Going beyond Blade Runner: The media that expanded the universe

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Jan 31, 2017, 3:00 PM EST

Blade Runner is an excellent film based on an even better novel by Philip K. Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), and if you're a big fan you've probably already read the book and seen the movie about a million times.

But have you ever considered checking out the companion media that further expands the Blade Runner universe? You may not know about them, but there were a series of sequels, a comic and even two video games based on the movie and novel. If you're foaming at the mouth in anticipation for October's Blade Runner 2049, check out this list and then hit up eBay. 


Blade Runner (PC game, 1997)

Your first step on the road to expanding your Blade Runner horizons should be the 1997 PC point-and-click adventure game developed by Westwood Studios and published by Virgin Interactive. Rather than strictly adapting the events of the film, it crafts an original story that actually runs parallel to the goings-on of Ridley Scott's classic. Players take up the role of detective Ray McCoy, who's just been tasked with hunting down a large group of dangerous Replicants.

This 3D-based adventure does feature film protagonist Rick Deckard, but he isn't given prominent lines or very much of a role in the video game 'sidequel,' as it was billed. It takes place shortly after the film begins and then weaves around and intersects with certain parts of the movie, providing extra context to certain scenes and further expanding the Blade Runner film universe. 

The game asks players to question others, react to results of Voight-Kampff tests, and gather information that's ultimately stored in McCoy's Knowledge Integration Assistant (KIA) to automatically organize clues and other information integral to progressing through the game. It's a challenging and satisfying extension of the film, and one that you can pick up right now fairly cheaply if you have DOSBox knowledge and a little patience. Or you can check out one of several hundreds of Let's Play videos instead. 


Blade Runner (PC game, 1985)

This Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC release is another title that was only loosely based on the Blade Runner film, and though it's obviously sorely lacking in the graphics department, it's still worth giving a look if you're interested in further exploring the Blade Runner mythos. 

Said to be inspired by the film's score since the rights couldn't be obtained for a direct adaptation of the movie, Blade Runner is an interesting interpretation nevertheless. Replidroids (Replicants) were created for use in space and have been banned from Earth after a revolt at a colony. Bounty hunters are assigned to take them out, and that's where the player comes in. You'll need to search the city and take out the Replidroids if you want a shot at finishing the game, which is easier said than done. 

The music is very closely tied to the gameplay as you have to sit through a few clips of the soundtrack before being given the opportunity to advance. At certain points, you must utilize your flying car to get from point A to point B. It's nowhere near as flowery as the 1997 PC adventure game, but it's still worth trying out if you can do so easily. 


Marvel Comics Super Special: Blade Runner (1982)

The comic book adaptation of Blade Runner came from Marvel as part of its Marvel Comics Super Special series in 1982. Written by Archie Goodwin, it featured art by Al Williamson, Carlos Garzon, Dan Green and Ralph Reese. It was collected into one issue as issue 22 of the Marvel Comics Super Special series and later reprinted as a two-issue mini-series. 

Originally, the Jim Steranko cover version of the comic featured a 45-page adaptation that gave a bit of context as to what the comic would cover, including the line "Blade Runner. You’re always movin' on the edge." And while the comic opens up focusing on the Tyrell Corporation and its various injustices, visually it's content to focus more on the bright and zany color palette of comics at the time instead of adhering to the dark color scheme of the film.

The comic adapts several important moments from the movie, such as Deckard testing Rachel, and it’s an excellent read if you enjoyed what you saw in the film. It also offers additional context to important scenes you may not have gotten from the movie. 


Blade Runner 2: The Edge of Human (novel, 1995)

If you're looking to go beyond the story of Philip K. Dick’s original novel and the Blade Runner film adaptation, you'll want to check out one of the sequel novels.

Written by K.W. Jeter, The Edge of Human picks up a few months after Blade Runner left off, where Deckard has retired to a shack outside the city accompanied by Rachel, now stored in a Tyrell transport container. After meeting with a woman named Sarah Tyrell, Deckard is asked to hunt down a 'missing' sixth Replicant, all the while Roy Batty works against him, believing Deckard himself to be this sixth Replicant. 

The book does feature some inconsistencies and may be only for the more hardcore Blade Runner fans out there, but if you end up enjoying it, there are two other novels that expand the story even further. Go beyond Blade Runner even more!