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Alice: Madness Returns

Developer: Spicy Horse Publisher: Electronic Arts
14 June 2011
Alice: Madness Returns - cover art
Glitchwave rating
3.31 / 5.0
0.5
5.0
 
 
349 Ratings / 2 Reviews
#1,853 All-time
#67 for 2011
One year after the events of the original game, Alice Liddell has been released from Rutledge Asylum and now lives in Victorian London under the care of a psychiatrist, Dr. Angus Bumby. Although deemed sane enough to return to normal society, the traumatic childhood memories of the deaths of her father, mother, and older sister in a fire continue to haunt Alice, and she still falls back into spells of violence and mad ramblings.

Alice returns to Wonderland in hopes of security and comfort, but unfortunately, it has once again become warped by her growing insanity, and a new threat in the form of the Infernal Train. To save its residents - and herself - from the evil that is taking over Wonderland, Alice must set off to destroy the new evil head-on, as well as embark on finding the true cause of her family's mysterious deaths if she wishes to retain the remaining part of her precious sanity.
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Title
Albert Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. The biggest problem in Alice: Madness Returns is it doesn’t even seem to have intended results to begin with. Madness, indeed.

The original American McGee's Alice, released in 2000 for PC and Mac, stood out at the time for presenting a whimsical, colorful world in a cinematic fashion. Amid the abstract, grim world of Quake and Unreal, it was a welcomed but flawed distraction. The project wouldn’t have existed if not for Lewis Carroll, but it’s American McGee who brought his twisted vision of the source material to life.

Well-known for his days as a level designer at id Software, McGee created some of the most memorable parts of Doom II: Hell on Earth and Quake. He has spent recent years as a creative director on games such as the abysmal Bad Day L.A. and several other forgettable projects. As a result, his name, which used to be included in the title (American McGee’s Alice), is now barely visible on the box of Madness Returns.

Once again, Alice returns to Wonderland, following the events of the books and first game, as an orphan fresh out of a mental asylum. The story follows her quest to find peace of mind, uncover the repressed memory of her parents’ death and bring balance back to Wonderland. Along the way, she hacks her way through about 200 Wonderland inhabitants and visits scenic locales back in London, such as a whorehouse and an orphanage.

The story unfolds at a glacial pace, stopping for irrelevant secondary characters who serve as a means for Alice to display some dated, mid-’90s attitude that is more Hot Topic than Tim Burton. As you go between Wonderland and reality, there is no narrative focus to keep the mystery or momentum intact. None of the characters are well-defined or the least bit likable. But never mind the troublesome combat, suffering Alice’s goth-centric personality is a challenge of its own. Although, her dresses that change from stage to stage are occasionally delightful!

As with the original, the art direction and inspired character design are a breath of fresh air and remains the main incentive to keep exploring Wonderland. Unlike the original, the level design and combat are as dull as dishwater. The seven chapters in the game take place in drastically different worlds, but each one is so long-winded and monotonous that fatigue becomes inevitable.

The original Alice struggled to replicate the console experience on the home PC, building the core of the game around awkward platforming and third-person shooting. The combat in the sequel has changed quite a bit. Reminiscent of 3-D The Legend of Zelda [ゼルダの伝説] titles, you’ll spend the majority of your time in combat locking on to an opponent, spamming a single button and dodging their blows.

The combat in Zelda works because of Link’s swift movement and the enemies come in manageable packs. Developer Spicy Horse could have spent a bit more time studying these basics for Madness Returns. Locking onto enemies is a chore, switching between weapons is a sluggish affair, and the enemies themselves are rarely fun to fight. Persistent enemies require the player to wait for a particular moment to attack — because waiting is so much fun in action games! On top of all this, you’ll be fighting the lock-on camera system which keeps enemies out of sight but hardly out of mind.

Outside combat, Alice controls like a dream. Her floating jumps, glide and dash are wonderfully implemented. The days of struggling to jump from platform to platform due to poor controls are no longer an issue for Alice. However, Spicy Horse rarely puts the player in interesting or original challenges. Jumping from platform to platform, being bounced by trampoline-like mushrooms and getting a lift from a team pipe would have been tame and tiring even by Super Mario 64 [スーパーマリオ64] standards.

