|Alice: Madness Returns|
June 14, 2011
PC, Mac, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Xbox One
|Image gallery (671)|
Madness Returns was directed by American McGee and developed by Spicy Horse and published by Electronic Arts on June 14, 2011 for the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Madness Returns crosses genres such as action-adventure, platforming, and fantasy horror.
The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of Madness Returns are bundled with a remaster of American McGee's Alice for free. On PC, however, it is only possible to obtain this remaster of American McGee's Alice through a Madness Returns bundle called "Alice: Madness Returns - The Complete Collection" on non-Steam digital distribution sites, or unofficial means.
The Xbox 360 versions of both games are also playable on Xbox One via backwards compatibility.
A year after Alice Liddell had been released from Rutledge Asylum, she was currently living in Victorian London in the late 1875 under the medical counsel of a psychiatrist, Dr. Angus Bumby. Although deemed sane enough to return to society, the traumatic childhood memories of the deaths of her father, mother, and older sister in a fire continued to haunt her. Alice still had fits of violence and mad ramblings, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, survivor's guilt, schizophrenia and hallucinations. Wonderland became destroyed and corrupted again until it was shattered and dead to her. With no family or friends, even her imaginary animal friends from Wonderland, Alice became very lonely, but had a simple life at the Houndsditch Home for Wayward Youth where she assists Bumby in caring for the orphans.
One day, after her session with the doctor was over, Bumby sent Alice to pick up medicine at the pharmacist. On her way, Alice became side-tracked with following a stray cat. Upon entering a dark alley, she experienced a hallucination of several monstrous figures with Jabberwock heads surrounding her, until it was interrupted by Pris Witless, who had found her wandering around. Alice was not very happy to see the old woman as Witless was using Alice's "confession" to blackmail her in order to get money to buy alcohol. In return, Witless would not report Alice's "confession" to the police. Alice was surprised to hear that Witless might have information about her missing rabbit toy. Witless then brought Alice to her rooftop, where Alice had another hallucination of Witless transforming into the Jabberwock. The fear Alice had from seeing Witless turn into a monster triggered an even greater mental breakdown, and Alice fell into Wonderland again.
Alice landed in the Vale of Tears, and found Wonderland appearing to be much more peaceful than when she was in Rutledge. However, greeted by her old friend Cheshire Cat, he told her that there was a new ruler in Wonderland and Alice's sanity was at risk once again. After traversing through the Vale of Tears and watching it fall apart around her, she entered Hatter's Domain again, and found the Mad Hatter in pieces, after the March Hare and Dormouse turned against him and took over the factory. The Mad Hatter informed Alice about the changes Dormouse and March Hare made to the factory. Alice agreed to reconstruct him in exchange for information about the source of Wonderland's corruption.
After recovering his limbs, Alice and Hatter broke into the main hub of the factory, and Alice witnessed the sight of the Infernal Train leaving the factory and heading into Wonderland, which several Wonderlanders considered the cause of all the corruption. Upon the departure of the Train, Dormouse and the March Hare lifted the Hatter away with a giant hook and confronted Alice in a mechanical robot controlled by the both of them. However, the Hatter freed himself and dropped a teapot upon the battle robot causing it to fall apart and eject Dormouse and March Hare on to the floor in front of Alice. The Mad Hatter's factory began to fall apart around him, Alice, and the corpses of Dormouse and March Hare.
The Mad Hatter suddenly slipped into a delusional state and began conversing with Dormouse and March Hare, claiming he only wanted another tea party. Alice urged Hatter to give more information about the Infernal Train, but the Hatter quickly turned down Alice's questions and returned to drinking tea with his dead friends. Alice pleaded with the Hatter only for him to be crushed by the debris of the collapsed roof of the factory. Alice scoffed, claiming he deserved to die from not keeping his end of the bargain by helping her and was quickly overwhelmed by a sea of tea and drowned.
Alice woke up in the real world to find two fishermen who pulled her out of the River Thames and planned on raping her, but she told them off. She navigated the docks to find Nan Sharpe, her former nanny, at the Mangled Mermaid, a whorehouse. Inside, she interrupted a possible assault between Nanny and Jack Splatter. Alice ordered Jack to leave Nan Sharpe alone but was knocked unconscious by him, triggering a return trip to Wonderland.
