Monday, 24 Jun 2024

Alice: Madness Returns Review

Alice: Madness Returns

American McGee’s Alice took gamers by storm a decade ago with its unique and twisted interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. Now, its sequel, Alice: Madness Returns, brings back that dark flair but falls short in delivering engaging gameplay. Let’s dive into the details!

A Haunting Journey through Wonderland and Reality

The story picks up 10 years after the events of the first game, where Alice, now institutionalized, embarks on a quest to unravel the mystery surrounding her family’s death. Most of the narrative unfolds in Alice’s imaginary Wonderland, complemented by occasional glimpses of reality in the gray streets of England. While the real-world sections add a nice contrast to the whimsical Wonderland, they are unfortunately brief and easily forgettable.

Familiar References and Generic Locales

Fans of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” will appreciate the early references to the absurd tale, with encounters involving the White Rabbit, the Dormouse, and the infamous Mad Hatter. Exploring classic Wonderland stages and overcoming challenges like the deadly machinery of Hatter Industries is undeniably entertaining. However, as the game progresses, it loses its trademark art style, featuring pirate-filled underwater worlds and snippets of ancient Japan infested with samurai wasps. The attempts to create discomfort for players become predictable and lackluster, with few exceptions.

A Mixed Bag of Visuals

While Alice herself is beautifully rendered, with realistic flowing hair and stylish dresses, the rest of the world falls short in terms of visual quality. Enemies lack fluid animations, resulting in awkward movements. The environments, despite encouraging exploration, suffer from dull textures and noticeable seams. It’s disappointing considering the attention to detail given to Alice’s character model.

Creative Weaponry and Limited Combat

Alice defends herself using unconventional weapons like a butcher’s blade, a weaponized pepper grinder, a tea kettle, and a hobby horse. The unique arsenal adds variety and enjoyment, with players encouraged to switch between attack styles. However, those seeking a deep combat system akin to God of War or Devil May Cry may be disappointed. Alice’s moveset is relatively simple, and she is unable to attack while jumping.

Platforming Challenges and Frustrating Deaths

Much of the gameplay revolves around navigating Wonderland through jumping and gliding. Alice’s triple jump and glide ability make platforming reminiscent of games like Spyro. While early stages are relatively easy, later levels require precise camera control and skilled maneuvering to avoid infuriating deaths. Alice’s inability to grab ledges adds to the frustrations.

Minigames and Missed Opportunities

To break the monotony of combat and exploration, the game introduces various minigames. Some involve hunting down puzzle pieces or playing rhythm-based button sequences. While these puzzles are formulaic, they can be skipped if desired. However, other minigames, such as side-scrolling shooters or peculiar doll head-rolling segments, feel underdeveloped and become more of a nuisance than a fun diversion.

Is Alice’s Encore Worth the Adventure?

While Alice: Madness Returns has its moments and will still appeal to fans of the original, it falls short in delivering a consistently rewarding gaming experience. The combination of repetitive gameplay and missed opportunities detracts from the potential enjoyment of exploring a demented Wonderland. As with any game based on a popular property, there will be those who find it enjoyable despite its flaws. However, for those seeking a truly immersive and visually stunning adventure, Alice’s encore may leave them wanting more.

FAQs

What are the unique weapons available in Alice: Madness Returns?
Alice wields a butcher’s blade, a weaponized pepper grinder, a tea kettle, and a hobby horse.

Can Alice attack while jumping?
No, Alice is unable to attack while in mid-air.

Are there any challenging platforming sections in the game?
Yes, later stages of the game require precise camera control and skilled maneuvering to navigate hazardous obstacles.

Are the minigames in Alice: Madness Returns enjoyable?
While some minigames can be fun diversions, others feel underdeveloped and become more frustrating than entertaining.

Conclusion

Alice: Madness Returns brings back the twisted charm of American McGee’s Alice but fails to deliver an immersive gaming experience. Despite its visually stunning protagonist and early references to the beloved Wonderland tale, the game falls short in terms of gameplay variety, level design, and overall execution. While it may still appeal to die-hard fans, those seeking a truly rewarding adventure may find Alice’s encore to be a disappointment.