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Alice: Madness Returns

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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
Walkthrough
Image gallery (12)
Alice: Madness Returns is the sequel to American McGee's Alice. It was developed by Spicy Horse and published by Electronic Arts. It was first announced at the 2009 D.I.C.E. Summit, under the working title The Return of American McGee's Alice. After two and a half years to development, Madness Returns was released on June 14, 2011 in North America for the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It was later released on June 16, 2011, in Europe.

Madness Returns crosses many genres, such as action-adventure, platforming, and survival horror. The console versions come bundled with a code to receive a free port of American McGee's Alice through Madness Returns. Players without the code can purchase the game on Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network.

Plot synopsis

A year after the events of the original game, in late 1875, Alice Liddell has been released from Rutledge Asylum and now lives 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 continue to haunt Alice, and she still falls back into spells of violence and mad ramblings.

Alice returns to Wonderland in hopes of security and comfort, but unfortunately, it has once again become warped by her growing insanity, and a new threat in the form of the Infernal Train. To save its residents - and herself - from the evil that is taking over Wonderland, Alice must set off to destroy the new evil head-on, as well as embark on finding the true cause of her family's mysterious deaths if she wishes to retain the remaining part of her precious sanity.

Gameplay

Combat

Alice versus the Card Guards
Alice facing various Card Guards with the Hobby Horse.
LiaSakuraAdded by LiaSakura

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's 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.
LiaSakuraAdded by LiaSakura

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 switches 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.
LiaSakuraAdded by LiaSakura

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 on June 14, 2011. The pack costs 160 Microsoft Points in Xbox Live, or $1.99 on the PlayStation Network, and comes with four new weapon updates, 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.
AlexShepherdAdded by AlexShepherd
Main article: Alice: Madness Returns Original Soundtrack

On May 17, 2011, the game's original twenty-two piece music score was released for purchase by EA Recordings, under the title 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.
LiaSakuraAdded by LiaSakura
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 on the iTunes Store 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.
LiaSakuraAdded by LiaSakura
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 has 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 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." 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."

Madness Returns won the title for Best Art Direction in MSNBC's InGame Awards 2011 during December 2011, beating big-budget, highly popular games including Rage, Batman: Arkham City, and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It also won "Best Artistic Graphics" in GameSpot's Best of 2011 awards.

Beta edition

Alice Madness Returns - Beta Trailer(01:31)
The beta trailer.
GhostdoeAdded by Ghostdoe

A gameplay trailer of the Beta version of Madness Returns was leaked onto 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, a 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

Alice Madness Returns PhysX(01:40)
PhysX montage.
AlexShepherdAdded by AlexShepherd
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
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