Waking up in Tundraful, she met Mock Turtle again, the former stationmaster of the Looking Glass Railway and the current captain of the HMS Gryphon. They both go underwater to the Deluded Depths, but when Alice questioned Turtle about the Train, he was unable to give her information, as he was too terrified to speak of it after being replaced as stationmaster. Mock Turtle gave Alice a ticket to the Carpenter's show, urging her to use it. Traversing the depths, Alice arrived at the Carpenter's show, and performed several errands for him in exchange information about the train.
However, Carpenter betrayed her and trapped her in a ghost-filled cemetery. Alice managed to make it for the start of the show, where Walrus started eating the Oyster Starlets and other citizens of Barrelbottom. Alice became angry with Carpenter for his actions, but he told her that he was only trying to hide Wonderland from the Infernal Train. As the said train came crashing in, he implied that Alice was partially responsible for the train and that someone was misleading her. His last words of advice to Alice was to seek Caterpillar.
Alice woke up to find that Splatter had set the Mangled Mermaid on fire. Her nanny, unwilling to talk about the fire that killed the Liddells, escorted Alice to Wilton J. Radcliffe, the Liddell family lawyer so she could ask him questions and collect her rabbit doll, but after Radcliffe voiced his suspicions regarding Alice's role in the fire, she had a psychotic break. Alice arrived in Wonderland in the abandoned house of Radcliffe. She exited the house and into the twisted and corrupted Vale of Tears now called the Vale of Doom.
After traversing the disjointed Vale of Doom, Alice came to a small pool with a tiny mountain reaching out from the middle of it. Caterpillar surrounded her in smoke, shrinking her into Oriental Grove, the Caterpillar's domain. While going through the area and dispatching the vicious Wasps, she recovered a repressed memory: she remembered that Dinah was in her room with her on the night of the fire, and the only lit oil lamp in the house was upstairs serving as a hallway night-light, so it could not have been Dinah that started the fire. Upon reaching Caterpillar's temple, Caterpillar led her to the bottom of the temple where he was encased in a cocoon.
Alice was distressed about saving the world, doubting her ability when she cannot save herself. Caterpillar answered that by saving Wonderland meant she would also help herself. He also mentioned that the train was Alice's creation, and that she must seek out the Queen of Hearts, whom Caterpillar described as "someone she once knew and loved." The mountain began to crumble and shake as Caterpillar broke free of his cocoon and flew out of the mountain and into the sky as a butterfly. Alice was exposed to the blinding sunlight which beckoned her back to reality. She saw the fluttering silhouette of a butterfly on a window.
Alice woke up again, this time in gaol, where the police brought her in after she had a hysterical fit in the middle of the street. Upon leaving gaol, Alice quickly fell into another fit and entered Cardbridge, a land high in the sky of Wonderland consisting of numerous platforms made of playing cards which moved randomly. After leaving Cardbridge, she descended from the sky to the rotting remains of Queensland. Cheshire Cat conversed with Alice about her triumph over the Queen and urged her to proceed forward.
She reached the entrance to the palace to find it blocked by the defeated White King. He informed her that after she left, the Queen took over and imprisoned him there. He also mentioned that destroying him will allow her to move forward. Before Alice killed him, the White King warned her of an "out-sized killer," revealed to be the Executioner, patrolling Queensland and discouraged Alice from fighting him. Soon after, Alice met the "out-sized killer" himself and escaped with her life. Cheshire appeared saying the Executioner did not normally chase after those who escape him but Alice was his only exception. Through her trek through Queensland, the Executioner found Alice and either tried to kill her or send her to different parts of Queensland.
However, while Alice made her way through the Red Queen's courtyard, she was pursued by the Executioner and found a cake labelled "Eat Me." Alice ate a slice and grew to enormous size to stomp on the Executioner, killing him. While looking for the Queen, Alice deduced that her older sister, who was found dead but unburnt, had not been killed by the fire, but had been killed by the real arsonist. However, she still did not know who the arsonist was. When she reached the center of the castle, the Queen angrily chastised Alice for allowing the train to run amok and not seeing what was around her. The Queen wrapped Alice in her tentacles and consumed her, sending her into a nightmare.
