Friday, 17 May 2024

Alice: Madness Returns

Even if you’re a diehard fan of the mischievous action game from 2000, American McGee’s Alice, you might admit that it was more notable for its imaginative twist on Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland than for its gameplay. However, Alice: Madness Returns aims to maintain the fantastic art style of its predecessor while improving on the gameplay experience.

I recently had the opportunity to watch a live demo of Madness Returns, and my initial impression was how similar it appeared to the original game. The gameplay alternates between simplistic platforming and combat against warped card knights, insects, and more. The platforming segments I saw seemed easier and more enjoyable, avoiding the frustration caused by imprecise jumping in the original Alice.

In combat, Alice wields four primary weapons, each a nightmarish revision of a real-world item. For ranged attacks, she can use a pepper grinder that becomes a rapid-fire machine gun or a teapot cannon that packs a slower but more powerful area-of-effect shot. If you prefer up-close combat, the vorpal blade from the first game makes a return, and a hopping horse has been reimagined as a giant club. Alice can also deploy clockwork rabbits as mines.

The combat in Madness Returns feels faster and more fluid than in the first Alice game. Since Alice’s ranged weapons can overheat, she’s forced to engage in melee combat frequently rather than simply hanging back and picking off her twisted foes. As the game progresses, Alice collects teeth, one of the most disturbing collectibles in gaming history, to help upgrade her weaponry.

The story of Madness Returns takes place in both Victorian England and an increasingly twisted version of Wonderland. Alice seeks to solve the mystery surrounding her family’s brutal murder while uncovering memories that provide clues to the real-world mystery. These memories can be short dialogue clips or fully playable visions.

In addition to the regular platforming and combat, the level I saw included a special set piece moment. In a maze garden, Alice confronts the Executioner, a giant joker card wielding a massive scythe. Since Alice is not yet powerful enough to defeat him, the game switches perspectives, and she must run toward the camera, Crash Bandicoot-style, avoiding obstacles as the Executioner pursues her, spinning his weapon in a deadly circle. However, if Alice can survive long enough to find some cake, she’ll grow larger than the Executioner and be able to defeat him.

Based on this first hands-off demo, it’s still difficult to form a final opinion on Alice: Madness Returns. The art remains the standout feature, with painstaking attention to detail evident in every inch of the world. While it may not be the best-looking game in terms of pure quality, the environment is filled with flying cards, spinning red portals in the sky, and gnarled vines and crooked walkways sprouting from the ground.

With the first Alice game, the stunning world design made up for the somewhat unimaginative gameplay. Madness Returns seems to be a step up in terms of design, but it’s impossible to say for certain until we can get our hands on it. Fortunately, the wait shouldn’t be too long, as the game is set to release in June.


  1. When is Alice: Madness Returns releasing?

    • Alice: Madness Returns is scheduled to release in June.
  2. What are the primary weapons in combat?

    • Alice wields four primary weapons: a pepper grinder that acts as a rapid-fire machine gun, a teapot cannon for more powerful area-of-effect shots, a vorpal blade for up-close combat, and a hopping horse reimagined as a giant club.
  3. Can you provide more information on the story of Madness Returns?

    • The game’s story takes place in Victorian England and Wonderland. Alice is investigating her family’s brutal murder in the real world while collecting memories in Wonderland that provide clues to the mystery.


Alice: Madness Returns looks promising with its stunning art style and improvements in gameplay. The game maintains the fantastic world design of its predecessor while enhancing combat fluidity and offering a wider range of weapons. The mix of platforming, combat, and special set piece moments adds variety to the gameplay experience. Fans of the original Alice game and newcomers to the series can look forward to exploring the twisted Wonderland and solving the dark mystery alongside Alice. Stay tuned for its release in June.