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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Alice: Madness Returns

By Paige MacGregor

I had never heard of the 2000 PC game American McGee’s Alice, but nevertheless when I came across a press release for its sequel, Alice: Madness Returns, I was more than a little excited by what I was reading. Just last week, American McGee officially announced the forthcoming 2011 release of Alice: Madness Returns, a collaboration between American McGee, EA (Electronic Arts, Inc.), and Spicy Horse Games that takes place ten years after the conclusion of the original game, as Alice struggles to overcome the emotional and psychological trauma she suffered after losing her entire family in a fatal fire.

At the start of Alice: Madness Returns, Alice is released from the insane asylum where she spent the past ten years, and into the custody of a London psychiatrist who may be able to put a stop to the nightmarish hallucinations that continue to haunt her. Unfortunately for Alice, the move to London only exacerbates her condition, and as a result she leaves the cold, dark reality of London behind and takes refuge in a shattered and twisted Wonderland.

Although I’m not familiar with the visuals from the original game, American McGee’s assurance that Alice: Madness Returns takes the “colorful world” from American McGee’s Alice and “reinvents it with psychotic personalities and pervasive insanity” sounds absolutely delightful to me. As the recently released promotional images and game trailer illustrate, Alice: Madness Returns promises to be a dark, addictive action-adventure game that will thrill fans of the popular BioShock and BioShock 2 games and psychological thrillers like Remedy Entertainment’s Alan Wake, or Ignition Entertainment’s Deadly Premonition.

What excited me most about Alice: Madness Returns, also known informally as Alice 2, is the concept art and screenshots that were released recently. Not only do the screenshots for Alice: Madness Returns illustrate the dark, violent nature of the game, but the game’s concept art also hints at the expansive, imaginative nature of the Wonderland setting where much of the game will take place. Despite G-rated past representations by companies like Disney, the Alice in Wonderland story lends itself extremely well to exploration of the darker side of human nature and the type of psychological thrills that it seems Alice: Madness Returns will have.

At this point, my only concern regarding Alice: Madness Returns is the lack of information about the game’s user interface. The ease of use for game controls and menus is particularly important to me, so I can’t wait to get more information on how those will work. Alice: Madness Returns has a lot of potential, so I thoroughly hope it isn’t ruined by a shoddy user interface or difficult controls. At this point, I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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