Friday, 24 May 2024

Alice: Madness Returns Review

American McGee’s Alice captivated gamers ten years ago with its unique take on Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. The sequel, Alice: Madness Returns, brings back the dark and twisted atmosphere of the original game. However, it falls short in terms of gameplay, making it less appealing for all but the most dedicated fans.

A Triumphant Return to Wonderland, But With Some Flaws

Set a decade after the events of the first game, Alice: Madness Returns follows the story of Alice as she tries to uncover the truth behind her family’s tragedy while battling her own inner demons. The majority of the game takes place in Wonderland, a vivid and imaginative world, with occasional glimpses into the real world. The contrast between the two settings adds depth to the narrative, but unfortunately, the real world sections are too brief and easily forgettable.

Familiar References and Entertaining Stages

Fans of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland will appreciate the early references to the nonsensical tale. Interactions with iconic characters such as the white rabbit, dormouse, and Mad Hatter bring a sense of nostalgia. The gameplay in the classic Wonderland stages, like leaping on mushrooms and surviving the deadly machinery of Hatter Industries, is highly entertaining. However, as the game progresses, the later stages lose the series’ distinct art style and become generic, relying on predictable and uninspiring settings.

Visuals: A Mix of Mediocrity and Excellence

Alice herself is beautifully designed, with realistic details like her flowing raven hair and stylish dresses. However, the rest of the world lacks the same level of polish. Enemies appear to lack fluid animations, and the overall environment suffers from bland textures and visible seams. Despite these flaws, Alice remains a visual standout amidst the mediocrity.

The Combat: Fun, But Not Deeply Engaging

Alice defends herself against Wonderland’s denizens with a variety of creative weapons, including a butcher’s blade, a pepper grinder, a tea kettle, and a hobby horse. The unique arsenal brings diversity to combat and upgrade options. However, for players seeking a deep combat system like those found in God of War or Devil May Cry, Alice’s moveset may feel too simplistic. It’s worth noting that Alice cannot attack while jumping.

Platforming Challenges and Frustrating Deathtraps

Exploring Wonderland involves a significant amount of jumping and gliding, similar to Spyro. While the early stages are straightforward, later levels require precise camera control and careful maneuvering to make the most of Alice’s gliding abilities. Unfortunately, the game is plagued by occasional snags in the environment and the inability to grab ledges, leading to frustrating deaths.

Mini-games: A Mixed Bag

To break the monotony of combat and exploration, Alice: Madness Returns includes several mini-games. Some involve finding puzzle pieces or rhythm-based button presses which, while formulaic, provide a break from the main gameplay. However, other mini-games like side-scrolling shooters or doll head-rolling games feel poorly executed and frustrating.

Conclusion

Alice: Madness Returns starts off strong with its twisted take on Wonderland but falls short in terms of gameplay and level design. While some players may find enjoyment in the game’s unique atmosphere and references to the original Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, others may be disappointed by its repetitive gameplay and lack of depth. Consider the game’s shortcomings before delving into this psychedelic adventure.

FAQs

Q: Is Alice: Madness Returns a direct continuation of the first game?
A: Yes, Alice: Madness Returns takes place ten years after the events of the first game and follows Alice’s journey to unravel the mystery surrounding her family’s tragedy.

Q: Can I enjoy Alice: Madness Returns without playing the first game?
A: While playing the first game, American McGee’s Alice, can enhance your understanding of the story, Alice: Madness Returns can be enjoyed as a standalone experience.

Q: Are there any additional content or DLCs available for Alice: Madness Returns?
A: Yes, there are some additional contents and DLCs available that provide extra costumes and weapons for Alice, as well as new levels and challenges.

Q: Can I skip the mini-games in Alice: Madness Returns?
A: Yes, players have the option to skip the mini-games if they find them unappealing or frustrating.

Q: Is Alice: Madness Returns suitable for younger audiences?
A: The game is rated M for mature audiences due to its dark and violent themes. Parents should consider the appropriateness of the content before allowing younger players to experience the game.