The Ripper is the titular main antagonist of the 1996 video game of the same name. A serial killer who takes inspiration from Jack the Ripper, in the year 2040; the killer uses the computer technology of 2047 to make the many murders in New York City untraceable and as graphic as possible, using a form of bio-engineering to raise the victim's internal pressure to the point that their organs explode.. The Ripper appears throughout the game using a virtual avatar of a green distorted face, and a likewise distorted voice. There is no definite canonical answer on who the villain of the game is, since this is decided by the game at random, out of four main characters. A limited number of the clues and puzzles, plus a single line of dialogue in the ending, change according to the villain's identity
The game opens with the investigation of the recent murder of Renee Stein, the third victim of a serial killer known as "The Ripper", largely out of the modus operandi similarity to Jack the Ripper. The protagonist Jake Quinlan, a reporter for the Virtual Herald, whom The Ripper sends messages to detailing his murders (an act attributed to Jack the Ripper, although no letters have been proven to come from him). Along with the police (whose investigation is headed by Detective Vincent Magnotta), Quinlan is seeking The Ripper's true identity.
After investigating Renee Stein's murder, Quinlan receives a message from The Ripper, who warns Quinlan that his girlfriend, Catherine Powell, will be the next victim, as she has gotten too close to discovering their identity. Quinlan manages to find Powell still alive, but in a coma "deeper than anyone thought possible." Cybersurgeon Claire Burton at the Meta-Cognition Center of the Tribeca Center Hospital manages to retrieve a distorted image of Powell's attacker, but requires additional information from Quinlan to make it clearer. (This is also a reference to Jack the Ripper, as the police hypothesized that they might be able to get an image of the killer from the retinas of the victims.) He provides this through investigating into what Powell was on to in her investigation and homes in on three possible suspects for The Ripper's murders. In order to transmit this information into Powell's brain directly, he enlists the help of Joey Falconetti, a hacker who specializes in interfacing directly with the human brain.
Quinlan's investigation leads him to discover that all of The Ripper's victims and all of those associated with the investigation of The Ripper (except Quinlan himself) were involved with an old gaming group known as the Web Runners, who played a game based on the Jack the Ripper mystery. The last session of this game somehow caused one of the players to die in real life. The player that died happened to be Catherine Powell's mother. Assistance from a pathologist named Vic Farley reveals that The Ripper's murders were done by placing a code into a victim's brain while in cyberspace that caused their internal body pressure to rise to a point of explosion, which Farley experiences immediately after providing his explanation. Quinlan also finds a cyberspace weapon developed by a murdered cyberarchitect named Hamilton Wofford, designed specifically to kill The Ripper inside a virtual recreation of the historic Whitechapel district of London, where the Jack the Ripper murders took place. After assembling the weapon and gathering the necessary protection from The Ripper's weapon, Quinlan enters cyberspace, kills The Ripper, and manages to escape the virtual Whitechapel in time to escape its destruction.
Should the player fail to killer the Ripper, the Ripper will appear in a classic Jack the Ripper silhouette, declaring they where "Born the rip lives apart" before attacking the player.
The Ripper can be one of four possible suspects: Joey Falconetti, Claire Burton, Vincent Magnotta, or Catherine Powell. With each play-through, certain clues and actual identity of The Ripper vary, though the bulk of the story is unchanged, and clues indicating the guilt of all four suspects will appear regardless of who the killer is. For instance, Catherine Powell experiences mysterious surges in brain wave activity that coincide with all the Ripper's murders regardless of whether or not she actually is the Ripper, and no alternative explanation for these surges is provided. However, the changes in the game's story and puzzles are limited to the game's third act- after Farley's death.
- Detective Vince Magnotta (Christopher Walken) a violent police officer with a romantic interest in Clare Burton and a vendetta against Falconetti. When Catherine's mother died during their last Ripper game, Magnotta arrested Falconetti for the murder. Magnotta is convinced that Falconetti is the Ripper, but his obsession may simply be a ruse to cover the fact that Magnotta himself is the Ripper. Magnotta may also be eager to frame Falconetti as the Ripper so that he can collect a large bounty for solving the case.
- Doctor Clare Burton (Karen Allen) a brilliant, but seemingly cold and distant doctor that specializes in the human brain. Burton is the object of affection of both Magnotta and Falconetti, both of whom have made Burton's life chaotic. Burton arouses suspicion of being the Ripper when she appears to stall treating Catherine- the only surviving Ripper victim. It is later revealed that Burton invented the weapon that the Ripper uses in his murders. Burton claims that the weapon was stolen, but whether this is true depends on whether Burton is the Ripper or not.
- Joey Falconetti (David Patrick Kelly) a brilliant, though seemingly violent and disturbed computer hacker. Falconetti immediately draws suspicion of being the Ripper with his fascination with knife collecting and his fascination with the Ripper himself. Falconetti was married to Clare Burton, but the two divorced after Magnotta arrested Falconetti. Joey now has a vendetta for Magnotta and Burton, though he still has feelings for the latter.
- Catherine Powell (Tahnee Welch) Quinlan's co-worker and lover. Powell begins investigating the Ripper behind Quinlan's back, hoping to take the story and launch her own career as a reporter. Powell is comatose for most of the game, but it is discovered late in the game that her brain activity spikes each day that the Ripper kills; making Catherine a viable suspect. The suspicion that Catherine may be the Ripper is heightened when it's discovered that her mother was killed in the last Ripper Web Runners game, and Catherine was aware of this fact.