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Video Game / Blade Runner

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"Tiger, tiger, burning bright; in the forest of the night."
Original Box Art

Blade Runner is a 1997 point-and-click Adventure Game developed by Westwood Studios for the PC and published by Virgin Interactive. It is a rare example of a video game based on a movie which elects to develop a plot in parallel with that of the movie, rather than attempt to replicate the movie's plot (and, as a result, was well-received).

The game follows the story of Ray McCoy, a Blade Runner, who works at the same precinct as Rick Deckard, the protagonist of the eponymous movie. McCoy is tasked with tracking down a group of replicants suspected of murdering animals — a crime nearly as heinous as murdering humans, since most animal species are extinct and real specimens are exceedingly rare. But along the way, McCoy realizes that the seeming innocuous case is more complicated than he thought...


Blade Runner was the first real-time 3D adventure game and uses voxels rather than polygon-based renderers. It also featured a randomized plot, randomly choosing which characters are replicants, which would affect the storyline, adding rare replayability to an adventure game. It was well-received by many critics for its compelling story and exploration of the Blade Runner universe, receiving an aggregate score of 76.78% on GameRankings.

Encouraged by the game's critical success, Virgin Interactive toyed with plans of having Westwood make a sequel, but it was eventually determined that the cost of production would make the game commercially unviable, and the idea was scrapped.

For many years, the game was thought lost to time, due to being out of print and prevented from a re-release on digital platforms due to a combination of being stuck in legal limbo and the loss of the original source code. However, thanks to Alcon Entertainment securing the rights to the game, and dedicated coders managing to reverse engineer the source code and recreate it in the ScummVM engine, the game saw a re-release on in December 2019. In addition, Alcon Entertainment and Nightdive Studios are working on an Updated Re-release named Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition which will feature updated character models, animations and cutscenes, and in addtion to PC, they also plan to release it on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.


Not to be confused with the 1985 game for the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC.

Blade Runner provides examples of:

