Alice: Madness Returns is the sequel to 2000's American McGee's Alice for the PC. Madness Returns was released for the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 in the U.S. on June 14th and Europe June 17th 2011. Madness Returns was developed by China-based studio Spicy Horse, who were also the developers for American McGee's Grimm.
The story revisits Alice Liddell, who went insane after a fire claimed the lives of her parents and her older sister, Lizzie. Madness Returns begins several years after she was released from Rutledge's mental asylum in London. The game opens up with Alice seeing a psychiatrist, Dr. Angus Bumby who wants her to let go of her memories and forget about the fire. The eccentric Dr. Bumby is convinced that traumatic memories are dangerous if not properly sorted out and he tries to make her forget the fire and find refuge in Wonderland. However, Alice cannot find refuge as Wonderland seems to be corrupted once more, by an unknown force.
After the episode at the doctor's, Alice meets her old nurse, the malevolent Nurse Pris Witless, who's been blackmailing her ever since Alice had an episode where she started shouting that she started the fire that killed her parents which Witless overheard. Now Alice must take care of the nurse's pigeons or else. While doing that, Alice asks about her rabbit, which is apparently in the hands of Wilton Radcliffe, the lawyer who looks after Alice's inheritance and greedily seeks to take it from her. Alice wants her Rabbit, but before she can ask any more questions she begins hallucinating visions of the Jabberwock, and for the first time in years dives back into Wonderland.
Although at first Wonderland appears pristine and lovely once more, in truth it has has become exceedingly corrupted. Alice finds this out when meeting a dismembered Mad Hatter, who has been usurped in his position in command of Wonderland's industry by his former-friends-turned-lab-rats, the Dormouse and the March Hare. After getting his arms and legs back, Hatter reveals that a train is rolling through Wonderland and destroying it, leaking a kind of black ooze called Ruin, which can transform into hideous creatures. Alice doesn't understand why the Train is destroying everything, nor how it can be stopped. She also has visions of the night of the fire and she begins telling herself that maybe she did start the fire that killed her parents. The Hatter promises to help Alice uncover the truth, but after reuniting with the corpses of his old Tea partners, he falls further into madness and drowns in his own tea. Alice too 'drowns' but wakes up in reality, being dragged out of the River Thames (which she apparently threw herself into) by some untrustworthy fishermen.
Alice visits her former Nanny, now an old hooker at the Mangled Mermaid bar. Nanny had seen the fire and Alice hoped to gather clues about what happened that night. However, she walks into Nanny's room while she is being beaten by her former pimp, who knocks out Alice and sets the bar on fire. Back in Wonderland, Alice finds herself in an arctic wasteland inhabited by violent fish and sharks made of shipwrecks. After reuniting with the Mock Turtle from the first game, Alice descends beneath the sea of Wonderland on his submersible ship, which crashes near Barrelbottom, an underwater village. The Carpenter, working as an entertainer along with the Walrus, promises to help Alice if she finds the performers for his show. After accomplishing this mission, it's revealed that the Walrus and the Carpenter are posing as entertainers in order to gather an unwitting buffet of fresh seafood. As the show commences, the Walrus leaps to the stage and begins gorging himself on the cast while the Carpenter admits he cannot help Alice and that she must go see Caterpillar.
Back in London, Alice awakes being taken out of the burning building with Nanny, who tells her that she knows nothing about the fire and that she should see Mr. Radcliffe. Alice does just that; Radcliffe explains that she is loony, that she did not burn down her house, her cat Dinah made a lamp fall in the library that was already a fire waiting to happen. He gives Alice back her rabbit and it's revealed that Radcliffe gave up on getting Alice's fortune because he simply got tired of waiting. before Alice can ask anymore questions, she dives back into Wonderland.
