Famed game designer American McGee, whose work dates to the Doom series that revolutionized the industry in the mid-1990s, has launched his newest work — a revisit to the world of Alice in Wonderland.
Alice: Madness Returns is a third-person action platforming game that takes players back into the wonderfully wicked, twisted and dark alternative world of Wonderland.
The first Alice game, American McGee's Alice, took the gaming world by surprise in 2000. Nobody doubted McGee's status as a designer, but many questioned the concept of a gothic horror retelling of Alice in Wonderland as an action platformer. When it finally landed, it was received quite well by critics, who lauded the artistic direction.
This sequel is much more of the same, which isn't entirely a bad thing given the 11 years between games. Once again, players will be put into Alice's shoes, heading into the macabre Wonderland. I was immediately hooked by the character development, story presentation and solid fundamental gameplay. This game looks and feels awesome.
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Alice wields a wicked sword named the Vorpal Blade, as well as several other interesting weapons, including a teapot for a range weapon, that fit in with the Wonderland world.
Each distinct area of the game features new and unique enemies to thwart Alice's progress, and I got the feeling of it being a trek through an unwelcome and disturbing world.
Sadly, just as in the first game, there wasn't much to keep me interested once the visual appeal and storytelling wore off. The core platforming action gameplay is solid, but it's nothing new or different from any other platformer from the past two decades. This is a game about brilliant art direction and presentation, and while it shines in these areas, it needs more underlying substance.
The game's final parts can become tedious, and, I hate to say it, boring. There were many instances when I wished I had cheat codes to skip the rest of the area and move on to the next.
The story also tended to stall in overly long and complex sections near the end, not really providing much incentive to trudge forward. A little variety to the platforming sections would have done wonders.
If you enjoy action platformers at all, I would recommend this game. The visual presentation is thrilling, and the story line, for once, is something that commands your attention. But I would wager that many gamers might not actually finish this game, even though its merits far outweigh its faults.