Console owners get another creepy narrative adventure to lose themselves in, but is Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo worth around ten hours of your time?
Alfred Hitchock has gone down in history as “the master of suspense” for good reason. The filmmaker knew how to tell terrifyingly tense stories and create moments in cinema that would live forever. The most famous example is the iconic shower scene in Psycho, but Hitchcock made many films that blurred the line between horror and thriller.
The original Vertigo movie, made in 1958, may not be as well-known as Psycho or The Birds, but Hitchcock aficionados will be well aware of it. It too was a masterclass in tense, slow-burning, and spine-tingling storytelling. Fast-forward to the present day and this videogame adaptation of Vertigo is only loosely inspired by the original movie, but it shares many of its themes and ideas.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo key details
- Price: £34.99/$29.99
- Developer: Pendulo Studios
- Release Date: September 27, 2022 (EU) October 4, 2022 (NA)
- Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, PC
Choose your path
Vertigo originally came out on PC in 2021, so this review will be focused on the 2022 console release of the game. We’re also happy to report that the version we played on Xbox Series S feels much more polished than the game we originally saw on PC nearly a year ago.
The game is a narrative adventure, so if you’ve played titles like Until Dawn, Heavy Rain, Detroit: Become Human, or this summer’s sublime As Dusk Falls, you’ll know what to expect from a gameplay point of view. The story follows various characters through a static timeline as they navigate important, sometimes dangerous events.
It’s up to the player to guide their fates, making snap decisions with only a moment’s notice, or sometimes, to carefully consider the path before you. Even small decisions can lead to life-changing moments. Something as seemingly inconsequential as deciding to hide a bottle of wine can change the course of a character’s life in Vertigo.
The tone and style of the game is more similar to As Dusk Falls than it is to the more horror-focused titles by Supermassive. This is a thriller with elements of horror, so in that sense, it is classic Hitchcock. However, it’s important to point out that this game was written and created by developer Pendulo Studios rather than the great director himself.
Therapy can be murder
The story of Vertigo involves a struggling novelist called Ed being involved in a car accident and witnessing the suicide of a loved one moments later. Most of the game plays out with Ed talking to a therapist who helps him piece together what happened through memory regression. Each memory is a chapter of the game and offers a glimpse into Ed’s life, although it soon becomes clear that Ed may be an unreliable narrator. Everyone around him is also cagey and quite clearly hiding something.
After each memory, we were given the opportunity to analyze it and look for previously unseen clues within it. These are often important revelations that Ed’s conscious mind may have glossed over or remembered through rose-tinted glasses. The seemingly mundane can soon become horrific, and this is what makes the game so clever.
There is usually something very dark hiding in plain sight, and as the bodies start to pile up around Ed, in his memories, and in the present, the game then starts leaning into the Hitchcockesque horror as it barrels towards a conclusion. The problem is that the game isn’t immediately gripping, as a slow-burning story, it takes some time to really get going. However, those who stick with it will be rewarded for their patience.
The memory analysis mechanic is a little confusing at first, but this hits its stride once you start exploring Ed’s childhood. One criticism we’d level at the game is how it sometimes makes you engage in boring tasks. We play games to avoid putting away groceries, not to do it here too. Although we understand these tasks are simply a backdrop to the wider storytelling, so it’s forgivable.
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Other segments offer a showcase of creeping dread, and it’s amazing to see how a jolly and pleasant exploration segment can soon turn into a nightmare and something right out of a survival horror game. This is where Vertigo truly deserves to have Alfred Hitchcock’s name before it.
The visuals won’t be for everyone though. The game uses its own unique art style that can be charming and pretty in places, but ugly and outdated in others. Although, this really is a case of beauty in the eye of the beholder, and nobody can say that Vertigo lacks character.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo has been made with fans of narrative adventures in mind. So, if you’re looking for another game like The Quarry or As Dusk Falls to sink your rusty kitchen knife into, then the game should give you a nice fix. It’s also a must-play for fans of Hitchock movies, as we can guarantee the experience will make you reach for your remastered DVD collection.
While the game isn’t directly from Alfred Hitchcock’s mind, it’s been loyally crafted by those who’ve worked hard to honor and replicate his style. This is a game for Hitchcock fans, by Hitchcock fans and that really shines through. Vertigo isn’t quite the game-changer that Heavy Rain or As Dusk Falls managed to be, but it certainly deserves a seat at the table.
It’ll also make you sleep with the porch light on for a few nights…
Reviewed on Xbox Series S
For more of the latest releases, be sure to check out some of our other reviews:
Diablo Immortal | V Rising Early Access | Card Shark | Sniper Elite 5 | Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course | Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes review | The Sims 4 Werewolves Game Pack review | Monster Hunter Rise Sunbreak review | As Dusk Falls | Steelrising