Alfred Hitchcock™ Vertigo is an interactive adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, a classic movie that starred James Stewart and Kim Novak. I should probably say that other than the Hitchcock name and the title, the game bears no similarities to the movie, apart from some Hitchcock-esque camera angles & effects, and of course the fact that the main protagonist suffers from acute acrophobia and vertigo due to a catastrophic life event. Just as he did in his movies, the great director makes a cameo appearance, so keep an eye out for him.
You play as various key characters, gameplay consists of walking around like a third-person adventure with standard controls, ('run' is available in the outdoor locations and is mapped to the 'L' Trigger) and 'RB' pops up a reminder of your objectives in each location. This involves examining or interacting with objects, often mimicking real-life hand movements with the analogue sticks, and these sometimes become Quick Time Events.
Conversations are plentiful and there are regular choices to be made when responding or asking a question. It didn't appear to me that what you said or asked made much difference and all interactions ended with similar plot-advancing results, but I could be wrong.
A good part of the game has you playing the roles of Ed Miller, Sheriff Nick Reyes, the mysterious Faye and Julia Lomas. Ed is the main protagonist who suffers from severe Vertigo, and you play as him both as an adult and as a child in flashbacks. Nick is a world-weary cop with a broken heart and a huge scar on his face. Faye is a mysterious female that turns up at Ed's house out of the blue with an injured ankle. Julia is a psychiatrist tasked with analysing Ed and discovering why he's been so traumatised by both childhood and recent events.
Julia's chapters involve a bit of exploration and a lot of analysing Ed's memories under hypnosis, where she can fast-forward, rewind and pause to examine parts of the memory closely. This reminded me slightly of entering Assassin's Creed's Animus, only without the sneaking and the killing and the climbing and jumping off high places into piles of hay.
The visual style is an interesting one. In a generation where near-photo realism is attainable, Vertigo goes with a slickly drawn, detailed but almost comic-book look for the scenery. The characters themselves are realistically proportioned but have cartoony, caricatural heads with exaggerated facial expressions that reminded me of puppets from the TV series Spitting Image. The graphics may not be 'state of the art' and there are a few stutters in cutscenes but the game looks great. It moves like a greasy weasel (or 60fps) in exterior locations but struggles a bit indoors, even on the Series X. The game has a quality look and while the lip-sync is weak (maybe it's because developers, Pendulo, are Spanish?) the voice acting is on-point and the music is apt too.
As interesting as the game's story is (it's much less predictable with more twists than the movie), James Stewart's character John 'Scottie' Ferguson from the original Hitchcock story is a lot more likeable than Ed Miller, and I found it difficult to have any empathy toward him–despite his tragic story. Although there's no gore or nudity there are some adult themes; bad language, mental illness, suggested sex, drug use, torture, suicide, and murder that keep it umm… edgy, and well worthy of its 16 PEGI rating.
The game autosaves regularly and the Xbox Series X/S 'Quick Resume' feature means you never lose any progress. It took us about eight and a half hours to unravel the mystery, so it has a decent lifespan, with a chapter select if you bypass any of the missable achievements.
Alfred Hitchcock™ Vertigo is a pleasingly polished game, and an interesting one, but it's very slow-paced, linear and lacks action. It could have used some driving or foot chase sequences to vary the gameplay as it's little more than an interactive animated movie, although at times it feels a bit like a modern take on the point & click adventure genre. Despite a few plot holes I think the great director would have liked it.