by Stefanie Fogel
previewed on PC
Down The Rabbit Hole Once More
Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass have spawned numerous adaptations and mimicries over the years. American McGee’s Alice released in 2000, dared to be a little... different. Its Wonderland was a very dark and deadly place to visit. Its Alice was an asylum patient who looked as if she did her clothes shopping at Hot Topic, and her weapon shopping at Toys R Us. Futhermore, the Red Queen’s guards were too preoccupied with murder to sing about painting the roses red.
Still, many gamers have a soft spot for American McGee’s twisted take on the beloved literary classic. Now, more than 10 years later, he is taking us back to his Wonderland in Alice: Madness Returns.
We Are All Mad Here
Still struggling to recover from the loss of her family in a fire a decade earlier, Alice is admitted to a psychiatrist who wants to help her conquer the nightmarish hallucinations that haunt her. Described by American McGee as a sort of murder mystery, Alice’s latest adventure will have her searching for the true cause of her family’s death. Her journey emcompasses both a dreary Victorian London and the deranged but colorful Wonderland. Developer Spicy Horse is not divulging many details at the moment, but reveals the storyline should satisfy fans of the first game, whilst remaining an accessible interjection for newcomers.
The original game was a third person blend of combat, platforming and puzzle solving, and Madness Returns appears to be sticking with that formula. American McGee says every enemy will be a puzzle and will require more than brute strength to take down. Alice will also have to use her wits. The trusty Vorpal Sword is making a comeback, but there will also be a few new weapons in Alice’s arsenal. The Peppermill is a ranged weapon that she cranks from the top to fire, like a mini gatling gun. Also new are the Hobby Horse and the Teapot Cannon. Although it is too early to discuss the full weapon details, with 10 years of player feedback the developers should be able to ensure that Alice’s arsenal is both balanced and useful within the sequel.
Curiouser And Curiouser
Gathering from the few screenshots and trailers released so far, it appears that Wonderland is as beautifully strange as ever. Alice’s latest outing has also been given a HD facelift. The Red Queen’s card guards look gnarled and menacing. An integral part of Wonderland’s scenery are children’s toys, like giant dominoes and dice that the player will have to figure their way across using Alice’s platforming abilities.
One of the new levels in the game includes the Mad Hatter’s domain in which giant cyclopean teapots roam on spidery legs. At present it is not known if the Mad Hatter himself will make an appearance as a friendly NPC or as a boss encounter. The gaunt and tattooed Cheshire Cat will be making a return in the sequel, and if the trailer is any indication, the Red Queen will as well. There is no shortage of interesting characters in Lewis Carroll’s fiction for Spicy Horse to play around with and I cannot wait to see who, or what, turns up in Madness Returns.
There is still plenty left unknown about Alice: Madness Returns. Fans of the first game, myself included, will no doubt devour every screenshot, trailer and gameplay video until we can plummet down the rabbit hole once again. We will just have to wait and see what Wonderland has in store for us, and Alice, next year.