“Every picture tells a story. Sometimes we don’t like the ending. Sometimes we don’t understand it.”
– Cheshire Cat, Alice: Madness Returns (2011)
On this week’s Spotlight, we’ll take a brief glimpse at 2011’s psychological horror action-adventure platformer Alice: Madness Returns. Sequel to 2000’s American McGee’s Alice and a dark adaptation of the timeless novel Alice in Wonderland, Alice: Madness Returns follows Alice, a girl suffering from trauma and living in an orphanage for mentally traumatized orphans. To uncover her mysterious past and be rid of the trauma that haunts her psyche, she travels back to Wonderland.
Director American McGee takes the story we are all familiar with into a dark and twisted path I have always wanted to see. The personality of Wonderland is just perfect for the that sort of tone, and McGee and his team pull it off with flying colors (or heads if you will). Despite its few flaws in platforming and combat, the game was exceptional in personality, story, puzzles, and practically everything else. As you jump, slide, and slash enemies with your decorated kitchen knife, the Vorpal Blade, Alice’s past and forgotten memories slowly unravel as you explore the deranged Wonderland and come across familiar faces like the Cheshire Cat, Mad Hatter, Queen of Hearts, and more. Naturally as a platformer, there are collectables scattered around Wonderland that upgrade Alice and the items she will carry as well as secrets to unlock creatively hidden in levels. The game also comes with New Game+, giving replayability to an already-packed adventure.
While Alice: Madness Returns wasn’t praised critically, it stood out among the rest of the games in 2011. If you haven’t had the chance to play it, I highly recommend the game for a grand ol’ time in McGee’s cynical version of Alice in Wonderland. You can find the game on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. Hopefully EA gauges interest for a potential Alice 3 by rereleasing Alice: Madness Returns for current consoles!