  • Action Commands: There are at least two "ticking bomb" scenarios within the game, requiring you to act fast if you want to save a helpful witness.
  • Action Girl: Crystal Steele, who carries a shotgun rather than a pistol as her sidearm, is a seasoned blade runner, fully capable of taking out a whole group of replicants on her own.
  • Advert-Overloaded Future: Much like the film, the game also features many, many adverts and billboards.
  • After the End: Just like the movie and the novel, the game takes place after a disastrous nuclear war. Although people still live on Earth, most of it is now a polluted wasteland. Most plants and animals have been killed off, making the remaining ones extremely valuable and subject to special legal protection (e.g. killing an animal constitutes "animal murder").
  • Already Done for You: Frequently; many witnesses complain that they were already interviewed by another cop. (Guess who?)
  • Ambiguously Human: Replicants, naturally. And McCoy's status is hotly debated from the third act onwards.
  • Anti-Villain: Clovis. Much like Batty from the movie, he's a violent terrorist, but also an escaped slave who just wants to live in peace and extend his people's artificially-limited lifespan.
  • Artificial Human: Replicants. And possibly McCoy.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: Most Asian characters speak like this, but Zuben has a particularly thick accent.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: This gem from the first area:
    Ray: Hmm, a piece of chrome.
    Cop: From a car?
    Ray: No, I think it's horse chrome.
  • Backtracking: It's an Adventure Game. Go figure.
  • Ballistic Discount: The gun store has a robotic gun that tracks the move of every customer. However, you can shoot the proprietor and the robot gun will not fire. Doing so does not yield any loot, however.
  • Big Bad: Clovis, being the leader of the replicants.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Some of the endings are this. Such as escaping the city but having your love interest killed, or realizing you're a replicant and that you don't have much time to live.
  • Bottomless Magazines: No one ever seems to need to reload in this game. Played straight with your gun's normal ammo, but ammo upgrades only last a finite number of shots.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Even in playthroughs in which Sadik isn't a replicant and is just a human sympathizer, he's still strong enough to Neck Lift and throw a 300 pound scientist with one hand and toss Ray around just like Roy did to Deckard in the film. The only indication he's actually human is that Ray notices his punches actually make him flinch instead of him completely No Selling them.
  • City Noir: Well, it is set in the same city as the film.
  • The Computer Shall Taunt You: Many irate witnesses will take jabs at your character.
  • Conjoined Twins: Luther and Lance.
  • Cool Sword: Izo can use a katana with some skill. However, Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight also applies, and it will do him little good unless he ambushes the player.
  • Crapsack World: Like the film, though some elements from the book are used as well (e.g. humans using robotic animals as pets, or the kipple).
  • Critical Existence Failure: Downplayed. The player, and every single person you get to shoot at, will function at full capacity until they suddenly drop dead. However, being hit does make them flinch and unable to act for a second or so.
  • Culture Chop Suey: Chinatown serves sushi.
  • Cutscene: Usually at major plot points.
  • Cyberpunk: Like the film.
  • Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain: Just like the film.
  • Dark Action Girl: Dektora, whether replicant or sympathiser, is more than capable of taking Roy out, even when unarmed.
  • Deadly Euphemism: Just like the film, "retire" instead of "execute".
  • Deadpan Snarker: Many characters, sometimes even your own.
  • Defective Detective: Ray often seems a bit dim, and is undeniably impressionable. Justified since he's still a rookie.
  • Defiant to the End: Guzza, surprisingly enough.
    Clovis: Whatever is born of mortal birth must be consumed with the Earth. To rise from generation free, so what am I to do with thee?
    Guzza (shot and mortally wounded): Kiss my ass!
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The very idea of killing an animal for food is horrifying to most people in the world of Blade Runner. In fact, killing an animal for any reason, except perhaps in self-defence, constitutes "animal murder". Displaying hunting trophies is seen as depraved, equivalent to keeping a corpse in your home.
  • Delivery Guy Infiltration: How the rasta man manages to get into the Tyrell building to assassinate one of the employees.
  • Dialog During Gameplay: Talking to people is required to advance the plot.
  • Dialogue Tree: Usually whenever talking to people, though the player can also set Ray's "mood" so he'll automatically pick a response in line with that during dialogue.
  • Dirty Cop: Guzza and Baker. The former is a particularly nasty example, indulging in all sorts of crimes ranging from drug dealing and racketeering to arms dealing and murder.
  • Do Androids Dream?: Like the film, with additional references to the book.
  • Down the Drain: At several points in the game you must trek through the sewers. Beware of rodents.
  • Down in the Dumps: The game's finale takes place in the Kipple, a massive irradiated junkyard beyond the city's boundaries.
  • Downer Ending: Some of the endings are this. Especially if you flee the city after learning that you're a replicant with a limited lifespan and no hope of extending it and get your love interest killed.
  • The Dragon: Sadik is Clovis's right-hand man and a proficient fighter.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: If you're a replicant or their sympathizer, finding all four pieces of DNA information will give them a chance to extend their life. If you play as a true blade runner, saving Crystal will result in you two becoming partners and a much more upbeat ending than if only you survive.
