In 1997 Westwood Studios—famous for their real-time strategy games like Command & Conquer and Red Alert—released a game called simply Blade Runner. It was a grimy point-and-click adventure game, and became one of the all-time greats in the genre.
Partly because of the game itself, which had its flaws but was a serviceable enough adventure, but mostly for its feel, and how it showed that a licensed game didn’t have to be a rushed platformer. Westwood’s Blade Runner had been made with genuine love and reverence for the source material, and felt like a piece of the Blade Runner universe in a way that few games of the 90s (with some exceptions) could even dream of, with its grimy pixels and texture work taking players right back to the streets of Ridley Scott’s 1982 masterpiece.
That was then, though. Now, as they seem to be in every other way at the moment, things are worse. Nightdive released a remake of the game last week, called Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition, and it is bad in just about every way you can imagine.
First and most egregiously the game’s muddy visuals have been worked over, the result being a hideously smoothed and unnatural aesthetic that looks like someone typed “Blade Runner” into DALL·E mini. The whole game now runs at 60FPS as well, more than doubling the original framerate, with in some cases looks fine but in others can be really jarring.
But there are loads of other weird issues as well. There are new bugs (this isn’t a port, the whole game basically had to be reverse engineered), the game’s fonts have been changed, its missing some international language dubs and its music has been somehow downgraded. Oh, and if all that wasn’t bad enough, the remake has also been essentially banned in Australia and New Zealand.
Indeed things are so bad, and the reviews and reaction to the release so hostile on places like Steam, that Nightdive have rushed to add Westwood’s original 1997 version of the game—one modernised to run on ScummVM by fans, and which used to be available standalone until the Enhanced Edition came out—to their own release, so that players on PC can choose which edition they actually want to play. Anyone booting the game up now will be given one of three options: the remake, the original or a version of the original “with some restored content that was left unused from the original game.”
This emergency bundle is now available on both GoG and Steam, though the Enhanced Edition has also been released on Xbox, PlayStation and Switch as well, whose storefronts at time of posting make no mention of including the original game.