Alice’s Evening… Stare? Blade Runner Blues

The end of a long day.

“What is walking and do walking simulators simulate it?” sounds like the sort of toss I’d open a post with. “And if a walking simulator isn’t simulating walking, can a game simulate a walking simulator without walking at all?” Good. Great job, Alice.

Alternatively, I could say that if you click on through, you can watch a peaceful and pleasant video with nine minutes of Ray McCoy standing on his balcony listening to a chill Vangelis cover in Westwood’s old Blade Runner game. On this night of nights, I think you might like it.

Replaying Blade Runner, I’ve found myself taken with that balcony. Aside from one scripted moment of soliloquy, it’s just there, waiting for you to stand on it and soak in the city. I had intended to sorta wedge it into an Alice’s Evening Walk, as enjoying views in game-y games overlaps with parts of what I enjoy in walking simulators, but no, let’s save that thought for another time.

Instead, I’ll ask you: what are some views you’ve enjoyed in video games? Any places you stood and quietly watched it all go by, perhaps breathing in perpetual gloom or a frosty morning? I remember pausing to take in life buzzing around parts of the Citadel in Mass Effect games. The view of Los Angeles from the roof of Grout’s mansion in Bloodlines, little lights trundling along distant roads. Crumbs, I’m doing myself out of a series here, aren’t I?

67 Comments

  1. Melody says:

    Entirely too obvious, since it’s explicitly designed for that, but I’ve enjoyed putting on some music in Transistor (in game) and then relaxing on the Hammock as the virtual sky changes color.

    • B.rake says:

      I wasn’t a huge fan of the music but that hammock was probably my favorite thing to do in Transistor- come to think of it all of my favorite bits were the little world interactions, pausing to take in the landscape and having a brief hum. Not that bashing apart robot monsters wasn’t also fun, but it always felt weirdly incidental to me. I wish all games had a ‘non-hostile’ mode that let you wander around in the environments unpopulated.

      • Melody says:

        Yes, humming too, I forgot!
        And that “flourish” move. Totally useless, but gives so much flavour to the world.

  2. iZen says:

    Bwah, enough with the pseudo-artsy stuff already. RPS has suffered greatly recently in terms of journalistic informativeness. You found a gem though, make a 9gag Post about it.

    • Premium User Badge

      RaveTurned says:

      “Ew, I wanted posts about videogames, but instead I got this stuff about art.”

    • unitled says:

      Happily and heartily disagree, finding I stop and read far more of the articles on RPS these days!

      • Netkev says:

        I for one think that RPS should just give up on the whole analysis and journalism thing entirely, I just want endless links to trailers and press releases from EA for that is all that video games are.

    • P.Funk says:

      Yes, god forbid we reflect on the way games can affect us deeply, quietly, emotionally, forcing us to pause and reflect. Its a real drag when that cerebral shit interferes with our ability to filter straight to the details necessary to carry on the endless parade of consumption of product.

    • Timbrelaine says:

      Lots of other news sites do informative. I’m glad RPS offers something else.

      Not that RPS isn’t informative too; they cover many games that I otherwise never would have heard about.

    • RARARA says:

      As of writing this, out of the 26 posts on the first two pages, there are 15 news and updates of new/upcoming games, 3 retrospectives of old games, 2 best-of-the-year posts, 2 reviews, 1 interview, 1 WoW post, 1 Christmas Shopping Simulator joke post, and finally, this 1 introspective post by the editor.

      Name one recent important PC gaming news RPS has missed. Otherwise, stop being such a baby.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      When did “I don’t like the thing you like, it is therefore meaningless and invalid, don’t write about it” become such a popular argument, anyway. The mind boggles…

    • El_Emmental says:

      RPS has never been a source of investigative journalism. Once in a while, you would get a short coverage about a specific DRM system derping out, or some behind-closed-doors troubles within a studio/publisher, but that’s it.

      Some writers would write some emails to the people involved, and most of the time wouldn’t get an answer, but if there was an answer they would just publish it and comment a little on it, then move to other things. You wouldn’t have a long, thorough investigation, with 20-30 people being called, 5 to 10 people being interviewed and featured in the series of articles, going deep into the subject at hand.

      I’m sincerely sorry iZen, but this isn’t the news website you’re looking for.