This time, Alice returns to the first area in Wonderland she saw, the Vale of Tears, now degraded thanks to the Train's influence into the hellish Vale of Doom. Alice proceeds to go on a quest to find the Caterpillar in an Asian-themed area called the Mysterious East, as he might have the answers she needs about the train. On the way, she finds out that the cat did not start the fire that killed her family since the lamp that stayed on to help her fall asleep had been turned off and the cat, Dinah, was in her room. It was Dinah that showed her the way out of the burning house by fleeing out the window, which is why she keeps on seeing Dinah in the real world, taking her back to Wonderland. Upon arriving to see the Caterpillar, he transforms into a butterfly and tells her that he has no such answers but that the Queen of Hearts can give her the answers she needs.
Alice once again dives out of Wonderland and finds herself in prison, mainly because she was disturbing bystanders in the street with her unstable antics. However, as soon as she leaves the prison, she goes back to Wonderland, this time in Heartsland - the Queen's former domain - now decaying and dead. After defeating hundreds of Card Guards and the Red Queen's former bodyguard the Executioner, Alice finds the Queen still alive but greatly diminished. She blames Alice for the train and that things would have been better off if Alice had let her take over (i.e. embrace insanity). The Queen insists that Alice already knows the truth, she just needs to find the right memories, and throws Alice into a twisted memory of her time in Rutledge asylum.
It's suggested that while she was at Rutledge, Alice underwent treppaning (a hole drilled into her head), blood-letting, and being held in severe restraints by Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, but she leaves the memory and enters Wonderland again, this time in a dollhouse themed location. She is given cryptic encouragement by the insane children who previously populated Wonderland's school, and who now live in hiding from an unspecified threat. Eventually, Alice realizes the culprit behind all this, a 'Doll Maker'. During flashbacks and memories that can be picked up, it's revealed that Alice's sister, Lizzie was being stalked by a man, and that this same man burned down the house by locking Lizzie in her room and throwing the lantern in the library.
It's finally revealed that Dr. Bumby, Alice's psychiatrist, is the one who murdered Alice's family and is responsible for the destruction of Wonderland. Young Alice saw him at the scene of the crime, but she repressed what she'd witnessed. Once she started coming out of her madness, Bumby took her under his wing to try to make her forget, or at least to drive her insane again to lessen her credibility. He made Alice create the Train, which he then guided to destroy Wonderland. It's suggested that Bumby has done this to many children, erasing their minds completely, and runs some kind of child prostitution trafficking business. Alice manages to destroy the Doll Maker, a representation of Bumby's influence in her mind, the source of Ruin and the conductor of the Train. Alice then confronts him in the real world.
Bumby casually confirms her accusations, and then explains to her that she'll never be able to prove what he did since he's a proud upstanding member of society whereas everyone thinks she's mad. Alice subsequently pushes Bumby in front of a train, killing him instantly. Alice is free of his corruption and Wonderland is saved, but she has still reverted at least somewhat into insanity, and there is much work to be done repairing the damage the Train inflicted on Wonderland.
Alice: Madness Returns is a third-person action-adventure platformer. The game has the player navigate environments from Alice in Wonderland (albeit, the fact that they have been heavily changed to stick with the feel of the game, the developers saying that they were inspired by 19th century industrial London) jumping on cogs and fans, trying not to fall into the abyss down below.
Alice has a number of abilities that allow her to successfully navigate the absurd environments of Wonderland.
- Quadruple-Jumping: Alice can double-jump up to three times for an extra height boost after her initial jump. This allows her to cover considerably more terrain.
- Gliding: After double-jumping Alice can glide for a few second to assist in landing at the correct destination.
- Shrinking: Altering size plays a major part in Alice in Wonderland and Spicy Horse taken this fact and turned it into an interesting gameplay feature. In the first area of the game the Cheshire Cat instructs Alice to step into a shower of liquid that is pouring out of a giant "Drink Me" bottle. This allows Alice to shrink to just a fraction of her size at any time. In addition to being able to fit through small tunnels, shrinking can dodge enemy attacks and grants Alice "Shrink Sense", which reveals otherwise invisible drawings and writing around Wonderland that helps to point Alice in the right direction (as well as find secrets.)
