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Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo Review

Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo is a psychological thriller game developed by Pendulo Studio and published by Microids. It originally released on PC in December 2021 and has now been launched on consoles, loosely inspired by the story depicted in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 film of the same name. I have been playing the Xbox Series X version and it plays like a narrative-based walking simulator with some third person gameplay and quick time events. There is a lot of stories to be told and, using hypnosis, we get to replay and analyse the memories of the main character Ed Miller.

Ed is a writer who has come out unscathed from a car crash down into Brody Canyon, California. Even though no one was found inside the car wreckage, Ed insists that he was traveling with his wife and daughter. Traumatised by the event, he begins to suffer from severe vertigo, and he can’t even get out of his bed. As he starts therapy with Dr Julia Lomas, he will try to uncover what really happened on that tragic day.

The game opens with the car crash scene and we make use of quick time events (QTEs) to move Ed around the scene and look at elements, such as the crashed car and what Ed sees as his father standing on the edge of a bridge. The use of QTEs in these early scenes helps to progress Ed in some tense moments, however they became the norm for interacting with objects like feeding a cat or drinking a glass of water. At other times we get to move around a scene and objects are highlighted that we need to interact with. We can also make dialogue choices that gave the perception of alternate story paths however they were just conversation points with linear outcomes which is fine.

The early scenes with Ed and Julia feel well structured, mixed in with some dialogue choices to progress the story and search through Ed’s memories of earlier events that led up to the crash. However, when we take over control of characters like Sheriff Nick Reyes and then a childhood Ed, searching scenes for clues became quite mundane. I understand the overall story that was being told and revelations that are uncovered are shocking and sad, but these scenes took a painfully long time to search through to get to those final outcomes. The story thankfully picks up pace towards the end of the game, so it is worth hanging in there through the first half.

We were warned on opening the game of some heavy emotional story content depicting suicide, drug use and death, so I knew this content was coming at some point. However, we must carry out some of the acts, such as a character drugging another, or prompting us to commit suicide for the character, which felt extremely uncomfortable. I think it’s one thing for a cutscene to act out these key story elements, as you watch the story unfold as the storyteller wanted it to happen for the most impact. But to have to carry out the acts yourself as the player made me feel like I was the one solely in control of the event and it was not pleasant at all.

I did quite like the moments where Dr Lomas hypnotises Ed and we are able to investigate his memories. There is a timeline of the scene which we can fast forward and rewind through. Along the timeline are key intervals which you need to investigate to find primary and secondary evidence for Dr Lomas’ notes. It’s in these where the horrible truths and awful experiences are revealed that contributed to Ed’s mindset. He has seemingly buried the truth in his mind or replaced those haunting memories with happier make-believe ones to cope with the trauma, and some are quite sad for Ed and other characters involved. These segments were a highlight during my playthrough.

Overall, Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo is a game for Hitchcock fans that understand the slow burn to his stories. Just heed the heavy content warning as some scenes made me feel quite uncomfortable. The music does a great job at instilling intensity to scenes, though at points during the first half it is a little too slow and drawn out. Players are rewarded though in the latter half as the truth rises to the surface for Ed and Dr Lomas. The use of QTE and dialogue choices is not as engaging as a game like As Dusk Falls, but the story is an intriguing mystery thriller that is worth playing through.

This review utilised an Xbox key provided by Plaion ANZ and Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo is available now on Xbox, PlayStation and Steam. Physical editions of Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo will launch on Xbox One and Xbox Series X consoles on October 11 for Australia and New Zealand.


Written by: @ChrisJInglis

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