The level design is elementary and repetitive. Rather than putting the player’s Mario skills to the test, the game is more interested in implementing road bumps. Levers must be pulled, items must be collected and objects must be fired upon for several seconds until they are triggered. You’ll occasionally solve a puzzle, pilot a boat in a shoot-em-up segment and take part in other mini-games, none of which are well designed.

More than the original, Madness Returns is a game weighted by its poor execution of heady concepts. Spicy Horse should be applauded for managing to bring color out of the Unreal 3 engine (known for its ubiquitous brown and grey palette), but otherwise they have created a game that captures none of the joy of its source material. Even the game’s most interesting distractions remain half-baked despite overstaying their welcome.

If there is any concept that isn’t spread thin, it’s most likely because it was being culled from the abandoned Alice film McGee fought to make for nearly a decade. That project probably would have been just as boring and in need of personality as Madness Returns, but at least that journey would have ended a lot sooner.
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giving the aesthetic of this game to an 8-year-old is why I am the way I am I think
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rebelscone 2022-10-15T20:33:01Z
2022-10-15T20:33:01Z
3.0
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The Alice franchise got the new paint job it deserved. Though that's really one of the only improvements the game has. The gameplay was streamlined a bit, but not fine tuned enough to achieve a good smooth feel to it. It's still quite clunky and has a lot of tedious and repetitive platforming. On top of that, Chris Vrenna didn't even make the music for this. It's still a great, creative, and fun game; just not nearly as good as the original.
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HUnewm 2016-04-08T00:40:42Z
2016-04-08T00:40:42Z
★ Loved ★
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Title
Albert Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. The biggest problem in Alice: Madness Returns is it doesn’t even seem to have intended results to begin with. Madness, indeed.

The original American McGee's Alice, released in 2000 for PC and Mac, stood out at the time for presenting a whimsical, colorful world in a cinematic fashion. Amid the abstract, grim world of Quake and Unreal, it was a welcomed but flawed distraction. The project wouldn’t have existed if not for Lewis Carroll, but it’s American McGee who brought his twisted vision of the source material to life.

Well-known for his days as a level designer at id Software, McGee created some of the most memorable parts of Doom II: Hell on Earth and Quake. He has spent recent years as a creative director on games such as the abysmal Bad Day L.A. and several other forgettable projects. As a result, his name, which used to be included in the title (American McGee’s Alice), is now barely visible on the box of Madness Returns.

Once again, Alice returns to Wonderland, following the events of the books and first game, as an orphan fresh out of a mental asylum. The story follows her quest to find peace of mind, uncover the repressed memory of her parents’ death and bring balance back to Wonderland. Along the way, she hacks her way through about 200 Wonderland inhabitants and visits scenic locales back in London, such as a whorehouse and an orphanage.

The story unfolds at a glacial pace, stopping for irrelevant secondary characters who serve as a means for Alice to display some dated, mid-’90s attitude that is more Hot Topic than Tim Burton. As you go between Wonderland and reality, there is no narrative focus to keep the mystery or momentum intact. None of the characters are well-defined or the least bit likable. But never mind the troublesome combat, suffering Alice’s goth-centric personality is a challenge of its own. Although, her dresses that change from stage to stage are occasionally delightful!

As with the original, the art direction and inspired character design are a breath of fresh air and remains the main incentive to keep exploring Wonderland. Unlike the original, the level design and combat are as dull as dishwater. The seven chapters in the game take place in drastically different worlds, but each one is so long-winded and monotonous that fatigue becomes inevitable.

The original Alice struggled to replicate the console experience on the home PC, building the core of the game around awkward platforming and third-person shooting. The combat in the sequel has changed quite a bit. Reminiscent of 3-D The Legend of Zelda [ゼルダの伝説] titles, you’ll spend the majority of your time in combat locking on to an opponent, spamming a single button and dodging their blows.

