Alice: Madness Returns Footage Is Gorgeous

Alice pays a visit to The Fortress of RPSolitude.

Back in the year 2000 (which was ELEVEN YEARS AGO, fact fans), I enjoyed American McGee’s Alice comprehensively, like you might a bacon sandwich. Foremost in my mind are the environments- the game was a tour through a tattered and bucking dreamscape, with unholy vistas around every other corner. Finally we have some in-game footage of this summer’s sequel, Alice: Madness Returns, and it gives me great pleasure to say that it’s looking swell. Follow me down the rabbit hole, ladies and gents.

It’s actually not just the level design in these videos that’s got me giddy. The sparse amount of platforming in the second video looks inventive enough, and the combat looks really quite exciting. That’s a neat blocking mechanic they’ve got there, and those weapons look like they’ve got some great pop and heft to them. Also, while I’m being positive, I really like the physics on Alice’s hair. This game will be another bacon sandwich, you mark my words.


  1. drewski says:

    The original is very much a game I would like to be able to obtain from my favourite digital distribution service, I think.

    The sequel certainly looks visually inventive. I hope it ends up being good.

    • McDan says:

      Second this with much enthusiasm. I really want to play the first one, but can’t find it anywhere.

    • Big Murray says:

      Methinks someone should get on the line to GoG.

  2. Olero says:

    The first game was everything the recent movie was not, and created a macabre, absurd fantasy world full of memorable characters. And it looks like the got at least the atmosphere spot on with this sequel, and added some very nice visuals. Here’s hoping that the story and characters are as good as the original.

  3. Lars Westergren says:

    This looks really interesting…. unless reviews say it is really awful I’ll probably buy it just for the visuals alone.
    I hope this will be a bigger hit than the first one. I have the feeling that when the first game was released the majority of the PC market was focused on online play, and Quake/UT type games only. And those who might have appreciated the story and weirdness (RPG/adventure gamers for instance) got turned off by the action association.

    I think gamers today (hopefully) are a bit more accepting of genre-crossing games, after the success of titles like Bioshock.

  4. Eamo says:

    They haven’t fixed my main gameplay criticism with the first game. It is a game that often requires pretty precise platforming that still has a camera that often refuses to show you where your characters feet are!

    It was worst in the boss battles, where the camera would often stay focussed on the boss cutting off your feet completely from view and in some of the fights where you had to fight on narrow ledges this was a horrible and needless frustration.

    • ZamFear says:


      Alice had a completely free camera. It didn’t lock on to bosses, or anything else. If you wanted to see your feet, you need only look down.

    • Eamo says:

      Look at the camera in the above videos, it is much the same as the original was. Many times the camera clips off your feet as you are looking around.

      I played through the original in full when it first came out, so I could well be wrong about the exact mechanism by which the camera worked but after all these years my main memory of the game is frustration at being unable to see my feet a lot of times when it really mattered.

      Looking at your feet is hardly an option if you need to fight a boss, jump to a higher platform, avoid enemies, jump between moving platforms etc and the fact remains that in a platform game where precise movement is often needed the camera should make every effort to always show the characters feet.

      Watch through the videos above, see how often the camera clips off Alice’s feet, yes, sometimes it is unavoidable without having the camera track through a wall or something but often it is totally avoidable.

    • ZamFear says:

      If you need to see more of your character and the environment, the only way I can think of is to pull the camera farther away from the character. Which Alice would happily let you do via the options menu.

  5. alphasmart says:

    Oh holy crap, that looks totally sick! In many ways, it reminds me of Psychonauts with its splendidly unhinged art direction and lovely platforming. If I had one criticism, it’s that some of the effects don’t really gel with the art style. Most of the animations are seriously slick, but some things (notably the vines disappearing in the last video) seem to clash, and that’s rather disappointing. It does look seriously slick though, so I can’t wait to play it.

    • harmen says:

      Psychonauts was my first association too. That’s a compliment, indeed.

  6. tanith says:

    The first was excellent! I especially liked that they used the Quake 3 engine.
    I wonder which path they took with this one. Will stay tuned.

    Oh well, Unreal Engine 3 is not too bad.
    Still mad at them for not porting it to Linux, though, which probably would’ve meant that it wouldn’t have been all to difficult to get this Alice game to run under Linux.

  7. soylentrobot says:

    oh man this looks very very awesome. im all for this style of game.

    also, video sites,stop asking me for my date of birth. theres nothing stopping anyone putting 1st Jan 1900, so its uterly pointless

    • Urael says:

      That’s done for legal reasons. Asking for your age in each and every instance shows a commitment to regulatory compliance that they probably have to prove as a measurable statistic or defined process. That you can freely lie about it is not their fault and not the point – they’ve asked you to identify your age and that’s all that matters.

