Alice : Madness Returns (aka American McGee's Alice 2)

I've given it a few hours and I'm really pleased. I think the environments are beautifully designed with a great mix of creepy mixed into the colorful forests and castles of Wonderland. It's a platformer at heart, but they're pretty forgiving with letting you respawn right where you fell and they even include a second false shadow to show you what you're above while airborne. The combat feels more interesting and in fact it reminds me of Bayonetta without combos. That similarity keeps screwing me up because I'm habitually hitting the wrong control to dodge.

Yep. There are some glitchies. If you make Alice turn 180 degrees, she simply phases through herself into an immediate about-face. I stopped my play session by crashing to desktop.

As I've said, I've only given it a few hours and it seems much of the criticism comes from constant re-use of assets dragging the game out too long. We'll see if my opinion changes but right now it's great to look at and is easier to handle than Psychonauts was, and I got a lot of enjoyment out of that one.

Really looking forward to picking this one up. I had a great time with the first one, and it evokes pleasant fuzzies, as it was the first game I coaxed my girlfriend to play to help fire up that latent gaming tendency lurking within her bosom that had lain dormant since she the time she owned a Genesis.

How are the controls on the 360? I've good things about the controls. I'm hoping we can play it together (instead of on the PC in separate rooms; controller hand-off on death/level change, etc.), because that would be, you know, all romantic and stuff.

So I guess it's a love it or hate it kind of game. I played it for an hour or so yesterday and I enjoyed it quite a bit. It's nothing spectacular or groundbreaking, but solid throughout.

Any comments on the music/soundtrack? I loved the minimalist, jangly tunes from the original. Have they traded it in for generic techno, or do we still get some sparse, cacophonous piano/fiddle/clock with a dash o' crazy?

After playing more than I should have tonight, I have to say that I approve of the game so far. It might not be as new and refreshing as the original Alice, but it's a very solid platformer. There are lots of secret areas to find. The combat is, so far, not too overbearing--there's certainly repetition of enemies, but the changing combinations of enemy types keep things somewhat interesting, as deciding what to take out first isn't a freebie. Playing on normal I haven't died in combat yet, but I've come close. And I know I could have done better if I'd been playing smarter.

In addition to the "DLC" costumes described above (which I dunno if they're unlocked for everybody or what), if you play in the "story" costume, you unlock more as the game goes on. (It looks like you unlock the costume you wore in a chapter for anytime use after finishing that chapter.) I just got to the meat of chapter 2, which involves being deep under the ocean, and the outfit here has luminescent bits and a belt with an anglerfish lure coming out the back. The story mode costumes do not appear to confer special abilities, but they are pretty cool.

My one complaint, really, is that the game is clearly intended to be played with a gamepad. So much so that there's no way to adjust the mouse sensitivity in-game, and the mouse setup has a ridiculously strong acceleration on it. I do not know if it would be playable without a gamepad--I switched within the first two minutes of trying. This isn't as hellish a problem as it would be in some genres--gamepads are a pretty natural choice for platform games. But still, it would be nice if they'd made more than a token effort to support the standard controllers for PC games (i.e. keyboard and mouse.)

It could be that by the time I get towards the end I'll be complaining about the sameness of it all, but I'm definitely having fun so far. I've completed the first of five chapters (without finding everything) and just barely started on the second, and played for close to five hours.

Origin still sucks, but I do not regret purchasing Alice.

What the? Where's my post gone? iPhooooooooone!


The music is good. Better than the original game in my opinion. (And I have a degree in music composition so I know why the music you like is bad. Sorry, still angry about my lost post.) It's Chris Vrenna back at the sequencer but with more instruments in the mix this time. Piano and violin now prominently accompany the celeste lullabys gone awry and clanking clock sounds of the past game. There's also more tempo variety. This is a definite step up to me because I revisited the soundtrack to the first game a few days ago and found it boring and dire. Too many slow tracks of two loops of unaccompanied glockenspiel. No sense of wonder or excitement. Things are better now. Not great but I have my own preconcieved ideas about what kind of music I want to hear in Dark Wonderland. Sort of a Gilbert and Sullivan show crashing violently into a carousel organ. Mmmmmmm.

Other things:
The original game launches from the same main menu. I haven't given it a go but I'm wondering if I will see anything new in there or if the same washed textures will only look worse on the big screen.

