Alice: Madness Returns Hands-On Takes Us Way Down The Rabbit Hole

By Spencer . March 8, 2011 . 9:02am


I played through the entire Alice: Madness Returns demo, which began with Alice in the ruins of the Queensland, the last area from the original game. Picking up where American McGee’s Alice left off, Alice is placed in a mental institution after her entire family dies in a mysterious fire. Traumatized, Alice sublimates into a dark fantasy version of Wonderland.


Alice was fully armed holding the Vorpal Blade, her basic weapon, in one hand, and the Hobby Horse, a child’s toy horse which Alice wields like a heavy hammer. Since each weapon is assigned to a different button its possible to catch an enemy in a combo with the Vorpal Blade and end with the slow, but strong Hobby Horse. Alice had two long range weapons, the Pepper Grinder acted like a machine gun, and Alice’s teapot was like her take on a grenade launcher.


The first part of the demo didn’t have any combat. As if he was the tutorial guide, the Cheshire Cat popped up informing Alice she could shrink by pressing the left bumper. This ability will probably let Alice access hidden areas, but in the demo it had another purpose. Shrinking made invisible platforms visible. Glittering numbers told Alice where she could jump to collect teeth, twisted currency that allows Alice to upgrade her arsenal of weapons. One of the invisible platforms moved back and forth, which meant players had to jump on ground they couldn’t see. That platform took me to a breakable wall I shattered using the teapot. Eager to help Alice, the kids from the mental institution left her a present behind the wall. I continued to follow the platforms to the ground, but there was another route.



Instead of shrinking and scanning, I could have crossed the chasm by just… jumping. Alice is gifted with a triple jump and she can float if you hold down the jump button. I was quite surprised how far Alice could jump, but there was little time to ponder that. As soon as I landed, the Queen of Heart’s card guards attacked Alice. I tried a couple different attack techniques – escaping in a burst of butterflies (that’s her standard dodge move) and firing the Pepper Grinder, rushing enemies with the Vorpal Blade, and tossing an explosive doll to distract enemies while I ran behind them with the Hobby Horse.


Soon the card guards brought a new enemy called the Ruin. This black blob with faces on its back tried to tackle Alice and shot fireballs. With a well-timed button press, Alice can pull out a tattered umbrella to reflect the attack. This stunned the Ruin, which gave me enough time to smash it with the hobby horse. I fought through a few more enemies and recovered a memory on the floor of an ivy crusted gazebo. Finding memories, a Spicy Horse designer explained, is one of the goals in the game. Players will learn what truly happened to Alice’s family, a truth Alice locked away inside her mind.



I walked through a hedge maze and suddenly the Executioner, a grim reaper with the Queen of Heart’s fashion sense, emerged spinning his scythe. The camera switched and I ran towards the screen filling the screen with butterflies since the dodge made Alice move faster. The game switched to a cutscene where Alice saw a cake with "eat me" written on it. Never one to worry about poisoned liquids, Alice ate the cake and grew into a giant. With the tables turned, Alice crushed the Executioner with her foot.


The demo ended there, but discussion with Spicy Horse just started. Here are some details about Alice: Madness Returned that were not seen in the demo.

  • The executioner taunts Alice throughout the level by appearing to fight and then retreating.
  • The demo level takes place late in the game, the segment was from the fourth realm.
  • Alice: Madness Returns has six realms to play and each one has a different theme.
  • Alice changes her costume to fit into the realms.
  • In addition to collecting memories and teeth, Alice: Madness Returns has other goals like "peppering snouts."

Read more stories about & & & & & on Siliconera.

  • the first game was great, i cant wait to have this one xD

    • MisterDandylion

      Yeah,even though I missed the first one, I have high hopes for this creative twist on the Alive in Wonderland mythos

      “peppering snouts” I wonder what’s that?

  • Ren

    I was just watching a gameplay trailer on another site. Well, seems like time to upgrade my video card to play that.

