Alice Madness Returns Review

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Nice review and cool style, ya I found the same thing. The puzzles and platforming isn't that challenging, but I am a huge fan of the old game and really enjoyed this one.
The art direction, is why I bought the game.

Side note:
I really thought that Susan Ardent was going to review this game, with putting me on to 'The Path' (pun intended) and 'Limbo'. I figured this would have been up her alley, plus her reviews are my fave.

OK, this is brilliant. Truly, Mr Butts, methinks you deserve a bonus for this one. :D

I'm bogged down with my bachelor's thesis at the moment, but once I'm done, which should be in about 3 weeks, playing this game will be the first thing on my list.

Love it, Steve. Absolutely love it. Can't wait to play it myself.

Well im glad I didnt get it then. lol.

This was a brilliantly creative review and seemed to paint the picture that even if this game isn't perfect, it probably is worth picking up.

So I shall.

Alice: Madness Returns is one of my favorite games of the year, or any year. It's not perfect, but it's such a breath of fresh air. There's almost no game that looks, sounds, or plays like it (with only the original Alice coming close). It's like Zelda, Tomb Raider, Enslaved, Silent Hill, and Prince of Persia all wound up in a blender and I get this delicious cocktail of platforming across gorgeous vistas while scouring the world for secrets and surviving assaults from grotesque horrors. It's a gorgeous, insane game that is one of the best experiences I've had this year.

Steve, so much respect. You are a genius.

I've gotta agree with the others - that's an awesome review.

And yes, I'm going to be picking this up just for the visuals and McGee's interpretation of Alice. Plus the console versions come with the original, so I can't say no. I'd get it on PC but I don't want to use Origin...plus I already missed the promo when they had the original to offer.

oh thank god i wasnt the only one who felt this game's levels dragged on a little to long
however i did find the combat mildy challenging
each enemy had an almost specific way to beat them IE the medium sized Ruins arm shields could only be destroyed by its own projectile (or at least the teapot wasnt working for me)
waiting for him to through a projectile and time it right to reflect was often tedius when there was more then one monster
and was a downright pain when there was an ifninite number of slithering ruin.

awesome review.
I got the game for the 360 and am loving it, yea the game play is a tad simple or old school (take your pick for how you want to describe it) I don't think that's a bad thing though I'm enjoying myself immensely.

The free HD version of alice is also nice although can be frustrating in parts.
I find all of McGee's games tend to be very imaginative but have pretty simple or poorly executed game play, remember scrapland anyone?

poiumty:
I love this game. Cheshire Cat's model and voice acting, the awesome enviroments, the atmosphere, the dark theme and black humor. Gameplay's fairly console-dumb standard, but this needs to be played.

Meet the Cheshire Cat:
image
Yep Roger Jackson, the actor that provided the voice for Mojo Jojo, also voiced the Cheshire Cat in both the original game and this one. I found that slightly amusing.

I'm definitely getting this game. The original, which I thankfully still have, was gorgeous for the time, but was also pretty linear and that was the game's main criticism. Looks like McGee didn't pick up on that. Still any excuse to gawk at the mind-blowing artwork his team always produces is an excuse I'll take.

Simplistic game with incredibly powerful visuals, a land of pure metaphor and symbolism!

My housemate was telling me how Alice in Wonderland is aparrently about dissociative identity disorder and brainwashing that comes with monarchy, the blue butterfly symbolises that, so he says. Makes enough sense to me, given the subject matter.

But yeah, game fucking rules, pure art

Brilliant review, thanks for that :P

Any review which is fun to read yet still informative deserves much respect. Kudos to you, sir!

Being an avid fan of the PC gem that was American McGee's Alice, I was shiting myself through the roof with excitement. The first game combined a dark setting with wonderful platforming and a third person shooter feel with various weapons that fit the original setting, in a much more grim way, mind you. The game also incorporated that battling with madness element as Alice was admitted to an asylum after her parents death and is slowly battling her insanity which has trapped her in Wonderland. I played through about 5 times when I was younger and didn't get tired of picking up all the pieces of the Jabberwockey staff and using it on card guards in a twisted vine maze. It wasn't perfect, but still pretty damn good.

