Port roundup: Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo, Caffeine: Victoria’s Legacy & Josh Journey: Darkness Totems

A look at three recent ports, including the long-awaited console version of Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo. We’re also checking out Caffeine: Victoria’s Legacy and Josh Journey: Darkness Totems.

Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo review (PS4)

As fans of both classic adventure games and classic cinema, the announcement of Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo by Microids was an exciting one for us. Developed by Pendulo, the developers behind their own brand of Broken Sword-inspired adventure gaming, we know it was going to be rooted in plenty of adventure gaming know-how. But how do you infuse that genre with the works of Alfred Hitchcock? An intriguing premise, and now that the game has been ported over to consoles we were finally able to take a look.

If you look at the elements that make Vertigo such a memorable film, you’re looking at nail biting suspense and a near-constant tension – both elements we rarely see in gaming. Perhaps in survival horror, but rarely in a genre like the classic adventure game. This game manages to capture that though, at least in places, mostly thanks to an excellent script. It’s based on the film, and starts off with a horrible accident in which Ed loses his wife and daughter. He also suffers from vertigo, but it doesn’t take long before the local sheriff starts figuring out that not everything adds up here. Is there even a daughter involved? What really happened?

As adventure games go, we’ve rarely seen one that veers more towards being a “thriller” than this one, and part of the suspense is created because of changing perspectives that shed new light on the matter. You don’t just play as the sheriff, but also dive into the world of Ed and psychologist Julia Lomas. It ensures that the story never drags, even though this is a lengthy adventure game. It’s too bad that the storytelling isn’t always supported by high quality voiceover work, but the script is excellent.


Compared to other modern adventure game, Vertigo offers similar conversational choices, but they lack the kind of impact that these choices have in a game like Life Is Strange. It gives the game a more linear feel, but because of the cinematic origins of the IP we were okay with that – just like how the experience in general is more streamlined than a classic adventure game would typically be.

Aside from a strong plot, the game is also a visual treat to Hitchcock fans, using a lot of visual effects and camera work to pay homage to the director’s work. And after the more cartoon-like style of Pendulo’s earlier work, Vertigo continues the trend of delivering more and more realistic-looking visuals, which of course works well for a serious crime thriller setting. Alfred Hitchcock – Vertigo probably isn’t the best adventure game from a gameplay perspective, but it’s a wonderful narrative experience that does the source material justice.

Caffeine: Victoria’s Legacy review (PS4)

We all know Ratalaika from their ports, often of platformers, action titles and puzzle games. They also started working on visual novels a few years ago, and the latest example within that genre is Caffeine: Victoria’s Legacy, which recently launched for most major systems. It’s a visual novel set in Victorian times but with steampunk influences, while also being infused with plenty of coffee for an eclectic mix of elements.


The storyline is equally bizarre, as you set off trying to find your long-lost mother but end up in a plane crash. When you wake up, you seem to be in a different time and place, yet there are also references that remind you of vague memories you have of your parents. And, throughout all of it, this place seems to be obsessed with coffee – almost to the point where coffee lovers will appreciate that the game even goes so far as to discuss the brewing process and other subtle nuances.

Before long, romantic options are introduced to you, and ultimately these lead to a variety of different endings as well. It’s fairly typical stuff in the visual novel genre, but a nice audiovisual presentation and a unique setting make it stand out. It helps if you’re somewhat of a coffee aficionado though, as otherwise it might come off as a little obsessive.

Josh Journey: Darkness Totems review (PS4)

A beat ’em up developed in Brazil with hand-drawn visuals, Josh Journey: Darkness Totems originally launched in Early Access but has now been launched on consoles as well thanks to QUByte. With a cast of four diverse heroes to choose from, it takes plenty of cues from arcade classics in the genre, and as with many of those classics it’s a game best enjoyed in local co-op.

Starring in the game are Josh, Melina, Farquol and Z.O.Z, with the titular Josh being the most recognizable type of character as he’s a swordsman. Each character also possesses the power of an element though, and Josh’s is wind. It makes him quick and light on his feet, whereas Farquol masters earth and functions more like a tank type. Melina is a sorceress who uses water and can attack from long range, where Z.O.Z. is a robot who uses fire as his element.


It’s a great design idea on paper, but the biggest issue with Josh Journey is that things feel unbalanced on several fronts. Some characters feel way too vulnerable, some enemies (not even talking bosses) are way too strong, and although we’ve played plenty of games in the genre before we ran into a lot of deaths that felt unfair – something that wouldn’t exactly urge you to put in that next quarter in the arcade era.

Where the game feels especially unfair is in its single player mode, which we wouldn’t recommend at all. If you feel like paying a punishing beat ’em, go at this one with a friend. It’s got a great art style with lovely animations that feels unique, but the balance issues make it feel like it needs a few tweaks. And perhaps it’ll get them, as the game is still in Early Access on Steam.

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