Alice Madness Returns Review – She Mad?

Alice Madness Returns is the sequel to American McGee’s Alice, which earned a bit of a cult classic status with fans since its release in 2000. You would of made a safe bet if you thought we would never see Alice in this form again, but a decade later, EA got American McGee and the team at Spicy Horse to develop Alice Madness Returns. Making a sequel to a game that didn’t necessarily sell all too well is what you call fan service. I haven’t been keeping up with the fans to know what their wishes and desires were for this game, but I’ll say this; Alice Madness Returns might not be what they wanted.

The game makes very little effort to remind you where exactly you left off in the story.

If you haven’t figured it out already, Alice Madness Returns involves the characters of Alice In Wonderland but with a darker image to the characters and the imaginary world of Wonderland. Madness Returns is a direct sequel and it has no problem throwing you into the story almost immediately. The game makes very little effort to remind you where exactly you left off in the story. Ten years have past since we last saw Alice, and she starts having new traumatic memories of her parents’ death in a fire. These haunting memories have re-sparked her hallucinations, and she returns to Wonderland. Like Alice, Wonderland has its own problems and Alice must fix them to maintain some form of peace in her head.

I didn’t really connect with the story of Madness Returns. Though it may seem simple to grasp, the dialogue and interactions with other characters threw me off. I just couldn’t fully understand the dialogue, it was like they were speaking in riddles. You’ll get the gist of it, but I did feel a bit disconnected with the story. Alice Madness Returns will take about 12 hours or more to complete which isn’t bad nowadays, although the campaign is all that is here.

The combat can get repetitive rather quickly.

Uninspiring is a great way to define the gameplay in Madness Returns. This third-person platformer is not ambitious, it just plays by the books. What I mean is that it does everything to the minimal level, to the point where its not bad but its not good. Take the combat for example, much of the combat involves repeatedly pushing X to slash your enemies, or you can use your heavier weapon with Y, or you can perform ranged attacks by pushing B. For most of the game you’ll be pushing one button, you aren’t really taught to mix up the buttons to create combos are anything. The combat can get repetitive rather quickly.

As for the platforming aspect of the game, well it’s basically the same. You wont find much variety here. You cant hold on to ledges, you wont climb things, you wont swing off of stuff, etc. I’m not saying every platformer must involves these task but having a platformer that literally invokes you jumping from place to place isn’t much of a platformer. I kid you not, all you do is jump around or float to your destination. They sometimes even try to mix it up a little by having the areas hidden, which means shrinking yourself in order to see the platform and then jumping onto it.

It’s great to see Alice and the world of Wonderland portrayed in such a grotesque and grim way.

The highlight of Madness Returns is its artistic visuals. It’s great to see Alice and the world of Wonderland portrayed in such a grotesque and grim way. This definitely isn’t a little girls Alice, this is for adults. I really admired this especially since Tim Burton sort of let me down with the tone in his movie portrayal of Alice In Wonderland. Even though I liked the art direction of the characters and the world, Madness Returns lacks some polish. There are textures all over the place that look muddy and downright ugly, not to mention the texture pop ups I witnessed in the beginning of the game. Madness Returns has some technical faults and hiccups but none too big that will kill the game for you.

I also want to briefly mention the great score for Madness Returns, composed by Jason Tai. The music in the game really shines through, you’ll remember melodies and tunes in your head after you play. I actually went on Youtube and searched a few just to get them out of my head. it’s great when the music, and the visuals and vibe of the game all fit together perfectly.

Fan service doesn’t always live up to expectations. I kept mine reserved and was still a bit disappointed. I don’t think Alice Madness Returns is bad game, I also don’t think it’s good; it’s on the border. If you have this game reserved already I assume it’s because you’re a huge fan, in which case I say keep your reservation. If you’re an outsider looking into jumping into Wonderland I say, keep your hard earned money and wait for a great deal.

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