Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo is from Developer Pendulo Studios and Publisher Microïds. I was very pleased to see that it is based on the movie that was released under the same name in 1958, and no it’s not a complete remake of the movie or even a side story. Vertigo actually is more of a project loosely based on the film, along with some other Hitchcock classic movies like Psycho and North by Northwest. Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo doesn’t shy away from embracing that Hitchcock style either, with the unique directing, character design, bold color themes, story flow, and suspenseful music, as if Hitchcock directed the game in his own unique way.
In Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo, you portray author Ed Miller as he grapples with a debilitating case of vertigo. This is a condition that leaves him unable to stand as the world appears to spin around him and paralyzes guilt over the death of his daughter and her mother after their car falls off a bridge into a ravine. Since this mishap, Ed has been bedridden, and it’s up to Dr. Julia Lomas, psychologist, and psychiatrist, and Sheriff Nick Reyes to unravel the mystery of what really happened that night.
The game begins with an overwhelming assault on your senses of quick-time events, and it doesn’t let up from there. While button mashing can be great for heightening the effect of already dramatic moments, Vertigo takes it a little far. The game pulls you in mostly when you do Dr. Lomas’ hypnosis sessions. During each of these scenes, Ed recounts a rose-tinted memory from his past before starring into a hypnotic app on Dr. Lomas’ tablet, at which point we’re plunged into the mists of memory to witness events again as they actually happened. The scenes from Ed’s childhood, where his pirate and secret agent-themed fantasies are shown to shelter him from the uncomfortable realities of his family’s life.
Now I did have a difficult time trying to wrap my mind around the thought that our brains contain secret black boxes of information that only a psychologist can draw out of us. I did however enjoy the idea that authority figures can, intentionally or unintentionally, encourage people to unknowingly create false memories of events that never happened.
There are dialogue options in which Dr. Lomas can interpret or react to what Ed is telling her, but as far as I could make out, Vertigo only has a single, linear pathway to a single, fixed ending, so ultimately these choices felt a bit meaningless.
The possibility that Dr. Lomas could have accidentally influenced Ed’s perception of events, that he may genuinely have forgotten certain details, or may have simply been unwilling to openly discuss what he remembered all along, is never really considered.
As a player, we are shown defining moments from their personal history, but these offer little insight into why they became the person they are today, painting them instead as a walking checklist for antisocial personality disorder.
They lie, steal, manipulate, and torture other people and animals to achieve their own ends without the slightest twinge of consciousness – all things we knew about them already. It’s not until the final minutes of the game that Dr. Lomas reveals the truth behind this character in a flood of exposition, a violation she believes to have set all this behavior in motion.
For me, I felt that Vertigo had large sections focusing on the villains as a psychopath simulator. These include initiating multiple suicide attempts, murdering a child, and one scene where to progress the game, you have to drug another character in order to sexually assault them. Personally, I found gamifying these moments to be quite tasteless. They don’t add anything to the story that a cutscene couldn’t have done instead, and the only thing they end up accomplishing was to make me feel really disgusted and uncomfortable at the same time.
There were some bug issues while playing Vertigo that took the suspenseful experience and left you on your rear. There are several scenes where an actor’s mic will start clipping, a character’s line will glitch out and not sync with their lips or there’ll be this strange lack of sound or animation on occasion. I enjoyed the game for the most part until I got to the uncomfortable stuff and I had to quit playing. This is not what I am into at all, and it ruined the whole experience for me. Alfred Hitchock – Vertigo is out now on Steam for PC for $29.99 or you can get the Deluxe Edition on sale for $39.98. You can also purchase it for Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X, and Series S.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo for the PC provided by Microids.