Monday EA and Spicy Horse Games released a new batch of screenshots and a new video of Alice: Madness Returns, finally showcasing actual gameplay footage. Based on the clip originally presented at GDC 2011, the game looks to be both creepy and fascinating just in the visuals alone, offering gamers a chance to play a darker version of the beloved Lewis Carroll character.
Alice: Madness Returns arrives on the heel's of Tim Burton's similarly-themed Alice in Wonderland feature film released in 2010 starring Mia Wasikowska (Alice) and Johnny Depp (Mad Hatter). As with the movie, American McGee's rendition takes a darker spin on the storyline presented in Carroll's classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass books, although the game is a bit more sinister, a bit more edgy and brooding.
Alice: Madness Returns also arrives ten years after the original ALICE hit the PC. Unfortunately, the sequel has the daunting task of introducing its dark world to new players while refreshing fans of the first installment. The original ALICE was rich in visuals using the id Tech 3 engine all those years ago, depicting a trouble girl who leaps back into a troubled, twisted world altered by her own depression.
Picking up ten years after the original title, the upcoming sequel reveals that Alice is still plagued with the gruesome death of her family, burned alive in a house fire. She's now released from an insane asylum after nearly a decade, and is under the care of a psychiatrist intent on helping the girl conquer her "nightmarish hallucinations." But Alice wants to know the truth behind the mysterious fire, and returns to an unfamiliar Wonderland that's been altered by the actions of her last visit.
Under the hood, Alice: Madness Returns is a murder mystery. But it's also a 3rd-person action game that stretches across six unique domains residing within Wonderland itself. The realms represent her state of mind as she grows closer to the truth about her family's brutal end. That said, each realm grows increasingly darker, increasingly more sinister than the last. Alice actually knows what really happened-- it's locked away deep within her subconscious. The journey through the six realms is her way of reclaiming those memories locked away long ago and getting to the bitter, maddening truth.
As with the original ALICE, the sequel requires some exploration, problem solving, and lots of teeth-grinding action using four specific weapons including the vorpal blade, a pepper mill that works like a machine gun, a hobby horse that doubles as a parasol, and grenade-launching teapot. Alice also commands a clockwork White Rabbit that can be used as a decoy, and an ability to shrink at will (instead of using a potion as seen in the original). This latter ability allows Alice to access areas she previously couldn't reach, and to see various secrets previously hidden to her eyes when exploring at normal height.
Outside the storyline and gameplay, Alice: Madness Returns will undoubtedly be remembered for its stunning visuals: the character designs, the surrounding environment, the whole bit. Based on what we've seen thus far, gamers will feel as if they've stepped into a painting, into a world worth revisiting again and again if only to behold its stunning beauty once more. If anything, the game creates its own classic look and feel that will make it one of the biggest games of 2011.
Alice: Madness Returns will arrive on Windows PC, Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 on June 14, 2011.