The combat in Zelda works because of Link’s swift movement and the enemies come in manageable packs. Developer Spicy Horse could have spent a bit more time studying these basics for Madness Returns. Locking onto enemies is a chore, switching between weapons is a sluggish affair, and the enemies themselves are rarely fun to fight. Persistent enemies require the player to wait for a particular moment to attack — because waiting is so much fun in action games! On top of all this, you’ll be fighting the lock-on camera system which keeps enemies out of sight but hardly out of mind.

Outside combat, Alice controls like a dream. Her floating jumps, glide and dash are wonderfully implemented. The days of struggling to jump from platform to platform due to poor controls are no longer an issue for Alice. However, Spicy Horse rarely puts the player in interesting or original challenges. Jumping from platform to platform, being bounced by trampoline-like mushrooms and getting a lift from a team pipe would have been tame and tiring even by Super Mario 64 [スーパーマリオ64] standards.

The level design is elementary and repetitive. Rather than putting the player’s Mario skills to the test, the game is more interested in implementing road bumps. Levers must be pulled, items must be collected and objects must be fired upon for several seconds until they are triggered. You’ll occasionally solve a puzzle, pilot a boat in a shoot-em-up segment and take part in other mini-games, none of which are well designed.

More than the original, Madness Returns is a game weighted by its poor execution of heady concepts. Spicy Horse should be applauded for managing to bring color out of the Unreal 3 engine (known for its ubiquitous brown and grey palette), but otherwise they have created a game that captures none of the joy of its source material. Even the game’s most interesting distractions remain half-baked despite overstaying their welcome.

If there is any concept that isn’t spread thin, it’s most likely because it was being culled from the abandoned Alice film McGee fought to make for nearly a decade. That project probably would have been just as boring and in need of personality as Madness Returns, but at least that journey would have ended a lot sooner.
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SUPER_Lonely_Panda 2016-04-03T23:50:42Z
2016-04-03T23:50:42Z
3.0
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Catalog

tigeraye Alice: Madness Returns 2024-05-18T21:09:36Z
2024-05-18T21:09:36Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Bubu66 Alice: Madness Returns 2024-05-12T04:22:07Z
2024-05-12T04:22:07Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
oltnabrick1 Alice: Madness Returns 2024-05-02T20:59:46Z
2024-05-02T20:59:46Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Princess_Misty Alice: Madness Returns 2024-05-02T20:25:29Z
2024-05-02T20:25:29Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
gloomurai Alice: Madness Returns 2024-04-30T23:08:37Z
2024-04-30T23:08:37Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Silly_Clown Alice: Madness Returns 2024-04-27T19:18:45Z
2024-04-27T19:18:45Z
3.5
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
andiblyad Alice: Madness Returns 2024-04-25T16:12:31Z
2024-04-25T16:12:31Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
SmokeSwag77 Alice: Madness Returns 2024-04-25T13:57:30Z
2024-04-25T13:57:30Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
mrmoptop2 Alice: Madness Returns 2024-04-24T00:58:43Z
Windows
2024-04-24T00:58:43Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
gloomysleep Alice: Madness Returns 2024-04-19T18:40:48Z
2024-04-19T18:40:48Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
kojiiii Alice: Madness Returns 2024-04-18T00:07:34Z
2024-04-18T00:07:34Z
3.0
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
KyleTheCoolDude Alice: Madness Returns 2024-04-11T21:58:14Z
2024-04-11T21:58:14Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Content rating
BBFC: 15
Player modes
Single-player
Media
1x DVD

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  • ... 2018-03-31 07:31:10.490418+00
    Been putting this off for years because of how much I loved the original. Finally got it now.
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  • hell_io 2022-04-18 17:05:05.472772+00
    This game is way too bloated and too long for its own good
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  • thankgodforworkerbees 2023-02-09 03:42:30.450083+00
    Genuinely impressive visual design, good characters and voice acting and the gameplay mechanics aren't all that bad either. Pacing and level design wise however this can indeed feel like a slog the further you get into the game.
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  • UltralightSeason 2023-11-11 00:38:05.404147+00
    This game needed a lot more budget to fully realize its ambitions on all fronts, because once you get past the first chapter the combat gets super stale super fast
    I respect the hell out of it but I prefer the first game
    reply
    • UltralightSeason 2023-11-11 00:39:36.250282+00
      also the PC port is an affront to god
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