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Looking Glass border
Looking Glass border
Queen of Hearts
You don't know your own mind!
The following information may be inaccurate or incomplete as it is still in its proposal stage and is subject to change.
Looking Glass border
Looking Glass border
Alice: Asylum
Alice Asylum 2nd logo
Developer

Unknown (possibly Spicy Horse)

Publisher

Unknown (possibly EA or Spicy Horse)

Release date

October 31, 2021 (planned)

Platform(s)

TBA

Image gallery (24)

Alice: Asylum is currently a hypothetical video game proposal by American McGee as part of his vision for the series.

Because Electronic Arts is difficult and is very protective over IP rights, Asylum will need to be crowdfunded. McGee is aiming at October 2018 for the launch of the crowdfunding campaign and will spend the months leading up to this date preparing art, writing story/design, and sharing all of this with the fan community of the series on his Patreon.

McGee said having EA as publisher isn't necessarily their goal: "We're working to self-publish or publish through other channels. Licensing the IP from EA and developing/publishing independently is the goal." He also mentioned that he intends to obtain permanent holdership to the Alice IP/license, so that he has the creative freedom to do what he wants with the series in the future, such as creating official Alice games, merchandise, a potential book, film, etc, without going through obstacles dealing with EA.[1]

If successful, McGee estimates it will be released around October 31, 2021.[2] It is intended to be developed for PC, and for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One if Sony and Microsoft approve. He also mentioned the possibility of Nintendo Switch.[3] However, he also stressed that it really depends on which companies are willing to help with the project - as many platforms as possible is ideal.

Plot

Alice chained close

A mentally ill Alice in the asylum.

Asylum is a chronological prequel to American McGee's Alice. Asylum would likely be designed in a way so that it does not contradict the canon established in American McGee's Alice and Alice: Madness Returns, nor spoil the plot points of those games. In the most ideal situation, any of these playthrough orders would be fine:

AA > AMA > AMR
AMA > AA > AMR
AMA > AMR > AA

Part of the game will focus on the treatment (or perhaps more accurately, "mistreatment") of Alice Liddell during her 10-year stay at Rutledge Asylum, and Alice dealing with the tragic deaths of her family in the fire. Suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, Alice acquired catatonia and was mute in reality for the majority of her treatment (although she most likely could still speak in her mind). She views her "reality" in a very abstract and distorted way, trapped in a warped comatose dream-like world, fighting to regain control of her mind and body.

The game may show flashbacks into Alice's childhood, perhaps the first two novels, a closer look at the fire, Alice's time in Littlemore Infirmary, and perhaps scenes written about in Wilson's casebook and Alice: Madness Returns Storybook.

Alice's age is unknown, although there is concept art of Alice at 13 years old. Asylum may be set over a period of years, perhaps showing events and snippets from all 10 years at Rutledge. Since Alice is a child with a hyper imagination, she probably does not fully grasp the concept of death in the earlier stages. However, even if Alice is 13, then she may still not understand death due to being in a coma.

It is unknown if Wonderland will appear, or if it will be replaced by another world, or hallucinations of the Alice's dream world. If Wonderland appears, then it would retcon American McGee's Alice as her fourth return to Wonderland instead of third. Given this, Asylum could be explained by Alice and Wonderland characters (such as Cheshire Cat) receiving a memory wipe at the end, much like how people often can't remember certain dreams. It would make sense as Alice received brain and mental damage due to the trauma, and also because everyone and everything in Wonderland is an extension of Alice's psyche and subconscious.

