I’ve always been been interested in video games as art (I blogged The Path for that reason), therefore, I am going to talk about Alice: Madness Returns and pretend like it’s relevant to this blog because it’s a pretty game. I DO WHAT I WANT
It is the sequel to American McGee’s Alice, aka one of my favorite games ever. In the original Alice’s whole family dies in a fire and she ends up in an asylum; she goes back to Wonderland and has to defeat the Red Queen to save herself. The sequel is a similar story – after leaving the asylum Alice is in an orphanage and struggling with the past; she has to save Wonderland again and uncover what really happened the night of the fire. Of course Wonderland is all messed up and being destroyed and Alice has to hack and slash her way through various creatures to get to where she needs to be. The ending was a little twisty and a lot darker than the original.
I was going to play it in reasonable intervals but then I decided to just go all out and get it finished. The joke was on me because the game is SO LONG. OMMGGG. And it’s not that it’s just a long game, but it’s extremely repetitive. It’s just a platformer with some combat and the occasional puzzle (which admittedly are nice breaks) but the puzzles are identical save for their appearance and art direction (no matter how awesome) can’t carry a game through such tedious gameplay. There was one section in particular that made me want to kill myself (this guy knows my pain). A lot of reviews complained about how the game dragged on, so it’s not just that I have a short attention sp
BUT the platforming is actually well-done for the most part and it’s pretty fun. I think if I hadn’t played the game for like a trillion hours straight I wouldn’t have been so annoyed by the repetitiveness. And the way the game looks almost makes up for everything ever! Apparently Steam has a new-ish feature that takes screenshots for you and I wore that feature out. I really like the way they did the ‘theatricals’ – everything had a 2D paper look:
And there were three
We also made a stop in mixed-media assemblage world and we learned why you should stop using doll parts in your assemblages. I have NEVER seen a doll-part-involving assemblage that was “cute,” ever. I get the feeling some of them are “supposed” to be but they are always just creepy. Period. /tangential mixed-media rant
Actually, the lower levels of the Dollhouse chapter did creep me out quite a bit and I have a pretty high creep threshold. It actually reminded me quite a bit of Jan Svankmajer’s Alice which may or may not have been intentional (tried to find a youtube clip but they’ve been pulled for copyright).
I was glad to see the crying/Pool of Tears Alice statue from the first game again; it was one of my favorite things in the first (which I guess is kind of weird). I even designed a layout around it, back when I had that domain where I changed the look every 5 seconds. Dang, I’m surprised I still have a screenshot of it.
This is a pretty straight-forward game-y game, as opposed to The Path which tried to mess with how you played and how a game can be used to tell a story. Alice still gets into the art category though because of the look and I think the look is kind of the point of the whole thing anyway.
In conclusion: recommended and a worthy successor to the original. Don’t play it all at once though. Also, I want a vorpal blade.