Then I saw what McGee did with the gameplay and changing it to that DMC style. My dreams of a perfect sequel were slightly muddied, but they could still pull it off with every other portion of the game. McGee's design and eye for the twisted setting is still strong as ever. Gameplay looks like it fits with the various weapons available even if it seems extremely repetitive and reminds me too much of DMC. Platforming looks extremely dulled to a easy double jump fest and seems to only serve towards showing the beautiful environments. Puzzles in American McGee's Alice were less of a problem than Madness Returns, considering Madness Returns has way more puzzles as well as variety. If I have the spare money, I will pick it up. It just doesn't seem to be the top priority on my wishlist.

It's a great review, I just don't agree with the verdict.

It's nice that you poetrized it, it's just that the game asumes you know the story from part 1, you know, the one they gave you for free with the game, so you could play it before the second game, so you knew wth was going on...

ah well...

I remember saying that this game would either be the next Dante's Inferno or the next Psychonauts. It looks like I was right. It's the next Psychonauts to the point that its gameplay was already getting stale in 2005.

De Ronneman:
It's a great review, I just don't agree with the verdict.

It's nice that you poetrized it, it's just that the game asumes you know the story from part 1, you know, the one they gave you for free with the game, so you could play it before the second game, so you knew wth was going on...

ah well...

You misunderstood my objection. The problem is not that you don't get enough backstory. Even assuming you hadn't played the original Alice in past ten years (which I hadn't), I felt the setup was very clear.

The problem is that the burden of creating the motivation to actually finish Alice's adventure rests almost entirely on the player. Alice keeps saying it's important to find out why the story of the fire doesn't match her gradually returning memories, and she keeps saying she's terrified of the train, but the game never really shows any of that in a meaningful way. It's as if the game assumes it's enough just to tell you how Alice is feeling without bothering to express those feelings outside of the dialogue.

The only moments of genuine tension in the game are all related to combat. Sure, the bit with the oysters and the Hatter were moving, but were you ever particularly anxious or emotionally attached to the larger narrative? I sure wasn't. But the game keeps telling me that I ought to be. That's poor storytelling in my opinion, and has nothing to do with whether or not you played the previous game.

It warms my gamer's heart to see
McGee's latest opus not fail.
But Steve's verse seems to guarantee
The gameplay linear and stale.
Sorry, Alice, your worth to me
Is just a twenty-buck Steam sale.

Steve Butts:
The jumping bits were sometimes fun
And sometimes not so much.
The trouble seemed to come when I
Missed but thought I touched.
Collision is a tricky thing,
With physics codes and such.

Admit it, you wanted a noobified "ledge grab", right? Collision is perfectly fine, you have a triple jump to nail any landing, AND if you die you're only pushed back to the last platform just like PRINCE OF PERSIA 2008.

Moeez:
Admit it, you wanted a noobified "ledge grab", right? Collision is perfectly fine, you have a triple jump to nail any landing, AND if you die you're only pushed back to the last platform just like PRINCE OF PERSIA 2008.

We must have been playing two different games.

My Alice sometimes can't step over a one-inch high rise in the floor despite being able to run up stairs. My Alice's feet sometimes aren't on the pedestals, yet she doesn't fall. My Alice can land a jump on a moving pedestal and falls off the second it moves. My Alice sometimes gets stuck along the edges of the keyholes and rather than simply twisting and sidestepping through, she has to back away from the edge and try again.

Holy crap, the rhyming rating blew my mind. That may just be the best game review I've ever read. Bravo.

InterAirplay:
How can you have gears turning in lava? wouldn't they just heat up and change shape/melt and completely fuck up the mechanism they're a part of?

Oh you are just fantastic. I'm surprised you didn't mention the impossibilities of a talking cat, too. :P

I agree with the review. Which is sad, because the style of the game got my interest. =<

Steve Butts:

Moeez:
Admit it, you wanted a noobified "ledge grab", right? Collision is perfectly fine, you have a triple jump to nail any landing, AND if you die you're only pushed back to the last platform just like PRINCE OF PERSIA 2008.

We must have been playing two different games.

