Note: This is a article written in my video game days. I don’t do written reviews anymore however I’ve decided to share written reviews from the GruntWatcher Archives.

When you look at the gaming market nowadays you will notice that First Person Shooters are all the rage leaving other genres like 3D platformers in the dust. Case in point, Alice:Madness Returns. This is one of the few Book to game adaptions you will find in the mainstream along with The Metro series and The Witcher 2. Madness returns is a sequel to American McGee’s Alice so as you would expect American McGee designed the game along with being developed by Spicy Horse. It continues the story from the first game with Alice returning to wonderland to defeat the new threat, the dollmaker who is bent on destroying wonderland. During her journey she regains shards of her memories of her horrific past where her family died in a house fire supposedly caused by Alice or by another close associate of hers. Ironically this is more a faithful adaptation of Alice in Wonderland than the 2010 Tim Burton film in Story, Character and Visual Desgin so fans of the source material will be pleased.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons:


  • The first thing you will notice is the art design. This game just scream’s style in terms of environments, character design and level’s.Speaking of which Level’s like the mad hatter’s factory and the red palace will cause you to gaze at the architecture for hours on end. The characters looked like they were hand drawn first then implemented into the model creator as best as they can sorta like how Brad Bird designs his characters in Pixar films.Hell the art is so good it got its own conceptual art book which you can view here:
  • Gameplay feels good for a 3D platformer in terms of combat and navigating through puzzles (combat feels kinda similar to Twilight princess E.G: you can lock on to enemies to give you a better aim with ranged weapons like the teapot cannon or the pepper grinder).
  • Tons of unlockables you can earn by finding bottles, memories , flying snots(just roll with it) and bonus stages with the Cheshire Cat who will give you a riddle to solve or The Mad  Hatter & March Hare which involves surviving a small horde of enemies.
  • Characters like the Mad hatter, Caterpillar and the red queen all have stages devoted to them with their own theme E.G:The Caterpillar has a Japanese themed level where the locals worship him as an all knowing god.
  • Madness returns likes to shake up the gameplay a bit by offering variety of different gameplay styles. E.G: at some point you will play a 2D platformer with paper cutout graphics.
  •  Weapons can be upgraded by collecting teeth offering new attacks and power ups.
  •  Victorian setting is well suited for the tone of the story adding a bleak, grey London which parallels the bright colorful wonderland.
  • Finally the main storyline roughly packs in 8-9 hrs so it’s good if you want to play it in the evening after work(for the week)


  • Game feels eerily similar Shadows of the Damned E.G: the 2D platformers stage, graphics and weapons.
  • It uses Unreal Engine 3 to power its graphics. Personally I’m getting sick of this engine since I see it in nearly every game I play E.G: Bulletstorm and Singularity
  • The game sometimes freezes on the PC in fact it crashed on a certain stage which required me to validate the game files to find a patch. After which it worked fine despite some freezes here and there.
  • Only play this game with the 360 controller. 3D platformers are mainly designed for consoles so caution is advised if you’re buying this for PC.

In conclusion, I can totally recommend Alice:Madness Returns. Fans of Psychonauts, Rachet and Clank or 3D Nintendo Platformers will love this game. People who want a darker version of Alice in Wonderland will be satisfied. As for myself I got my money’s worth buying this game.

Hopefully in the future we will see more from Spicy Horse.

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