- Embiggening: At one point during the game Alice will encounter an "Eat Me" cake. After eating a bit of the cake she becomes gigantic and can cause a large amount of damage.
- Sliding: At various points in each world, Alice has no choice but to slide down winding paths she can fall off of, and spots of Ruin that drain health if touched.
In addition to platforming, combat plays an integral part of Alice: Madness Returns. The combat system uses lock-on targeting very much like that of the Zelda series. Alice has several different weapons and abilities that help her fight the baddies of Wonderland.
- Vorpal Blade: The razor-sharp Vorpal Blade makes its triumphant return as Alice's primary melee weapon. This butcher knife serves as the best weapon against a single enemy due to its high speed.
- Pepper Grinder: The primary ranged weapon. This machine gun-esque kitchen tool can be used to attack enemies from afar and is used quite frequently out of combat as part of puzzles.
- Hobby Horse: The heavy-hitting yet slow Hobby Horse is a powerful hammer-like melee weapon that can be used to inflict great damage on enemies and destroy terrain blocking Alice's way.
- Clockwork Bomb: The Clockwork Bomb is a small ticking rabbit that acts as a remotely detonated bomb. In combat it is used as a distraction to enemies (they will attack the rabbit instead of Alice) and out of combat it is used in platforming puzzles. In puzzles, the player will often have to set it down on a button and complete a series of platforms before it explodes.
- Teapot Cannon: The final weapon in Alice's arsenal is the Teapot Cannon. It is a heavyweight ranged weapon that blasts enemies with balls of scalding hot tea. It can also be charged up to inflict greater damage and used to destroy large objects blocking Alice's way.
- Hysteria: When Alice is on the brink of insanity (i.e. almost out of health) she can enter Hysteria mode. The screen goes black, white and red and Alice becomes crazed. In this mode Alice cannot be harmed, deals far more damage, and her weapons do not run out ammo. The catch is that enemies slain in Hysteria mode do not drop Teeth, which are required to upgrade her weapons.
Wonderland is filled with objects that Alice can collect and use for various purposes. They are found in hidden rooms, by smashing objects and by obliterating enemies.
- Teeth: The most common collectible. Alice collects hundreds of these, scattered throughout the world, dropped from slain enemies, or hidden inside various containers. Alice can exchange collected Teeth for weapon upgrades. Each weapon can be upgraded three times. Golden teeth award five teeth instead of the usual one.
- Roses: Roses replenish Alice's health bar.
- Memories: Memories appear as crystalline objects which pertain to a certain person in Alice's life. For example, houses represent a memory of Alice's family, while memories of Dr. Bumby are represented by his spectacles. After collecting a memory, a dialogue snippet from that person will play. While most memories are hidden off the central path of the game and are rewards for thorough exploration, the most important memories (which come in the form of doors holding back a fire) are unmissable and must be triggered to move the plot forward.
- Bottles: Bottles of various colours are hidden around Wonderland. Collecting them unlocks concept art and character profiles.
- Radula Rooms: Snail shells that Alice can enter are hidden around Wonderland. Upon entering them Alice will have to complete a challenge presented by one of the characters of Wonderland, ranging from completing a minigame to answering a riddle to a brutal fight for survival against merciless enemies. When a challenge is successfully completed, Alice will receive a jar of paint that is used to "Paint the white rose red." Four jars are required to paint one white rose completely red, at which point it will be added to Alice's total health.
- Pig Snouts: Pig snouts can be seen flying or mounted on walls. They make a snorting noise, and shooting them with the pepper grinder will cause them to sneeze and teleport to the pork-loving Duchess, who will reward Alice by revealing a path to secrets or spawn a picnic basket with teeth inside.
Outfits and Abilities
Alice wears different dresses during each level. During the first playthrough, Alice will switch between outfits automatically during each level, but they will not evoke special attributes. However, when replaying levels, outfits can be selected which will give specific abilities.