Domains

In Asylum, Alice is envisioned as going through the Kübler-Ross stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and, finally, acceptance. Therefore, Wonderland will be extremely affected by this, with each of its domains being influenced by one of the stages. The domains and stages include:

  • Hatter's PlaceDenial: Alice will be in denial about the fire. Characters she encounters in Wonderland during the denial stage of grief will insist everything is fine, or that the loss of her family isn't that big of a deal. This part of Wonderland will be beautiful, wonderful, and "safe".[1] The realm may contain elements of illusions and delusions, such as Alice seeing images of her house before the fire, or puppets of her family members. However, Alice will eventually be forced to confront what happened due to the absence of her family, and the reassurance the characters provide her with will gradually sound hollow, meaningless and fake.
  • Queen's CastleAnger: In this domain, Alice will reject the reassurance given to her in the previous domain, and believe she has been "wronged" and that it is "unfair" for her family to suddenly "disappear" and never return. American McGee: "I imagine an interior space of dark/burnt corridors filled with smoke and flames. Pools of fire and jets of flame erupting all around. It would be like walking into the brightest point of pain in Alice's psyche - all recalling the night of the fire which killed her family. An eternally burning building filled with burning enemies and traps, echoes of distant screams... excellent."[2] This will likely be the domain where Alice obtains her "fire" supermode, similar to Rage/Hysteria from the other games.
  • Bargaining: During this stage, victims of grief often seek to bargain with a figure, often "God" or a higher power, to make everything better, or give them a chance to see their deceased loved ones in an afterlife such as Heaven. Alice may encounter her envisioning of "God", as children often have abstract reasoning of "God". A possible stage for this is Alice's idea of Heaven, or potentially be Alice reaching her idea of "heaven" or perhaps only its gates. Another idea is that instead of "God", Alice may seek answers from the "wise" figures in her mind, such as Caterpillar or perhaps the Mad Hatter.
  • Endless Home (After Fire)Depression: As its name imply, victims of grief go through a stage of depression and melancholy, and often, "emptiness" and a "void". Concept art (seen below) implies it may be a void and foggy world. Alice's mission is to likely find some sort of happiness or joy while wandering through the depression domain, which may be represented by toys and balloons as a means of coping with the loss. The image shows the "joy" stuck in a tree which Alice can't access because it's too far up, showing the difficulty that comes with finding joy when one is depressed.
  • Acceptance: During this stage, Alice will accept the loss of her family. The ending of the game will likely be bittersweet, as Alice is still trapped in a coma for a few more years, leading up to American McGee's Alice. Alice also shows signs and hope of recovery from her coma.
 
Asylum Wonderland Concept
Wonderland
 
The House of Fire and Fury
Queen's Castle
 
Queen Castle interior
Queen's Castle interior
 
Asylum Hatter's Domain exterior
Hatter's Domain exterior
 
Asylum Hatter's Domain interior
Hatter's Domain interior
 
Asylum Alice house
The Liddell house
 
Depression tree
Depression domain
 
Depression street
Depression domain
 
Caterpillar lake
Frozen lake
 
Colored fishes
Colored fishes
 
Alice chess rabbit
Remains of chess kingdom
 
Alice surrounded
Alice surrounded

Characters

These characters may appear and be fleshed out more:

  • Alice Liddell – Self-explanatory, as she is the protagonist. She is a curious child, and more innocent and naive than she is in the sequels. She will likely be less sarcastic and have less of an attitude, as Cheshire Cat notes in the beginning of AMA that she has "picked up a bit of an attitude".
  • Alice's mother, father and sister – Given how the entire game is about Alice coping with their deaths. There may be a lesser focus on Lizzie, as she wasn't mentioned in American McGee's Alice, so if someone plays in the AA to AMA order, her absence may not seem strange. They will probably appear in the game in flashbacks or illusions in Wonderland.
  • Nan Sharpe and Wilton J. Radcliffe – They visited Alice in the asylum many times.
  • Angus Bumby – Given that he sometimes visited the Liddell family, Alice would have vague memories of him, although the game would make him inconspicuous to prevent spoilers.
  • Dinah – It is possible that Dinah will be shown in a series of flashbacks, given that Dinah was Alice's beloved pet and confidant.
  • Heironymous Q. Wilson, the Orderlies, Nurse D-, Cratchet, and Nurse Pris Witless – Likely considering how the game is called Alice: Asylum. Parts of the game may be from their perspectives.
  • Dr. Grantham - A surgeon who monitored Alice's case during her treatment at Littlemore Infirmary. He is only mentioned in Wilson's Casebook. He lost his sanity and is mentioned as having died in an accident with a surgical implement.
Cheshire Cat asylum

Cheshire Cat.