After seeing a vision of Dr. Wilson, and Nurse Cratchet, Alice went on a surreal walk through Rutledge and had been incarcerated there. However, it turned out to just be another hallucination mixed with her memories of her time in the asylum. She saw Tweedledum and Tweedledee and Orderlies before she entered the waiting room where Bumby, Nan Sharpe, Nurse Witless, and Mr. Radcliffe rumbled about Alice's resistance to forget from their point of view, declaring that she either conformed and forget or go back to Rutledge forever. Alice soon broke free of the hallucination and found herself in Hyde Park.
She encountered a mortally wounded Insane Child bleeding to death on the ground. She had been bisected, and the lower part of her body was unseen. With her dying breath, she implored Alice to help the other children. Alice stated that she did not think the children were in danger anymore as the Queen of Hearts had been defeated, which symbolized her failure to recognize and act upon the abuse happening to the orphans she lived with at Houndstitch. The little girl then told her that though their enemies come and go, a new evil reigns, worse than the conquered Queen. The child then died, leaving Alice to find a burning premonition of her home. Alice then proceeded into the Dollhouse.
Within the wasteland of abandoned toys, Alice met the Insane Children. Their leader asked for her help and offered a very cryptic explanation for what was going on, saying that "parts" of the children were being taken from them by the mastermind behind the Infernal Train and the Ruin monsters, the Dollmaker. However, the Insane Children were forced into hiding before they could explain further. After traveling through the Dollhouse, Alice came to realize that the person on the night of the fire, started said fire, and as a result, was responsible for the eradication of the Liddells was none other than Dr. Angus Bumby. It was confirmed when she met the Dollmaker, who greatly resembled Bumby, and he essentially bragged about what he did. The Dollmaker captured Alice and made her into a doll. She was able to break free from his hold moments later.
Almost immediately after this confrontation, Alice, in reality, confronted Bumby at Moorgate Station. Alice called Bumby out on his actions, and for exploiting and abusing children and destroying their innocence, memories and identities for his own monetary gain. He bragged about his abuse towards the children placed in his care, making them forget everything and turning them into prostitutes. He casually confirmed her accusations, and admitted he was trying to break down Alice herself into a mindless sex slave too, but she proved too stubborn and too powerful, even in her insanity, to allow herself to forget. He even called Alice a "beauty", implying that he may have been attracted to her as well. Bumby claimed Alice was "mad" like her sister, claiming Lizzie was a tease who pretended to despise him, and that she got what she wanted in the end, hinting at his molestation of her.
At the same time, in Wonderland, Alice made her way through the Infernal Train, and along the way talked to Hatter, Caterpillar, and the Queen. The Hatter rumbled in delusion about Alice's quest for the truth and mentioned in a very roundabout way that forcing herself to forget was not her solution but the source of her confusion. Next, Alice confronted Caterpillar, who said that because Alice was so consumed by her own pain, she became oblivious of Bumby's motives with the children, and that she perhaps deserves punishment for not realizing this before. She also talked to the Queen, who told her that her sister was not talking in her sleep the night of the fire, making Alice realize that Bumby, who was obsessed with Lizzie, had raped her before starting the fire. The Queen told her to make her survival of the fire mean something or Wonderland and herself would all be doomed. At the end of the Infernal Train, Alice confronted the Dollmaker.
After Alice destroyed the Dollmaker, she finally stood up to Bumby in the real world and threatened to tell the police about his crimes. Bumby was not scared of her words as he knew that no one would believe a madwoman and simply told her to go away, and he implies that he already covered up his tracks by destroying all evidence and traces of his crimes. Alice felt so much animosity and hatred towards Bumby, and was looking at the source of her family's deaths, the one responsible for stealing 10 years of life and putting her in mental hell, and abusing children. Knowing that Bumby would unlikely be convicted and that she may never have another chance to seek revenge, Alice made a choice. As she was about to leave, Alice hesitated and, in her Wonderland dress, turned back and pushed him in front of an oncoming train, killing him.
