With its world-building style, neo-noir detective beats, and damaged characters, all underscored by a soulful, ruinous futuristic aesthetic (not to mention Vangelis’ timeless evocative, melancholic score), Ridley Scott’s seminal Blade Runner has long earned its place not just as an all-time great of the big screen, but also as the godfather of the cyberpunk genre.
Given the wealth of enduring love Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi effort deservedly enjoys, it’s no surprise that there are actually a decent handful of quality PC games that engagingly emulate different aspects of Blade Runner. So without further ado, here are some of the best PC games that look like Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.
Blade Runner (Classic)
While it’s a little on the nose, it shouldn’t be too much of a revelation to find out that Blade Runner is the video game that has the closest kinship to Ridley Scott’s film. Originally developed in 1997 by the long and sadly defunct Westwood Studios, Blade Runner was a point-and-click detective adventure that plunged players deep into the eternal twilight of 2019 Los Angeles, challenging them to hunt down a group of replicants who appear to have made a killing. Taking into account iconic settings such as the Bradbury Building, Dragon’s Market and more, Blade Runner was a great point-and-click offering that while it may have gotten a little too close to the source material, it was nonetheless as close to playing Ridley Scott’s seminal 1982 film as you’ll ever get.
A remastered version of Blade Runner, courtesy of the excellent retro remaster gear Nightdive Studios, released in June 2022 as Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition and well, that’s not great. Despite a substantial patching effort that has been made since release, Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition still suffers from a number of bugs that weren’t present in the original release, not to mention a visual “upgrade” that is anything but. Similar to the motto of the Tyrell Corporation, trade was clearly the goal here – and nothing else.
A decidedly dark and dark cyberpunk detective adventure from Bloober Team, the same studio that brought us horror titles such as Layers of Fear and Blair Witch, Observer System Redux casts players as a neural police detective who must plug into the fractured and tortured minds of others to unravel a murderous plot. Beyond the obvious similarities to detective work and the larger cyberpunk setting, Observer: System Redux does a particularly decent job of channeling the visual aesthetic of Ridley Scott’s opus. With steady rain and a nighttime setting frequently punctuated by the same kind of extravagant lighting that sets Blade Runner apart from its big-screen contemporaries, Observer: System Redux certainly looks the part.
Watcher: System Redux also gets a commendable shoutout for casting late (and sorely missed) actor Rutger Hauer as both the likeness and voice of the main protagonist, not least because it evokes a kind of irony that Roy Batty himself is now taking on the role of the world-weary detective that Harrison Ford did all the way back in 1982.
Although at first glance The Ascent with its fast-paced dungeon crawler combat seems to have little in common with the heavier, thoughtful beats of Blade Runner, it manages to nail two key similarities to Ridley Scott’s genre-defining film. The first is that
The Ascent paints a compelling picture of what audiences would see if Blade Runner took a deeper look into the myriad neighborhoods of Los Angeles, offering players an intricately detailed neon jungle awash with blazing signage, flying cars, and crowds of downtrodden city dwellers.
Then it can be easy to forget just how much punch Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner guns had. Deckard’s signature blaster was a hand cannon in the truest sense and carried the sound of splitting thunder with it every time it fired a shot. Neon Giant, the developers of The Ascent, have clearly taken this to heart, not least because every gun in the game has the kind of roaring audibles and satisfying heft that every other shooter up and down should be jealous of.
While Cloudpunk seems to mimic the dark, rainy nights of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner with due aplomb, it also represents a unique take on things. Rather than putting players in the shoes of a conflicted detective or an android in the midst of an existential crisis, Cloudpunk instead places players in the role of Raina, an employee of Cloudpunk, a sketchy delivery outfit embedded in the town of Nivalis. Tasked with making an array of not-to-be-asked deliveries to all sorts of sleazy customers from her trusty flying car, Raina soon uncovers a vast web of deception in which rogue AIs, deadly androids and more all find themselves trapped.
As Taken walks up to the Bradbury Building in Ridley Scott’s film and gazes up at the sky, observing the huge publicity blimp and criss-crossing flying cars hovering overhead, it certainly sparks the imagination. Indeed, Cloudpunk is essentially what I imagine Blade Runner 2019’s “sky roads” in Los Angeles would look and feel like, with a city just begging to be explored as aerial cars howl and spin through the rain-dappled night sky while a lofty urban sprawl, decked in pulsing neon, speeds past.
While perhaps of all the games on this list, Cyberpunk 2077 seems to bear the least visual resemblance to Blade Runner, with its sunny city sprawls and decidedly futuristic architecture, the underlying existential struggle and themes of trying to “perfect” the human race still bear a palpable kinship with Ridley Scott’s cyberpunk masterpiece.
More than that, Cyberpunk 2077 taps into the imagination, offering a tantalizing glimpse of what the world of Blade Runner could look like beyond the confines of its setting, as the epic RPG recently acquired by CD Projekt RED invites players to shape their own story in a massive, dark metropolis teeming with tragedy, opportunity and hubris. If someone ever decided to create an open-world action-RPG directly based on Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, chances are that aside from the occasional solar intrusion, it would look a lot like Cyberpunk 2077.
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