Recently released from Pendulo Studios is their next adventure game, Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. There is something to be said for remakes. Once made there is the inevitable comparisons that can fairly or unfairly color the experience.
Back in the late 1950s, Alfred Hitchcock released his mystery thriller of the same name, which starred the iconic Jimmy Stewart. Based on a novel written in the same decade, the movie when watched now is very campy, which may be a why it was not consistently well received at the time. Some critics saw the movie more as an examination of Hitchcock himself, while others had issue with a mystery thriller being solved early in the movie. Pendulo’s offering reflects the cerebral nature of the movie, even though at its center is the examination of one man’s psyche and for the most part that is where the similarity to Alfred Hitchcock’s film should and does end.
In the game, a psychologist is enlisted to work with an author who was in a car crash and claims he was traveling with his wife and daughter. However, the remains of his family were not found. The story jumps to him in a cabin alone and then out of the blue rendering aid to a beautiful injured hiker. While recovering, she “innocently” ends up half-naked in his shirt and…yep. For an alleged grieving car crash survivor that seems to be a strange place to start up, but hey the therapist asked, right? Not even close.
This is where the ability to connect with the protagonist seems to go astray, which is very early in the story. While there is quite a mystery that unfolds, it is sort of hard to care about the angst of the protagonist as the consequence of the initial car crash seem to be secondary to the author’s writer’s block.
The thing about adventure games is that there is the need to care about the outcome, which requires you to care about the protagonist. Other adventure games can lose this in the adventure part. Vertigo seems to get lost in the gaming experience at the expense of the story. There was the exploration of various past memories that are meant to help explain the source of the author’s vertigo, but again the reason to really care was missing. The story pacing was interesting, with a creepy kitchen scene and an investigation on a farm, which has some Hitchcock easter eggs, including a Psycho shower scene. While entertaining, given the day and age, there is a certainty that many of these will be missed.
The gameplay prompts seem inconsequential. While I understand the need to keep a story along a central story line, choices made in various places do little to change the outcome. This lack of player impact on the direction of the story in seemingly any way changes it from a game experience to a digital video, which leaves the graphics.
Graphically, this is not the most stunning presentation since the boxy graphics harken back a decade or so. While not required for an adventure game, as the locations tended to be remote, there is a chance to at least have stunning venues or iconic music to help the story along. With neither present, this may not be the best offering for someone stepping into the world of adventure gaming.
This virtual novel seems to have too much mystery and not enough story to make you care about how it ends. But if you are really into the genre and have some time to spend there are some interesting hours ahead. Be careful, though, that the constant environment swirling around without much of a center doesn’t give you vertigo as well.
You can find Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo on most of the gaming platforms and on PC.
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E.Angel is an engineer and holds a BS in electrical engineering from North Carolina A&T State University. In her spare time she works at her comic book store – Brainstorm Comics and Gaming - when she is not reading comic books. She's a real nerd who loves all things Star Wars and Star Trek, and is an avid gamer. E.Angel can be reached at email@example.com or on either game platform as Bunnehs Sister.