The Movie Tie-In Game Done Right
In the futuristic world of Blade Runner, humanity is still full of self entitled individuals that make very harsh and very cruel decisions. This is why the story depicts humanity as extremely unable to adjust to the concept of artificial intelligence -and thus the major bias and prejudice against Replicants, androids so advanced and lifelike that they can be mistaken for humans. The game lets players take the role of Ray McCoy, a man whose job is to seek out Replicants in order to permanently destroy them. In their society, they do not call it an execution for Replicants, but instead, it is considered as a 'retirement'.
Good Tie Ins are Not Common
It is not uncommon for a successful movie to have a game. It has been done plenty of times, from major blockbusters, to Disney animated features, to sci-fi and fantasy films, video games have become one of the de facto spin-off merchandise that films get. But more often than not, these games end up bland and unfulfilling -often just serving as additional collectibles for fans of the film and nothing more. Good movie to game conversions (like Spiderman 2) are actually outliers and not the norm. It goes to show that the industry does not know how to learn from the past, since this Blade Runner game proves that it is actually pretty simple to make a good game based on a movie.
Getting Things Right With the Characters
Those of you already familiar with the book or film will be surprised that Harrison Ford's Deckard is not the main protagonist of the game. And this is a great decision on the part of the game's developers. Instead of having to base everything on the way a character looks, acts, and sounds is a very limiting factor in terms of being able to create a good playing environment for the player. Detective Ray McCoy is a pretty interesting character. He is not as old and jaded as Rick Deckard so the way he looks at the exact same world we see in the movie is from a different perspective. In this sense, playing the game expounds on our enjoyment of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner universe, as opposed to a game giving an alternative look that is in the end, non-canon. This alone already makes the game well worth it as a tie-in.
Parallel Plot Positivity
The events of Blade Runner the game happen alongside the events of Blade Runner the movie, this makes things a little more interesting as some events, places, and characters have more meaning to the player if they had already seen the movie beforehand. But one great thing about this is that the game never goes contrary to the movie, regardless of what you do. This has given the developers the freedom to explore a game with multiple outcomes to events -there are thirteen different endings, and plenty of possible choices to be made during gameplay. Much of the game's fun comes from the freedom you have in interacting with NPCs, and a game that follows a film plot too closely would not allow that.
Great Detective Story
Combat is hardly a concern in the game. To progress, you must seek out clues and leads found from investigating locations and talking to people. These interactions with NPCs can range from being friendly and casual to becoming all serious and intimidating. As a Blade Runner, McCoy is also armed with the Voight-Kampff device used to seek out Replicants (using the device is also a game in itself). Many of the factors that determine the game's endings are based on the decisions you make on the Replicants you find hiding on Earth.
There is a lot of good mystery solving involved in the game, the player is encouraged to review facts and details. The game even provides players with a handy in-game tool that keeps track of conversation histories and other important points (it is called the Knowledge Integration Assistant).
The World of Blade Runner
Your actions as Detective McCoy will naturally affect the flow of the story, but so will your inaction. The game progresses in real time, and this means that whether you proceed with the story or not, some events will happen without being triggered. This means that playing the game over and over to see different possibilities based on what you is worth doing. Of course, the game wastes no expense in reminding you that it is alive.
The intro alone is a great homage to the opening scene of the film that shows the fiery smokestacks, the neon-filled urban skyline, and of course, flying cars. There is undoubtedly a lot more awkward CG and lens flares in the game, but that's all forgivable. The acting is amazingly well made. Even with the old school character models and limited animations, each character onscreen is able to portray their unmistakable individuality. And these little nuances of character stand out all the more when you are trying to figure out who the humans and Replicants are.