  • Earth That Used to Be Better: Like the film.
  • Enhance Button: The esper machine, like the one Deckard uses in the film, is capable of enhancing still photos and even changing the viewing angle. Still photos do not work that way.
  • The Everyman: Ray doesn't really have any outstanding personality quirks, and pretty much serves as a "blank slate" for the player to project himself onto.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Lucy will at one point tell you about "Uncle Zuben", implying she's at least somewhat fond of him. This may make the player feel bad for just killing him without a thought, even if he's otherwise unsympathetic and responsible for massacring a bunch of animals.
  • Exposition Break: Generally takes the form of fairly brief narrations by Ray upon entering an area for the first time.
  • False Friend: It's entirely possible to get a playthrough where Crystal will bail Ray out of being interrogated by the fake police, only for her to be a replicant sympathizer and turn on you later if you continue your work as a Hunter while on the run. Never mind other potential permutations of what can occur.
  • Fantastic Aesop: Like the film, making poignant points about human nature and understanding.
  • Fantastic Racism: "Skin-job", and "Synthetic", to name a couple of slurs.
  • Fat Bastard: Guzza is quite portly and a bit of an ass. Later you can learn he's actually involved in all sorts of criminal activities and a complete scumbag. At one point, McCoy can insult him, calling him "fat man".
  • Femme Fatale: Dektora is a classic example, being highly attractive, classy and manipulative.
  • Final Speech: Can be invoked by many prominent characters, such as Crystal Steele or Runciter.
  • Flipping Helpless: As in the film, one of the questions asked during the Voight-Kampff test involves flipping a tortoise over onto its back.
  • Foreshadowing: Quite a few examples:
    • Early in the game you'll find a brochure advertising a type of replicant model. This is a hint about who the game's randomly picked as a replicant. E.g. if it mentions a Lolita model, Lucy will be a replicant.
    • When investigating a bombing scene, Ray will comment on whether the bomber was an expert who could have only been trained off-world or an amateur. This is important because the replicants are all off-worlders. If the bomber is an expert trained off-world, this means Sadik is a replicant. Otherwise he's just a sympathizer.
    • Ray can withstand several bullets and keep going. This might be a case of Arbitrary Gun Power. Or it might indicate he's a replicant with superhuman toughness.
  • The Future Is Noir: Just like the film.
  • Fixed Camera: Each area's camera is fixed.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Dependent on your actions, Ray can go from a rookie cop to a dangerous fugitive who's slaughtered more than a dozen policemen.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: For some bizarre reason the shooting range in the police station is tied to your CPU's clock speed to pop-up its targets, meaning it plain doesn't work on a modern system. Luckily, the GOG version fixed this.
  • Gameplay Automation: You have the option of allowing the game to automatically choose what questions your character will ask.
  • Going Through the Motions: You'll see Ray wave his hands around more than an air traffic controller.
  • Hand Cannon: Crystal's gun, a sawn-off shotgun. Once you get the best ammo, your gun also becomes one — it can drop almost any human in only one hit, and even replicants usually take only 2-3.
  • Haunted House: The Bradbury Hotel - along with some of its decorations - can be downright creepy.
  • Hitscan: Guns in general.
  • I Can't Reach It: Just try examining an object from across a chasm. Go on, try.
  • I Fought the Law and the Law Won: Good luck not getting arrested at some point.
  • Impostor Exposing Test: The Voight-Kampff test. It even uses some of the same questions from the film.
    McCoy: You're in a desert walking along in the sand when all of a sudden you look down and you see a tortoise. It's crawling towards you. You reach down and you flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun beating its legs, trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping. Why is that?
    • However, the test isn't one-hundred percent accurate; ask too many low-intensity questions and you won't evoke a strong enough response from the subject to confirm whether they're a replicant, but ask too many high-intensity ones and they'll demand you to stop the test before you can get a conclusive result. In addition, the test can give an inaccurate result if the subject is mentally unstable (e.g. Bullet Bob).
  • The Ingenue: Lucy Devlin is very much this, making her an unwitting pawn in someone else's plan.
  • Interquel: The game takes place during the 1982 film, and you can meet Tyrell and Leon (before they're killed, of course), and Leon's hotel room has already been searched through by Deckard. You can even see Deckard from the "snake scale" scene in the film in a photo you can analyze at one point.
  • Journey to Find Oneself: Some of the endings feature characters doing this.
  • Kick the Dog: That cute dog of yours? Don't expect it to live to see a new day.
  • Lack of Empathy: One of the replicants' distinctive features, along with a planned obsolescence scheme.
    • What's especially chilling is that it's very easy to look at the situation in reverse; the replicants you are ruthlessly "retiring" are self-aware, sentient beings, capable of pondering their own identity and existence, begging the question: "Who really lacks empathy in this story?"note 
  • Late to the Tragedy: An investigator is you.
  • Level Goal: Once you've completed the important plot points in a chapter, you can go to sleep. Or be abducted.
  • Loading Screen: In 1997? No, how can it be?
  • Locked Door: Thankfully not too frequent, but there is the occasional locked door.
  • Love Hurts: All your potential love interests can get killed.
