Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo Review

What is with this knack for developers and publishers plastering the esteemed name of a deceased personality on the covers of their games? Ubisoft pins Tom Clancy’s name on their military-based efforts, despite the renowned novelist being situated in a state of demise for 9 years now. Name value must carry exceptional weight, but now not only is a legendary name attached to a videogame, but his filmic masterwork has been slapped on the title as well.

Just so we’re perfectly clear upfront, Alfred Hitchcock DID NOT direct this turgid videogame effort because he is deceased. With that said, welcome to Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo, a game so loosely tied to the film it may as well pass as parody.

Those expecting a videogame masterpiece to coincide with the masterpiece that is the Jimmy Stewart-fronted, Alfred Hitchcock-directed psychological thriller known as Vertigo, will instead receive a pale imitation, coming off like a mangled ghost, trying to resemble the big bald bonce of Hitchcock; instead looking like a depressed gargoyle perched high and glaring down from a cathedral.

 Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo is an ugly, largely balderdash attempt to modernise a Hitchcock classic in videogame form, but at least some molecular remnants of Hitchcock’s DNA lift it a little bit higher up from a total disgrace. 

Eddie “Ed” Miller has a heavy burden resting on his shoulders. Not only is he standing in for Jimmy Stewart’s John Ferguson, but he is also a sufferer of Vertigo (if you couldn’t tell by the game’s title), after a car crash involving his wife and daughter. The trauma from the aftermath of this devastating wreck encourages Ed to seek therapeutic restitution, though oddly he appears reluctant to engage willingly at first, he eventually settles in and reveals his past memories to the psychiatrist Dr Julia Lomas.

Vertigo isn’t afraid to confront on-the-nose themes such as suicide, child murder and trauma, drugging a person so the character can sleep with them, and a gruesome glance at personal physical torture. The strength of these scenes may be unpleasant to some onlookers, but they are presented in a way that seems almost passive, trivializing them as to evoke a sense of desensitization in the player. Yes it’s quite messed up, but by the same token Vertigo doesn’t make you care about what’s going on because the actions of the characters speak far louder than their personalities.

Along the way, you step into the unbalanced feet of Ed as he relives memories from his past, with new characters entering the fray such as a Hispanic sheriff looking to solve a murder and a scheming 23 year-old woman called Faye who invades Ed’s apartment by faking an injury so she can drug him. Their connection to the overall happenings of the story is well done, with an engrossing whodunit mystery keeping you wanting to know more – but you will have to forgive Vertigo for some unappealing downtime before you get to the good stuff. The ending is reminiscent of the classic Vertigo film too, so this game version isn’t without its references.

Unravelling the events of the past is a primary source of gameplay interaction in Vertigo. As Ed, you participate in therapy sessions where Dr Lomas shows you a swirling image on a screen to hypnotize you, then you’re transported to fog-ignited surroundings, where you try to piece together the past.

These segments plays out as footage you can fast-forward and rewind, with glowing white strands guiding you to where significant environmental objects are that are crucial to the main story, as well as optional secret titbits you will find hanging around too. Your job is to fill a white circle to 100%, which may cause you to groan as you may find yourself searching fruitlessly and wrestling with the camera to face an object of interest once you happen upon a sumptuous morsel of memory.

Moments when you are given control to walk during these memory sequences and events in real time, tend to be cumbersome and meandering. Invisible walls keep you on track, but surveying the environment for the next cutscene can be utterly tedious and the objectives do little to guide you as well.

Echoes of Dontnod’s and Quantic Dream’s work are thickly revealed throughout Vertigo that it’s unable to cloak itself from them. There are a bevvy of QTE-like prompts, where you tap buttons as they show up on screen, but thankfully they are largely inconsequential. Story bits where you play in the role of a child and perform tasks summon shades of Life is Strange and Heavy Rain most notably. Heck, those memory sequences feel as though they were plucked by Twin Mirror and Beyond: Two Souls. Familiar and unoriginal? Yes, but there are mild pleasures in exploring the story through the peepers of the impressionable.

With presentational aspects in mind, Vertigo is hideous to look at with its jagged character models and dreadful lip-synching. The performances are solid though, even if the characters aren’t appealing, but the main character Ed is especially dry. The music might be the only comfortable and appreciable comparison you can make to the Alfred Hitchcock-directed film Vertigo. The melodies usher in a foreboding and disquieting essence that matches well with the goings on of the story.


Nowhere near the classic the true Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo was, this pretender does an unsatisfactory and un-compelling job of providing a worthwhile experience. The story takes its time to truly materialize convincingly, and the payoff isn’t worth the effort. From an appearance standpoint, the game looks atrocious and will not have the looks your mother could love either. The act of controlling and playing Vertigo is passable, but unfortunately it hasn’t been properly optimized for console – which goes for both how the game looks, and the absence of a proper cursor when pointing and clicking the environment. Despite flashes of intrigue in the story and some enjoyment with the past memories Ed relives, Vertigo is a shoddy game that fails to live up to lofty standards – and as it shows you quite vividly, this one has fallen off a bridge and splattered on the ground below.

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This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox One console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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  • When the story gets going it can pull you in
  • Childhood memory sections are pleasant
  • The music is reminiscent of the film in a good way
  • Hideous graphics and lip-synching
  • Characters aren't compelling
  • Not optimized properly for console
Written by
Although the genesis of my videogame addiction began with a PS1 and an N64 in the mid-late 90s as a widdle boy, Xbox has managed to hook me in and consume most of my videogame time thanks to its hardcore multiplayer fanaticism and consistency. I tend to play anything from shooters and action adventures to genres I'm not so good at like sports, RTS and puzzle games.

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