American McGees Alice – Madness Returns

American McGees Alice - Madness Returns

American McGee’s Alice was the video game masterpiece of 2000AD. A decade later, his sequel – drawing inspiration from Carroll’s own muse, Alice Liddell – is a sumptuous gothic nightmare with vorpal blades, steampunk attire and chaos kimonos galore. Prepare to enter a world unlike any other…

American McGee takes his original 2000AD masterpiece and brings it into a new decade with the latest graphics and even more madness than last time. McGee’s Alice is a nineteen year old girl suffering from mental illness; in the previous game she’s been locked up in a mental asylum known as Rutledge’s. And this game could be yet another re-interpretation of Alice, and yet another to link the concept of Carroll’s Alice to drugs and mental illness, but McGee manages to reinvent Alice into something really quite original indeed.

For a start, McGee’s Alice is not what springs to mind when we think of Alice in Wonderland. McGee takes inspiration from where Carroll himself found inspiration for his book, over a hundred years ago – from a young girl named Alice Liddell. Therefore Alice in the game possesses brown hair and the surname of the very girl who did indeed live as Alice Liddell during the Victorian era. She certainly does not look as one imagines the typical Alice: no blonde hair, baby blue eyes or darling Mary Janes here. Tenniel and Walt Disney would surely be appalled. Say hello to long dark hair typical of your local goth girl, eyes as green as a fairy-infested forest and long black buckle boots. Save for her iconic blue dress (which is also a shade or two darker to match), Alice is quite different to the modern stereotype.

I hate to go on about the aesthetics of Alice in McGee’s spellbound sequel but the level of detail that has gone into the creation of the protagonist this time round is second to none. There are six different realms to Wonderland this time, each with its own beautifully detailed setting, characters and dresses. Yes, each world in Wonderland has its own wonderful dress for Alice to wear, each possessing different powers. For example, the Misstiched dress from the Dollhouse realm doubles your Shrink Sense. In this game, clothing isn’t just about wayward Victorian style – it’s about skill to boot. Speaking of boots, they don’t change between levels; I assume from this that Alice loves them as much as we do. Although we have to discount the footwear change in the Deluded Depths level; an understandable deviation, since Alice is underwater! Throughout the game, you will be able to dress Alice as a Steampunk, a siren, the Queen of Hearts, a doll and even in a kimono. Dresses in the style of the Mad Hatter, Cheshire cat, the White Rabbit and more are also available as downloadable content. Overall aesthetically, the game inspires fashion and cosplay galore and is rather amazing in that respect alone. Alice will inspire you to join the dark world of black buckle boots and don mad little Lolita-esque dresses.

As previously explored, the graphics of Alice: Madness Returns are simply stunning; a visual treat and source of rich inspiration to any aspiring artists and designers. Upon first seeing the entrance to the Hatter’s Realm, for example, I was completely taken aback by the beauty and detail of the graphics. The game really does have to be seen to be believed. And once seen it will leave you running off to Forbidden Planet or Amazon to grab a copy of the art book for even more of the wonderful design work.

In terms of gameplay, Alice is your typical platformer, like McGee’s original. However, it benefits from a revamp of the fighting/weapon system. The new system allows for a more versatile way of attacking, allowing for combos to literally smash your foes to pieces. Again it’s difficult to go into anything about this game without talking about the glorious graphics; the weapon and enemy designs are both beautiful. As you level up your weapons, the designs and power of them changes and as you progress through the game you meet lots of different enemies to smash up with your collection of vorpal blades, hobby horses, pepper grinders and teapot cannons. You know, the usual.

Alice: Madness Returns is a must for junkies of anything beautiful and graphical. The detail and art work are very much the game’s strong point. In terms of this feature alone I have not seen a game like it at all and in this respect it is utterly unbeatable. The game features a very interesting storyline, with a much more developed plot than the original game. The gameplay is fun, though repetitive in areas and it may not be to everyone’s tastes. It can be slow paced, but the visuals and story will definitely keep you playing, and it’s a great way to celebrate your unbirthday.

Buy the video game: Alice: Madness Returns (Xbox 360)

Buy the Art Book: The Art of Alice: Madness Returns

American McGee - Alice

Buy the video game: Alice: Madness Returns (Xbox 360)

American McGee - Alice

Buy the Art Book: The Art of Alice: Madness Returns

 


write for Mookychick