  8. Westcreek says:

    Explain to me! Why does some folks use months/day/year? It would be logical to do day/month/year would it not? I never understood this.

    • tanith says:

      I never understood it either.
      It is most illogical.

      It’s the same as using a time format like: hh:ss:mm

    • nobody says:

      I’m pretty sure it grows out of oral communication. In the States, at least, it’s more common to say “January 21st, 2011” than “the 21st of January, 2011.” So when it came time to standardize a way of jotting that down in shorthand, the order was maintained: “1/21/2011.”

      But back to the main topic, I remember the original Alice game beckoning from the shelves of major retailers. Virgin Records in NYC kept that game stocked for years. I hadn’t realized there was so much nostalgia surrounding it, because I remember — after eventually buying it — that I felt like it was a bit of a scam: all style, terribly unthought-out gameplay.

      Should I give the original another try?

    • tanith says:

      It’s a nice action game. As I mentioned earlier it uses the Quake 3 engine so that’s what you should expect, just not as fast-paced.
      The jump and run sequences are nice (although people complain about the controls) and the fighting sequences are okay, too.
      I mostly played it because of the style, though because I like that gothicesque style coupled with the oddities of the wonderland which discerns it from the other games for me.

    • torchedEARTH says:

      If you are referring to “enter your age” I was born on 01/01/1900 since the internet cared about such things.

    • Chris D says:


      We share an internet birthday. High five.

    • Finster says:

      Surely the logical method is the ISO date format year-month-day, because then, at least, it sorts properly.

      January 1st, there will be cake.

    • Tetragrammaton says:

      Well like all American units of measurement Its both entirely arbitrary & frighteningly illogical.

  9. Bhazor says:

    From Old Man Murray
    “[American McGee’s Alice’s] brains have been pasteurized!
    Now [Alice’s] super Superego is all that stands between [Alice] the Megahero and [Alice] the fruitloop.
    [Alice’s] Superhero Superego must seek out the golden udders of lucidity that lie deep within [her] cow struck cranium. Will [she] find the magical teats in time? Or will [she] teeter off the edge of sanity?
    To make things worse, [Alice’s] churning imagination has released the cream of evil villainy, and they are hellbent on preventing [her] regaining [her] mental balance.
    For those of you currently nodding your “American McGee #1 Genius” foam Pope hats, I’d like to point out that that almost perfect summary of Alice’s edgy plot comes courtesy of the Earthworm Jim 3D manual. Other than replacing the words “Earthworm Jim” with the word “Alice”, I haven’t touched it. You can thank McGee’s actually probably quite brilliant publicists that we won’t all be not watching Wes Craven’s Earthworm Jim 3D next Christmas. And you can thank me for the crazy wording on that sentence.”
    Basically I agree and think Rayman 2 was the better game.

    • cjlr says:

      Old Man Murray’s review is the only thing I remember about the orginal game.

      Like a version of Crazy Taxi, only crazy!.

    • eclipse mattaru says:

      I was tinking about that too. For someone writing at a website that just run such a great OMM tribute, Mr Smith sure seems way too easy to impress. I feel this piece would’ve gotten a rather merciless treatment by a 1999 Erik. I mean, “the combat looks really quite exciting”? Seriously? They just put a machinegun in Alice in Wonderland, man! That has to be the gameplay equivalent of a square room stacked with crates. Even that mind-numbingly stupid Tim Burton movie didn’t go there.

      Sure Alice was really really pretty to look at and whatnot; but come on, it didn’t exactly have the most interesting gameplay. This looks just as nice, but doesn’t really seem to be trying to be much more either.

  10. fuggles says:

    I hope they bring back the feet, which showed exactly where you would land when you jumped – saved no end of frustration. Really liked alice, loved the cat especially, so fingers crossed

    • ZamFear says:


      Foot targeting confirmed. Second video, about 5-7 seconds in. Looks like they may work differently as they appear directly underneath after she jumps. Which doesn’t seem like it would be as helpful.

  11. Baggypants says:

    There will be cake.

  12. mbp says:

    Wait a minute. The original Alice was beautiful to look at but the game-play was painful in places with precision jumping and instant death scenarios.

    • tanith says:

      I really don’t understand why people don’t like the jumping in that game.
      To me it was really good, much easier to work with than in other games.
      At least none come to mind when I think about it.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I also remember the jumping being a bitch. In fact, it was a gorgeous game, but not actually a good game as far as I remember. I played it through just to see what all the levels would look like.

