Cyberpunk is having its second wind. The genre of postmodern science fiction best defined as ‘high-tech, low-life” was born in the 1980s, first in film, then literature, then game. Though declared dead in 1991 after Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash seemed to parody the genre as much as embody it, Cyberpunk came roaring back in the 2010s in the wake of Citizens United, Facebook, and the second tech boom. By the time Cyberpunk 2077 was released in 2020, the setting year of its RPG predecessor, the combination of 80s aesthetic being cool again and the continued specter of corporate overlords made the children of Gibson, Sterling, and Shiner seem all too relevant. Tabletop RPGs were no exception to the trend; in addition to Cyberpunk Red becoming the best-selling non-D&D RPG of the decade so far, many imitators cropped up from all over the game design map, some adhering well to Cyberpunk themes and others not so much.
Free League, a Swedish publisher of ever increasing significance in the last few years, has stepped into the Cyberpunk ring with a licensed title. This isn’t Free League’s first go at a licensed game, with Alien receiving broadly positive reviews, but like Alien Blade Runner is a property with a lot of history and high expectations attached. Based originally on Philip K Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Blade Runner basically started the Cyberpunk genre when it was released in 1982. While William Gibson had started writing in what would become Cyberpunk a little earlier (Johnny Mnemonic was published in 1981), so influential was Blade Runner that he feared Neuromancer would be dismissed as a coattail-grab.Continue reading Blade Runner Review