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Hands on with Alice: Madness Returns

During our visit to EA’s Spring Showcase on Wednesday we managed to get a quick look at what American McGee is up to with his latest project, Alice: Darkness Returns.  Unfortunately due to his busy schedule we were unable to talk to the man himself, which is a shame really because we would certainly would have loved to quiz the mind behind what is surely one of the most bizarre games set to hit this year.

First a bit of background into the story of Alice: Darkness Returns. In this sequel, which takes place 11 years after the original, we join Alice who has been released from Rutledge Asylum and into the care of a London psychiatrist. Unfortunately Alice is still being haunted by the traumatic memories of her parents’ deaths, and therefore she returns to Wonderland, although from what we have seen this is not a very nice place to be.

Although the name Wonderland may bring visions of candy floss, happy children and all other happy thoughts, this is far from the truth in Alice’s version. Wonderland has become a warped, evil place, driven by Alice’s insanity; therefore her mission is to save its residents and herself, while also finding out the cause of her family’s mysterious deaths.

Although we never had much time with the game, we did see enough to convince us that this warped, evil version of Alice in Wonderland, from the mind of American McGee, could turn out to be a pretty great game. In the level we played Alice was high up in the sky, moving from platform to platform, all while facing some pretty gruesome enemies, whom may we add wore cups for helmets and used  t-pot lids for shields. To add to this bizarre sight, Alice was armed with all manner of strange weapons, such as her Hobby Horse, which acts as a rather powerful melee weapon, as well as carrying what can only be described as a pepper grinder gun; a tea pot cannon and also some rabbit bombs, the latter of which simply acts as a wandering rabbit before exploding the enemies to shards.

It has to be said the game is a very bloody affair, so the vision of a sweet little girl should go out of your head right now, this is no sweet little girl, this is a kick ass woman on a mission to rid Wonderland of an evil force, and perhaps at the same time gain some of her sanity back.

There are a few things we noticed about the game during our play time, which are interesting, first up is that Alice can actually shrink; the main point of this is that when you come across a flower within the game, you simply shrink to fit inside and it will then spit you out with your health boosted. It’s nice to see flowers grow in what is another-wise twisted World. Another observation is when Alice loses health to a dangerously low level, here the screen turns gray and a timer will appear, should you survive the timer the screen will then return to normal, and you will receive a slight health boost; this is a pretty decent idea we think.

Alice: Madness Returns is certainly shaping up nicely, it looks fantastic, being quite a dark game but at the same time still having something very fantastical about it all. We are certainly looking forward to seeing more of this one when it’s released later this year.

Edited On 08 Apr, 2011

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