Part of the online PC deal was free access to the DLC. It includes upgraded versions of the basic weapons; vorpal knife becomes vorpal cleaver, pepper cannon becomes squid cannon. More interesting though are the dresses. In normal mode Alice has an assortment of dresses that change depending on what region of Wonderland she has entered. With the DLC she has the option to don a dress with a special game effect. For example, the Checkmate dress provides armor from attacks. The Caterpillar dress lets you see hidden objects. The Cheshire dress stops enemies dropping health pick-ups (seriously ramping up the difficulty.) The Hattress dress causes her to lose teeth (coins) instead of health when hit by foes. And so on for the others. Each of these is a complete reskin of the character including touches like a clockwork arm when dressed as the Hattress or rook playing pieces as shoulder guards in the Checkmate so I was pleasantly surprised that it's more than swapping out the "blue one" for a "green one."

I like that instead of a duck or crouch command Alice hiccups and the Drink Me potion kicks in, making her smaller. After all, what Victorian lady would stoop in her skirts?

Once again, the game seems to be telling me when to knock it off. I played for about an hour last night and then crashed to desktop. It was right about midnight and I found that Win 7 was requesting I do some system updates so maybe it has more to do with that than the game on its own.

I'm still having fun. The game music gets all Silent Hill boss fight "thunder toms" when the big bads made of oil and china doll parts come out. Like Hypation said, you do have to fight smart and wading in will get you killed because without the big sword sweeps of Kratos or Bayonetta you'll likely only strike the foe nearest you and get mobbed by the others. Also, the teakettles are serious business between their boiling tea mortar rounds and the need to shoot them in the eye with pepper before you can get close and do some real damage.

I'm playing with a control pad but I still fall a lot. I attribute it to still learning the glide distance between double jumps that will allow me to climb just a little bit further, but lots of jumping sections don't even require a double jump. I may be overshooting out of the habit that if you have a double jump you always need to use it.

Edited to add: Oh yeah. Auto-save only. Another bad console-ism. T_T With my new SSD setup, saving is so fast that I barely register the "saving" spinny thing when it does show up. So when I go to quit and get told "any unsaved progress will be lost", I'm like "Okay, so how much is that, then?" Hrng.

Still having fun, though.

Thanks for the comments on the music. I was pleased as punch with the first one, so if this one follows the lead of the first and mixes it up a bit I'll be a happy camper (could be rose tinted glasses, but I remember watching one the trailers for the first Alice dozens of times because of the awesome music. Hmm.. same thing I did for the infamous Dead Island trailer. I may just be a sucker for slow, methodical piano/banjo/glockenspiel.)
How's the implementation of the Cheshire Cat in this one?

I got pretty excited when I read that we get some segments to wander around London; are these just cutscene based, or do we actually get to explore some non-combat areas for the purposes of exposition/story-driving?

So far as I've gotten, they're super-linear and you can't really do anything except move around, listen to people talk around you (or at you), and examine a few things. However, connecting the dots with what you hear and see as you wander there with the memories you find in Wonderland is interesting. I kind of don't feel like there's going to be a happy ending, though. is this going to turn up on Steam or not? I notice Direct2Drive have a smug little "not on steam" logo plastered over their version.
I guess if I can't find a boxed copy in town tommorrow i'll have to give up...

...and grab it from Gamersgate

(in fact, I may do that anyway since I just noticed it's £26 versus £34 on Origin or D2D and probably £34 in shops as well )

stevenmack wrote: is this going to turn up on Steam or not?

That's really going to mess with the EA/steam conspiracies.

f*ck you, EA. f*ck you.


Scratched wrote:
stevenmack wrote: is this going to turn up on Steam or not?

That's really going to mess with the EA/steam conspiracies.

splendid...that'll do me

I forgot EA have a funny opinion of what constitutes the start of 'Friday'

I'm torn between buying this and Dirt 3 for my monthly game purchase. I played the original a long time ago, but I've long forgotten what American McGee can do. Is that a good or a bad thing??

Now that the game is available on Steam, I just have to wait until it drops into my price range during the 2012 Holiday Sale.

Do the retail versions (console or PC) come with any neat goodies? I remember the original came with a cool case book that gave some background information.

There haven't been any digital equivalents. No PDF of Alice's art therapy diary or such. Since they're pushing the new digital service so hard, I don't think they're going to do that stuff again. "Feelies" were there to promote purchasing over pirate downloading. Now that they are the download source, why bother?