      RPS has always been giving the usual news feed/press announcements, once in a while writing about some personal gaming experiences and personal perspectives about some elements of a game or a series of games. Sometime, it’s pretty great.

      I don’t really know if there’s any gaming news website that does investigative journalism, actually. I mean, we briefly had Robert Florence doing the Lost Humanity series, but it almost killed Eurogamer with an abusive libel lawsuit (the threat was serious enough to get Rob immediately thrown out of Eurogamer). Now imagine what would happen if any journalist was to take on the big ones like EA or Activision – the lawsuits and blacklisting would be insane.

    • noodlecake says:

      This is actually one of the main reasons I do like to read RPS. It’s the only games website I can go on and read articles that talk about games in some way other than from the perspective of a robot or totalbiscuit without the comments section exploding into screams of “Hipster douchebag” or “pseudo intellectual!!” or “This isn’t art! I’m never visiting this site ever again!!”. The ironic thing about the last kind of statement is that those kinds of people probably wouldn’t know what art was even if they were beaten over the head with an Anish Kapoor sculpture.

      So yeah… As a practising artist, I’ll stick to my “pseudo art” games blogs, thank you very much.

    • bartleby says:

      You say this about a website founded partly by Kieron Gillen.

  3. Premium User Badge

    RaveTurned says:

    I remember first playing Civ IV and my excitement at realising that when you zoomed the map out far enough it turned into a globe. I zoomed all the way out, nudged the globe with the mouse ever so slightly, and spent a a good few minutes just marvelling at it as it span against the stars.

    On a similar note, one of the few things I’ve bothered using Steam’s screenshot feature for is taking photos of sunrises and sunsets in Kerbal Space Program. I… I think I might have an aesthetic weakness for celestial bodies. :s

  4. Myrdinn says:

    This was such a nice scene even though I believe it was mostly due to the awesome music. Watch it without music and see my point.

    link to youtube.com
    I could probably put any TES game here and it’s a real shame the above video does not feature the awesome Morrowind music which you should play in the background.

  5. bodydomelight says:

    I used to do stuff like this all the time, including this exact spot. See also: several locations in Monkey Island – the dock, the hill on Monkey Island itself, wandering around Melee Island. People watching in Bloodlines. A huge amount of locations in Lord Of The Rings Online. And probably many more games that my half-asleep brain cannot currently process.

    • colw00t says:

      Back in The Dark Period there were several hillsides in World of Warcraft that I used to go sit on and watch the sun set.

  6. technoir says:

    So many scenes in Kentucky Route Zero. The optional part where the gang stops to watch a shooting star springs to mind in particular.

    Proteus was also pretty much made for this, obviously.

  7. Nero says:

    Many times while playing Mind: Path to Thalamus I had to stop and just enjoy the great looking views.

  8. Premium User Badge

    FailX says:

    I genuinely enjoyed exploring Guild Wars when it came out, before exploration was a stat towards completion. What possibly made it better and more memorable was the random friends I made on it that explored with me and enjoyed the many views there was to enjoy.
    Even to this day I still think it has great art and colours, and lot more charm than GW2 when it comes to discovering a fictional world, but that’s certainly because of all these map collectibles (oh whatever they are called).

    • Morte66 says:

      I’m another Guild Wars fan. That first view of The Eye of the North. I’m ambivalent about the grinding aspect — I saw some cool places because I got my Legendary Cartographer title, but I also had to schlepp through a few challenge missions and the like that didn’t interest me.

      Looking down on my first Daedric Temple in Morrowind from a far high mountain was pretty cool.

      The urban exploration vibe in STALKER is pretty special.

      But I think the winner must be Mirror’s Edge.

      • Premium User Badge

        Don Reba says:

        Yes, Mirror’s Edge. Most definitely. And STALKER, too.

        The Swapper has some very pretty scenes.

  9. emptee says:

    Ash Lake is Dark Souls, what a breathtaking place.
    aaaaand then a giant hydra attacks you.

    • B.rake says:

      ^

    • DrScuttles says:

      That moment you get to the bottom of the archtree and emerge onto the shores of Ash Lake fucking terrified me. That empty, sad expanse at the bottom of the world. And that music. Although there’s obviously enemies and a couple of NPCs down there, no other part of Dark Souls made me feel so utterly alone.