My Alice sometimes can't step over a one-inch high rise in the floor despite being able to run up stairs. My Alice's feet sometimes aren't on the pedestals, yet she doesn't fall. My Alice can land a jump on a moving pedestal and falls off the second it moves. My Alice sometimes gets stuck along the edges of the keyholes and rather than simply twisting and sidestepping through, she has to back away from the edge and try again.

Whoa. I haven't had a single one of those issues. Is it a platform thing (I'm on the 360)? This is the smoothest platforming I've experienced in years. When my Alice has fallen, it's been my fault alone.

Not that I'm doubting you. If New Vegas has taught us anything, it's that not everyone is going to have the same issues.

DustyDrB:
Thank you very much for that, Steve. The Escapists' own Poet Laureate.

This is my favorite game of the year so far. Simplistic? Hell yes it is, but I don't care. I've missed the heyday of the (3D) platformer and I just think its a joy to jump around (and then dodge just before Alice lands). Beautiful game, crazy story and characters, fun platforming...I love it.

There is no nobler achievement in game design than making the process of getting from point A to point B entertaining.

Agreed. Compelling story, but not too hard to discourage playing.

Reminds me of the fun I used to have playing the old Tomb Raider games.
As for the bottles, again like the hidden/special artifacts in the old TR, the reward was in the finding :)

Steve Butts:

Moeez:
Admit it, you wanted a noobified "ledge grab", right? Collision is perfectly fine, you have a triple jump to nail any landing, AND if you die you're only pushed back to the last platform just like PRINCE OF PERSIA 2008.

We must have been playing two different games.

My Alice sometimes can't step over a one-inch high rise in the floor despite being able to run up stairs. My Alice's feet sometimes aren't on the pedestals, yet she doesn't fall. My Alice can land a jump on a moving pedestal and falls off the second it moves. My Alice sometimes gets stuck along the edges of the keyholes and rather than simply twisting and sidestepping through, she has to back away from the edge and try again.

Clearly, was this a review copy or a glitch? By pedestal, do you mean platform? I haven't had any of these problems, especially on falling off moving platforms. I'm playing on PC version, btw.

it's not quite dark enough for me. Not quite crazy enough.

I think I'll pass.

Dastardly:

Steve Butts:
Alice Madness Returns Review

With apologies to Lewis Carroll.

Read Full Article

Such a missed opportunity... finally, a game with a distinct visual style, and they fumble on the gameplay?

Sure, yeah, everything's gritty and dark now, but I strongly feel that the AG Alice stuff gets grandfathered in on this one. It's more of the earlier Tim Burton vein than the "gritty reboot" lode of today. But, like Tim Burton, they seem to be relying on the mildly-disturbing visuals to carry the whole production... leaving story and gameplay by the way.

Wonderland has always been about mindgames and thwarted expectations, but the game is almost entirely "execution" puzzles: combat and platforming. Where is the "madness" promised in the title (and in the setting itself)? Instead, it's an old-school platformer (complete with Mario 2 (US) princess-floaty-dress mechanics) with an over-equipped heroine.

To my mind, any game meant to include "madness" or "horror" has to play upon nerves and fear. When you're packing an arsenal, and everything is straightforward, what is there to be nervous or fearful about? Simply telling us (or just heavily implying) that Alice is scared and/or crazy doesn't make it so. The gameplay fails to reinforce that tone in any way.

Strip down the weapons. Make fights about survival more than dominance. Make the player feel lucky to have just survived that last encounter, but also nervous about whether they still have enough to make it through the next. Get straight-up Escher on level design. And in the name of all things holy, put some real puzzles in the damned thing.

(Also, I can't help but think, "I nailed your mom's crazy bits." And then I chortle in my joy.)

I personally found the dollhouse level to be extremely unnerving and melancholy, and I like how finding the memories, especially from your family, really make the story. Also, who else though Alice was pretty damn hot in this game?

you sir have made my day

look like a game for the "when on sale" pile

linkvegeta:
Too long my ass. I mean really that is not a problem unless you have the attention span of a 5 year old. in that case is most people in the world.

Well I was seriously rushing through the last parts of the Samurai and Dollhouse levels because they just got too tedious and the visuals were no longer flooring me.

Also, the wasteland before you get to the Samurai level felt kinda long, but that's probably because the environment it dull and brown.

