Another game review! I’m just on fire with the games in my backlog lately, I think I know why. Ever since I quit Instagram, the pressure to capture everything has dropped tremendously so I can concentrate on what really matters to me. Speaking of which, I do plan to share an update on how I’m doing mentally in that situation since it was something that was well…. forced on me. Also, today is my birthday so I took a nice walk on a local beach and did some shopping, now I’m off to a nice family dinner out.
Anyway, welcome to another game review! I stumbled upon Alice: Madness Returns years ago on the Community Hub, but when I went to check it out more, it was not in the Steam store at all. Apparently, it was delisted due to something on EA’s end. I put the game on my Origin wishlist since it was still available there, but I still preferred to get it on Steam. Years later, all of a sudden, the game returned to Steam and I bought it on sale.
When I saw the requirements to run it very minimal for Teletraan-1, I bumped the game up to the top of the backlog because I wanted to be really certain, especially since I wanted this game for years. It crashed occasionally and I had to lower some settings a little but other than that it ran just fine.
I wanted to play this game as a long-time fan of the universe of Alice in Wonderland and all its spinoffs, plus as a horror fan, I loved the concept of how this game introduced a darker twisted version of that world.
This game is apparently a sequel but its predecessor isn’t available on Steam yet. With the amount of positivity it has received since returning to Steam, maybe that game will come to Steam too and the next game planned.
In this game, Alice Liddell is now 19 years old and has been living in the orphanage after her release from Rutledge Asylum following the death of her family from a house fire. Alice was originally sent to the asylum due to having strong hallucinations of Wonderland and her overall mental sanity being very unstable after the fire, which she ultimately believed to be her fault. Wonderland was her only escape at that time. She soon came to believe that a force known as the Infernal Train was responsible for corrupting Wonderland.
Alice believes she is fine now, but still is susceptable to stumbling into Wonderland at unexpected times, when she does her beautiful world is quickly changing and becoming corrupt, with the help of the Cheshire Cat, she visits the residents of the realm to find out more. Along her journey, she also begins to recall memories about the fire and returns to reality several times where she also has more of her questions answered.
In gameplay, the combat reminds me a lot of Darksiders with the ability to focus on enemies to better dodge their attacks, although I found it to be a little more flawed than Darksiders. Weapons can be upgraded by acquiring teeth as currency, there is also a lot of emphasis on platforming, especially when I had to use my clock bomb to weigh down a switch so that I could climb to the next area or hit another switch. This got repetitive after a while.
Alice also has the ability to shrink to fit into smaller areas and reveal hints and platforms that are only visible shrunk. This feature was definitely something you don’t see every day in these types of games and I like how it was done. I also found myself having to keep my ears open a lot in this game to listen for the sound of the pig snouts which would reveal hidden areas when you hit them with pepper.
Each section of Wonderland also offers different minigames exceptional to the area. I wasn’t a massive fan of these like the chess in the queen’s castle, pinball in the dollhouse, or the 2d platforming in the caterpillar’s mahjong-like realm but I certainly didn’t hate them.
One thing I thought was a nice touch to the game was how Alice’s dress would change in Wonderland to reflect where she was.
Regarding characters, Alice I liked her determination to learn the truth and forget her past. She didn’t seem to lack any sanity on my part, but a flashback after the fourth chapter proved that she wasn’t always like that which makes me want to play the game before this one. There isn’t much I can say about the other human characters but I did like the little memory snippets that I found in the game of them.
I also loved the Cheshire Cat in this game, he has always been my favourite character in Wonderland. In this game, he is a lot more sinister-looking, and thinner. He would often speak advice to Alice in different ways when prompted.
The Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts were also interesting in this game, I didn’t expect the former to have a factory with a steampunk theme, and the queen, it was like her castle had swallowed her up like a Titan in Thedas until I actually did reach the throne room, she was definitely creepy.
This game also expanded the roles of other characters like the walrus and the carpenter who only had a little part in the Disney film. But since this game is meant to be like a darker twisted Wonderland, it’s no wonder the characters are, in some ways, eerier than what I’m used to seeing, but the game portrays them well without changing them completely.
When I met the Mad Hatter in this game he was definitely not what I was expecting, it was a challenge to retrieve his limbs as the March Hare and Doormouse were using them against me. Like pouring the hot metal on the moving platforms as I tried to reach them.
For a moment I thought there was going to be a boss fight against them both after the Mad Hatter was able to move again, sadly I was wrong.
My other favourite chapter was going to the Queensland. I just really loved the dark design of the castle and the enemies. There was even the Executioner who chased me spinning his scythe, it was like the Sturm all over again! I’m glad I was able to grow large and stomp on him later!
The one interesting thing present, as I said, certain parts of the castle, especially the final area looked like the inside of the queen’s body, even though she had a physical form in the throne room it was like half of her was that while the other half was merged with the castle itself. That’s the best way that I can explain it. But, I’ve heard she was the antagonist in the original game, and at the game’s climax, Alice called her Lizzie on the Infernal Train which made me even more curious.
I didn’t particularly like the dollhouse area in this game, it felt a bit underwhelming, especially the underground part. Donna Beneviento’s house was way scarier but I had to go here to find the Dollmaker who’s behind the Infernal Train’s rampage.
Then it all came together, it was that psychologist who started the fire, and killed Lizzie prior and the whole time Alice felt it was her fault. Dr. Bumby would use hypnosis to try and make her forget the incident but Alice, of course, would want the truth. So would I, if I was her. So is Dr. Bumby the Dollmaker in Wonderland? I guess so. His boss fight wasn’t too difficult. It’s fighting Colossal Ruins that I don’t enjoy!
I’m just glad Alice was able to confront him in Wonderland and reality, and he got what he deserved! Now she can finally move on.
Good game, a bit flawed but still enjoyable.