I'm beginning to notice a trend of developers making games based on things I studied in school, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. Last year it was George Orwell's Animal Farm, and now this year Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 psychological thriller Vertigo is getting a game adaptation. Developers Pendulo Studios showed a teaser trailer during Saturday's Guerrilla Collective indie game showcase, which is rather trippy and dramatic. It made me feel a bit uneasy too, which is how I felt when I first watched Vertigo, so they must be doing something right.
Publisher Microïds announced the Vertigo adventure game back in 2018, at the same time revealing they'd licensed Alfred Hitchcock's name and likeness for it. Back then, they said it was "loosely based" on Vertigo, though from the sounds of things, "loosely" might be underselling it.
"The main themes of the game are roughly the same ones that appear in the movie: obsession, madness, manipulation, identity, and the confusion between imagination, dreams, memory and reality," narrative designer Josué Monchan says in a dev diary.
The old Vertigo film follows an ex police-officer who's both afraid of heights and suffers from vertigo after a, uh, stressful event at work. He falls into a tangled love web, and it's all very dark and dramatic. Vertigo: The Game follows a slightly different plot, based around a man who becomes traumatised after a car crash. He's convinced his family was in the car with him, though it's unclear whether or not that was the case, and through the game he'll try to figure out what really happened. With lashings of drama thrown in too, it seems.
"Vertigo is not our only frame of reference. For instance, the fact that therapy is at the core of the narrative echoes Spellbound, and some characters resemble protagonists from Rebecca, Psycho, and many more," Monchan adds.
"We've been studying Hitchcock's camera work: subjective shots, his use of detail shots, and even the dolly-zoom effect, also known as 'the Vertigo effect'."
Been there. Finally, my Film Studies A-Level will come in handy. In film, dolly zooms are created by zooming in (or out) with a camera, while rolling it the opposite way on a dolly. It has this weird effect where the foreground stays mostly the same, while the background distorts, growing much larger or smaller (depending on the direction). It can be super trippy and I'm intrigued to see how that sort of shot (amongst other Hitchcock styles) will transfer into video game format.
The game, which is officially titled Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo, is set to arrive on PC via Steam, as well as the PlayStations and Xboxes, by the end of the year.
Pendulo Studios previously made adventure games including Blacksad: Under The Skin (which is also an adaptation), Yesterday and The Next Big Thing.