  • Mega-Corp: The Tyrell Corp.
  • Mercy Kill: This is an option with Runciter, later on in the game.
  • Multiple Endings: There are thirteen different endings. What's more, it's not possible to get all of them from a single playthrough, as some of the variables involved are calculated when a new game is started. One ending is actually unreachable.
    • Blade Runner ending 1: Ray retires all the confirmed replicants and he and Crystal become partners and possibly Friends with Benefits.
    • Blade Runner ending 2: Ray retires all the confirmed replicants but Crystal dies thanks to a trip mine, leaving Ray dissatisfied with the whole ordeal.
    • Fugitive Ending 1: Ray is outed as a replicant with his memories apparently frabicated and decides to escape, but is forced to kill Crystal to protect his love interest, with both escaping the city in a car, not knowing what will happen next.
    • Fugitive Ending 2: Ray is outed as a replicant with his memories apparently frabicated and decides to escape, but is forced to kill Crystal after she kills his love interest/or in self-defense, with Ray escaping the city alone, not knowing what will happen next.
    • Fugitive Blade Runner ending: Ray is outed as a replicant with his memories apparently frabicated, but continues his hunt of the replicants and is forced to kill Crystal after she reveals that she's a replicant sympathizer. After killing Clovis, Ray is found by Gaff who implies that Ray is a replicant with him later finding an paper unicorn on the ground.
    • Replicant ending: Ray is outed as a replicant and fully believes he's one and decides to escape with Clovis' group but not before killing Crystal in self-defense. He and the others leave the planet with Ray not knowing what will happen next.
    • Replicant sympathizer ending: Ray is outed as a replicant but decides to join them out of sympathy and/or because of their love interest but not before killing Crystal in self-defense. He and the others leave the planet with Ray not knowing what will happen next.
    • Unreachable ending: Ray is either a replicant or a sympathizer, evades Crystal, and joins the replicants in the moonbus, but turns on them at the last moment and kills them all. Crystal then find him and says something to the effect that his bluff was so good that it even fooled her. This ending is unreachable because it's impossible to avoid killing Crystal if you go down the rep/sympathizer route.
  • Mutants: Rarely, Ray can encounter hostile "specials" in the sewers. These are people badly affected by radiation, physically deformed and reduced to an animal-like intelligence.
  • The Nicknamer: Crystal does this to Ray, always calling him "Slim".
  • Non-Combatant Immunity: You always have a gun, and even when you can't use it, such as while climbing down ladders, enemies will refrain from shooting at you. Until the very second you climb off of the ladder. Still, it's the thought that counts.
  • Now, Where Was I Going Again?: Well, it is an adventure game.
  • NPC Scheduling: NPCs important to the plot move around and complete their objectives in real time.
  • Only Idiots May Pass: You still have to go through most of the same conversations, no matter how many times you've played the game.
  • Or Are You Just Happy to See Me?: Bullet Bob says this upon the player entering his store.
    Bullet Bob: Is that a .45 blaster under your coat, or are you just happy to be here?
  • Out-of-Character Alert:
    • Replicants posing as humans will sometimes slip up by showing an unlikely level of knowledge about off-world topics. For example, Dektora and Lucy may display knowledge about military training, something they'd be highly unlikely to learn had they spent their whole lives on Earth. Conversely, they may lack knowledge about Earth's history — for example not knowing what "fishing" means.
    • Similarly, Gordo, in playthroughs when he's human, threatens to make a martyr of himself when Ray catches him. Ray will call him out, saying no replicant would ever do that, as all of them value their lives above anything else.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": A scientist at Tyrell Corporation uses the name of his dog as a password for his work computer. McCoy tries it automatically after a couple of tries if he has learned it.
  • Paused Interrupt: This can result in laughable scenarios, where a character is interrupted mid-sentence, by another character simply starting to walk towards them, waiting until they're next to them to begin speaking. Although, you'll be grateful for this if the guy you were talking to has a gun trained on you.
  • Perilous Old Fool: Zuben, surprisingly enough, is a decorated war veteran. However, he's since grown overweight and an old war wound causes him to limp, limiting his mobility. Furthermore, he is armed only with a butcher's knife.
  • The Plan: Guzza, your superior, has one of these going that actually leads to most of the things in Act III.
  • Point of No Return: These are generally marked by the end of each act (chapter).
  • Police Brutality: There are a few scenes depicting this; and if you mistakenly retire a human, even you are guilty of this.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation:
    • The game uses several characters from the film, but follows a plot happening in parallel to that of the movie, and further fleshes out the Blade Runner universe.
    • Also, the game uses elements from the original novel which were not in the film. For example, Ray's insistence that Maggie is a real dog is similar to Deckard's goal in the novel to buy a real sheep to keep. At one point in the game Ray is captured and interrogated by people posing as police, while in the book Deckard enters an entire sham police station that turns out to be staffed entirely by androids.
