
The game is wonderfully moody, full of oddball loners and other types, all set against a huge metropolis that is largely abandoned. Scenes from the movie abound, like the huge displays on the sides of buildings, the boys on the bicycles, and the overall Chinese or Japanese feel. A great example of the oddball loner is J F. Sebastian (voiced by original actor William Sanderson), a genetic engineer who creates little cyborg like friends to keep him company.
Blade Runner is an adventure game with few action sequences, but the ones that are in it can be quite annoying. It takes a little bit of patience not to get McCoy killed freeing Moraji from the booby-trapped room and the rat on the ramp later on grates as well. So, it’s your choices and not how well you can twitch, that propel you through the game.