The original film that this game is influenced by – while still using its name – is a 1958 thriller; a classic film. The movie stars James Stewart as an ex-policeman, a guy who now has a complete fear of heights thanks to an incident whilst on the force. He gets asked by a PI friend to follow his wife, who is acting very strangely. From there, a fascinating mystery and journey plays out, one that deals with fear, love, and revenge.
Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo (The Game) doesn’t follow this story, but takes on board its themes and ideas to inspire a new narrative that still very much fits in the vein of an Alfred Hitchcock film. Get your popcorn ready. We’re going deep.
Vertigo is a decently long game, one that should take you around ten to twelve hours to complete. And just to be a tad negative to start with, it does have some problems with pacing. But what it does do is deliver a fascinating and, at times, twisty turny story with plenty of surprises, dynamic characters and some absorbing bits of dialogue. It’s a story-based game more than anything else, so think of Telltale’s Walking Dead franchise as a template and you won’t be far off.
Set in California, in the wilderness and the small towns around it, the game has a good noir atmosphere. The story starts with writer Ed Miller, who finds himself waking up on the ground near a bridge across a huge canyon. His car is at the bottom and he insists that his partner and his baby daughter are lying at the bottom. It’s also exactly what happened to him as a child when his father was the driver. Intriguingly the car at the bottom doesn’t have his partner and the child remains in it, yet the trauma of the mystery makes his vertigo go into overdrive and he finds he can’t walk. A therapist is employed to put him under hypnosis to try and find the source of this trauma, digging into his past to work out the mystery of the present…
The story had me hooked all the way through. The twists and turns and the way it takes different viewpoints from different characters’ points of view are intriguing and always engaging. However, it feels like it needs a bit of a push pacing-wise, especially in the middle section where it begins to drag a bit.
The gameplay elements themselves sit in two parts. You will find yourself taking in a lot of exploration of your surroundings, as you look around the area and find points of interest to interact with, helping move the story along. There is a list of objectives in the right-hand corner of things you need to do in each chapter, whilst dialogue trees help you work through characters with different choices that put you on slightly differing paths. Other than the exploration, further neat bits of the gameplay involve using a cameraphone in one section and flying a drone in another. I’m not going to go into details though; spoilers.
The other element of the gameplay takes place in the hypnosis sessions. A memory is played out, giving you the opportunity to rewind and forward the scene, letting you analyze a certain section. It’s here where the scene is almost frozen, playing out in ultra slow motion. Ed can walk around the scene like a memory ghost, interacting with it, unlocking secrets and revelations about the past. I liked this piece of gameplay a lot and when it popped up found it fascinating to play and explore.
Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo does have a similar look to the Walking Dead games in terms of how the characters are drawn and animated. But I think this game has a much more polished feel in terms of textures and level design. It does a great job in the hypnosis sequences, especially when the scenes are slowed down, as well as in regards the attention to detail in things like photographs, business cards, or even a toy which helps make the whole world more believable.
In terms of the soundscore and it is reminiscent of the stylings of the 1958 film. Lots of strings help build things quickly, before slowing it all down again. It does sometimes overwhelm the scenes and doesn’t quite fit in with the quieter moments, but on the whole it works. The voice acting is very good too, with the actors fully committed to the performance in a splendid way.
If you’re a story lover, then Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo is possibly a must-buy. It’s a unique and individual game, powered by a narrative that has been inspired by the famous director’s classic film. The story is great with a lot going on, the gameplay works well and there are always some intriguing moments to keep your attention and focus. It’s not complicated and you won’t get stuck at any point, but the pacing is a problem at times and it could have possibly been cut by a couple of hours without harm.
On the whole though, Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo is a fun and fascinating game that you’ll thoroughly enjoy.
Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo is on the Xbox Store