Does anyone remember American McGee? He was the guy who worked on Doom then went off to make his own games. Recently (more like a coupe years back) Microsoft made available Alice. Then they tacked on some other game… Oh, it’s called Madness Returns. Well, come to find out American worked on Alice Madness Returns in China. Which is ironic to a culture that voted on a Presidential candidate who swears America is working for China. Apparently said Presidential candidate was on to something.
Alice Madness Returns is a sequel to the dark edgy original game based off the book by Lewis Carol. Considering we’ve all known Wonderland was always a fucked up place, never mind the book was a sick attempt of an old man writing letters to try and get into in the skirt of a teenage girl. The best part, this is a direct sequel from the original. After all, it’s been like twelve years since the original. Which means there must have been plenty of time to not cock up details, concepts, mechanics, etc.
Alice is found in an orphanage living in London. Somewhere between Clockwork Orange and Wallace and Gromit. Madness starts off via Alice falling into Wonderland. She begins being terrorized by a train while also visiting key characters from the books, and unlike the last game, uncover the cause of her original issues and or her relaps. Like the first game, we’re in a platform game. Which does not seem all to often these days. However, platform games in 3D is kinda like putting a blindfold on and walking through a glass fun house. The first game had a problem much like Crash Bandicoot. A slight step to the right is all the difference between life and death. The new Alice happens to have a slow hover when falling, while also having the ability to triple jump too. Some would say this solves the problem drastically kinda like whipping out the Zika virus by napalming all the mosquitoes in Florida.
The other problem with the original Alice consist of weapons which were available. It wasn’t necessarily easy to attack enemies. In Madness Returns weapons were handled well, till the tea-pot cannon. Pretty much the tea-pot cannon can suck a dick! The thing is, the game contrives the idea the cannon delivers a lot of damage than it really is doing. Either way, because of the few things Return of the Jedi fixed, therefore it must be better. The odd thing is between the classic and the HD release, Madness Returns is where your money is going the extra mile in some cases.
New Wonderland is less populated than before hand. While the horror train beda-bops through crushing Wonderland in every ‘episodic’ level, it totally makes sense why there’s a plethora of floating platforms everywhere. This means it was a lot easier to just chop a level into floating chunks without having actual atmospheric connectivity. Meanwhile the over exaggerated jump vastly spreads these chunks of platform thus leaving voids as far as the eye can see. Fear is set in, however only as far as creepy baby dolls. For some reason porcelain dolls with no eyes equates to creepy these days. After the millionth one, creepy becomes normal and devalued. To be fair though, the only creepy ‘panic’ moment is at the Red Queen’s Castle where her guardian attempts to chase you down. Otherwise there are no boss fights in this game. Which doesn’t mean in a video game I demand at least one boss fight. The Red Queen’s guardian isn’t really considered a boss fight. His demise is seen at the end of a cut scene. It’s just that this game makes you think a boss fight is about to totally go down. Then like a dollar bill on a fish line being yanked away as I try to reach for it above my head. Nearly every chapter ends with a cut scene with some style of Wonderland English shenanigans which gets resolved in an artistic paper cut out cut scene. Kinda like Monty Python’s Holly Grail animation, without the LOL’s.
Alice’s Batman Returns is without it’s charm. Alice stepping back to reality to further progress the storyline was interacting and cool when she would slip back into Wonderland time and again. The overall problem with Alice is weather or not it want’s to be all about the story, or all about arcade combat. It just didn’t have a good way to really validate the combination. There’s a repetition of sorts in each level consisting of: Jump, Jump, Shrink, Find secrets and Walk through random door to a cut scene. This commits a cardinal sin of being really fucking repetitive which leads to snore-ville really quickly. Especially when the ambient music is repetitive at nearly a one minute loop. Meanwhile, when the game is not being boring it turns abstract. Let’s call it what it is, pretentious.
The dialog is filled with fluff. So much so you can flip what character said what line and it still would have made just the same amount of sense. In essence the game is a helium ballon which doesn’t lift the original concept high enough to really call it improvement. Meanwhile the concept of the game wasn’t really original in the first place. Oooh, a video game based on Alice. Who would have thought Wonderland wasn’t just a little fucked up? It’s kinda like safely assuming there isn’t a fan club hentai of Sherlock and Watson. What I’m saying is Alice Madness Returns is not memorable.