As she exited the station, Alice walked into Londerland, where Wonderland and London had woven into one existence. Cat said, "Alice, we can't go home again... Only a very few find the way, and most of them don't recognize it when they do. Delusions, too, die hard. Only the savage regard the endurance of pain as the measure of worth. Forgetting pain is convenient, remembering it... agonizing. But recovering the truth is worth the suffering and our Wonderland, though damaged, is safe in memory... for now."
When asked about what happened and what this ending means, American McGee clarified:
- "Alice defeats Bumby by pushing him under the train. Then walks out into a new world full of hope and imagination. This leaves Alice in a position to use her "abilities" in new chapters of the story. Suffice to say she's in a better place. Not in the asylum and not otherwise in pain, troubled or tortured. The ending of the game means that Alice has mastered the physical world (the real-world threat from Bumby). And in the first game she mastered the psychological (using her mind to free herself from the asylum). Put those two things together and she's quite super-hero like. It's a common device in hero's journey type tales. Alice's story is a pretty classic hero's journey. Also, none of us can ever "go home". Life moves on, our decisions matter. Can you go back to the way things were 5 years ago? I can't. Alice certainly can't. But the point is that she's now a fully-realized and whole person. She's overcome the demons that inspired these two games. What's next? If not her own demons..."
Madness Returns plays very similar to that of its predecessor, as in most of game consists of the player exploring Wonderland, fighting enemies, and navigating the environments along the way. All of the enemies that Alice has to face have weak spots and/or have weakness to certain attacks and weapons, and it is up to the player to find out the weaknesses and use them against the enemy.
In this installment, Alice's health is represented by Roses and there is no Will bar, as she can use her weapons without requiring willpower. When Alice's health drops on her last Rose, she can use Hysteria, which is similar to Rage from the first game, where her attacks become extremely powerful for a limited time in addition to invulnerability. Alice also has a Dodging ability, which turns her into a fast-moving cluster of butterflies to evade attacks.
Throughout the game, Alice gains six weapons to use against foes, as well as to use when navigating the various environments, which include:
- The Vorpal Blade: A melee knife which deals quick slashes to the target.
- The Pepper Grinder: A long-range, machine gun-like weapon which sends a fast round of pepper corns straight at the target.
- The Hobby Horse: A heavy, melee hammer which deals slow, but strong attacks.
- The Teapot Cannon: A powerful cannon which shoots one arcing projectile at a time, but has a large splash radius when the projectile lands.
- The Umbrella: A defensive shield use for deflecting projectile attacks.
- The Clockwork Bomb: An explosive with a timer, used for distracting enemies and blowing them up as well as certain obstacles.
Alice can obtain Teeth throughout Wonderland to upgrade her weapons, excluding the Umbrella and Clockwork Bomb. Each weapon can receive up to 3 upgrades, which will change their appearances and improve their power. There are normal white Teeth, as well as rarer golden Teeth which amount to 5 white Teeth. Both Roses and Teeth can be found in breakable boxes, as well as dropped by enemies upon their defeat.
There are four difficulty modes: Easy, Normal, Hard and Nightmare.
Madness Returns is heavy on platforming elements. Alice is able to triple jump mid-air and float to navigate from level to level between long distances. Alice can also ride bursts of steam which will lift her upwards; she is able to turn around while suspended. Many sections of the game involve Alice locating and using various switches to open doors or move platforms. Pressure Pads require Alice to use the Clockwork Bomb as a weight so she can proceed to solve a puzzle while the Bomb lasts.
Early in the game, Alice is imbued with the power of Shrink Sense which enables her to shrink at will. Shrink Sense has three uses: to locate keyholes to find hidden items, to see hidden messages and platforms, and to be able to use Shrinking Violets.
Throughout the game, the player has plenty of collectables and unlockables to find. While some collectables can be found along the linear path, most must be found down hidden paths or by using shrink sense. The types of collectables include:
- Memories: Fragments of dialogue from people who have had a great impact on Alice's life, represented by glistening, crystal-like objects.
