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Blade Runner (Windows)

88
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.1
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  אולג 小奥 (170190)
Written on  :  May 09, 2002
Rating  :  3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars

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Summary

Simplified cyberpunk

The Good

Blade Runner attempts to discard traditional adventure game puzzle-solving routine in favor of a more realistic gameplay approach, taking cues from Rise of the Dragon, a seminal adventure that was clearly a major influence here.

The game has bits of non-linearity here and there, introducing major decision points that lead to different endings as well as a general choice of attitude during interrogation. This is not a new concept: Pandora Directive had almost exactly the same (and better implemented) system. But at least Blade Runner sometimes gives you 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, though I wish it had more effect on the game.

Blade Runner is technically very impressive. The video 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 impressive artwork.

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

The Bad

The creators of the game claimed it was the first real-time adventure. The first part of the statement is clearly wrong, since Rise of the Dragon, with its comparable approach to time mechanics, was released much earlier. In any case, both games do not qualify for what was achieved by Last Express - true real-time gameplay with constant motion and events happening regardless of the player.

Character graphics are quite blurry and sorely lacking close-ups during dialogues, making gameplay curiously static and devoid of a component that apparently should be among the first priorities when designing a game based on a movie: cinematic direction. Watching characters wave hands constantly while talking without being able to see their faces properly is not particularly exciting. There are no subtitles, and often I simply couldn't hear what the characters were saying.

The story is confusing and 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 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.

The choice system is unclear as well. I finished the game two times and I still have no idea which actions triggered which ending. It was almost as if the game arbitrarily decided what ending I was 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 thing I disliked most in Blade Runner, however, is its lack of interactivity and general gameplay-based connection to its world. It is simply not very fulfilling as a game, and certainly less than satisfying as an adventure. There are no puzzles and little to replace them - no dialogue choices, potentially lethal situations, or anything that would require you to think and plan. The "smart cursor" has replaced all possible interactions: just click on anything that makes it green in any given scene and you'll be fine. Text descriptions and feedback are sorely missing as well. Some of these problems (though not all) were present in Rise of the Dragon as well, but seven years later they become much less forgivable.

The Bottom Line

Blade Runner succeeds in imitating the movie, pushing the right buttons to create atmosphere and compelling fans of the original material to eagerly overlook its gameplay deficiencies. However, those looking for a well-constructed, challenging adventure game should look elsewhere.