Things never seem to go according to plan in Wonderland for young Alice, with her entire family killed 10 years ago in a fire that she may be responsible for, nothing seems to go her way outside of Wonderland either. In Alice: Madness Returns, American McGee is back to continue the true version of Alice in Wonderland, okay I’m kidding, but it does make for a more interesting video game. After being released from the Rutledge Asylum at the end of the first game, Alice finds herself living in an orphanage, which is exactly the kind of place that might just save her or drive her completely over the edge and entrapping her mind in chaos forever.
Alice: Madness Returns is an action platformer that relies heavily on platforming sections in each of the chapters. It’s a nice change of pace as platformers are hard to come by these days. As we starts off, Alice’s mind is in utter disarray and because of this Wonderland suffers. Her mind and wonderland are interconnected and as one suffers through chaos so does the other. Wonderland is now a dark, well darker, and more dangerous place than ever before. Alice returns once again to save Wonderland from a new form of evil, but to save Wonderland, Alice first must save herself.
Like the original, Alice has handful of weapons at her disposal; all of which she can upgrade with the teeth collected throughout Wonderland. Her main attack involves the use of the trusty Vorpal Blade, which is quick and agile with a snicker-snack! The pepper shooter is a machine gun like weapon shooting pepper out at enemies while the teapot launcher can be described as a grenade launcher. If you charge the teapot fully it will begin to boil over with the sound of a whistle. I can’t help but shout, “have some tea!” every time I use it, I blame the trailer for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland for that.
Defensively Alice can deploy an umbrella which is able reflect and block attacks. She can also drop a decoy rabbit and explode it with a push of the button on the remote detonator or wait till the timer runs out. More often than not, it is used to place on switches to manipulate the environment. Evading and dodging enemy attacks is her most useful defense tool. Who wouldn’t love dodging enemy attacks by turning into a bunch of butterflies?
The Ruin is the new enemy in Wonderland. This “darkness”, is created from train parts and doll parts and is spread all across the land. The fact that they all have a porcelain doll face makes them that much creepier. As the darkness spreads, Wonderlands inhabitants, who were Alice’s friends in the past have become vile and corrupt. Alice has to be extra carefully, as she never knows what may lurk around the next corner.
There are plenty of platforms that make use of Alice’s triple jump, as well as her ability to shrink down in size after drinking the juice. The juice allows her to see secret areas, and platforms that would be otherwise invisible to the naked eye.
If you fall over a ledge or miss a jump, you lose just a tiny bit of life and get placed pretty close to where you fell, but if you are killed in combat you could have quite a hike to get back to where you were.
The game contains 6 chapters in total and while it sounds short it is anything but, as a few of the chapters crossed well into the 2-hour mark. By the time I has half way though a couple of the chapters, I thought the end was right around the corner, but to my dismay I still had another hour or more to go. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the game, it is just the chapters are full of filler parts or sections that go on for way too long. Sliding down the slide collecting teeth was fun and something I haven’t seen since Super Mario 64, but doing it over and over again became stale. I literally groaned every time one of them appeared.
Alice: Madness Returns is a good platformer with some poor design decisions. While bothering they may be, they do not overshadow the things that the game does right, and thankfully it does a lot right. Spice Horse has also included the first Alice game with every new copy. If you buy it used or rented it, you can still purchase the first Alice game, but be warned, it is not a stand along title as it is played through the main menu in Alice: Madness Returns.
Note: The Alice: Madness Returns review is based on a retail PlayStation 3 copy of the game.