Much like motion controls, VR is all too often used as a gimmick. It’s a way to make an otherwise basic game stand out, and more often than not the best releases on this new medium are the simplest. Fewer still can be called games, and more often than not can simply be marked down as interactive experiences. Blade Runner 9732 falls into the latter category, offering an environment for the user to explore. However, this passion project by Quentin Lengele helps to highlight the benefit of the medium over traditional film.
The entire ‘game’ in question is simply this - wander about the apartment of Rick Deckard, and enjoy the atmosphere. From the rain splattered windows leading out over the cyberpunk dystopia beyond to the famous piano, every effort has been made to bring this scene to life and there is an astounding attention to detail present here. Everything from the brand of beer Deckard drinks in one scene to the exact lighting cast by the window shutters is present, and the fading luxury of the place is captured perfectly.
The apartment features a number of interactive areas and moving sequences to explore. The views of the city beyond with police cruisers passing by or the television broadcasting a very familiar sequence are both highlights in this regard. Through these Blade Runner 9732 displays the strengths VR, and encapsulates how the medium can accomplish things film or even typical video game genres cannot hope to match. It’s a perfect match for the atmosphere and experience of the film.
Unfortunately, the key flaws become apparent after only a short time. You have a relatively small area to explore, and within that only a few notable elements can be interacted with in any way. Furthermore, there are some obvious optimisation problems present here, as both the frame rate and textures can rapidly degrade with certain graphics cards. The sound assets are also heavily reliant upon those of the film and, while most are replicated without issue, others like the piano sound clipped and can abruptly cut off rather than ending. While a great deal of leeway can be given to any fan project released to the public for free, it’s difficult to accept when they break the atmosphere it seeks to build.
Even with the above flaws, however, this is still a joy to experience. It’s completely free, highly detailed, and while it has been designed with VR headsets in mind, you can even get by with just your monitor. If you ever wanted to see a bit more of this famous set, definitely give it a look.
BLADE RUNNER 9732 / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: QUENTIN LENGELE / PLATFORM: PC, VR / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW