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Nightdive Studios, known for restoring classic video games such as System Shock and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, has partnered with production company Alcon Entertainment to restore the 1997 point-and-click adventure title Blade Runner for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, as well as a PC version through online storefront Steam.
Based on Ridley Scott’s 1982 cyberpunk noir — but not a direct adaptation of the film — Blade Runner follows detective Ray McCoy as he hunts down renegade replicants, or androids that look remarkably human, in a futuristic version of 2019 Los Angeles. The game’s narrative runs tangentially with the events of the film. Blade Runner was developed by the now-defunct Westwood Studios, best known for its Command & Conquer real-time strategy series, and sold more than one million copies over its lifetime. The game also garnered critical praise and won the inaugural computer adventure game of the year at the Academy of Interactive Arts & Science’s first DICE Awards (then known as the Interactive Achievement Awards).
In 2015, Westwood Studios co-founder Louis Castle mentioned in an interview with YouTube channel RagnarRox that the original source code for the game had been lost when the company relocated from Las Vegas to Los Angeles (as part of the studio’s merger with EA Los Angeles in 2003, five years after EA purchased Westwood Studios in 1998), thus making a remake “impossible” without spending millions of dollars.
“It’s true that the original Blade Runner source code was lost,” says Larry Kuperman, head of business development at Nightdive. “We painstakingly reverse-engineered the code, importing it into our own KEX engine, a powerful tool that allows us to do console ports of classic titles, even in the face of quite challenging situations.”
Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition will feature a “polished and premium restoration” from Nightdive Studios via the company’s proprietary KEX game engine, which it has used to restore Turok and System Shock for contemporary platforms, among other titles. The game will feature updated character models, animations and cutscenes, as well as widescreen resolution support, keyboard and controller customization and more. The original foreign language translations (which include German, French, Italian and Chinese) of the original game have also been sourced for the Enhanced Edition.
“Blade Runner is still a jaw-dropping achievement on every level, so while we’re using KEX to upgrade the graphics and respectfully elevate the gaming experience in a way you’ve never seen before, we’re still preserving Westwood’s vision and gameplay in all its glory,” says Nightdive CEO Stephen Kick. “While you can enjoy the benefits of playing the game on modern hardware, the game should look and feel not as it was, but as glorious as you remember it being.”
The Alcon-Nightdive partnership was brokered by Joe LeFavi of Genuine Entertainment, who is co-producing Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition alongside Nightdive and Alcon Interactive Group. LeFavi previously produced the companion art book for 2017’s Blade Runner 2049, The Art and Soul of Blade Runner 2049.
Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition is expected to launch later this year.
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