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Alice: Madness Returns — Horrorland Again

American James McGee is an original game designer of our era. Doom and Quake fans can know his name for a time now, but I more like those projects of him which came from his own head. I loved Scrapland, I enjoyed the first part of the Alice series, and although Bad Day L.A. was failed, Grimm seems peculiar enough to worth a try.

London 02But here is the second part of the Alice game, and as the title says: Madness Returns. However, 11 years had passed after the release of the first part, and it shows on the game. While American McGee’s Alice mostly just turned Wonderland out and degraded it into an imagined world of a psychotic-schizophrenic little girl, the sequel hits much harder.

In the first part Alice defeats her own out-of-control-evil-superego, the Queen of Hearts. After their house was burnt down, Alice literally went mad about loosing her family, and while she withers in an asylum, Wonderland drags her in more and more. But this world is the creation of her own mind, so loosing sanity leads to a horrific version of Wonderland.

The sequel begins in the real world. A psychiatrist, Dr. Angus Bumby takes her under his wings and treatment. The girl is professedly blaming herself for the fire, so she cares nothing about the world around – principally because the good doctor tries to erase her memories by hypnosis. Attentive players can observe that too much crazy kids are living at the foundling hospital of Dr. Bumby, and the answer for ‘why is he so interested in the little folk?’ turns out during the game. I wouldn’t like to reveal the twists in the story but I can tell that in Wonderland Alice gradually finds her memories about the night of the fire, and with time she gets to the source of what endangers her personal world of imagination.

CatDuring the journey she meets typical Wonderlandish characters who are, of course, just as twisted as everything around them. The girl herself is more like a warrior virgin with a gothic appetite than that little uncertain explorer, who walked in the worlds of imagination in the books of Lewis Carroll. Duly, the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, the Carpenter, the Caterpillar and the others show various elements of the fantasy, gothic and steampunk genres, always tinged with some tone of horror, of course.

The world of Alice is warped and crazed, every part of it is different. Jump on Japanese fans, rush through pulsing blood veins, search the route among the floating remains of a destroyed castle, try to reach your goal in the row of grotesque dollhouses or watch the Victorian London falling apart around you. And I still didn’t mention the train.

The cat helps a lot. Just as the trustful Vorpal Blade, which plays a role in the original work, namely in the poem Jabberwocky. This is the same slicing knife that you may know from the first part of the series. You can fill your arsenal with a Hobby Horse, a Pepper Grinder and a Tea Pot Cannon.

SteamThus equipped and with some agility and tactical sense the game is not a sweater on normal difficulty. With the exception of a few dirty opponents (chiefly the pirates), you can stand your ground even against the bigger ones. Just find out which weapon you can use most effectively, then the whole thing is a question of positioning/timing. Oh, and a question of dodge, of course, because it is the most important combat skill. And if every coin was spent, there is hysteria as a last chance.

To summarize it: The second part of the Alice series didn’t get the good reception that it would deserve. Some say it is a copy of the first episode, but there are only a few similar elements, and it doesn’t mean any takeoff. Others say there are halting sections, but I got through the mentioned levels quickly, so I think they unwillingly lengthened those sections for themselves.

Even if I yield to the obverse opinions I wouldn’t rate it down, because the world of Alice obviously raises it above the average games. I add; In this game the point is just the warped world of Alice’s mind, so everything else, the story and the gameplay are only secondary elements of the game. If you don’t consider this, then we have nothing to talk about.

Garcius

aliceMR_boxPublisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Spicy Horse
Homepage: -deleted-
Style: TPS, adventure, agility, action

What I liked:
setting
characters
gameplay

What I didn’t like:
it may be felt a bit monotone on the long run

5_4

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