Hitchcock Vertigo – Amazing adaptation of a new genre

Microids is moving away a bit, for once, from Franco-Belgian comics. However, the publisher of the Smurfs, Blacksad and Asterix games remains in its core business, adaptation, by joining forces with the Spanish studio Pendulo to offer us its version of VertigoAlfred Hitchcock ‘s cult film . Pendulo, we remind you, these are the studios we adored for the classic and modern point’n click The Runaway or The Next Big Thing. The association with the master of suspense promised to be explosive… Verdict?

In previous episodes… 

A bit of context. Vertigo , better known in France under the title Sueurs Froides, is a psychological thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock and released in 1958. In the film, the character, played by James Stewart , is instructed by a friend to take the latter’s wife into spinning. His wife, played by Kim Novak , is believed to be the reincarnation of her great-grandmother, who committed suicide, and the husband is afraid that the tragedy will happen again… 

The film, which begins as a film of possession, will include several twists, taking the viewer each time into unexpected situations, blurring the tracks as to the roles of the “good guys” and the “bad guys”, the victims and the executioners.

Considered a failure when it was released, the film has since made up for it by entering the Hall of Fame of the greatest works in the history of cinema. He also left a legacy of the Vertigo Effect, or compensated tracking shot, in French (sometimes also called Dolly zoom), created by Hitchcock for the film. It’s about this camera effect which consists in doing a tracking shot while zooming in or out, the character in the foreground thus keeping the same dimension, while the decor seems to move away or closer, depending on the direction of the tracking shot. The result is a feeling of unease which in the film transcribed the main character’s vertigo into the image. An effect repeated since in many films, one of the best known post- Hitchcock being that of Les Affranchis (M. Scorcese , 1990). 

Adapt the adaptation of the adaptation of an adaptation 

The Vertigo Effect, visual signature of the film, will be very present in the game, just like the musical gimmick of  Bernard Herrmann ‘s soundtrack , very well integrated into the soundtrack of the game. But very strangely, it will be about the only elements of the film which one will find in the title of Pendulo , very, very free adaptation of the work of Hitchcock . Works by Hitchcock , one should say, because these are several themes dear to the Master of suspense that are found in the game, and not all of them necessarily from Cold Sweats. 

The game tells two cross investigations. First, that of the sheriff of a small town who must elucidate the murder of a farmer and try to find the latter’s wife, who has disappeared. But especially that of Doctor Lomas who will try to understand the mysterious illness that paralyzes Ed Miller, a writer who nevertheless emerges unscathed from a car accident in which his partner and his granddaughter perished. And to add to the mystery, no body has been found, to the point that Miller’s entourage even doubts the existence of the two victims… 

Of course, the two investigations will eventually come together, and each will have played , or will play, a role in the terrible plot told by the game . motives: pretense, characters on the wire, of which we do not know if they are crazy or victims, and the multiplication of twists, reshuffling the cards of the scenario each time. 

But surprisingly, we find nothing of the story or the characters of Sueurs Froides . We’re a little taken aback for the first few hours of the game, expecting the game’s storyline to somehow catch up with the movie’s storyline (it never will). Yet it is in the very nature of Vertigo to be “remixed” in this way : it is itself the adaptation of a novel by Boileau and  Narcejac (“D’entre les Morts”, 1954) which adapted him also freely Bruges-la-Morte, symbolist novel published in 1892 by Belgian writer Georges Rodenbach . 

In doing so, Alfred Hitchcock Vertigo , the game, is part of this line of adaptations of the same founding myth (Eurydice), and comes to rub shoulders with literature and cinema on equal terms. 

Alright, but when are we playing?

What it does not do, however, is rub shoulders with the big names in narrative gaming, Quantic Dreams productions in mind. Because it is to this type of games that Vertigo belongs , without being up to the great titles of the genre. Very narrative, the game is only too little interactive , and, above all, it never leaves the hand to the player.  

Our actions and decisions will have absolutely no impact on the course of the story: for example, we will be left to choose between several questions, but we will have to ask them all anyway. Thus, only the order in which they are posed depends on the player, and this order will make no difference as to the answers that will be obtained. 

Worse, we come to suffer the phases of gameplay, which slow down our progress in the scenario. We will have, for example, in the skin of the hero then a little boy, to put away the races. Or, embodying a young mother, going around the house to collect her baby’s belongings. Exciting (no). 

When, in a video game, we are in a hurry to see the gameplay phases end in order to be able to continue to watch the cutscenes, there is a problem , and the authors may not have chosen the good medium to express yourself. This is all the more true here as everything that involves writing and directing, everything that is more cinematographic, therefore, is really successful… 

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