During the Halloween season everyone celebrates in different ways. I tend to look for new experiences in the worlds of movies and video games and Pendulo Studios’ Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo stands at that crossroads. Taking inspiration from the 1958 movie of the same name, the new game explores similar themes of madness, trauma and having a hard time looking down from very high places.
After an unsuccessful suicide attempt Ed develops intense vertigo and begins therapy with Julia. Dr. Julia Lomas is a second character you follow who uses hypnotherapy to search Ed’s memories and try to find proof of his late wife and daughter. A third character is introduced, Sherriff Nick Lomas, about an hour in and you rotate between the three as you unravel which of Ed’s memories have been repressed and which are down right false.
Gameplay wise there isn’t very much meat on the bone. You’ll choose from dialog options and participate in a large amount of Quick Time Events as the story unfolds The part of the game that feels unique is after each of Ed’s memory segments Julia will ask you to find specific items or information to confirm what’s real from what’s not by rewinding events and having a look around the scene.
Graphically the game has an art style and character designs reminiscent of the late TellTale games, which is fitting because that studio also had great success with the interactive story style of game in the mid 2000’s. While the voice acting is good, it can sometimes come off as a bit clunky thanks to some weird editing. Given the source material I’m willing to give that oddness a pass because it does a fine job setting a mood that keeps you feeling everything’s a bit surreal and adds tension. The soundtrack does a fine job of keeping that sense of tension constant as well.
Pendulo Studios is the longest active Spanish game developer in the industry and publisher Microids is based out of France so any oddness in the script or VA could easily be chalked up to the difficulty of translating from Spanish to French to English. Ed and Julia each in their own way almost immediately come off as unlikable but as the story unfolds become more sympathetic. Fair warning too, as the story unfolds you witness multiple suicide attempts from different characters, and a murder or two and a sexual assault so this might be one to pass up if these are sensitive topics for you.
Truth be told, this style of game isn’t my favorite. I played ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘Tales from the Borderlands,’ and the ‘Batman’ Telltale games in this genre. But unfortunately, it feels too much like an interactive movie with the length of time necessary to complete the story (9 hours according to Howlongtobeat.com). I tend to get overwhelmed with the time investment and want to play something with a little more action and gamer input. However, if narrative adventure games are your jam, or you’re a massive fan of Hitchcock, Vertigo might be worth a look.