Once again as the resident spooky estrogen based life form it is a moral obligation for me to play and review Alice: The Madness Returns. So without further ado:
Enter into the rabbit hole:
As a fan of the book and the former game this was probably one of the easiest sells EA had. pile on top of it the promise of Spooky steampunk stabby Alice I was sold.
The story of this game goes much in line with its predecessor. You play the protagonist Alice Liddel of Lewis Carol storybook fame. After returning from Wonderland the first time (aka the much acclaimed story books) you come home only to lose your entire family to a house fire. Suffering from PTSD, survivors guilt and pretty much a case of over all delusion you reenter Wonderland, but this time it is dark and disturbing to match your madness. The first Alice video game deals is your original mental reaction to losing your entire life. In Alice: the Madness returns it is just that; having a complete mental relapse you return again to Wonderland to deal with your emotional trauma. In both cases the Wonderland landscape is a twisted, distorted version of its original version and you must fight your way through to wondering to help to restore your sanity. In Alice: the Madness Returns you delve deeper into your psyche to recover pieces of your memories that have been lost due to years of bad psychotherapy.
Helping you along the way are some old characters who themselves have been distorted and twisted. The lovably fluffy but mad Cheshire Cat is still mad, but in a darker, more demented way. The Grin is still there, but now it is surrounded by skin, bones, piercings and tattoos. The Mad Hatter has become a steampunk bio-mechanical version of himself that still has a penchant for tea. They give you clues and tools you need to fight the baddies you come across. You get to hack and slash your way around fighting off various species of Ruin, which I can best describe as a gooey doll part encrusted version of the Heartless from Kingdom hearts. Put is all together it is one romping, stomping good time.
The landscape and themes are amazing. Each level has it’s own world and with it, its own theme each of course me made me squeal with girlish glee. They have everything from a steampunk tea party to a nightmarish world that looks like it is straight out of a Mark Ryden art book filled with meat and broken doll parts. Visually it is an amazing and surreal feast for the eyes. Each level also gives Alice new garb and upon completion of the game gives Alice attributes. There is also a Weapons and Dresses pack that gives you bonus outfits that also give you attributes as well as pimped up weapons versions that improve the stats of your existing weapons.
Hands down the story line is the best part of the game itself. The mood was dark an psychotic The graphics are good, but not mind blowingly awesome. They are leaps and bounds beyond the original, but no where near some of the games that are out there. Game play is glitchy, and there are points where you need to do some step retracing but it is impossible because the shut points off once you pass them. You can’t randomly save points in the previous game which makes level completion a bit frustrating. I was also disappointed with the lack of boss fights. At the end of the first chapter I was prepping for an all out brawl only to be disappointed with a cut scene.
Overall I give Alice: the Madness Returns 7 stars out of 10. It has all of my favorite things: Victorian era psychology, Dickensian London, A homicidal Alice thwomping baddies with a Hobby horse and a parasol, Steampunk tea parties, Japanese Samurai fighting wasps and mantis geishas, a hauntingly child like soundtrack , and of course cake. But all of that doesn’t make up for the fact that there were several times I threw my controller in frustration because I had to restart due to a glitch or I went to claim one of the extras to complete a collection only to be forced to a new board. As much as I wanted to be blown away I wasn’t. This also means that Portal 2 has still not been dethroned as my favorite video game ever. But that is a whole other story to be told at a later date.