A short, stout man in full scuba gear sits perched on the edge of a diving board, dangling above a shark tank and says, “We’ll be back next week with another story of the bizarre and the mysterious. Till then…good night.” As a director, a screenwriter and a producer, this scuba diver made waves in the movie and TV industry, engaging audiences with his subtle camera techniques, daring mysteries and blatantly dark and often peculiar humor. Yet, Alfred Hitchcock is most frequently remembered for his opening and closing remarks on his popular television show entitled Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Now that the beloved Hitchcock is gone, Arxel Tribe and UbiSoft have worked to carry on the legacy in Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Final Cut. I, like any fan of cult-status movies, normally embrace homages to daring filmmakers. The Final Cut, however, is better left on the shelf.
Had Hitchcock been alive to give closing comments on this final Alfred Hitchcock Presents mystery, he might have jumped headfirst into the tank, preferring instead to be devoured by sharks. As an adventure game, The Final Cut provides some atmosphere, some Hitchcock movie scenes and something like a story, but the sum of its parts equals one messy, confusing and muddled experience.
You play Joseph Shamley, a psychic detective with a dry sense of humor. You have been hired to investigate the deaths of several crew members filming a movie to honor the late Alfred Hitchcock. The premise sounds solid, and for the first few minutes after the unique opening sequence, you may feel involved in the story. But it doesn’t take long for you to realize the gap between this story and any creation from the late Hitchcock himself. Oftentimes, you will keep asking yourself, who was that dead body again? What was he doing up on the roof? Could anybody translate what he just said to me?
During one of the first moments in the game, I even found myself very confused by a jarring falsetto voiceover. I later discovered it to be the “voice” of a nearby crow. Yes, as a psychic, Joseph can also read the mind of a crow, and their psychic conversations are all utterly pointless. Can this possibly be in homage to Doctor Doolittle?
Along with the aforementioned gossipy crow, there are many names and lots of characters with relationships to various other characters that intertwine and baffle Joseph and the player as the story progresses. After a while, the player will not care to follow who is who and what is what in this dark and impersonal world. To be sure, a game that claims to be related to Hitchcock in any manner has at least one minor goal to achieve: create and establish a mysterious and engaging atmosphere. The story, however, is often so confusing and awkwardly developed that no gamer will feel captivated enough to even finish the game.
While the story is certainly revealed to be a disappointment, nothing is quite as out-of-place as the controllable main character, Detective Shamley. Joseph, our story’s detective and hero, encounters a number of dead bodies, and tends to alienate the players with his nonchalant reaction and treatment of chaos and dismembered bodies. Sure, Hitchcock could discuss in detail the most gruesome topics while dancing around in scuba gear, but his dark humor often fit the stories he created, while The Final Cut’s sense of humor seems unsophisticated, rushed, and out of context. As an example, Joseph Shamley runs across a literally brainless man in a bag, and, without giving away too much, cracks a very unfunny, pointless joke about the dead character. Though Alfred Hitchcock had been known for his oddball sense of humor, he would never allow it to overpower and destroy all human life present in his story, but the game does.
The Final Cut is so often filled with such non-sequiturs that it loses all credibility as a Hitchcock-worthy adventure. Had Arxel Tribe spent more time to develop characters with deeper and more thorough motivations, then the dark humor may have come more naturally, but, as is, I just shook my head and scrunched my face, baffled.
All is not lost, however, because at least five of the twenty dollars I spent went to some good cause. There is atmosphere, dark atmosphere in The Final Cut, established through the use of detailed 2D backdrops and your ability to snoop around in them with a 3D character, similar to contemporary games such as The Longest Journey and Syberia. I am truly entertained by my ability to be voyeuristic and this game, at the very least, attempts to provide players with a sense of mystery. The game drops you into a dark, atmospheric mansion and a rundown studio, where you can snoop around in various corners and peek into closets, pockets, under beds, and even inside potato bags.Continued on the next page...