Last night I played through a short side scrolling shooter section underwater with my ship firing cannons and dropping depth charges on sharks made out of shipwrecks and crabs with cannons in place of claws. They light their cannons with a cigar held in the corner of their mandibles. It stays lit underwater. Once again Spongebob shows us the way.

After that I did some more platforming, uncovered a charnel house of murdered fish folk and a foul plot to eat all the oysters and then went through a hellish landscape to climb a mountain and find a pagoda. As part of this journey I became an antique Japanese painting and had a short side scrolling platform adventure.

I'm wondering how many reviewers who damned this game for its sameness remembered these little breaks. Maybe they were in a rush to join the dogpile on Duke Nukem?

I've got about 1 and 1/2 chapters left to go and I can see where people are saying that there's a lot of repetition as far as the gameplay is concerned. I think it definitely over-uses it's puzzles a bit, for example (FAR too many sliding block puzzles, but at least they aren't tough to figure out) but other than that I'm really enjoying it.

And bloody hell is it one lovely looking game. Even the twisted, weird stuff (of which there is a wonderfully large amount )

my absolute favorite moment so far = When you reach the cake in the Queen's maze..


The gormless look on that damned giant undead card-guard reaper-dude's face was a serious LOL moment and a brilliant way of ending that little cat and mouse chase sequence.

* * * Just finished it and...WOW that story goes to some really dark places.

I mean REALLY dark places.


"...those sounds you heard weren't Lizzy talking in her sleep"


Overall I think it could probably have done with trimming a few of the areas down a bit, and there *is* a lot of repeated mechanics (drop the bomb on a button to lower a switch you need to shoot, etc, etc) that could done with being varied up a bit. but from a purely asthetic stand point it was WELL worth the price of admission.

There's some sort of new game + mode as well which is interesting. I'll maybe go back and try to grab some of the missing collectables at some point.

Puce Moose wrote:

Do the retail versions (console or PC) come with any neat goodies? I remember the original came with a cool case book that gave some background information.

My buddy has the 360 version, and it came with a code to download the first Alice game.

Finished last night.

Looks like the New Game + allows you to begin the game with your upgraded weapons and roses. You of course can't upgrade your weapons any more. Don't know if you can paint the roses red again or not. The "normal" costumes also gain powers once you finish the game. (For example, the royal flush dress limits you to four roses—an interesting way to pump the difficulty up without going for the full Cheshire treatment.)

On the gameplay:

I found most everything enjoyable. There was a sense in each chapter that things were going on just a little bit too long. But at the same time, the progression of artwork in each chapter was interesting, and wouldn't have been possible the same way if it was shorter.


There is a final boss fight. It annoyed me because it was a final boss fight. But, it wasn't super hard to beat, so it wasn't too bad.

On the plot...

This is not a happy game. I had a wrong idea of what was going on by the end of the third chapter. A pretty good idea of what was going on by the end of the fourth chapter. And the fifth chapter... Wow. That's some disturbing stuff all around.

Overall, I definitely liked the game. I expect to come back and play it again at some point. The console version is probably the one you want to play if you have a console, although I don't know how the graphics compare to the PC version (which is gorgeous). If you play on a PC, make sure you have a controller—keyboard and mouse works, but there's no adjustment for mouse sensitivity. :X

Recommended buy if you like 3D platform games and aren't going to be freaked out by the story. Highly recommended if you appreciate disturbing stories.

(And there are no centaurs in Oxford!)

Yeah I used a controller throughout on PC - seemed the thing to do.

and yeah...that ending. VERY impressed by what they did with the story in this game.

Deal seekers, rejoice! Amazon has this on sale for consoles for $39.99, and on the PC for $29.99.

Finally! I received this game today. I ordered it on the 26th of June from Amazon with their free super saver shipping. Eleven days? Yeesh.

Anyway, playing on the 360 and having a blast so far. It's a lovely game (though there are some odd very low-res textures; some of the books on the bookshelves look like pre-PS2-era stuff), and the ability to go into first person mode in certain areas is a welcome change. It's an interesting art style that they've chosen for London; the characters are hideous, but I think it was deliberate choice based on the not-quite-sunshine-and-roses story that it looks to be setting up.

