Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo Review

You’ll be pleased to know that playing Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo never induced an actual feeling of vertigo in me. Instead, playing this game provoked strong feelings of disappointment, boredom, bafflement, and – when it comes to the appalling frame rate on PS4 – nausea.

Despite being an officially licensed Hitchcokian video game, Alfred Hitchcock Vertigo has little in common with the classic film. Instead, this is a modernised spin on the original story, one whose only similarities are a twisty-turny plot that involves a character suffering from vertigo. This is a narrative adventure game, one that attempts to emulate Quantic Dream’s finest efforts. As such, expect the gameplay to consist of doing really exciting things. Like feeding your character popcorn. Or opening a fridge. Thrilling stuff.

To be fair, Vertigo certainly opens in an exciting fashion. Writer Ed Miller finds himself collapsed in the middle of nowhere. As he regains consciousness, he realises that he is responsible for the death of his wife and child. Ed struggles to his feet – push up on the thumbstick to achieve that – and scurries to the edge of the cliff. There, at the bottom of a deep ravine, lies the smoking remnants of his family car. Ed breaks into a run – achieved with a spot of timed button bashing – charging wildly to a nearby bridge. Here he sees a vision of his father, leaping to his death. Ed attempts to follow suit but is saved at the last moment by a passing motorist.

We then switch to therapist Dr Julia Lomas, who receives a phone call asking her to visit a man suffering from severe vertigo, one who claims his wife and child died in a car crash… only his family never existed. Duh-duh-duuuuuuuuh! At that point, the title emerges on screen, and, I admit, I was pumped. Then the loading screen of death. So dull in its length and so regular in its appearance that it serves to undermine any and all excitement developers Pendulo Studios attempt to create.

No joke, I sat there for about four minutes waiting for the game to load. Then, when the loading bar was full, a little spiny circle continued to spin for another full minute before the game finally continued. This happens again and again and again. Killing any pace stone dead. I found myself reading my book to pass the time as the game struggled on. This is not the only technical issue, when the game occasionally switches to third-person control, the frame-rate drops, making even exploring a very small environment a queasy trial for the eyes.

I’d love to tell you that the plot and characters make the technical hitches worth pushing on through, but they really don’t. Ed is one of the most unlikeable protagonists in all of video gamedom. Snide, cruel, petulant, and childish, I spent most of the game’s run time wanting to slap the big idiot. Worse, there’s no credible reason given for Ed’s despicable demeanour, he’s just a massive berk. Worse, I’m not sure the developers realise that, instead, I reckon they think they have created an edgy, cool, and mysterious dude.

If having to spend ten hours in the company of an utter wally wasn’t enough of a put-off for you, the terrible dialogue and voice acting is certainly something to consider. This is a stilted, clunky script performed in a stilted and clunky style. Nothing feels like a real conversation, instead characters just waffle on and on like they are in different rooms from each other. Everything feels flat and tired, which are the same feelings I encountered after a prolonged period of playing the game.

Visuals are pretty substandard but it’s the animation that finished me off. Characters’ facial reactions are just plain weird, the standard response seems to be that everyone sighs, wriggles their face a bit, and looks off to the side. No matter what is going on, that’s how they respond. As such, it becomes impossible to read a scene. Is this interaction meant to be tense? Creepy? Romantic? All three? It’s not possible to tell. What I can tell you is that Alfred Hitchcock Vertigo is worth neither your time, nor your money.

Summary
After a thrilling opening, Alfred Hitchcock Vertigo descends into utter farce. This awkward attempt at a narrative adventure is hampered by ridiculously long loading times, terrible animation, and awkward vocal performances. Give this one a wide birth and just go watch the film instead.
Good
  • An exciting opening
Bad
  • Awful loading times
  • Naff script with stilted vocal performances
  • Facial animations evoke feelings of unease
  • Ed is a tool
4