Blade Runner is a 1997 point-and-click adventure game developed by Westwood Studios and published by Virgin Interactive for Microsoft Windows. The game is not a direct adaptation of the 1982 Ridley Scott film Blade Runner, but is instead a "sidequel", telling an original story, which runs parallel to the film's plot, occasionally intersecting with it.
Blade Runner was advertised as a "real-time 3D adventure game," since it was one of the first adventure games to use both 3D character rendering and a game world which progressed in real-time (as opposed to waiting for the player's actions). Unlike many games of its time, which used polygon-based renderers exploiting 3D accelerators, Westwood opted for their own software-based renderer using voxel technology.
The game received generally positive reviews, and was a commercial success, selling over one million units worldwide. It went on to win the Interactive Achievement Award for "Computer Adventure Game of the Year," and was nominated for "Best Adventure Game" by PC Gamer. Virgin Interactive wanted Westwood to make a sequel, but it was thought the cost of production would make the game commercially unviable, and the idea was scrapped.
The game begins shortly after the beginning of the film, with McCoy tasked with tracking down a group of replicants who are suspected of murdering animals – a crime nearly as heinous as murdering humans, since most animal species are extinct and real specimens are exceedingly rare. As McCoy's investigation progresses, he is framed for the murder of a civilian...
- Ray McCoy (voiced by Mark Benninghofen) - the game's protagonist and a rookie Blade Runner, McCoy shares his apartment with his pet dog, Maggie
- Crystal Steele (Lisa Edelstein) - one of the best Blade Runners on the job, and an expert in undercover work, she hates replicants, believing they should be exterminated and is somewhat condescending towards McCoy early in the game, but grows to respect him as the story progresses
- Gaff (Javier Grajeda as Victor Gardell) - a veteran Blade Runner who often offers McCoy advice
- Lt. Edison Guzza (Jeff Garlin) - temporarily placed in charge of the Blade Runner unit whilst the previous commander, Cpt. Bryant, is on sick leave
- Clovis (Mark Rolston) - the leader of a group of renegade replicants, highly intelligent and eloquent, he is also extremely ruthless, unpredictable and, at times, capable of extreme acts of aggression
- Lucy Devlin (Pauley Perrette) - a fourteen-year-old girl who works at the pet store attacked by the replicants in the opening scene
- Dektora (Signy Coleman) - a replicant who works as an exotic dancer
- Sadik (Alexander Mervin) - a replicant who is part of Clovis' gang
- Howie Lee (Toru Nagai) - the owner of a restaurant in Chinatown
- Zuben (Gerald Okamura) - a replicant who works as a chef at Howie Lee's Restaurant in Chinatown
- Luther & Lance (Jason Cottle) - identical twin replicant brothers who were former Tyrell Corporation employees
- Gordo Frizz (Bruno Oliver) - a replicant who works as a stand-up comedian
- Runciter (Warren Burton) - the owner of the pet store attacked by the game's replicants
- Izo (Timothy Dang) - a weapons dealer who supplies automatic firearms to Clovis' gang
- Bullet Bob (Vincent Schiavelli) - a World War III veteran who runs a gun shop near Animoid Row
Original cast members from the film who make cameo appearances in the game are Sean Young as Rachael, Brion James as Leon, James Hong as Hannibal Chew, Joe Turkel as Dr. Eldon Tyrell, and William Sanderson as J. F. Sebastian.
Blade Runner is a point-and-click adventure game played from a third-person perspective, in which the game world is navigated, explored, and manipulated using the mouse. The pointer has four different styles depending on the given situation; a standard grey pointer is used to move McCoy by clicking on any location, and scan the screen for elements with which to interact; an animated green pointer indicates McCoy can interact with an object or begin a conversation with an NPC; an animated blue pointer indicates the screen can be changed and a new area accessed (usually appears at the sides of the screen or in doorways); an animated red target becomes available only in combat mode and indicates McCoy can fire (if the target is grey, it means McCoy cannot fire).
Blade Runner's main focus is detective work rather than puzzles or combat, and the majority of gameplay consists of searching for evidence, questioning suspects and analyzing clues. Occasionally, the player must solve compulsory puzzles, and often, to progress the story, certain clues must be located. Clues are found by searching crime scenes, and come in the form of items, photographs, interviews, or unusual markings. When analyzing photographs, the player must use the ESPER system, a high-density computer with a powerful three-dimensional resolution capacity which allows for the enhancement of photos and enables the player to find details within the picture. Combat is occasionally available in the game, but is rarely compulsory. The only weapon available to the player is McCoy's standard issue police pistol, which may be loaded with various types of ammunition.
Another important investigative tool at the player's disposal is the Voight-Kampff machine, which tests people to determine if they are replicants. Usually, Voight-Kampff tests are automatically triggered at certain predetermined points in the game, although on occasion, the player has the option of administering a test. The test depicts a close-up of the subject's eye, and features three needles. The further the top needle moves to the right, the more likely the subject is a replicant; the further the bottom needle moves to the right, the more likely they are human. The third needle is on a sweeping axis and measures the intensity of the questions (for every question the player can choose low, medium or high intensity), and the pressure felt by the subject. If the player pushes the subject too far, by asking too many high intensity questions, the test will end before a definite result can be obtained. If the player determines with certainty whether a subject is or is not a replicant, the test ends automatically. The player must then decide what course of action to take, with the decision influencing the rest of the storyline; for example, if a subject tests positive as a replicant, the player can kill them, attempt to arrest them, or let them go.
Aside from choosing how to react to Voight-Kampff results, the player must also decide how McCoy conducts himself in other areas of the game, such as whether to interrogate an NPC, or simply talk to them, and how aggressive to be in his questioning. The player can choose from one of five settings regarding McCoy's demeanor during conversations; "Polite", "Normal", "Surly", "Erratic" (the game randomly picks one of the first three options at different points of the conversation) and "User Choice". If the fifth option is selected, conversations with NPCs will present the player with menus from which they can choose their questions, rather than the game automatically selecting questions. Each choice will affect the storyline differently, with the player's cumulative decisions leading to one of the game's thirteen different endings.
The endings are variations on three major themes:
- McCoy is human and hunts down the replicants either alone or with Crystal.
- McCoy is a replicant himself and sides with the other replicants.
- McCoy's status remains ambiguous and he sides with neither the replicants nor the police, instead leaving the city - either alone, with Dektora or with Lucy.