The game probably would have felt a lot less long if the Dollhouse level and Samurai level had the same beautiful appeal as the opening Wonderland, or the underwater level.

The game should have been much shorter

I think the game reviewing media has been pretty uneven in their handling of this game. I believe many of them are treating it (probably due to the subject matter/associations) as some sort of concept piece, instead of as a FPS. Personally I think some of the mechanics in this game are quite good - but it's obviously not a high concept game, despite it's association with Lewis Carrol. It's also obviously not a serious puzzle game either, which is why I was surprised at the lack of content in the review regarding the combat system - although I do commend Steve on at least mentioning the platforming, even if he didn't find it fun.

Also I wonder if the superior visuals and environments aren't actually causing the game to get a negative mean score than it really deserves. For example, instead of saying - this is an average, servicable shooter/patformer that looks great (++), it becomes: this game looks great, but is only an average shooter/platformer (--)

Personally - I think this game is better than the first one in pretty much every way. It would be fair of any reviewer to say, "If you enjoyed the first game, you'll like this one even more." But oddly enough, very few reviewers are mentioning the first game at all, especially by ware of comparison - which I find to be a huge oversight that sequels don't usually get.

I can't remember if you ever mention how glitchy the game is in your review (I've already watched it twice, it's getting stalker status), but if you didn't I just want to say right now that it's obvious they either didn't spend the time fully testing the environment. I've had to restart the game several times because key elements of the story wouldn't work, for example the pull chains won't let you activate them sometimes, etc. Otherwise, I like it ^_^

Steve Butts:
Alice Madness Returns Review

With apologies to Lewis Carroll.

Read Full Article

Hey wait, there ARE math puzzles in Alice MR! I just forgot. They are on the "Paint the Rose" challenge rooms, most are combat survival rooms, but there are a few with logic puzzles. So, Steve Butts, you clearly weren't looking hard enough ;)

image

And logic puzzles!

image

Dastardly:

Steve Butts:
Alice Madness Returns Review

With apologies to Lewis Carroll.

Read Full Article

Such a missed opportunity... finally, a game with a distinct visual style, and they fumble on the gameplay?

Sure, yeah, everything's gritty and dark now, but I strongly feel that the AG Alice stuff gets grandfathered in on this one. It's more of the earlier Tim Burton vein than the "gritty reboot" lode of today. But, like Tim Burton, they seem to be relying on the mildly-disturbing visuals to carry the whole production... leaving story and gameplay by the way.

Wonderland has always been about mindgames and thwarted expectations, but the game is almost entirely "execution" puzzles: combat and platforming. Where is the "madness" promised in the title (and in the setting itself)? Instead, it's an old-school platformer (complete with Mario 2 (US) princess-floaty-dress mechanics) with an over-equipped heroine.

To my mind, any game meant to include "madness" or "horror" has to play upon nerves and fear. When you're packing an arsenal, and everything is straightforward, what is there to be nervous or fearful about? Simply telling us (or just heavily implying) that Alice is scared and/or crazy doesn't make it so. The gameplay fails to reinforce that tone in any way.

Strip down the weapons. Make fights about survival more than dominance. Make the player feel lucky to have just survived that last encounter, but also nervous about whether they still have enough to make it through the next. Get straight-up Escher on level design. And in the name of all things holy, put some real puzzles in the damned thing.

(Also, I can't help but think, "I nailed your mom's crazy bits." And then I chortle in my joy.)

just finished the game.

American mcgee's games always had a visual stile almost like tim burton films (see Grimm series)
you should rent this game and see how they managed to visualize madness.
madness =/= horror.
and since they included the first game you should try this one out also.

the style of play is like the first one, jump and run with hack and slash elements.
and if you play it on normal or hard you will feel sometimes that you have survived only by luck. (on harder difficulties it is kind of nessesary to explore the world to find hidden health upgrades and obtaining them by fighting or answering riddles.)

the visuals are awesome.(some levels come close to escher but they still keep it so that some players dont get nausea.) and the plattforming is superb. i almost had as much fun as with psychonauts. and the easter egg i found fitted with the setting:


like a commenter said: Not even raz can survive alice's mind"

I can agree with you on the puzzles. it has some and you can skip these if you find them to hard(but they arent hard enough) but i wish they had included more....

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