Thunderbolt logo

Alice: Madness Returns

It’s been 11 years since American McGee’s Alice presented a dark look at Lewis
Carroll’s classic before Tim Burton and Hot Topic got their hands on the source material. It was a modestly-received cult favorite with a corresponding screenplay that has been stuck in development hell for years. Now, the game is getting a sequel with Alice: Madness Returns.

screenshot

Developer American McGee is at it again with a dark action game set a decade after the original. Alice lives a grim life in a London orphanage, but her mind takes her back to Wonderland. The enchanted place has seen much better times, as has Alice herself. Her parents have died, and the storyline will have elements of a murder-mystery. Previous knowledge of the series is apparently not needed to follow the sequel.

Since Alice’s departure, the land is dead, the colors are muted and the card soliders look gruesome, with their suits attached to their flesh and holes in their chests. A small portion of the game is set in London, but it’s Wonderland where the action will take place. Alice is equipped with a peppercorn grinder that serves as a machine gun, a teapot cannon, a deadly hobby horse and other 19th century household items that can be used for havoc.

screenshot

In the demonstration, Alice hacked, slashed and jumped through the stages. Mindless button mashing didn’t seem necessary, as most enemies – even the plentiful card guards – had specific ways of being killed. Action will play a big part in the game, but platforming and some light puzzles were prevalent in the brief portions that were shown. Alice, guided by the Cheshire Cat, leapt from platform to platform in one section. She also has the ability to shrink to a couple feet tall at will in order to bypass inaccessible sections.

Late in the demo, a monstrous card guard with worms spewing out of its eyes chased Alice through a hedge maze. At the end of the path, a cake with the words “Eat Me” is placed in her way. Alice takes a bite and grows to enormous heights. She stomps out the card guard into a bloody pulp.

screenshot

Much like the original, style is this game’s strongest suit. The gothic Alice, complete with copious amounts of eye shadow, fits right into the hellish version of Carroll’s book. This isn’t a Disney version, and it looks even darker than the original. It’s expected to ship on the Xbox, PS3 and PC in June.

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003. Get in touch on Twitter @akarge.

Gentle persuasion

You should check out our podcast.