Monday 7 January 2013

Blade Runner Review (PC)

Arriving about twelve years after Blade Runner came out in cinemas this always seemed like somewhat of an odd project from Westwood studios. The story runs parallel to the movie and follows detective McCoy as he investigates as number of crimes that may be related to an as yet unknown group of replicants. McCoy must gather clues and interrogate suspects as he searches for the truth, whatever that may be.

Blade Runner is a massively ambitious game and a lot of care and attention has been spent on it to keep everything in synch with the world portrayed by Ridley Scott and written about by Philippe K Dick. Voice actors from the original film such as Sean Young, James Hong and Joe Turkel return to add presence to their characters that feature again here. Choice cuts from the original Blade Runner soundtrack are present as well.

The cinematic quality of the movie is also replicated with a number of sweeping shots similar to its on screen counter part. Locations from the film, as well as small scenes, such as the bicycles riding through the rain, are further used to make players feel they are inside the real Blade Runner world. As far as authenticity goes this game really cannot be faulted.

The game itself is a little removed from what we consider to be a traditional point and click adventure. There are very few actual puzzles to solve and even a few shooting sequences thrown in. Players make their way through the story by collecting clues, using the ESPER photo analysis machine (just like in the film) and talking to suspects. The game has six different endings and your clues can draw you in a number of very different directions.

Unfortunately, the titles ambition isn't executed quite as well as it could have been. On quite a few occasions you can be staring at a pile of clues and not really knowing where you should be heading. It is also far too easy to stumble onto a certain path without really knowing, or agreeing, with what your character may end up doing. It can all be just a bit too confusing at times. The title is also fairly short and just when you feel you are stacking up a decent set of clues you suddenly and abruptly arrive at the end of the game anyway.

We would have liked to have seen a little bit more patience from the developers to let players fully develop their opinion about what is going on. Far too often events happen too quickly and you end up thrust into a situation that seems to force the narrative along rather than letting the player do it. Certain sections of the game are also very hard and frustrating.

Criticism aside, the investigation you undertake really is interesting. All the characters are well acted and intriguing to interrogate and McCoy is convincing as the confused detective. The control system also works very well and looking through your clues and piecing together bits of information is satisfying. The combat is reasonable as well and more than adequate for the amount of shooting you end up doing.

Fans of the film and book should definitely check this out. Sections of the novel that didn't make it into the movie are worked into the story here and the general polish and fan service is really worth appreciating. The game may not be perfect but it never stops being interesting and those six endings are going to take a real amount of brain power to track down. Any adventure game fan up for a challenge and something a little different shouldn't be disappointed.


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