A few other things that I love:

Disappearing HUD in non-combat areas: Something overlooked in so many games; allowing the HUD to fade when the player is exploring, then quickly fading back in when swords are crossed.
remote/times mines: Even better when it's a deranged monster in a Tophat exploding! A weapon that I always enjoy, and it's upgrade-able!
piano & strings. Ahh... piano and strings...
useful collectibles: I've never been a big fan of stuff that's there grab for the sole purpose of getting achievements. It also irks me when collectibles are something like 'pages of an ancient book' or 'stolen records' - and then the game won't let me read the freakin' pages! In Alice, the collectibles unlock things like concept art and additional memories, which is ace crackers as far as I'm concerned.

My girlfriend and I have only played until acquiring the bombs (I'm guessing about halfway through chapter one), and it's taken us a little over three hours. That seems to bode well for the length of the game.
The combat is fun! I like the fact that the enemies (generally) show decent impact effects; recoiling, staggering, head snapping back, etc.

Puce Moose wrote:

remote/times mines: Even better when it's a deranged monster in a Tophat exploding! A weapon that I always enjoy, and it's upgrade-able!

Actually, that's the one "weapon" that's not upgradable. Sorry.

Hypatian wrote:
Puce Moose wrote:

remote/times mines: Even better when it's a deranged monster in a Tophat exploding! A weapon that I always enjoy, and it's upgrade-able!

Actually, that's the one "weapon" that's not upgradable. Sorry.

Arr! That's what I get for making assumptions. Imagine the possibilities.. confusion inducing explosion! larger radius! multiple bombs simultaneously! proximity detection! Shrinking! Poison! Incendiary!
Ah well. It's still a lot of fun as it is.

As enemies get tougher the bombs become less useful. By the level I'm at, they're part of most of the environmental puzzles. I'm using them constantly to hold down buttons while I try to dash across platforms to hit the button on the other side. So get used to that!

You will eventually get the tea kettle grenade launcher which is fun times and upgrades for bigger splash damage.

One of the things I am enjoying are the little "mini-games" that pop up within levels. I've already mentioned the side scrolling SHMUPs and the paper mario style platforms but there are also sliding picture puzzles and chess puzzles. You can skip them if you want but who does that? Plus, eating cake and turning into a castle crushing, card guard stomping monster is delightful.

This game feels long. I'm spending at least 2.5 hours in each stage. I am taking the time to find pick-ups and teeth but I think even if I skipped past most of those side paths I'd still be at this game for a long time.

Also, did anyone find a side room in the queen's castle with


a big headed, goggle wearing mummy on a throne? He's holding his hand to the side of his head that calls to mind the Psychonauts box art. Is this the sad fate of Raz after he dove into Alice's mind?

EDIT: Internet says yes. Can't hide youtube clip in spoiler.

gains wrote:

As enemies get tougher the bombs become less useful. By the level I'm at, they're part of most of the environmental puzzles. I'm using them constantly to hold down buttons while I try to dash across platforms to hit the button on the other side. So get used to that!

Midway through chapter 2, I've come to the conclusion that this is the flippin' WORST part of this game so far. You would think that a game that uses a timed, precision aiming mechanic would have a MORE PRECISE CONTROL SCHEME! It takes Alice a good 2 count to enter into aiming mode, and that is after losing 3-5 seconds of time being forced to watch the cut scene of the button appearing from a camera angle that prevents you from seeing where you need to jump to to get into position to shoot the button.

So aggravating already.

But it is a well designed game art-wise, and the ambient music is great and I'm really enjoying Alice's level-specific wardrobe changes.

The strength of the game are definitely the visuals and atmosphere, supported to the full extent by the exploration. The weakness is platforming. I am in the third chapter and now completely understand what people meant by "repetitive." So far, platforms moving or otherwise, obstacles, and steam pumps make up the entirety of platforming. I would prefer to spend more time fighting than jumping around, seeing that the game has a much more robust combat system.

No boss fights! I'm aware this is a divisive issue, but I'm in the camp that wants more boss fights!

Well I can't say it's the best game ever. Combats pretty repetitive (but fun) and the worst part is the effects if turned too high (still working on it) slow the game to a crawl on my PC. There is a lot of platforming but so far I haven't died enough for it to be frustrating. I bought the game pretty much just to be a tourist in mad wonderland and so far the game doesn't disappoint. The art direction and the variation in environments in unmatched in my opinion. I think they could have done much worse with this game and this time around I'll get my money's worth.