Nightdive Studios finally released Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition this week, but the majority of players seem to be very unhappy with what the developer has done with Westwood’s classic 1997 point-and-click adventure inspired by Ridley Scott’s acclaimed sci-fi film. Steam’s official discussion forum for Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition has already become filled with people bashing the game, calling it “crap” and “insulting” for reasons that include blurrier graphics, motion smoothing, soap-opera-like cinematics due to changes in frame rate, and font choices that change the original feel and atmosphere, among other problems, many of which are highlighted in critical pieces that include PC Gamer’s, which has gone so far as to call Nightdive Studios’ work a “disaster” that is worse than the original by a “significant margin.” Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition released on June 23 at the surprisingly low price of just $9.99, and critics now believe they know why. Blade Runner fans are telling everyone to stick to the standard GOG version (GOG seemingly only lists the Enhanced Edition now, but the original version is included in the package).
Nightdive’s remaster immediately feels off in exactly the same way as a movie that’s been brutalised by motion smoothing. The cutscenes have all been bumped up to 60fps, and the result is jarring, evoking a soap opera instead of cinematic sci-fi.
Like the rest of the game they’ve also been upscaled, but rather than enhancing Blade Runner it ends up smudging all the smaller details and cleaning up the grime. What’s left is a recollection of the look and atmosphere of the original, blurred through time.
Nightdive didn’t have access to the source code, which delayed the remaster while the team reverse-engineered the original. This massively limited what Nightdive could do, but not doing anything would have been better than what we’ve ended up with. Artistic intent has been completely overlooked, which does a huge amount of damage and undermines every scene.