Alice Madness Returns is the sequel to American McGee’s Alice. The game takes place one year after the events of the first game, where Alice is trying to regain her sanity. Her main issue is that she can’t remember the tragedy surrounding her family’s deaths. One thing leads to another and Alice is pulled back into a destroyed, chaotic Wonderland. The story unravels both Alice’s past along with the villain behind Wonderland’s corruption. It’s interesting, though confusing like a twisting dream. To say the least, the script is a bit garbled, but it’s well performed.
From platforming canyons to dominoes, Alice controls well, though her jumping takes awhile to get used due to its floaty nature. That and the camera is a mess most of the time. Though fortunately if you fall, you restart from where you left off. In fact it’s pretty hard to die in the game in general. As for the combat, Alice is armed with a variety of weapons like her butcher knife Vorpal Blade and her Tea Pot Cannon. Weapons can also be upgraded via collected teeth scattered across the land. Combat is fast, fluid, and actually pretty fun. Aside from the game’s main functions, there are mini-games in each world along with brief trips to Alice’s reality to break up the somewhat monotonous gameplay.
Alice’s art design is creative and mesmerizing. Though beautiful and abstract, technically the graphics aren’t too thrilling. Tech aside, everything screams originality from Alice’s Hot Topic design to the imaginative floating card kingdoms. This is the Alice movie Tim Burton should have made. The pacing of each chapter, unfortunately, is horrid as levels drag on for far too long. The soundtrack too, is sleepy, and completely forgettable aside from setting the mood. The game could have been amazing if everything were trimmed and focused instead of trying to arbitrarily lengthen the 10-12 hour experience.
Alice Madness Returns was a great surprise to me. The game truly has some remarkable design choices like the forgiving deaths, mesmerizing locals, and its fast, dynamic combat. The pacing, graphics, and camera could have all used work though. It’s a game that, if trimmed and polished, could have been as remarkable as the original novel itself. Though flawed, this game deserves a peek through the Looking Glass.
Score: 3/5 Stars
Special Notes: This article was originally published on July 10, 2012 via my Examiner account before the website shut down. Check out the supporting video review on the accompanying YouTube Channel, ReActionExaminer.