  13. Turin Turambar says:

    Atmosphere is great, gameplay not so much.

  14. disperse says:

    Ahh 3d platforming, my least favorite form of platforming. It seems to have double-jump so I’ll go ahead and predict John Walker’s wot I think: “Best game ever.”

  15. JohnnyMaverik says:

    Looks good.

  16. Muzman says:

    If they’d finished it just a bit sooner it could have been released at the same time as Sucker Punch for a bit of ‘violent dreams of insane girls’ synergy.

  17. Gildon says:

    Dammit, I hate these players. Why can’t they stream properly? I have to pause the videos forever so they buffer. And that’s especially annoying when Alice is standing doing nothing forever in the second video. :(

  18. Fhoenix says:

    So was I the only one who got reminded of Bayonetta? Every time Alice makes a butterfly-dodge I am expecting she will enter Witch Time.

  19. DigitalSignalX says:

    Tentatively interested. The gameplay from the vid though looks like it might end up getting repetitive and stupid; which is an easy trap for platformer-ish games to get into. Playing just to see what the levels end up looking like isn’t really a game at that point, but an animated art gallery. Toss in some RPG character development elements, some sort of more interesting narrative then what we’ve seen,

  20. RadioactiveMan says:

    It would appear that Alice is taking combat tips from Kratos this time around…

    EDIT: except for the machine gun bit, obviously.

  21. Tizoc says:

    Mmmmm… bacon sandwich!

    • kregg says:

      I’m Jewish, you insensitive clod!

      j/k I’m actually Muslim.

    • LimeWarrior says:

      I’m a clod, you insensitive Muslim!

      j/k I’m actually a sod.

  22. Ricc says:

    But will it have crazy, tilted doorframes?

  23. Coins says:

    This looks very odd, which is a good thing, but I’m confused about the nature of the game, having not played the first. Is it a horror, or just a platformer with a scary backdrop? Does it actually have a good story or..?

    • Rhin says:

      Platformer. Jumping puzzles, flipping switches, etc. Combined with an assortment of Alice-themed weaponry. (A deck of throwing cards for example)

      More Tim Burton-esque macabre rather than any kind of actual fear-inducing horror.

      Regarding story, it relies a bit more on ambiance than narrative.

  24. Lambchops says:

    Never played the first but this looks cool.

    It’s one of the most willfully odd looking games since The Void and Zeno Clash which is a plus point and as people have mentioned before it does smack a little of Psychonauts as well (although somewhat less open).

    Combat/platforming looks like it could potentially be fiddly and awkward at times but it’s really hard to tell without playing the thing.

    i’ll definitely be trying the demo anyway, as this is certianly the type of thing I want to see more of.

  25. edit says:

    Macabre fantasy is plenty appealing to me, I just hope it’s not a mindless action game. ‘Clear the room to proceed’ is a whole lot less interesting than purposeful interactions with characters. For me, no matter how interesting a game world is, the experience is utterly cheapened after you’ve killed a hundred of the same enemy type…

    Remains to be seen anyway, seems worth a look.

  26. Giftmacher says:

    Glad to see there’s a fair bit of shrinking and growing in this one. I loved the original but always found the size-changing aspect of the story to be conspicuously absent, save for that bit with the ants.

  27. Buttless Boy says:

    As a big fan of the source material (the Lewis Carroll books, not Hot Topic) and a big fan of anything weird, I still absolutely loathed the original. It was very cool looking but boy was it boring to play. Bad platforming, awful third-person aiming, boring combat, dreadful camera, constant unnecessary cutscenes etc. It was Donkey Kong 64 in goth makeup. This… To be frank it just looks like a re-skin or mod of the first game. I won’t be trying the series again unless there’ve been significant gameplay improvements, but it seems like it’s straight out of 1999.

    Sure is pretty, though!

  28. Big Murray says:

    This game, and it’s original, have never really helped me in any discussions with non-gaming pals where I try to convince them that gaming is perfectly healthy and not full of weirdos.

  29. akeripper says:

    question now is if chris wrenna will once again do the score……

  30. cytokindness says:

    This looks absolutely beautiful.

    I’m disappointed in the lack of the Cheshire Cat and the original music style, though.

    I’m also concerned about the heavy reliance on that chaingun – the cards held a similar role in the original, but cost much more to fire so you didn’t rely on them all the time.

  31. Hatsworth says:

    I hope the final release isn’t locked at 30 fps..