    • trollomat says:

      Yep. Walking out of that hollow tree with that beautiful music playing and seeing that vista gave me the only serious goosebumps I ever had in a game. It’s perfect.

      Also, I remembered that scene on the balcony fondly, but with much nicer graphics. That video kinda ruined my Blade Runner memories. :(

      Edit: Now that I hear it again out of context, ‘beautiful music’ seems like a really strange term for it… it just fits the place so fucking perfectly.

  10. B.rake says:

    One of the many good reasons Blade Runner’s one of the most voted wishlist items on GoG… if only the rights holders would relent :( (add yo vote! not that it matters. link to gog.com )

    I have a weird thing for aimlessly zooming around Sleeping Dogs with a bike. Oh, and all of Dark Souls.

    • G_Man_007 says:

      Good job I have the four disc version of Blade Runner. I must fish it out one day and get it to run on Win7.

  11. Chaz says:

    The last place I really remember just sitting back and chilling out enjoying the ambiance is in the Bannered Mare in Whiterun, Skyrim. After a while away adventuring there was nothing I’d like better when getting back to Whiterun, than renting out the room at the Bannered Mare and spend the evening sitting out on the balcony up in the rafters, relaxing and soaking up the atmosphere.

  12. Kefren says:

    Most games with a high view. Also: Clive Barker’s Undying, the daytime level before you enter the crypt and see your sister, looking out over the low-sun cliffs, waves crashing below (near this bit link to hdwp.net ?).

    And yes, I also spent a long time on that Blade Runner balcony. It captures a _mood_ fantastically, as did Captain Blood, or space whales in Starglider 2.

    • Hex says:

      I’ve found when I’m dead in Killing Floor, I can zoom out way above the action, and in my head-canon it turns into something I’d really love to play.

      Sort of an action-RPG where you don’t directly control units so much as just position them on the map to try and control choke-points. Keep an eye out for stuff like Scrakes and Fleshpounds and have your units fall back and concentrate fire until the threat passes. Be able to specifically alert specialists like sharpshooters to the presence of scrakes, but don’t take an active roll in shooting.

      Something like that.

      • El_Emmental says:

        So… Killing Floor: Calamity, ported to PC (it’s only on Ouya so far :s), and a single player handling the survivors (with aiming/evasive measures done by AI). Tripwire could do that, but they’re quite busy at the moment with Killing Floor 2.

  13. MOKKA says:

    There’s a small pond in the mountainous region (I think it’s called Motazaar) in Outcast. I used to start up the game, just to look at the water reflections.

    I do this kind of stuff regularly nowadays, but Outcast probably was the first game.

  14. Hex says:

    This isn’t quite what’s being asked, but I end up spending a lot of time in Don’t Starve admiring my handiwork. This typically contributes directly to my demise, shortly thereafter.

  15. Wedge says:

    Mmmm I kind of remember hanging around the lighthouse in Beyond Good and Evil a lot. The music was probably a lot of the reason though.

  16. Juke says:

    Should come as no surprise, as the vistas were a large part of the appeal of both games, but I distinctly remember moments of appreciation for the views in ICO and Shadow of the Colossus. ICO in particular was technically impressive for the vast draw distance it featured which was uncommon for console games of the time. Seeing parts of the castle you’d not yet encountered but eventually found yourself bounding across was an exciting act of discovery that occurred again and again in that game. In what appears to be a direct homage, I got a lot of the same satisfaction during the “pause and admire the view” moments included in Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.

  17. dethtoll says:

    Sometimes I’ve taken walks around the Capital Wasteland that are really pretty in the morning.

  18. FuriKuri says:

    Practically every level in Homeworld – there’s a beauty about that game that I still find unsurpassed to this day. Although if I had to pick one, the scrapyard with the massive superstructures in the distance was always a stand out moment. Somewhat humbling in the sense of scale imparted by it (even if it was just a somewhat low-res skybox!). Needless to say, very much looking forward to the remastered version.

    Honourable mention must also go to Freelancer. Some of the weirder systems were fascinating, and flawed as most of the game was, it sure didn’t lack for spectacle. I loved the claustraphobic nature of the nebulas in it, such a simple trick really but one I haven’t really seen replicated in any other games. Here’s hoping No Man’s Sky captures some of that magic, exploring Freelancer’s universe for the first time was utterly compelling.

