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Alice: Madness Returns
AMR cover
Developer Spicy Horse
Publisher Electronic Arts
Release date June 14, 2011 (North America)
June 16, 2011 (Europe)
ESRB rating Mature (M)
Platform(s) PC, Mac, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Further information
Trailers
Transcript
Walkthrough
Image gallery (576)
Alice: Madness Returns is the video game sequel to American McGee's Alice and prequel of Alice: Otherlands. It was developed by Spicy Horse and published by Electronic Arts on June 14, 2011 in North America for the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It was released two days later on June 16, 2011 in Europe. Madness Returns crosses genres such as action-adventure, platforming, and fantasy horror. Many versions of the game are bundled with American McGee's Alice.

Plot

A year after Alice Liddell had been released from Rutledge Asylum, in late 1875, she was currently living in Victorian London under the care of a psychiatrist, Dr. Angus Bumby. Although deemed sane enough to return to normal society, the traumatic childhood memories of the deaths of her father, mother, and older sister in a fire continued to haunt Alice, and she still fell back into spells of violence and mad ramblings. Wonderland became destroyed and corrupted again until it was shattered and dead to Alice.

Alice in a therapy session with Bumby

Alice in a session with Dr. Bumby.

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's return in Vale of Tears

Alice arrives in Wonderland for the fourth time.

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 the 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.

Two labormen that found Alice

Alice waking up at the docks.

Alice woke up in the real world to find two fishermen who pulled her out of the River Thames. She navigated the docks to find Nan Sharpe, her former nanny, at the Mangled Mermaid, a whorehouse. Inside, she interrupted an 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.

Nan talking to Alice

Nan Sharpe escorting Alice to Radcliffe.

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 Liddell's, 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 corruption 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.

Two policemen talking about Alice

Alice waking up in the gaol.

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.

Alice's return in the asylum

Alice's return to Rutledge Asylum.

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. Alice 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, who told her that a new evil reigns, worse than the conquered Queen. The child then died, leaving Alice to proceed 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 Bumby was the person in her house on the night of the fire. 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.

Alice confronts Bumby

Alice confronting Bumby at Moorgate Station.

Almost immediately after this confrontation, Alice, in reality, confronted Bumby at Moorgate Station. He bragged about his abuse towards the children placed in his care, making them forget everything and turning them into prostitutes. 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 obsessed with her own wants, she became oblivious of Bumby's obvious actions towards the children, making her just as bad as him. 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.

Bumby's death

Alice shoving Bumby onto the tracks.

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. 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 walked out of the station, Alice walked into Londerland, where Wonderland and London had woven into one existence, and Cat told her that she cannot go home as she freed herself from the pain and suffering in reality and psychological worlds she was forced to call her home. While much devastation had fallen onto Wonderland, her memory was safe for now.

Gameplay

Combat

Alice versus the Card Guards

Alice facing various Card Guards with the Hobby Horse.

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 in this installment, due to the fact that weapons do not need recharging. When Alice's health is very low, she can use Hysteria, which is similar to Rage from the first game, in which 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.

Platforming

Cardbridge

The Cardbridge is a location which requires plenty of platform navigation.

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 Pad 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.

Collectables

Bottle

A golden bottle.

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.

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.

Downloadable content

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.

Weapons

  • 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%.

Dresses

  • 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.

Related media

Soundtrack

Madness OST

Soundtrack cover.

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 music was primary composed and performed by Jason Tai and Marshall Crutcher, with an additional track performed by Chris Vrenna, who composed the soundtrack for American McGee's Alice.

Storybook

Alice Madness Returns Storybook

Storybook main menu.

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.

Art book

The Art of Alice Madness Returns cover

Art book cover.

Main article: The Art of Alice: Madness Returns

Spicy Horse has also 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.

Reception

Alice: Madness Returns received mixed to positive reviews from critics, with the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions both getting 70 out of 100 on Metacritic; The PC version was given a slightly higher 75.

GameSpot gave the title a score of 7 out of 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 story, art direction and music were generally well-received.

IGN awarded 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. Players also noted the lack of boss battles, with the exception of the final boss fight.

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Beta edition

Main article: Beta Content
Alice Madness Returns - Beta Trailer01:31

Alice Madness Returns - Beta Trailer

The beta trailer.

A gameplay trailer of the Beta version of Madness Returns was leaked to the Internet. The trailer shows many story and combat features that were ultimately cut from the final product:

  • The London storyline was originally set to be larger, with combat included. Alice would set out to meet Pris Witless at her apartment and, presumably, Alice would hallucinate that Pris was transforming into the Jabberwock and she would either push Pris off the roof, or Alice would simply black out and wake up later with Pris gone. Either way, Alice would be wanted for Pris' murder and must now evade police capture by way of maneuvering atop the rooftops of London. (The objectives can still be found in the games files.)
  • The White Rabbit would have played a more active role in the game, telling Alice what to do, and even telling her to run from the police at one point. His role seemed to have been given to the Cheshire Cat instead, and Rabbit only has a minor appearance in the final version.
  • At one point, Alice would find herself at the scene of Pris' gruesome murder in a house, although it's unknown if she is the murderer or not.
  • Alice was able to swim around in the Deluded Depths, an underwater location in the game. In the final version, she can only walk along the ground.
  • Doll Boy, a male counterpart of the Doll Girl, is seen briefly in the trailer and has much less face time in game play than Doll Girl.
  • Alice's dress would change color depending on which weapon is equipped, and it seems at one point the weapons were originally based upon, or were named after Tarot cards. An unused weapon resembling a fire-whip can also be seen in the trailer.
  • Alice could also use a "dash" ability which made her move faster in battle, and another which made her smash through breakable barriers.
    • It is possible that the "dash" ability was later replaced with the Dodge ability as they have similar quick-moving animations; however, dashing appears to last longer.
  • Alice's character models underwent a major redesign for the final product. In the trailer, there is little difference between Alice in London, and her in Wonderland, (such as the condition of her hair) save for a change in clothes. She also appeared a little younger than her final design. Her Classic dress was more tatty and had holes in it.

Trivia

Hatter's Domain icon
An image gallery is available for Alice: Madness Returns.
  • 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.
Alice Madness Returns PhysX05:39

Alice Madness Returns PhysX

PhysX montage.

  • 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 Raz from Psychonauts. Tim Schafer, who was the head producer on Psychonauts, is specifically named in the Special Thanks section of the credits.
  • 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".

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