    • Finally, the game adapts the idea of Deckard being a replicant himself, and irons out the plotholes that interpretation would raise in the movie. For example, Deckard is a veteran Blade Runner who is effectively retired, with several people who have apparently known him for a long time, when the technology to create the kind of replicant he would be is relatively recent. Ray McCoy on the other hand is a rookie who was just recently transferred into the Blade Runner unit. When presented with the claim that he is a replicant, several characters point out it's not impossible; they haven't known him for long, and records can be faked.
  • Private Eye Monologue: Ray gives one of these in the opening sequence, and another one after he retires his first replicant.
  • Punch-Clock Hero: Ray McCoy. Retiring replicants is his job, and he's paid a bonus for every successful retirement. However, the player can subvert this by choosing to side with the replicants instead.
  • Questionable Consent: Ray can hook up with 14-year-old Lucy. They don't have any sexual contact, but their relationship is definitely shown as one of romantic partners rather than father-daughter.
  • Race Lift: Gaff, one of the few characters from the film who wasn't voiced by the original actor, now speaks fluent English with a decidedly Caucasian dialect.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: It doesn't matter whether people are talking to you in English or not. Or with a thick, hard to understand accent. You don't get subtitles, though there is a fan-mod to add them.
  • Refuge in Audacity: A comedian takes the opportunity to publicly mock you onstage. While you're on stage with him.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: The replicants. Some of them also believe that they're human with implanted memories recycled from real people.
  • Robosexual: Possibly. In some of the endings. And even then, it's still not entirely clear or certain.
  • Scenery Porn: Oh, God, yes.
  • Scripted Event: Several chase sequences and ticking-bomb scenarios.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Crystal Steele carries one as her sidearm. And shoots it one-handed, too.
  • Shoplift and Die: A slight variant. Just try pulling out your gun too often in Bullet Bob's store.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Many characters erroneously refer to Ray as "Roy". Guess why.
    • There are also several to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (e.g. the conversation with Dektora is highly reminiscent of the dialogue between Deckard and Luba Luft in the novel).
    • The name Runciter is a reference to another Philip K. Dick work, Ubik.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Sebastian and Tyrell.
  • Smug Snake: Gaff, if you take the rep sympathizer route. He'll appear once or twice to make cryptic and threatening remarks, but won't actually harm you.
    • Gordo Frizz can be this if you don't. He really likes to make fun of you, but will quickly panic if he's exposed as a replicant (though not if he's a human).
  • The Sociopath: Bullet Bob may well be one. Having him take the Voight-Kampff test shows he's mentally unstable and lacking in empathy towards humans (though not towards animals, which is an important tip off). Unless the player correctly calibrates the machine, Bob will probably be incorrectly identified as a replicant.
  • Sterility Plague: The radiation left in the wake of the nuclear war has made many people sterile. Lucy, if human, may say she can't have children - and it's probably because of this.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: Only once or twice, thankfully.
  • Subtitles Are Superfluous: No subtitles are used in this game though a fan-mod for them exists
  • Super Toughness: Replicants are significantly tougher than normal humans. Some characters are randomly made replicants or humans at the beginning of each playthrough. Such characters actually have more hit points when they're replicants. Furthermore, Ray himself can take several bullet wounds and keep going, possibly indicating that he, too, is a replicant.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Clovis is almost a direct copy of Roy Batty from the movie. Both are leaders of a group of escaped replicants, tend to quote classic poetry and reach the end of their preprogrammed lifespans at the end of the story with calm acceptance. That is, if you play Ray as remaining strictly in his Blade Runner role.
  • Talk to Everyone: Well, you are a detective.
  • Take That!: In the firing range, Deckard is shown to have a far lower score than anyone else on the scoreboard. Deckard's score is 10, whereas the next-lowest score is 23.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: The player may or may not be a replicant themselves. Or they might never receive a straight answer to the question if they are or aren't one.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: The replicants, of course.
  • The Unreveal: In one of the possible branches, the question if McCoy is a replicant is never resolved with a straight answer.
  • Warrior Poet: Clovis is a ruthless terrorist, but also fond of poetry, frequently quoting William Blake.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Because of the randomization of each playthrough, certain characters may only shortly appear and then end up disappearing, or even seem crucial to the plot and then still make their exit from the story after something involving them has been resolved - if anything.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: A persistent theme throughout the game.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Killing Bullet Bob makes Ray wonder about this aloud; for even if Bob were a replicant, he was a pretty fun and benign one. He's actually always human, albeit seriously mentally unstable. The game will treat killing Bob as having killed a human, and this will be mentioned in a dialogue later in the game.
  • What the Hell, Player?: Killing a character without confirming whether or not they are a replicant leads to Ray giving a short monologue about it, filled with philosophical and occasionally ominous/foreboding undertones.
  • You Dirty Rat!: Rats really don't like your character, and have nothing but scorn for your desire to run around in sewers.


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