  19. radian says:

    The Eve Gate in Eve(predictably) is meant to be a sight to behold, but I’ve never made it that far.

  20. Fitzmogwai says:

    I remember doing just that, all those years ago. One of my magical gaming moments.

  21. Monggerel says:

    Yeah, this one sundown at the Preobrazhensky Bridge in STALKER (CoP) stuck with me. Just finished the mission to steal some documents from the nearby Merc base, started back towards the Skadovsk covered to the elbows in Merc gore, clambered up to catwalk on top of the bridge, had a little sit.

    Zaton bathed in autumn orange. Chill breeze over the marsh. Noah’s crazy little boat a proud sentry some ways ahead. The dock cranes bowed like rust willows. The bare hulk of the Shevchenko rotting into watery earth. Dotting the middle distance the concrete coffins of Soviet architecture.

    “I am an animal, you see that. I don’t have the words, they didn’t teach me the words. I don’t know how to think, the bastards didn’t let me learn how to think. But if you really are all-powerful… all-knowing… then you figure it out! Look into my heart. I know that everything you need is in there. It has to be.”

  22. flashlight_eyes says:

    GTA4 did this for me. They did a lot to redesign and compress the overall feeling of the different districts of new york and It really paid off. I loved how if you left the game idle it would go to first person mode and just silently zoom in on the people walking by. It was a nice addition, Especially when this song came on.

  23. Fontan says:

    The view from the balcony of Manny’s casino in Grim Fandango. Not much activity to see, but a nice view anyway. Can’t wait for the restored version.

  24. fishdinner says:

    Thanks for posting this. I really miss this game and can hardly wait for it to eventually hit GoG.

    Master Reboot had some good vistas.
    link to steamcommunity.com

    And though I’m not a huge fan of DoubleFine at the moment, the sheer amount of love poured into it is undeniable:
    link to steamcommunity.com
    link to steamcommunity.com

    BulletStorm had some great views too:
    link to steamcommunity.com

    Human Revolution is probably cheating:
    link to steamcommunity.com
    link to steamcommunity.com

  25. celticdr says:

    Yes, I totally recall (pun intended) the fantastic noirish atmosphere of Westwood’s Bladerunner when I first played it back in 98… apart from being based my favourite film the story line with 8 different endings was well handled.

    Skyrim is another game where I might sit and watch a landscape (I think the way they dumbed down the skill aspects sucked), especially the northern parts of Skyrim during the middle of summer here in Australia I like sitting with the fan on thinking I’m there sitting in a (n)ice cold blizzard.

  26. Galford007 says:

    I don’t have as much time to play games these days, so when I finally do get time to myself I just like to chill out and not play anything fast-moving or complicated. The two games that I’ve found a ‘sense of place’ in are WoW and Poker Night 2 (among others), but those 2 stick out the most.

    If you haven’t played Poker Night 2, it’s not much of a game, per se, but it’s pretty fun for what it is. You sit around a table and play poker with several video game characters while they trash talk you. What’s fun about it is just the ‘hang out’ factor. If you win money, you can win different accessories like different playing cards or table covers.

    The other experience I vividly remember is in WoW in one of the zones outside of Shattrath – the one with the floating islands and waterfalls (can’t remember the name). I flew up to one of the islands at night time, dismounted, and had my character just sit there as I listened to music. I was also using the NVidia 3d glasses so that added to the experience as well.

    Skyrim was definitely up there as well as far as experiences, especially inside the house in Whiterun. I’d come back often just to visit, although I didn’t stay as long there as I did in the other 2 games.

    I think one of the other commenters said something about games with an alternate mode to turn enemies off so that you could relax and explore. I think that would be a pretty cool idea for a lot of games and would definitely up the ‘replay’ factor.

  27. Keroton says:

    I just wanted to say how much I appreciate this refreshed approach to RPS. My favorite gaming place to visit for a decent number of years…unfortunately started to lose me a bit in the last year or so, but now i feel like the personally much adored “Sunday Papers” with their miscellaneous picks of interesting stuff/links, is becoming more and more an everyday experience on RPS with articles such as these.

