Alice: Madness Returns Review
I loved this game. From the creepy style to the bloody mess that appears on my screen, it’s just great. I could just leave it at that and my work here would be done. Although it wouldn’t even begin to pick out some of it’s more disappointing features.
I’ll start from the beginning; before I played the game I didn’t really know what to expect. The couple of screens I saw on Steam before I purchased the game were of a girl dressed rather colorfully, owning the crap out of various demons. It looked fast paced, gory, and really my kinda game. I had a bit of spare dosh and bought it without really stopping to think – but it was worth it.
You start the game and are instantly thrown into the story – and gore – with an oddly styled cut scene animated with paper. It basically just shows Alice talking about her “Wonderland” and how it’s corrupt. You then see a delightful sequence of Alice’s face getting ripped off, and you begin playing.
The first thing I noticed (and this took me by surprise) was that the graphics were quite simply; very good. All the models were crisp and looked refined, even though they used a somewhat cartoon-like style, in the sense of the block coloring and slightly out of proportion characters, and as you got further into the game, the animations and particle effects were astounding. Being in the “normal world” and not in Wonderland, everything seems rather Victorian and the whole feel of the game was dark and moody. However after leaving the Victorian bliss with a creepy, and even scary start, you’re in Wonderland.
After a few short jumping and movement tutorials, you’re thrown into the fight and given your first weapon, the Vorpal Blade: You haven’t seen awesome until you’ve seen Alice swirling through the air like some acrobat, then slashing her blade through your enemy and watching his head slowly roll to the ground as a fountain of blood shoots out his neck hole. While all this is going on, you’re anticipating the next wave of monsters, who are waiting in line for their annihilation. I used the Vorpal Blade for just 5 minutes and instantly fell in love with it. As you jumped around like a crazed serial killer, lines of colour would be following the tip of your kitchen knife, and finishing to stab the guts of your pray.
There is a variety of weapons but instead of knocking over the creature with the Hobby Horse, slashing it open with the Vorapl Blade and then finishing it off with the Pepper Grinder as all the guides say, I would do all the above by just spamming attack whilst holding my trusty blade. Overall it’s combat is very fluid and fun to play, but is easily bypassed by just tanking.
Next up it’s the game play. If your playing on pc (which I am), you may want to do a quick key mapping before starting the game as I found some of the buttons were in oddly placed, but soon I found a configuration I enjoyed to play with and was on my way to Wonderland. The leveling structures are unfortunately rather repetitive and you often feel like you’ve done something already. The boss fights follow a same pattern, where I complete a task three times and he falls to the ground, but it’s a novelty that wears off if you focus more on what it looks like when he’s falling rather than how he got there got there.
A big problem is it’s shelf life. It may not be a short one, but unlike great adventure games I never found the urge to finish it (let alone replay it), despite how fun the first dozen hours were. This is because of its same old same old style, and the ease to pass through levels without trying too hard.
All in all, Alice: Madness Returns is a masterpiece full of secrets and beautiful graphics, however once you see through the canvas and notice its cracks in level repetitively and easy to finish bosses, you’ll put it down before you can say Wonderland.