"If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise,What it is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it is. You see?" - Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass.
On June 14th, 2011, Spicy Horse and EA released the sequel to the PC cult classic American McGee's Alice, Alice: Madness Returns. Set a year after the events in the first game, Alice had been released from Rutledge Asylum, where she had been sent after surviving the fire that killed her whole family. Now, Alice attempts, with the help of of her psychiatrist Dr Bumby, to rid herself of her horrible memories forever. But an new threat sends Alice reeling back into Wonderland once again, and she must figure out its cause and stop it before Wonderland and her mind are both destroyed forever.
The game is mostly a platformer, with bits of combat thrown in to keep things interesting. Throughout the journey, we met classic Wonderland characters corrupted by the new force invading the land, including the Mad Hatter, the caterpillar, and even the fallen Queen of Hearts herself. New enemies known as Ruins, black, oily creatures with faces like baby dolls, are also introduced.
The platforming itself works wonderfully, with Alice able to float from section to section with ease in the beautiful world Spicy Horse crafted. The combat was awesome as well, with Alice having a few different weapon choices for dispatching her enemies. The wonderful Vorpal Blade slices through enemies with ease. A pepper grinder acts as a long range minigun. A hobby horse let's Alice smash enemies into small piles of black goo. A teapot acts as a cannon that launches searing-hot tea blasts and can take out whole groups of enemies at once.
The story itself for the game is excellently done, as things begin to unfold and reveal the true nature of what caused the fire and ruined Alice's life. This is one of the few games that earned its M rating not through gallons and gallons blood, nor through a ton of swearing, but through a very dark and mature storyline that approaches a subject I'm not sure any other game has attempted to discuss before.
If the game has one downside to it, it's the pacing. Levels can stretch on for far too long. Had they edited it down a good bit, I fully believe this would have been a smash hit. But as it is, you're still traversing levels long after the magic of the place has worn off.
In the glut of huge titles that are sure to be named for Last Gen Heroes, I know this game is going to fall by the wayside of the discussion. But I truly feel it deserves to be mentioned there. It's personally one of my favorite games of this generation.