Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition is a remaster of the 1997 classic PC adventure game by Westwood Studios. The Enhanced Edition was developed by Nightdive Studios, which has a large history of delivering excellent remasters. For the most part, I think this one is no different. The game has an engrossing story, and while it may not be for adventure players that like a challenge, for a person who just wants an excellent story to dig into, it delivers. For a movie game, it’s accurate and faithful to the source material with many aspects directly from the film. To put it simply, I enjoyed this game so much that I did end up watching the movie.
Story – How To Do a Movie Game
Blade Runner isn’t an actual film adaptation, but rather the game’s events happen at the same time as the movie’s. The lead protagonist is Ray McCoy, a rookie Blade Runner who investigates a case of Animal Murder by suspected replicants at Runciter’s Zoological. Several suspects come into the fray, but as the game continues, more revelations come, and the line between what is right and wrong is blurred.
The writing and voice acting are absolutely stellar, especially when considering the era this game came out. 1997 was when most voice acting in games was terrible, but Blade Runner definitely stands out and still holds up today. The game has plenty of attention to detail to events from the film. Several characters return, with most having the same actor playing them from the movie. As well, several locations are almost identical to shots from the film. As a movie game, it definitely does justice to the source material and expands upon it.
A big question in the movie was whether or not Deckard was a replicant. Well, this game takes that even further. You have the choice as McCoy to believe you are a replicant or a human, drastically affecting the story. Also, many of the characters in the game are randomly selected as a replicant or not anytime you start a new game. There are tons of alternate paths and different scenarios that can play out. This leads to the game being fresh on multiple playthroughs and adds a lot of replay value.
Gameplay – Exactly What It Needs to Be
The gameplay in Blade Runner is quite simple. Most of it plays like a detective game. You go around from location to location, find clues, and talk to people. On the way, you encounter suspected replicants which you can decide to retire or spare, which affect the story. The game is quite easy with knowing what you are supposed to do, and it only has one real puzzle. It’s designed in a way where all the mandatory clues needed to progress are the most obvious to spot. The really obscure ones affect the game very little but do often add to the story. If you’re the type of person who loves adventure games for their challenge, then Blade Runner might not be for you.
Two big gameplay mechanics are lifted straight from the film: the Esper system and the Voight-Kampff test. The Esper system is a cool addition, but sometimes it can be hard for the game to actually zoom in and recognize a clue you’re looking for. There are plenty of well-hidden things in the photos you analyze, so after you get the first obvious clue, continue looking. It can be quite satisfying to find those well-hidden ones. The Voight-Kampff test is a neat addition, but it could have used a tutorial on how to do it. It took me quite a while to understand how the test was handled, and after that, I could perform the test successfully. I could have used some more help from the game.
One complaint I have with the game is the player personality options. The default one the game goes with is normal, which for a new player seems like a decent pick, but it’s actually bad. You’re always going to want to take user choice as your player personality, as it gives you the most freedom of choice. If you stick to the default normal option, there are plenty of alternate paths and scenarios that will simply not be available to you. User choice absolutely should have been the default option.
The combat is very simple and often entirely optional. The only times you are forced to shoot with the pistol are in scripted events and the one puzzle in the game. Most enemies faced in the last quarter can be avoided entirely. It can be a bit finicky, though, as often your shot won’t hit exactly where you placed the cursor. You will want to watch your trigger discipline, though, as you can play a bad cop in this game and blast quite a few NPCs. This will result in consequences later on.
The final thing to mention is that this game does have its bugs. The main one is the cursor turning green even though there isn’t a pickable item. If you run to the supposed item by pressing A, McCoy will seemingly run out of bounds to nowhere. Run long enough, and it will take quite a while for McCoy to come back to the room. For some reason, this seems to occur when loading a save game. Even though the gameplay is quite simple, I think it’s completely fine, as the main core of the game is the story and amount of player choice. The gameplay is exactly what it needs to be in Blade Runner.
Graphics & Sound – Old-School and Faithful
The graphics in Blade Runner is what to expect from a 1997 PC game. It looks pretty decent for the time, although I’m sure newer gamers might not appreciate its old graphics. Nightdive did upscale the resolution and boosted the framerate for the cinema scenes, and it looks good for what it is.
There have been complaints that the game looks inferior to the original. However, I have not played the original game, so I can’t really comment. To my eyes, Nightdive probably did the best they could with touching up the visuals for a 25-year-old game without giving it a full-on remake. The graphics are dated for sure, but one would expect that for a game of this age. Blade Runner’s atmosphere is excellent, though, and captures that futuristic noir seedy setting quite well.
The sound in this game is really good. The soundtrack has many pieces lifted from the movie, and they are so effective at setting this noir cyberpunk world. Blade Runner would be far weaker without it. However, some bugs rear their ugly head again, as sometimes there can be issues with the audio. Particularly with breaks in audio during dialogue and with music cutting off seemingly at random. It doesn’t happen a lot, but when it does, it’s very noticeable.
Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition was reviewed on Xbox Series X.