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Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo review for Switch, PC, Playstation, Xbox


Platform: Switch
Also on: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Publisher: Microids
Developer: Pendulo Studios
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: M

It should come as no surprise when I say that Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo (the game) doesn’t live up to its movie namesake. I mean, Hitchcock’s Vertigo is widely considered to be one of the greatest films of all time, whereas this game isn’t even one of the best games released in the last few weeks, so you can see why Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo might fall a little short if we’re comparing the two.

But what if we made the comparison a little fairer? What if I said that I don’t even like the movie version that much (acknowledging I only saw it once, nearly 20 years ago)? Does Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo come off any better with the movie having that handicap? Somehow, it still doesn’t. Even though there are literally at least two dozen Hitchcock movies I’d rather watch than Vertigo, I’d still say that this game comes off much worse from the comparison.

Oddly enough, however, my reasons for disliking the two are awfully similar. Just as the movie version of Vertigo features James Stewart in one of the least likable roles of his career, Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo focuses on a writer named Ed Miller, an entirely unlikeable, obnoxious protagonist who antagonizes everyone around him.

However, where the movie Vertigo had the benefit of Stewart being one of the best actors of all time (and, admittedly, has a story in which his unlikeability is an important part of the plot), Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo just features a main character who sucks as a person. We’re told early on that he’s supposed to be a great writer trying to overcome writer’s block, except the brief glimpses we get into his work suggest he’s just a hacky, angry edgelord. It’s hard to care about anything that happens to him or his story when you just want to get as far away from him as possible.

It’s important to note that – as you can probably tell from that last paragraph – just about the only thing Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo has in common with the film of the same name is just that: the name. Otherwise it claims to be inspired by Hitchcock’s broader oeuvre – “modernized,” they call it – except apart from some references here and there, the game has a lot more in common with Quantic Dream games like Heavy Rain or Beyond: Two Souls. There are all kinds of short quick time events that don’t matter all that much in the big scheme of things, different dialogue options for each situation, and investigations where you can run time backward and forward to flesh out the story. It plays well enough, albeit without the high production values you’d usually associate with a Quantic Dream game.

While these lower production values don’t impact the gameplay too much, they’re a lot harder to take in other aspects of the game. The characters look horrifying, for one thing, more humanoid than human. The eyes look all buggy, and the cheekbones look too pronounced, and no one looks quite like they should. It’s unsettling, which you’d think would be a good thing in a game that’s striving to be Hitchcockian, but in this case it just seems wrong.

Even worse, the voice acting is abysmal. Admittedly, the voice actors don’t have much to work with – not even the greatest actors would be able to salvage this – but no one here seems to know how to deliver a line in a way that sounds remotely natural. Much like the characters themselves, the dialogue and the way it’s delivered are unsettling, but they’re unsettling because it all sounds so tin-eared rather than because it’s living up to its source material.

It’s also worth noting that some of the camera angles here make no sense whatsoever. You get extended scenes of the camera focusing on everything but the action. It’s artsy, I guess, but it also makes you focus on the dialogue – which, as we’ve established, does Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo no favours.

But, really, nothing does Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo any favours, because all of it is so bad. In terms of quality, it’s about as far removed as you can get from The Master of Suspense. Rather than playing this game, you’d be much better off watching Vertigo, and Notorious, and Psycho, and Rear Window, and whatever other movies you could squeeze into the 10 or so hours it would take you to play Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo, and I guarantee you that it would be time better spent.

Microids provided us with an Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: D+