Driver: San Francisco is a game about a dreamer in San Francisco, where people are possessed and its protagonist wanders around as if in hypnosis, eerily recalling the oneiric story of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Like James Stewart’s character in the 1958 film, Tanner must reenact his traumatic accident briefly seen in the beginning of the story in order to overcome that fear and rouse himself from dreamlike inertia. Jericho’s antagonistic struggle suggests an unconscious defense mechanism preventing Tanner from accessing his unsavory repressed memory that he’s dying on a hospital bed. He chases after “dream” girls much like Kim Novak’s illusory doppelgänger in Vertigo, tailing cars through the streets of San Francisco and duplicating James Stewart’s actions throughout that movie. In addition to Vertigo, the game also owes some imagery to Hitchcock’s The Birds, depicting a murder of crows stalking Tanner throughout his travails. These crows, along with the They Live-esque billboards communicating short messages from the real world, serve as narrative ruptures that threaten to break apart Tanner’s fragile dream. Even shifting from car to car suggests the fragmentary quality of dreams as Tanner plummets mid-conversation in a stranger’s car and leaves at random, mirroring dream logic’s lack of context and closure.
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