Reviews - Updated on March 27, 2022

Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” is considered one of the cult director’s best works – 846 critics put it in first place in the list of the greatest films according to Sight & Sound (previously in this poll, conducted since 1952, for many years it was in the lead ” Citizen Kane). Also, “Vertigo” is considered the best detective film of all time according to the American Film Institute. The game Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo is unlikely to get into serious tops, but it is absolutely impossible to break away from it, as well as from viewing the original picture.

Vertigo from Hitchcock

The Spaniards from Pendulo Studios are also, to put it mildly, not the last in their field: they have behind them the Runaway series beloved by many, the thriller Yesterday and the noir detective Blacksad: Under the Skin. It is not surprising that in Vertigo they decided not to copy the original plot of “Vertigo”, but came up with their own story based on the motives, retaining the overall style, mood and largely themes.

Alfred Hitchcock - Vertigo: Review

Even Hitchcock himself appears here.

In general, they prepared well and made a real gift to Hitchcock lovers. There is a signature cameo from the director, who has appeared in microscopic roles in almost all of his films; there are familiar shots – for example, a car driving along a serpentine road, or the famous look down with a view from the eyes, when it seems that you are sick and you are about to collapse.

Alfred Hitchcock - Vertigo: Review

In the film, it took a lot of technical work to make a shot like this.

The game also takes place in the San Francisco area, and at some point the characters also look at a stand showing a section of the roots of a thousand-year-old sequoia, where each layer corresponds to one or another historical event.

Alfred Hitchcock - Vertigo: Review

Only now there are much more modern dates.

Plus quotes from other Hitchcock paintings – birds often flicker, which can be the starting point for inspiration for the main character, and the word “psycho”. However, the main thing is that here we also have a thriller about madness and ghosts of the past that can return and poison your life. And, of course, about the fatal woman who, like in the film, suddenly appears in the life and in the hero’s house, and then just as suddenly disappears from him. She is strange, very beautiful (god, what a beauty Kim Novak [Kim Novak] in the role of Madeleine – just for her sake, watch “Vertigo”!) and, quite possibly, pretends to be another person.

Alfred Hitchcock - Vertigo: Review

Girl with a surprise, let’s say.

Although it is unclear whether it exists at all. Some believe that the entire plot of “Vertigo” is the fruit of delirium, imagination, a dream of the protagonist. About the story told by the writers of Pendulo Studios, you can think the same thing, but, of course, in general, it is simpler.

Madness, the ghosts of the past, the manipulation of them and your memories – these are just some of the themes raised in the original “Vertigo”, the symbolism and metaphor of which is interpreted from a variety of points of view – Freudian, Catholic, Gothic, surrealist, feminist, autobiographical, even Marxist and so on. Further.

In this sense, I repeat, the game is not so deep. There is no hidden symbolism here, but there is a very specific story of madness and revenge, coming largely from childhood traumas, repressed memories and complexes. But the plot here is also very confusing, and in places emphatically unrealistic – the original “Vertigo” was often blamed for this.

Alfred Hitchcock - Vertigo: Review

Are there any healthy people here?

Flights in a dream and in reality

So, the writer Ed Miller wakes up on the road and realizes that there was a car accident in which, according to Ed, his daughter and her mother were killed. But no bodies or traces of blood were found in the car. And in general, there is no evidence of their existence, except for the words of Miller. But in the car they found a gun and a bottle of whiskey. At the same time, the corpse of a man who was familiar with Ed is found on a nearby farm.

Alfred Hitchcock - Vertigo: Review

The cat will play a very important role in this story.

Miller is among the main suspects and finds himself in a madhouse – at first Ed wanted to commit suicide, and then he developed such a severe form of fear of heights that he could not even get out of bed. As a result, Miller’s old friend and publisher hires a well-known psychotherapist, for whom we basically play – we have conversations with Ed, rummage through his memories (including childhood ones) and bit by bit get to the bottom of the truth using hypnosis.

Alfred Hitchcock - Vertigo: Review

Ed met himself during a hypnosis session.

In addition, they periodically let you play for Miller himself, for the policeman who is simultaneously investigating, and for the very girl who is either there or not. To say that all of this makes for an engaging, twisted thriller is really an understatement. You need to play and immerse yourself in this story, which knows how to surprise and constantly keeps you in suspense, sometimes annoying by the fact that it leads to another climax, to the answer to the most important question … and then immediately interrupts the scene again.

Although such switching and jumps between characters and even between different time layers, from the present to the past and back, in fact, are good for the script. And the artificially slow pace of the narrative, if you think to blame the game for this, is generally in line with the style of the film, which critics also accused of being long. The same with those moments when doubts arise – well, no, it looks too unrealistic, too complicated, it could not be in reality.