- Pig Snouts: Large pig snouts that can be found flying in the air or mounted on walls. To collect them, Alice must season them using the Pepper Grinder. When full of pepper, the snouts sneeze and disappear. When they disappear, hidden paths open up to lead Alice to other collectables, or reveal baskets of teeth and roses.
- Bottles: Glowing white and gold bottles. Finding every bottle in a chapter will unlock pieces of concept art relating to that said chapter.
- Radula Rooms: Secret rooms in which Alice must perform certain tasks. Completing the tasks result in Alice gaining Paint Pots. Four Paint Pots complete a Rose, which is added to Alice's health bar to increase the maximum amount of health she can have.
Madness Returns features many mini-games. These are small quests that Alice must accomplish in order to continue her journey in Wonderland. Various kinds of mini-games are available in several areas and the player can choose to skip them. Some mini-games, however, must be played to further explore the area.
Achievements and trophies
By meeting certain criteria in the game, the player can unlock achievements and trophies in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, respectively. While there are some that are easy to achieve, which simply involve completing chapters and playing through the game on different difficulty settings, some require the player to find collectables, or to kill a number of the same type of foe in a certain way.
Alongside Madness Returns, a DLC pack titled the "Weapons of Madness and Dresses Pack" was released. The pack contains four special weapon versions, and 6 new dresses which, like the six dresses already in the game, have special powers that can change the player's experience. The PC version comes with this DLC, though it is set to false by default in the game's .ini file. When set to true, the content becomes available.
- Vorpal Cleaver: A larger version of the Vorpal Blade, which reduces damage from enemies by 50%.
- Octo-grinder: An octopus version of the Pepper Grinder, which has an increased ammo limit and provides double the ammo.
- Knightmare: A skeletal version of the Hobby Horse, which restores Alice's health with each hit.
- Catnip Cannon: A Cheshire Cat version of the Teapot Cannon, which increases the amount of damage Alice deals to enemies by 50%.
- Caterpillar: Stylized after the Caterpillar and gives Alice black eyes. In this dress, shrink sense is always active.
- Checkmate: Designed with red and white chess pieces, and gives Alice aqua eyes. This dress deals out double the damage for all weapons.
- Cheshire: Designed after the Cheshire Cat, giving Alice a bony cat tail, cat ears and amber cat eyes. It disables all Health Rose Drops from enemies.
- Fleshmaiden: A dress made from monstrous flesh which gives Alice silvery white eyes. It allows Alice to use Hysteria at any time.
- Hattress: Designed after the Mad Hatter; in this dress, Alice's hair is cut short and her eyes are golden-brown cogs. In this outfit, the player loses teeth instead of health.
- Late but Lucky: Stylized after the White Rabbit, with rabbit feet worn around the waist and gives Alice purple eyes. It allows Alice to constantly regenerate health at the rate of using Shrinking Violets.
- Main article: Alice: Madness Returns Original Soundtrack
On May 17, 2011, the game's original twenty-two piece music score was released by EA Recordings, titled Alice: Madness Returns Original Videogame Soundtrack.
The soundtrack is missing some pieces which the Alice: Madness Returns Unreleased Original Soundtrack contains.
- Main article: Alice: Madness Returns Storybook
A month before Madness Returns was released, on May 20, 2011, Spicy Horse released a free-to-download application for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. The app is an interactive book, and was made to promote Madness Returns by acting as a type of prequel, covering the ten-year period that Alice Liddell was treated in Rutledge Asylum, finishing around the time of her release and move to Houndsditch Home for Wayward Youth. As well as covering the events that happened during American McGee's Alice in Wonderland, it also showed what happened to Alice in the asylum.
- Main article: The Art of Alice: Madness Returns
Spicy Horse released a 184-page hardback art book entitled The Art of Alice: Madness Returns through the publisher Dark Horse. It features an introduction by American McGee, and full-color, official promotional pieces and concept art for Madness Returns, with notes from the game's artists.
Alice: Madness Returns received mixed to positive reviews from critics, with the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions both getting 70/100 on Metacritic. The PC version was given a slightly higher 75.
