Sometimes a game just slips under the radar. Whatever the reason for this occurring, be it bad marketing, classification problems or a strange concept, some games just fail to find their audience. Here at Player2.net.au we want to highlight these rough gems and that is where “In Case You Missed It” comes in. Some games just deserve a second chance.
In Case You Missed It – Alice: The Madness Returns
Exploring a literary figure such as Alice in a video game well is a risky proposition. After all, the character and story of Alice in Wonderland is so ingrained in our culture that any alteration to that myth could result in a huge backlash. But somehow American McGee’s Alice, released in 2000, managed to walk that tightrope with ease. It was a game that took Alice to a dark place and thanks to wonderful storytelling and tight gameplay it became something of a cult hit. A big enough hit at least to warrant a, sadly underplayed, sequel in 2011. Alice: The Madness Returns may not have found the huge crowd of players the first game did, but it is no less an achievement in the video game world.
The Madness Returns starts with Alice stuck in an Asylum, forced to do menial tasks while she receives “treatment” for her psychological issues. It isn’t long however before Alice retreats back into the world of Wonderland to find that the Red Queen, aka the Queen of Hearts, is tearing the place apart and it is up to Alice to stop her. Along the way, Alice runs into many classic characters as both enemy and ally. The Chesire Cat, The Mad Hatter and The Catipiller all make an appearance to guide Alice on her way. The story, while not groundbreaking, certainly has enough mystery and nuance to keep players interested and it even includes some wonderful twists along the journey.
Gameplay in The Madness Returns takes the form of a 3rd person action game. Alice has a range of Wonderland themed weapons to take down an interesting array of warped enemies. There are also trappings of adventure games within. Puzzles and platforming abound, making the game one with a pleasant amount of variety. Nothing in the gameplay department was particularly ground-breaking but it was certainly entertaining and well put together.
The real achievement of Alice: The Madness Returns however, is the graphic design. To put it simply it is stunning. Even today, nearly 6 years after its release, the game is a wonder to behold. The graphical artists brought Wonderland to life in a way that feels faithful to the source material, yet wholly unique at the same time. The levels are crafted with some kind of mad talent that brings out the insanity and the beauty at the same time and the enemy design is both inspired and frightening. It could easily be said that Alice: The Madness Returns is the best visual representation of Lewis Carroll’s most famous creation to ever grace a TV screen. It is certainly much more interesting and exciting than the Tim Burton creation from a few years ago.
Taking a second journey with Alice is a wonderous experience. Its solid gameplay is only enhanced by an exciting story, wonderful voice acting and some of the most creative art design seen in gaming. Considering the game is almost always available for $5 during a Steam sale and it is a part of the Xbox One backwards compatibility program, there really isn’t a better time to tumble down the rabbit hole with Alice once again. You may end up in an unexpected place but the journey will be unforgetable.