The game was launched with day 1 DLC. This DLC was a costume pack called Weapons of Madness and Dresses. Each costume came equipped with perks such as double damage or better health.
|London Dress (never unlocked for free play)||This is the actual dress Alice Liddell is wearing in the real world, intentionally designed to be dreary and colourless. It is never worn in an area where she has access to her imaginary powers.||None.|
|Classic Dress (unlocked after completing the game)||Alice's favourite dress, represents strength to her; worn throughout the entirety of American McGee's Alice and in many areas of Wonderland in Alice: Madness Returns.||Regain health when shrunk (in New Game +)|
|Misstitched Dress (unlocked after completing chapter 5)||Inspired by a well-worn child's doll, this is the dress Alice wears in the Dollhouse.||Shrink sense duration is doubled.|
|Royal Suit Dress (unlocked after completing chapter 4)||A fancy, card-inspired outfit for Alice's meeting with royalty, this is the dress Alice wears in Heartland.||Health is limited to four roses.|
|Silk Maiden Dress (unlocked after completing chapter 3)||An expensive dress made of the finest materials of the Orient, this is the dress Alice wears in the Mysterious East.||Enemies drop twice as many teeth.|
|Siren Dress (unlocked after completing chapter 2)||Made entirely out of organic materials found at the bottom of the ocean, this is the dress Alice wears in the Deluded Depths.||Enemies drop twice as many roses.|
|Steamdress (unlocked after completing chapter 1)||Inspired by the Hatter's love of all things mechanical and steamy, this is the dress Alice wears in the Hatter's Domain.||Breaking crates produces more teeth and roses.|
|Straitjacket (never unlocked for free play)||The straitjacket appears only during a brief sequence in which Alice suffers through a flashback to her time at Rutledge's Insane Asylum. Given that Alice was seen in the asylum in American McGee's Alice with a real, if plain, dress and a full head of hair, her tortured appearance in the flashback may just be her mind exaggerating the horrors she suffered at Rutledge's. Alice can only hobble along at a fraction of her normal speed and cannot jump or use any of her imaginary abilities.||None.|
Late but Lucky Dress (DLC)
|Inspired by the appearance of the White Rabbit. Allows for continousy healing powers.||Power of shrinking violets.|
|Hattress Dress (DLC)||Inspired by the appearance of the Mad Hatter.||Lose teeth instead of health.|
|Caterpillar Dress (DLC)||Inspired by the appearance of Caterpillar.||Shrink sense is always active.|
|Checkmate Dress (DLC)||Inspired by the Red and White Chess Kingdoms from American McGee's Alice.||Inflict double damage with all weapons.|
|Cheshire Dress (DLC)||Inspired by the appearance of the Cheshire Cat.||Enemies do not drop health.|
|Fleshmaiden Dress (DLC)||Inspired by the Queen of Hearts' appearance from American McGee's Alice.||Unlimited Hysteria.|
Alice: Madness Returns' original score was primarily composed by Jason Tai, unless stated otherwise.
|Track #||Song Title||Running Time|
|01||Alice: Madness Returns theme *||01.23|
|02||Vale of Tears||01.05|
|11||Card Castles In the Sky||01.13|
|17||Off with Her Head||02.10|
|19||Moorgate Station *||01.23|
* by Marshall Crutcher
** by Chris Vrenna (composer of the original American McGee's Alice soundtrack)
PC System Requirements
- OS: Windows 7 (SP1) / Windows Vista (SP2) / Windows XP (SP3)
- Processor: Intel Core2 Duo 1.60GHz / AMD Athlon X2 1.60GHz (or better)
- Memory: 2GB of RAM (or higher)
- Hard Disk Space: 8.5 GB
- Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 7600 256MB / ATI Radeon X1650 256MB (or better)
- Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible
Xbox 360 Game Installation
Installing this game to the hard drive requires 4.5GB of memory.