Blade Runner Enhanced Edition released last week on Steam and GOG, and anticipation for a visual remaster of arguably Westwood's greatest game was high... well, at least in the PCG offices. Sadly, the truth is it's more of a disaster than a remaster.
Nightdive had been working on this for a while, though one big complication was no-one being able to find the original source code. The ScummVM version, created by a team of volunteers in 2019, sadly remains the best way to play this seminal title; which is a problem, because the release of the Enhanced Edition saw the original removed from GOG and bundled-in with the new one.
The OG version wasn't available on Steam at all but, following the Enhanced Edition's reception (it's currently sitting on 'Mostly Negative' reviews) Nightdive has now added it to the Steam version.
"The original Blade Runner, titled Blade Runner Classic, is now available to play with the Enhanced Edition," writes Nightdive's Daniel Grayshon. "There is also an option to play Blade Runner with some restored content that was left unused from the original game."
That restored content was added by the ScummVM team and was not included in the Enhanced Edition—another reason this 'Classic' version is the superior one.
Grayshon adds that "We are looking at all your feedback for the game, and we're still working on our first official patch for the game which will be coming as soon as we can."
Blade Runner Enhanced Edition's problems don't end there. The game has been refused classification in Australia and New Zealand on consoles, though it is apparently still available via Steam and GOG (thanks, Gameshub).
"Sorry, we can’t release this in Australia on consoles so you won’t find it there," Nightdive engineer Edward850 wrote on Resetera. "It was […] refused classification by the ACB.’"
"It's not clear to us why, given the IARC process we don't actually get feedback. We think it's because the game has mention of underage exploitation."
The automated IARC process doesn't have much room for nuance, though Nightdive will be able to request that the ruling be reviewed. It's especially confusing that the game has been flagged in 2022 given that it originally released in Australia in the late 90s (with an 'M' rating).
Given the problems Nightdive is facing with this title, a classification battle is probably low on the priority list. Hopes were high that it could do justice to this classic adventure game but this version is inferior to the original in every way that matters. Most criminally, in a game that is so special because of the atmosphere, it's lost that atmosphere.
Nightdive is also currently working on the System Shock remake, so how much heavy lifting can be done on the Enhanced Edition remains to be seen. It would be great to be able to recommend it one day but, in the meantime, we'll just have to content ourselves with the brilliant original.
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Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."