Despite running into some considerable set-backs shortly after its initial announcement, leading to an indefinite delay, developer Nightdive Studios’ highly anticipated remaster of Westwood Studio’s classic Blade Runner point-and-click adventure is finally complete, and will be launching for Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, and PC, tomorrow, 23rd June.
The Blade Runner game, for those unfamiliar, released in 1997, and, unlike the vast majority of licensed adaptations, was an extraordinary piece of work, not only managing to perfectly capture the neon-streaked dystopian atmosphere of the movie in a story that ran parallel to its action, but doing so in ways both wildly ambitious and legitimately groundbreaking.
Although Blade Runner takes its cue from narrative-driven point-and-click games, it immediately distinguishes itself from its genre peers by sending players, in the role of Blade Runner Ray McCoy, on a heavily randomised adventure. The goal remains the same each play-through, in that players must use their investigatory skills to identify and hunt down a number of replicants, but exactly which characters are replicants is determined at the start of a new game, subtly changing their behaviour as the story unfolds.
Furthermore, instead of following a scripted route through the story, NPCs move around in relative real-time based on their assigned objectives. Throw in the likes of branching narrative pathways and different endings, and Blade Runner’s world feels impressively alive.
It is, in short, a genuine classic, but inevitably also a game that’s showing its age from a technical perspective, despite its many strengths. Enter restoration specialists Nightdive Studios – which has previously remastered the likes System Shock and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter – and its announcement of a hugely welcome remaster for the game back in March 2020.
Unfortunately, after a couple of early (and rather divisive) glimpses at Nightdive’s restoration work on Blade Runner, development soon appeared to stall. In October that year, the studio told Eurogamer it was struggling to overcome certain “obstacles” relating to the tech used by Blade Runner, and that its hunt for the original source code and assets had “come up empty.” As such, Nightdive decided to postpone its originally envisaged 2020 launch indefinitely.
Earlier this month, however, word being to spread that not only was the Blade Runner project back on track, Nightdive’s long-awaited Enhanced Edition was almost here, with a digital release on Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam scheduled for 23rd June.
This new version, as per its Steam page, promises the likes of reconstructed and upressed video, cinematic video frame rates boosted from 15fps to 60fps, a “modern HD display”, enhanced subtitle support, gamepad support, SMAA anti-aliasing, anisotropic texture filtering, plus an enhanced Knowledge Integration Assistant (KIA) and clue user interface.
Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition is currently listed at £8.39/$9.99 on Switch eShop, so expect similar pricing across all platforms.