Review: Alice: Madness Returns

This one is very different in style to the first game, and I really enjoyed it. The biggest initial difference is that it’s dark in the “tragic” sense and not just hard to see: some of the levels are brightly coloured but with troubling imagery.

It also has an actual story to it, revolving around a doctor who is helping Alice forger the tragic incident that killed her parents and sister. Deep in Alice’s mind is the truth to what has happened, but also muddled in with defensive tactics (“you couldn’t do anything”) and survivor’s guilt (“you could have saved them, but selfishly saved yourself instead”).

The gameplay itself is much more fluid, with jumping feeling very precise. Alice has a triple jump and a float, meaning you can jump some quite long distances. You will get multiple items: the knife from the first game returns as the main melee, with a pepper grinder acting as a gun to shoot distance targets. It features Z-targeting from The Legend of Zelda to aid in combat, which is a ton of fun, especially when you unlock more abilities.

The biggest weakness is that some of the levels can go on a bit long: I would have preferred to have seen more locations and spending less time in them, the dollhouse level (which is wonderfully creepy and disturbing) seems to go on forever. There’s also no bosses, so the only change from platforming and combat are some utterly dreadful minigames such as sliding puzzles and a rhythm game which is difficult because the bar that moves across is wonky (although that might possibly be a flaw of FPS boost).

That said, the core gameplay is fun and the story is compelling and goes to far, far disturbing territory than I was expecting. It was a very interesting experience.

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