Ow, My Brain: Vertigo

Even looking at it is making me feel a bit queasy now.

I think I exclaimed “Oh no!” about three times in the first two levels of Vertigo. The good kind of “Oh no!” Taking elements from a lot of other games, and a strong visual similarity with the wonderful 1000 Amps, Vertigo is a free puzzle platformer that’s genuinely clever. And hurts my brain. My poor, maligned brain.

Games have certainly explored the possibilities for screen wrapping, where exiting the screen on the left brings you to the right, or dropping from the bottom delivering you at the top. But I’ve not seen one that allows these limits and borders to be changed as you progress, such that vertical progress becomes a wrapped screen, while horizontal progress opens up, and vice versa. (Although I’m sure I’ve played a game where you can hold a button to lock a scrolling screen in place and do this.) Then, on top of this, a game where you then find your gravity changed, such that you walk on walls or ceilings as you go (but of course have played many games that do this alone).

The combination of the two could be impossibly distracting, but here – while brain-hurty – it’s very elegant. The very first level has this gorgeous moment as you realise the beginning is the exit, after a series of shifts in perspective.

But now, after playing a bit more, I’m seriously having trouble operating a mouse and typing into this window. My brain has rewired itself to cope with the game’s changing directions and gravity, and is no longer appropriate for the real world – there’s a sort of seasick feeling as menus cascade downward on my we browser, rather than sideways. I’m having most difficulty seeing the way these sentences stack on top of each other. It’s taking a bit too long to go away. This is a good thing. And it occurs to me at this late point, oh yeah: it’s called Vertigo. I’m experiencing actual vertigo. Coo, I’m slow, and that’s clever.

This is a really fantastic little game, and well worth your checking out. And it’s free, which is my favourite price. You can pick it up from here in Win, Linux and OSX flavours. And now I have to go stare at a horizon for a bit until I’m recalibrated to planet Earth.


  1. Syra says:


    • aliksy says:

      It does look a bit like VVVVV. That game was fun, but I got horribly stuck on an escort part and never went back. Maybe I’ll give this a go.

  2. The First Door says:

    That sounds really rather fun, I’ll have to download it when I get home!

    Out of interest, John, were you thinking of The Fourth Wall for the game where you could lock the screen and do odd things with warping? This one: link to thefourthwallgame.com

  3. Sensai says:

    When I click to download the Mac version (I’m at work, shush), it just gives me a ton of text.

    What do?

    • cwoac says:

      right click, save as. The server isn’t setting the mime-type correctly on the file its serving.

      • Sensai says:

        Save as what, though? I tried .dmg, tried .app…I’m out of ideas, haha.

        • jobi says:

          The OS X download is a raw mach-o binary (i.e. it must be launched from the terminal), which also only runs if you somehow manage to manually change the screen resolution to 320×200 (which hasn’t been possible in the last 10 years or so).

          I would assume that it has been created using some sort of automatic converter, by someone who has never even seen OS X.

          • Sensai says:

            Well, that explains it, then. Thanks and cheers!

          • zygoth says:

            Hey! I’m Ben Coffman, the main developer for Vertigo. You’re absolutely right about the mac download… :P What would be the best way to fix the download, make it easier for Mac people to download and play, and do fullscreen? I’ve posted windowed versions until I can figure something better out.

  4. Doomsayer says:

    “Vertigo.exe is not safe and has been removed”

    So, anyone’s computers turned green at this thing or is it just my antivirus being stupid?

    • TreuloseTomate says:

      I get a trojan warning.

    • Fenix says:

      I got a trojan warning too, my AV deleted the downloaded file.

    • zygoth says:

      It’s just a false positive…I used Game-Editor to make Vertigo and apparently its exported .exe’s get flagged by some anti-virus programs. Annoying, but there’s nothing I can do about it short of remaking the whole game in some other program.

  5. Spinkelben says:

    Am I stupid or just missing something? I can’t even complete the very first level! Is it possible to jump somehow?

    • pyrrhocorax says:

      Z and X to jump and shoot.

      • Spinkelben says:

        Thanks a lot! I thought i had pressed every key on the keyboard at least once, it seems not. It was hard to find anything useful on google, becuase “vertigo” is a very common world, and not so famous game. Thank you very much :)

  6. sharklaser says:

    i liked this game, it is very nice until, until! level 7, tower of terror. at that level, game lost its puzzle part and gained torture feature. so it is torture platformer : ) i would like to see this in mafor platforms as a full game , i would definitely buy it, however can i request more puzzle involving and less torturing levels : )