  • Cheshire Cat – He is envisioned as being cuter and plumper, and perhaps a bit more kitten-like, although he was called the Cheshire "Cat" in the first novel, not the Cheshire "Kitten". Concept art shows him with a mangy form, although this contradicts Alice telling him that he has become mangy at the beginning of American McGee's Alice, unless the "everyone receives a memory wipe at the end of the game" theory is true.
Hatter Asylum concept

A non-mechanical Mad Hatter.

  • Mad Hatter – He is envisioned as being non-mechanical, and far saner than in American McGee's Alice, more akin to his personality in Madness Returns. However, he may show signs of increasing insanity through the game.
  • March Hare and Dormouse – Given that they are associated with the Mad Hatter, they are likely to appear, as they have also been depicted in concept art.[4]
  • JabberwockConcept art shows the Jabberwock as a hatchling in an egg, as this is a time for Alice's seeds of guilt to be implanted into Alice's psyche and gradually grow and fester.
  • Queen of Hearts – Given that Alice is imagined as visiting her domain to represent anger, the Queen is certain to appear. This may be the time when she transforms from a human to a tentacle monster, and plots/begins to seize control over Wonderland, as per American McGee's Alice.
  • Red Queen – McGee mentioned on a livestream the merging of the Red Queen and the Queen of Hearts may be explored in this game.
  • White Rabbit – Given how popular he is and associated with Alice, the White Rabbit will likely appear.
  • Tweedledum and Tweedledee – Given that the game takes place during Alice's stay at the Rutledge Asylum, and the Orderlies work there, it is likely that Tweedledum and Tweedledee will appear, since they are their Wonderland counterparts.
  • Mock Turtle – He is envisioned as being almost exactly like he was in Madness Returns, with the only difference is that he looks more sad and depressed than ever, probably due to the influence that the Depression domain has on him.
  • Caterpillar – A concept art reveals that the Caterpillar will be located inside a frozen lake.
  • Carpenter – In Madness Returns, when Alice first arrives Dreary Lane Theatre, Carpenter greets her like they have met before. However, in Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, the two never meet face-to-face. It is possible that Alice may have met Carpenter during Asylum and she may have had a memory wipe after.
  • Walrus
  • Gryphon
  • Duchess
  • Bill McGill
  • Humpty Dumpty

Since the Alice series teaches players about the original novels, some "new" (albeit "old" to those who read the original novels) characters may include Mouse, Eaglet, Lory, Duck, Pat, Father William, Puppy, Pigeon, Frog Footman, Fish Footman, Lion, Unicorn, etc.

Gameplay

Asylum Alice fire

Alice on fire, similar to Rage and Hysteria.

Asylum is envisioned by McGee as a third person action-adventure, although he also entertained elements of stealth.[5] It will likely contain platforming elements like the other games. Puzzles and mini-games are also intended.

Asylum will likely continue "Alice using toys are weapons" concept. A Pocket Watch (perhaps the Deadtime Watch) is shown in concept art, and could be used to slow down time and help with combat and puzzles.

Core mechanics include dress floating, pushing and pulling, shrinking and growing, time manipulation, weapon upgrading, zone-based unique mechanics, lock-on combat system, climbing and free jumping, and swimming.[6]

It is unknown if the game will have difficulty modes like previous games. Bosses will probably return, as many players were disappointed with the lack of them in Madness Returns.

