What is it about the sheer atmosphere of these two rich, futuristic cyberpunk movies, Blade Runner and now Blade Runner 2049? Mature, visionary slices of sci-fi, the first of which truly introduced a world disconnected from reality and struggling to reconnect with substance and hope, with a world abandoned and living without meaning or attachment to nature, and where our creations walk among us and have become us.
It was as bleak as it was beautiful. Fans even fell in love with the dark dystopia, the cool tech sounds, dreamy soundtrack and cyberpunk elements, but original author Philip K Dick’s considerable list of challenging novels are bleak, lonely, paranoid – disconnected – sci-fi trips. Yet the characters often reach some kind of solace, acceptance or redemption.
The book on which Blade Runner is based – ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?‘ is still a great read to accompany the films, and actually has more to say about the world of Rick Deckard. It still holds huge, underrated relevance and is full of warnings about our world today, and beyond. What is our present reality? How much of it is defined by our own level of empathy and connection towards it?
VR has started to bring us closer to the Blade Runner ‘dreamy’ dystopia, for whatever reasons.
So… fancy a spin in a spinner, the iconic flying LAPD detective car? Want to enter Deckard’s apartment and witness a complete replication of it? Now you’re getting closer… Below is a roundup of Blade Runner experiences, now available. I plan to keep the list updated, and any comments would be a great help in helping readers select or finding new ones. Also your thoughts about the movies, books etc…
Androids Dream VR [cardboard app]
A graphical experience riding in a flying car or ‘spinner’ from the first Blade Runner/Philip K Dick’s book. You’re sitting next to one of your fellow LAPD cops.
Wow. Early steps for me. It was maybe just a short ride but by the end I felt the potential of VR for touring ‘through’ a space – or future spaces – and having time to look around and take in the detail of ‘being’ somewhere or inside a car or cockpit. Sometimes, simplicity is best. My message to VR developers: slow it down and remember that a simple ride is always a nice thing. You don’t need to do much, if it’s all about the flow. It would be nice to get a full game that moves along at this kind of pace. Androids Dream VR
Blade Runner 2049 – Memory Lab [oculus store]
The next step up from above, transporting me to a cyberpunk future city for awhile (kind of a long-term dream made virtual!). The game when it arrives is a bit like a virtual version of point-and-click detective aspect. If only all the VR film tie-ins will be so well conceived, connecting nicely with the prospect of a movie experience, with an enticing ending. On the whole though, it’s pretty disposable stuff, but gets the mind racing as to what a truly engrossing sci-fi experience and story might achieve. Having played some of the old PC point-and-click Blade Runner experience long ago, it felt strange to experience this. Blade Runner 2049 Memory Lab
Blade Runner 2049: Replicant Pursuit [oculus store]
Another Blade Runner 2049 VR experience. And it’s pretty fantastic. It has the most presence I’ve yet felt on the GEAR VR, with a stand-out detail being this crack on the spinner windscreen that you can almost touch. I had to cling to something as the transparent-bottomed vehicle lurched about but by the end of the trip the graphics also show their weaker side. Also, there is no actual flying and any interaction is minimal but… it’s great stuff even so, with the dystopian future enveloping your snug seating position. Can we have a full game please? And can we have another retro flying experience from the 1982 film please with the original Vangelis score? Surely Ridley Scott must want one too… ?! Also: Knight Rider, Airwolf, The A-Team van, Millennium Falcon, Battlestar Galactica etc. etc… Sorry, but there’s just no beating the 1980s. Blade Runner 2049: Replicant Pursuit
BR 9732 – virtual apartment tour [steam/viveport]
‘Want to have a drink at the balcony watching the streets from the 97th floor?
Always wanted to start the Esper Machine by yourself and play the piano?
Enjoy 3D sound effects and Vangelis ambient music through your VR headset right now and take a walk inside this mythic Cyberpunk atmosphere!’
Yeah! Only trouble is, I’ve not yet been able to ‘visit’ the apartment, so any comments on this would be welcome. I guess it will do exactly what it promises. I love the effort behind this project and the devblog is really interesting. Link to site.
Blade Runner ‘Revelations’ [standalone daydream]
Last updated: June 2018