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Test of Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition

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test Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition

Blade Runner, the original 1997 PC and DOS game, is part of this movement of point & click movie adaptations and action games from the mid-90swith for example GoldenEye 007, Die Hard, Batman, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones or even Disney classics like Aladdin or The Lion King. Adapted from Ridley Scott’s cult movie, the game borrows a lot from the original work, the founding novel of SF by Philip K. Dick, “Do androids dream of electric sheep?

Blade Rower

Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition test

Nearly 15 years after the big screen adaptation with the dashing Harrison Ford, and 30 years after the publication of the American novel, Westwood Studios had been commissioned for this new adaptation. Freshly bought by its publisher Virgin Interactive, the studio was chosen, thanks to its success on The Lion King and on the point & click series Kyrandia. Here, the agent Rick Deckard is only mentioned. A colleague, another “blade runner” as they are called, in charge of tracking down and stopping illegal replicants. These androids that have been created by humans to assist them in thankless tasks. But in the cyberpunk Los Angeles of 2019, where the human misery of the slums rubs shoulders with the coldness of the megacorporations, there is little or no trace of these human-looking robots. After a war that led to the extinction of the fauna and flora, the replicants were sent to Mars to colonize the planet.

The publisher has simply emulated the game as in a DosBox, integrating the software in a square frame on a 16/9 screen background…

Obviously, like Dick or Asimov’s stories, these androids became aware of their situation and rebelled. The revolts against humans led the population on Earth to blacklist all replicants and track them down in order to remove them (understand: we kill them before they kill us). A new storyline is proposed, with the character of Ray McCoy. In third person view in gloomy environments close to the cinematography of the movie (or productions with a similar universe like the Shadowrun series), you interact with the scenery in the manner of a traditional point & click. But this is not a Monkey Island or a Kyrandia: nobody assists you in your task. No inventory bar, no cursor that changes according to the chosen action, only pixel perfect. You have to go through the different tables with your mouse to find objects to interact with. No need to choose whether to talk, open or take, your hero will find the right action. From time to time, it will even be possible to use the right click to pull out your weapon and shoot, even if most of the time, you wonder where the target’s hitbox is because the hit is so random.

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Blade Horror

Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition test

Scenario and investigation oblige, it is rather the brain that will have to play, and not the muscles. Ray will have to investigate a massacre in a pet shop, and for that, he will have to go through the different locations of his map by taking his car to load the different scenes. The crime scene, the office where you can find the coroner, the police boss or the shooting range, or your apartment where you can find ESPER, a software that, like in the movies, can analyze and zoom (then depixel) parts of images or videos, and make links with its information base to find additional clues. You also have at your disposal a kind of PDA, your “KIA”, a portable computer that centralizes all your data, and acts as a game menu. Who says Blade Runner also says, obviously, the Voight-Kampff testa test that allows to discover if some characters are replicants (recognizable by their lack of human emotions).

Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition test

If the original game is now cult for its scenario, its multiple branches and endings, and a non-linear narrative carried by very clean graphics for the time, this Enhanced Edition does not pay tribute to it. There is, strictly speaking, nothing new in this release (which is not a release, but I’m a boomer, ed.) The editor has just emulated the game as in a DosBox, integrating the software in a square frame on a 16/9 screen background. A great deal. The music, and the general atmosphere, oppressive with cold synth, has probably been slightly reworked, but overall, it was not essential. In the end, this is just a simple upscale of the game with a slight smoothing of the textures in the videos. It’s quite simple, it even looks uglier than before, with the stretching and this supposed 4K/60fps but not respected.

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Blade Never

Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition test

A barely improved re-release then, certainly not a remake nor a remaster, and not even an Enhanced Edition. All the more so as the aging mechanics and techniques (such as having to wait for ages between each scene because you have to finish the boarding animation, the cutscene, and the landing animation of your character, which was necessary at the time when PCs were struggling to calculate the megabytes of loading) may discourage the youngest. To top it all off, the excellent French language version of the time was not even brought by Nightdive, so you’ll have to make do with the very good subtitled VO. Let’s add to that many glitches, such as framerate drops, animation bugs (the character who flies away in his car… but without his car), a lipsync in strawberries or cutscenes that drag, but also a total absence of help for those who arrive and who must absolutely read the book of K.Dick to understand how a Voigt-Kampff test works. Actually, even knowing it, you still need to understand how to use it in this game. Hopefully the randomization of the graphics (one of the strengths of the title) has placed the objects or NPCs in the right places. Otherwise, you’ll have to pull your hair out while going back and forth (LEEEEEEEEENTS) between the office, your apartment and the investigation places, and click absolutely everywhere hoping to find the pixel you forgot to activate. A missed act for Nightdive, which doesn’t bode well, as we wait for their System Shock 2: Enhanced Edition…

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