McGee stressed that aspects like microtransactions and lootboxes do not fit the game.[7]

McGee said that multiplayer is not of the question, although he is focusing on single-player for now.[8] There could be a co-op mechanic with one playing controlling Alice and another controlling Cheshire Cat to solve puzzles, or as a means to give Alice support. However, given how Cat doesn't help Alice physically in the sequels, it does not make much sense for him to be a physical fighter. If playing alone, then Cat could be controlled by an AI, and there could be a character switch function. The possibility of a multi-player battle arena was also mentioned.

Development

Ever since the release of Alice: Madness Returns, fans of the series have been wondering when Alice 3 would be released, or rather, the next Alice video game. McGee created two short films, Alice: Otherlands, with fans donating to it on Kickstarter. However, many fans were underwhelmed by Otherlands and McGee was still being flooded with e-mails about the next Alice game.

Fans created a petition directed at Electronic Arts, entitled, "Let American McGee make a new Alice game", which gained over 25,000 signatures since its creation.[3] Meanwhile, another petition was created with the goal of "removing the series from the claws of EA" which received over 1,000 signatures.[4]

McGee has had difficulty working with Electronic Arts. Since Madness Returns, the majority of Spicy Horse disbanded, so if Asylum is made, then it may be outsourced. However, he also mentioned the possibility of creating a new team from scratch, as McGee has connections with many game developers.[9]

In 2016, EA told McGee that he needed a demo of the video game for them to consider. However, American McGee didn't have the funds or resources to produce a demo, and Electronic Arts apparently rejects a demo funded by crowdfunding like Kickstarter. Fans criticized EA's approach, as it meant the game would be caught in a Catch 22.

In 2017, McGee decided that Alice's time in Rutledge may be more interesting. He announced Alice: Asylum. McGee is currently trying to promote Asylum, get fan support, and will present a proposal for the game to Electronic Arts. If the proposal is successful, he plans to launch a crowdfund October 2018. McGee is also collecting donations on Patreon in order to hire concept artists to create concept art for the game to boost popularity.

McGee estimates the game will be developed along an almost 3 year schedule, in order to ensure a quality game that does not feel rushed.[10] He is also floating a 20 million USD budget.

He is aiming for a 10-12 hours on a first playthrough, but emphasizes that these hours would be extremely polished to ensure these hours feel like a high-quality game with strong pacing.[11] While some may feel 10-12 hours is short, McGee wants to make it so that the game does not feel bloated or too long, as many players complained that Madness Returns is too long. However, he also mentioned DLC extended missions and collectibles for those who want more replay value.

Gallery

 
Alice ash
Alice in her classic and ash dress
 
Alice ash back
Ash dress back
 
Alice ash skull
Ash dress burning Hollow Yves
 
Alice chained
Alice chained in a Straitjacket
 
Asylum box 1
Concept art
 
Asylum box 2
Concept art
 
Asylum fire
Concept art
 
Alice Flamingo poster
Concept art

Trivia

  • In concept art, Alice's dress symbols are sulfur and fire. Her necklace is a variant of the Symbol of Chaos.
  • If successful, the game would feature Kian How Yoa as music composer.[12] Chris Vrenna was mentioned as a possibility; he did the soundtrack of the first game and one song for Madness Returns.[13]
  • The concept of Alice: Asylum, as a video game, is a particularly unique one in that not many video games show the world through the eyes of a child (Among the Sleep is a particularly notable one). Children don't have strong grasps of topics such as logic, sexuality and death. Making a child's perspective game is also a particularly challenging one, as video games are mainly programmed by adults who abide by "2 + 2 = 4" logic instead of "2 + 2 = 22" logic. Asylum is even more unique in that it puts the players of a mentally ill comatose child with a hyperactive imagination from the Victorian era.

References

  1. American McGee. A Glimpse of Wonderland. Retrieved on October 3, 2017.
  2. American McGee. The House of Fire and Furys. Retrieved on October 14, 2017.
  3. Spell Bound. Let American McGee make a new Alice game. Retrieved on October 26, 2015.
  4. We want Alice III (A third Alice video game).

External links

See also