Alfred Hitchcock - Vertigo: Review

Here, in fact, is Ed Miller’s psychotherapist.

In Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo there is the main sign of a good detective story – the story makes you wonder for a long time what happened, who the conditional killer is, but all your assumptions and suspicions can be broken after another sudden turn of the script. And even when everything becomes more or less clear, important questions remain, the answers to which we will receive only before the very credits.

The dialogue and characters are well developed and written. Ed, for example, at first does not trust the psychotherapist and demonstrates the heights of cynical humor, while she herself, in addition to working and communicating with Miller, also has a personal life. At some point, she begins to communicate closely with the policeman who is investigating, and it depends on our decisions whether romantic feelings will arise between them. That is, here we do not have talking heads, designed only to move the central plot, but living people with their own stories.

Alfred Hitchcock - Vertigo: Review

The theme of height runs throughout the game.

interactive movie

The gameplay in Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo is designed to exclusively help both the central and side stories, without preventing us from diving into them. Therefore, there is practically no quest – a maximum search for active points and objects plus QTE. The most interesting thing is, of course, episodes during hypnosis sessions, when we need to look for key points and objects in our memories that will help the psychotherapist put together another puzzle and understand what really happened.

Alfred Hitchcock - Vertigo: Review

Relax and enjoy reading.

In these scenes, we are often transported to the hero’s childhood, playing pirates or spies fighting against the KGB – from the point of view of design and screenplay, this is almost the best thing there is. Because through children’s games, adult problems are shown very accurately and unbanally.

Alfred Hitchcock - Vertigo: Review

As a child, Ed Miller was a very lively child with a rich imagination.

But from the point of view of mechanics – nothing complicated, just a search for items. QTE is also unlikely to cause difficulties at least once in a playthrough. There are also hints of deductive work with the board, on which, as in the Frogwares games about Sherlock, photos and evidence are taken out, but these are nothing more than hints. But in general, this is a variant of the gameplay from interactive adventures from Telltale Games. And just like there, very often we are given time to make one or another decision – to choose a cue, a line of behavior, a topic for a daily story, and sometimes even solve a more complex dilemma.

In fact, this practically does not affect the main plot – it is linear here. But the details may change: whether our therapist will be a vegetarian, what color the soldier will flash in Ed’s childhood memories, and stuff like that. Plus, a lot of decisions that affect the shades of mood in communication between the characters – how to respond to Ed’s cynical jokes, whether to lend a hand to your doctor, whether to help Miller stand up when he falls, and so on.

Alfred Hitchcock - Vertigo: Review

There are more important forks that affect, for example, the personal life of a psychotherapist. Or in one of the dramatic situations, we decide whether to tell a person the bitter truth, lie, or sweeten the pill. At the very beginning, you need to choose whether to jump off the bridge or not. All this, I repeat, does not affect the plot – given the strength and tension of the central story, this is perhaps the right decision. In addition, the abundance of details that require our reaction and response creates the right illusion of choice, which does not allow us to relax and just “watch a movie”.

Alfred Hitchcock - Vertigo: Review

The options will clearly interest the Society for the Protection of Animals.

On the same rake

In general, as in Blacksad: Under the Skin, in Vertigo the Spaniards tell a fascinating detective story, where the characters, dialogues and suspense are well developed. And just like there, the problem is, by and large, only in the technical design – not everything is fine with the optimization in Vertigo. Downloads and subloads are constantly going on, sometimes graphic artifacts happen, or everything can just freeze.

Alfred Hitchcock - Vertigo: Review

Often the level loads about as sluggishly as Ed walks.

In addition, facial animation is sometimes scary. It is clear that Vertigo does not have the budget for The Last of Us Part II, but this does not make it any easier: in an interactive film, where models and close-ups are very important, it is sometimes impossible to look at the faces of some characters without laughter or horror. There are, of course, more successful models, and in general, in the end, you get used to everything, but at first it catches your eye and distracts.

Alfred Hitchcock - Vertigo: Review

The psychotherapist with facial animation has been particularly unlucky.

In all other respects, Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo is an almost perfect, albeit more straightforward Hitchcockian thriller, fascinating, atmospheric and full of internal tension that does not splash out in a second, but steadily accumulates, spreads and envelops the viewer. Here the same style, atmosphere and a bunch of references are raised, the same questions are raised and the topic of dizziness and falling is very correctly looped. But at the same time, this is an independent work, in which there was even a bit of branded humor from Pendulo Studios: just play it to the end, and you will understand why I love cats so much…

Pluses: fascinating plot; well-developed characters and dialogues; the atmosphere and style of a Hitchcock thriller; charming cat; good voice acting; music in the spirit of the original Vertigo.

Cons: the game is technically quite raw, there are problems with optimization; facial animation and models can be intimidating.

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