The Blade Runner Game Had A Secret Ending

If you can get it running on Windows 10, Westwood's Blade Runner remains one of the most unique and enthralling point-and-click adventures available. It's built in a sprawling world, operating in real-time as the player gathers clues about a vicious animal murder.

Building that world, particularly with the technology available in the mid '90s, was an immense challenge. But that system allowed not just for Blade Runner to have multiple endings, but a special ending in particular.

In a new video series for Ars Technica, Westwood co-founder Louis Castle - who was also as the technical director, art director and executive producer on Blade Runner - explained that the game's design started by establishing the seed of doubt in the player's mind around humans and replicants.

That uncertainty was key to the appeal of the Blade Runner film, and it would soon become a central mechanic. In the game, you're given the opportunity to interrogate subjects with differing amounts of intensity. Push too hard, and you'll finish the interrogation without a proper answer on whether you've just quizzed a replicant.

But to make that happen, Westwood had to create a randomised system - much like how the murderer in The Ripper changes with every playthrough - for the NPCs. "And so the way we did that was we broke it down and said every time you play the game, you're gonna have the same set of characters in the game, but we're gonna randomise some of those characters," Castle told Ars Technica. "Sometimes they're replicants and sometimes they're humans."

"And because of that, they would leave different kinds of clues, and because the clues were different every time, you had to actually go get the clues to try to figure out whether or not the person was a replicant or not, because shooting a human made the game much more challenging because now you were a murderer."

The various variations meant you could end the game in different locations with different characters. But one of the game's secret endings, as revealed by Castle, forces the player to follow all the right steps to save all the replicants. But in the very final scene, just as the replicants are about to escape from the shuttle to the off-world colonies, the player is able to pull their guns out and shoot every single replicant, earning praise from McCoy's LAPD colleague Crystal.

"One of the things you could do with Blade Runner, because it was a living simulation, you could play the entire game, saving all the replicants, get to the very last scene, get on the shuttle, get ready to take off to save them and bring them to off-world colonies, pull out your guns and shoot them all," Castle said.

"And then you got a very special ending for that where you walked out of the shuttle and your cohort Crystal Steele walks up and says, 'I didn't know you had it in you, slick.'"

The full interview with Ars goes into a lot more detail about the game than just the endings, however. Castle talks a lot about the compression and 3D tech that had to be created for the game, including deferred rendering and vectors that were necessary to create the lighting necessary to bring the cyberpunk city to life. He also talks a little bit about an advanced trilinear compression and systems to manage volumetric lighting.

It's a fascinating chat and a reminder of just how technically accomplished Blade Runner was for its time. Watch the video above, and give Ars a few clicks here as well - it's great stuff.


Comments

    I was at Autodesk at the time, and got to work with Westwood on this, and man it was exciting, they were really pushing the boundaries.

    It works fine on Windows 10. You need to download a few extra things, but it only took me a short time (and I'm pretty useless at PC stuff).

      I still have my original cd's (but no disk drive), so I didn't feel bad about pirating this, you can find copies that work as soon as you open then on windows 10, but to be fair for such a great game it is way too hard to find

    Love this game. The movie has its flaws, but what drew you in was the world they built. Not having a decent PC at the time, I was hanging out for the PSone release that ultimately got cancelled. Probably for the best. Bought it a few years later, and will likely be buried with it.

    Always hoped that Quantic Dream were going to take these concepts further with Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy, but the switch from episodic to being pushed out for a full release meant that game goes off the rails halfway through and any potential left unfulfilled. Then they went in a less engaging direction to tell an interactive narrative.

    LA Noire is another I'd hope would expand upon Blade Runners' design concepts, but I was left feeling like that game world didn't respond to anything I did.

    It barely struck me as an adventure, to be honest - it was just a fetch-and-put-the-thing-in-the-thing walking sim with occasional gunplay (that was sometimes impossible to win by design if you hadn't picked up some macguffin prior to ambling down some alley) and a Voight-Kamff simulator.

    I've also played Ripper. The change that the "different murderer" makes is a tacked-on bit for an existing scene where the murderer "slips up" very obviously.

    I only recently found about this additional ending. I guess this is the 13th ending variation that I was missing :)

    There's also quite a lot of content that is cut from the game or not triggered, but is still included in the game's discs. If Blade Runner ever becomes available in the mainstream digital distribution platforms (GOG or Steam) we may even see a patch (probably fan made) that will restore all that, because I think it's quite interesting.

    ScummVM is working on fully supporting this game and they have added the option for subtitles, which the original game did not have, as well as fixing various other little bugs and allowing easy access to the easter egg modes "sitcom" and "shorty".

    I am looking at the cds right now, I knew there was another ending, it hinted massively at it, but could never figure out to get to it.

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