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Blade Runner (Windows)

100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  אולג 小奥 (168670)
Written on  :  May 09, 2002
Rating  :  3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars3.67 Stars

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Human or replicant? Damn if I know...

The Good

Blade Runner attempts to discard the traditional adventure game puzzle-solving routine in favor of a more realistic gameplay approach. There is almost no puzzle-solving in the game; you move the story forward by talking to people and gathering clues. Curiously, Blade Runner is closer in gameplay to Japanese adventures (such as Snatcher or Policenauts) than to its own Western brethren.

The game features an interesting way of influencing the story (and getting different endings), by choosing a way to talk with characters. You can be polite, but you can also choose to get angry and threaten the opponent, and the results you get will be different sometimes. This is not a new concept, since Pandora Directive featured almost exactly the same (and better implemented) system. But Blade Runner also adds (in certain cases) the possibility to just take out your gun and shoot a person. This creates some varied and interesting situations in some cases.

You are allowed to perform actions which are not required to finish the game (such as conducting Voight-Kampff tests on subjects of your choice, etc.). Investigation methods also include scanning pictures of crime scene and zooming in on suspiciously looking spots. I found this gameplay feature interesting and refreshingly realistic.

Blade Runner is technically very impressive. The movie sequences are top quality, with fluent, natural animations. Too bad the in-game character graphics don't reach this level by far. The background graphics, however, are stunning, with great views, nicely designed objects and overall excellent artwork.

The moody music fits the game nicely, and both the graphics and the music manage to reflect the dark, post-apocalyptic setting of the game. It's raining all the time, the neon signs flash, people in shabby clothes walk around on dirty streets, and flying machines cover the sky. One thing the game does impeccably is capture the spirit of the movie.

The Bad

I didn't like that the game's creators claimed it was the first real time adventure (written on the game's box cover). First of all, even if it were a real time adventure, it is definitely not the first, because although it was in developed for quite some time, Last Express was released earlier and the claim thus became irrelevant. But the fact is that Blade Runner is not a real time adventure. Surely, people go and come and move around according to their plans, but they will still wait for you so that you will always be able to advance in the game.

The character graphics could have been better, to match the gorgeous backgrounds. I'd certainly prefer close-ups on characters during dialogues, because there is no way to see their faces. Instead, you can see the characters waving hands constantly while talking, which is not very realistic.

Another thing that bothered me was lack of sub-titles for the dialogues. Often I couldn't hear well what the characters were saying. I've searched for a patch that would correct that, but to my knowledge, such a patch does not exist.

I found the storyline too vague. It is a variation on the themes introduced in the movie, but that alone still doesn't turn it into a cohesive narrative. The main protagonist is rather distant, and the events that are supposed to bring him closer to the understanding of the replicants' cause make little sense. The supporting cast members also lack charisma and appeal. Plot progression has little logic; you'll have to visit locations over and over again, hoping to trigger an event that would perhaps magically spawn another character in another location, allowing you to advance the plot, much like in Japanese adventures such as Snatcher.

But Snatcher had more appealing characters, more in-depth story, and even - surprisingly - more interaction than Blade Runner. The "smart cursor" has replaced all possible actions; you can't really explore and/or properly interact with objects; text descriptions and feedback are sorely missing.

The "moral choices" system is unclear. I finished the game two times and I still have no idea which actions exactly trigger which ending. It was almost as if the game arbitrarily decided what ending you were going to receive. This fits together with the lack of direction in the plot; you feel as if you are wandering through a maze of situations, never able to understand much of what's going on.

The Bottom Line

The game does succeed in imitating the movie, pushing the right buttons to create atmosphere. It also has some interesting gameplay ideas that could have been better implemented. Blade Runner is an interesting title, but its confusing plot coupled with simplified gameplay makes it less than the stellar adventure game it wanted to be.