Fans have helped rescue one of the great lost gems of PC gaming by making 1997’s Blade Runner playable on modern PCs.
Let’s start with a little history lesson. In 1997, Westwood Studios released a Blade Runner video game that was strange for several reasons. First off, Westwood had just made a name for themselves as the developers of Command and Conquer, and Blade Runner was a point and click adventure game made in the arguably waning era of that genre’s heyday. Second, Blade Runner was released 15 years after the original movie, and you could argue that Blade Runner wasn’t quite as much of a cultural touchstone at the time of the game’s release. Third, the game wasn’t really an adaptation but rather an original adventure in the film’s universe that sometimes touched upon plot points of the movie.
For our purposes, though, the strangest thing about Blade Runner was the technology that powered it. Blade Runner utilized some unique technology that not only lent the game an incredible look but allowed it to utilize then-revolutionary concepts like real-time world progression and randomized plot elements. The problem is that Westwood reportedly lost the game’s source code years before the studio shut down. That combined with the game’s unique technology meant that recreating and re-releasing the game has proven to be an incredibly daunting task.
As Eurogamer notes, though, the ScummVM fan community has managed to reverse engineer the original game and get it to run on their custom software. The process reportedly took about 8 years to complete, which really hammers home how hard it was to get this game to run on modern devices.
This is a huge deal for fans of the game as well as video game historians. The 1997 version of Blade Runner has long been one of the most requested additions to GOG, but the situation has seemingly been out of most companies’ control until this point. Thanks to the considerable efforts of these fans, though, you can now play what many people consider to be the best point and click adventure game ever made and one of the most revolutionary advances in the art of video game storytelling.
Now, we just have to hope that EA doesn’t jump in and somehow justify shutting this revival down.
Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014.