  • That last picture makes Alice look like my last two girlfriends.

    • SolidusSnake

      So that’s your type? I try to stay away from the crazy ones, personally.

      • Eh, crazy women are probably the only ones that’ll put up with me. lol

        Besides, how else are you going to find a fun/sexy/loves games as much as I do combo?

        • SolidusSnake

          Oh, I feel ya brother. Women with good taste are sooooo hard to find these days :p

          • I mean, as it is, my dad directed porn for 30 years. Right there, that’s a big old brick wall for most “normal” women out there. The so-called “crazy” ones, they never judge you based on that sort of thing.

            And as I said, I’ve never seen one call games childish or say, “I don’t want to see this movie. It looks violent and it isn’t in English.”

          • SolidusSnake

            Makes sense. Craziness is just like radioactivity, small doses are completely safe and anyway you can’t avoid it completely. Besides, I’m hardly a shining example of “normal” myself, as you can probably see.

            So what was it like with your dad in the porno industry? It must have made for an interesting childhood, to say the least.

          • I can’t really compare it to other people’s, as I didn’t live their lives, but it wasn’t weird to me. My dad would always have these really pretty girls around when I’d go to visit him. I had no idea my stepmom was even involved in the industry until I was in my early teens. Up until then, she was just the nice lady who let me sit on her lap when I was 4, while she’d play the Ramones and Blondie for me. Even when I was old enough to know what was going on, I still knew these women by their real names, not their porn star names.

            The only thing that I think is different is that I never watch it. Never even did as a teenaged boy, because, “Oh, that’s what my dad does.” To me, it was the same disinterest as if my dad had been a plumber and someone asked if I wanted to watch pipes get changed.

            It was also funny that when I turned 18 and I moved out to Los Angeles for a bit, he tried to set me up with a few of the girls who he worked with. Of course, I said no to them because nobody wants to go with a girl their dad introduces them to. lol. It wasn’t what they did, since one of the ex’s the Alice picture reminds me of was a fetish model, and I’m not bothered by people expressing that in public. It was just, Ew, those are my dad’s friends. That’d be weird. lol

    • Good that you’re still doing well then.

      • Well, I would’ve been able to tell if any of them had been keeping a hobby horse in their purse.

    • RIP

  • Trisagion

    An HD remake of the first game along with this one, would have made an excellent 14th/17th of June release bundle.
    Regardless; dying of anticipation to play this.

  • Roses4Aria

    I’ve never played the first one, though I’ve heard a lot about it. I like Alice in Wonderland so this actually intrigues me, but I’m afraid it sounds like it might be way too violent for my squeamish stomach. Just not a big fan of…blood. :(

    Just wondering, but exactly how bloody is this?

    • Hmm.. there wasn’t much gore in the part I played. There wasn’t much blood in the original either. I think Spicy Horse wants to have a dark atmosphere, but not gross people out.

      • Ren

        I remember reading somewhere the developers wanted to put the least gore and blood possible in the game because they felt it didn’t add to the atmosphere and that it was just a cheap trick to attract people who like gory games and think that gory = mature. But then EA said they needed to put some gore in the game because EA know people think gore = mature and people will pass the game if they think it’s to kiddy for a M rated game, so they had to compromise and put some in the game, EA actually wanted even more blood than what the game has now. Or so I remember, could be wrong though.

  • vrakanox

    Alice: Lords of Shadow

  • Hrm. If this is truly supposed to be a sequel to American McGee’s Alice, then there’s something a bit spoilerrific that I’m confused about. . .

    I don’t suppose we have spoiler tags here, do we? =(

  • joesz

    LoL.This game has giant Alice in it.

  • MarkMario

    Hmm might buy. Of course I’ll have to buy it for a console, my PC sucks -._.-

Video game stories from other sites on the web. These links leave Siliconera.

Siliconera Tests
Siliconera Videos