  28. Kaeoschassis says:

    Any and every view of Midgar from FFVII. I’d apologise for being that guy, but I’m just not sorry in the least. The game takes a lot of flak for what it’s not, and also gets a lot of undue praise, but Midgar as a place has stayed with me for years and years, and I’d say it’s the real star of the show. It’s not ‘just’ a dystopian city, it’s so full of tiny, hand-painted details, so full of stories. It’s full of life – charred, hazy, choking life, but still very much life.

  29. RARARA says:

    I don’t remember seeing anything from Grout’s mansion, but beside Isaac’s house there’s an alley with a dead end, with a view in the distance of the city lights and traffic of LA.

    It was obviously 2D, but I loved the fact that they bothered to animate that bit for a place few would linger.

  30. statistx says:

    Don’t know about views I loved, since i usually see them and think “WOW, Nice” but probably forget about them again.
    What I DO know is, that Blade Runner is way too unknown for what it was.

    I mean common, a Point&Click Adventure with randomized factors? Sure it had set paths in it, but even the well celebrated Telltale choice-a-thons (which i love) mostly give an Illusion of choice.

    Back then that was Sci Fi and promised a future of more randomness, uniqueness and AI developement….instead we mostly just got graphics upgrades.

  31. Turkey says:

    They ripped off that balcony from Beneath a Steel Sky! What a bunch of hack frauds.

  32. sfury says:

    Off the top of my mind I can think two such moments, it’s mostly because of the music there.

    First is The Longest Journey’s Fringe Cafe and this beautiful track that I must have replayed on the jukebox for a good hour or two.

    [youtube link to youtube.com

    The other is a tune that came up in Discworld Noir’s Temple of the Small Gods and I spent a lot of time there too, just listening to it.

    [youtube link to youtube.com

  33. kabic says:

    I’ve had this moment with Bioshock Infinite. At the very start when you get to the cloud city.. there’s the enchanting chant.. the floor is all wet, candles.. i just stood there and listened for good couple of minutes.

  34. El_Emmental says:

    Even if a lot of people hate it for not being as good as the Heart of Darkness novella*, I really enjoyed the scenery in Spec Ops: The Line, stopping several times during the game to admire the dunes and skyscrapers.

    I might replay it just for that – it’s definitely on my “to replay when I’ll get a 3D display system”.

    (ps: the “Helix Mod” fixes the nVidia stereo-3D mode)

  35. TheSplund says:

    Killing everyone and then sitting on a beach in Far Cry (and Crysis); parking up by a waterfall in NFS 1; obviously Blade Runner (recently replayed) – actually dropped off at my desk watching ‘that’ scene; The Hunter (demo); and I sense that if I could get the music to stay on those ‘bells’ in Far Cry 4 then I’ll be chilling in that at some point.

    • apa says:

      I’ve often stopped to look at the sunrise in Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 2. Also some FC2 sunsets over a still-hot desert.

  36. frantrell says:

    Completely agree on wanting more of this kind of articles. Thanks Alice. I’ve often paused the loooong walks in Morrowind to admire the landscapes. They were so beautiful that one can’t imagine how the character models were so damn ugly.

  37. herschel says:

    One of the best moments in die movie, that HAD to be recreated for the game.

  38. Premium User Badge

    Haywardan says:

    No-one’s mentioned the view when you get to the base at the end of Half-Life 2 episode 1? I always felt it was a little cheaty – you were strongly directed to go to the edge of the cliff and go “ooh!” but it was very impressive all the same.

    The other one that always stands out for me is Bravil, the swampy city in Oblivion. I remember climbing to the top of a house (they were all built slapdash and on top of each other) and looking out over the murky haze with shacks and a church among the trees. Very atmospheric. I stood there for a while and thought, “I’m going to buy a house here”.

  39. Baggypants says:

    Any hilltop in FUEL.

  40. davorable says:

    I’m having a hard time picking out specific instances but I know I’ve done this a lot. Looking out over the ledge from your camp in act 2 of Diablo 3 at the city of caldeum is quite enjoyable. It is really detailed. Also the skies in nether storm in WoW are quite interesting.

  41. Premium User Badge

    heretic says:

    Remember Me had some great environments of Neo Paris :)

  42. pund says:

    Heh, I also remember the balcony. How nice :) What a nice game as well, truly a lost gem!

  43. kizu says:

    Outer wall at Doukutsu Monogatari (Cave Story) — link to youtube.com