Some players of the PC version experienced bugs and glitches. One glitch related to the umbrella not working because the keyboard binding was broken, requiring the player to use a controller or fix the binding. Also criticized was the fact that the PC version was capped at 31 FPS, while a simple change in the game's files would uncap the framerate. The PC version was also criticized for lacking achievements.
GameSpot gave the game 7/10; the reviewer stated that "Playing Alice: Madness Returns is not as exciting as looking at it, but you'll still enjoy getting lost in this twisted fantasy adventure." The game's physics and particle effects, especially Alice's hair, were praised. The emotional and dark story, art direction and music were generally well received.
Regarding the story, Madness Returns contains a surprisingly dark story, especially the events of the Dollhouse level. For example, Madness Returns contains a lot of dark themes such as dealing with loss and trauma, the pain and loss of innocence that comes with growing up, the situations many unfortunate children have to deal, and child molestation.
IGN gave the console versions of the title with a rating of 6.5/10, stating that "On one hand, Alice: Madness Returns presents a fantastically imagined vision of Wonderland full of secrets, collectables, and wondrous areas of classic platforming to explore. But through questionable level design, graphical inconsistency, and repetitive gameplay, I was pulled out of the experience more than I would have liked. Alice: Madness Returns is a memorable peek through a flawed looking glass."
Many players felt that the game's levels overstayed their welcome. It is possible Spicy Horse, knowing EA, knew they were probably only going to get one shot at the game and crammed as much as possible into it. Players also noted the lack of boss battles, with the exception of the final boss fight.
- Main article: Beta Content
A gameplay trailer of the Beta version of Madness Returns was leaked online. The trailer shows many story and combat features that were ultimately cut from the final product. For more information, see the Beta Content article.
- In a presentation, Ken Wong stated that the development team did not actually like the name Alice: Madness Returns and that they were happy with simply Alice II, however, EA got to make the final call on the name. He also said that EA made the final call on the box art which they also were not fond of, especially due to the fact that Ken thought the two Vorpal Blades in the title conflicted with each other.
- Madness Returns is noted for its use of the PhysX engine, which is only present in the PC version. Such effects include rubble upon using the Hobby Horse, smoke from the Pepper Grinder, ice from Ice Snarks, interactive liquid from Ruin enemies, objects scattering into glass, and feathers when Alice jumps. In addition, some areas in London include interactive clothing and newspapers.
- Madness Returns is the first Alice game to include strong swears - although they are used sparingly.
- In Chapter 1, there is a store named "The Flaming Stallion" in London's streets. It is synonymous to Spicy Horse, the developers of the game.
- At the very end of Chapter 3, before entering the Caterpillar's temple, there are two statues on the left and right. Going behind the one on the left while shrunk reveals the Spicy Horse logo on it. This also earns a trophy/achievement.
- In Chapter 4, there is a skeleton set up as a reference to Razputin Aquato from Psychonauts. Tim Schafer, who was the head producer on Psychonauts, is specifically named in the Special Thanks section of the credits. Psychonauts also deals with themes of mental health. One character in particular, Milla, has a similar backstory to Alice involving loved ones die in a fire.
- In Chapter 4, inside the Queen's castle, the floating platforms here look like the Weighted Companion Cube from the Portal series.
- In Chapter 5, there is a jar containing three blind mice which have canes and black glasses, a reference to the nursery rhyme.
- In the Dollhouse during Chapter 5, the player can find various little in-series Easter eggs such as a wooden Hatter doll, and storybooks titled Jabberwock and Humpty Dumpty, who had a small appearance in the first Alice.
- The game contains a few typos. For example, "Dynah" instead of "Dinah", "Hide Park" instead of "Hyde Park", "Hieronymous" instead of "Heironymous", and "Mr. Kook" instead of "Mr. Krook".
- Alice: Madness Returns on Steam (not for sale any more)
- Alice: Madness Returns on PCGamingWiki
- Alice: Madness Returns on PlayStation Store
- Alice: Madness Returns on Xbox Marketplace
- Movie version