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Blade Runner Splash Screen
PC, 1998


Los Angeles, 2019. Play through a computer rendered landscape of your favourite movie Blade Runner.

As policeman Ray McCoy you put together a series of clues to track down some rogue replicants, robots very close to humans. The same ethical questions brought up the film, and by Philip K. Dick's novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" play a beefy part in the game: what is human? what is it to feel? what is memory? Gameplay includes searching through a map of postmodern Los Angeles, exploring the misty neon streets you might remember from the movie: crowded multi-ethnic markets, noodle bar noodle shops, run-down hotels, sexy nightclubs, animal reproduction shops, eye manufacturers, and the sewers underneath the city. As you amass clues and follow suspects, you'll be forced to make choices that change the outcome of the game. There are lots of juicy computer animations, so you're likely to play again to see them.


The movie Blade Runner is a cyber-culture classic. The grim high tech noir film set in post-postmodern Los Angeles has the seductive look and the feel of watching William Gibson give head to Max Headroom in a dark alley.

Now with the popularization of computers and the inevitable spread of cyberculture, it was only a matter of time before someone made a Blade Runner game. The question is - do you have to love Blade Runner to love the game, and if you love the movie will this game satisfy?

Circuit's Edge First of all, this game is definitely for fans of cyberculture. If you aren't partial to SciFi or gritty urban computer adventures, this won't hold your interest. The game play and storyline adhere faithfully to the film - both in terms of style and events.

Ray McCoy In this game you do not play Deckard, the Harrison Ford character, but instead you are "Ray McCoy" another "Blade Runner." Your job, like Deckard's, is to track and kill stray androids, "replicants." So you are in Los Angeles, it's 2019, and you have to solve some murder mysteries that may be connected and may involve replicants. You guide your character through each of the screens representing gutted grimy Los Angeles, exploring with a very direct and simple mouse interface. You click on people to ask questions, which you can choose, or you can have the game choose based on your level of aggression. You can right click to draw your police standard issue gunshooter but you can only shoot those folks intending you harm (not a lot of social mayhem at your disposal here).

As you proceed to gather clues they are accumulated by your personal KIA, or "knowledge integration assistant." The KIA is a helpful in-game notetaking computer, which you can access at any time by clicking on Ray. Inside you'll find a neat interface to all the data you have collected, which is synchronized when you visit the police station (I guess they didn't have cellular, uh, back then).

When you first play Blade Runner you will find your way through and think you have seen it all. Then, by reading a fan website, or simply playing again, you'll realize you missed things, no matter how thorough you thought you were. The game is designed like this - the plot develops according to your actions. It's not completely open ended, of course, there are a few major questions that have one or the other answer. But it is one of the first truly branching interactive adventure games.

Pioneering aside, this layering can be frustrating. In Blade Runner, you find clues when you trip over them with your cursor. I tried covering the screen with a systemic movement, almost like plowing a field, but that got tedious fast. Basically, there's little scraps of answers to the mysteries surrounding you and the game's replayability stems from your likely difficulty in finding all or most of them. What you miss will determine your path, along with who you shoot.

rachael Blade Runner, the game, definitely envelops you in the world of the film. While the plot of the game is different, it shares with the movie many of the same supporting actors, rendered in nearly smooth computer animated figures and speaking with the same voices. Fortunately, Westwood was able to secure rights to the music as well, so the Vangelis score adds a critical sonic backdrop.

In the introduction you'll immediately recognize the refinery flames and far away shots of cyber-gothic eye candy. But then the game's animations start and you realize they've concoted a new plot neatly involving the same issues the movie dealt with. Since you play the protagonist, and the game will probably take you longer than the movie's 117 minutes, you'll find that this game will take you deeper into Los Angeles, November 2019.

Blade Runner - The Game lets you play with the same toys that Deckard does (though you never pilot a speeder). The most fun is probably the Esper Unit Esper unit, the photograph zooming and resolving machine from the movie. During the game you find snapshots and from them you find other clues by zooming in and trying to pick out juicy bits. There's something fun about this nitpicky media research work - it looked cool in the film and it's pleasurable here. There is also the Voight-Kampff test, where you ask people questions and watch their pupils to determine their humanity - I never picked up on that one.

Mostly the game is more fun to explore than it is to play, in the strict sense of the word. For example, there's a "shooting drill" where you can practice your replicant dusting in the police station. Basically, you walk through a room and targets popup and you determine whether they hold a baby or a gun and spare them or click on them accordingly. In the course of the game, the shooting is more a course of timing as opposed to skill - there's little to aiming besides right-clicking the right figure at the right instant. dragon's lair It's a bit like Don Bluth's Dragon's Lair where gameplay involves twitching at the appropriate timing moment according to the game, rather than granting the user any control over the action.

BladeRunner is like:

B.A.T. 1 and 2
Rise of the Dragon
Circuit's Edge

It's clear this is a movie, and you are it's advancing agent. Accordingly, the game is billed as an interactive movie, and there are a lot of sumptuous computer animated cut-scenes. There's a lot of time spent marvelling at the state the art 1997 of computer generated animation as the plotlines of the game play out on your monitor. If you like the aesthetic, this is a game you might enjoy playing again, just to watch. But graphics like this look so dated so fast - the bleeding edge marches endlessly forward and you start to notice things like the plasticity of hair, or the characters' static fingers.

If you appreciate Blade Runner, you won't care. The game presents a rich world, there's many layers of detail, beneath the grime. (can you spy the two bongs in the game? I could only see one).

spring 1999: published in part on WildWeb Games

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