Posted: May 27
Madness Returns is an acceptable sequel to the fantastic Alice which was released so many years ago.
The dialogue in the game is as nonsensical as you'd expect it to be considering the source material and then putting this psychological twist to it where Wonderland is some how Alice's way of dealing with her problems. It's a tad unfortunate that the game doesn't explore this more beyond just some short cut scenes and the even shorter collect-able "memories" that you can retrieve. Levels are usually too long and a bit boring also so if you miss one of these collect-ables it's not exactly enticing to go back and get them.
Speaking of the levels, at face value they seem pretty interesting. The very beginning of the game has you start out in a lush green forest area with fungi and all sorts of vegetation. This doesn't last long however as the game quickly gives you the impression that they got lazy. This is because the level design is quite heavily invested in the platforming. You'll come upon one area after another that's wide open and is littered with several tiny platforms that you must jump through. None of it is very challenging and it just feels like it soaks up time. There's not much to look at beyond the platforms either. The sky boxes look nice, but that's almost all you'll be seeing for each area. Unfortunately this is the bulk of the game and it doesn't take long for it to become dull as it feels like a chore. Another thing that can make these areas last longer than they should is that there are often secret invisible platforms that often lead to the collect-ables. These are found by pressing the LB button and making Alice shrink in size. So frequently as you hop through areas you'll have to stop, shrink and visually scan your surroundings to make sure there's nothing you missed. As stated before these collect-ables give you teeny tiny hints to the story. So tiny in fact that most of them only last about 3-5 seconds. It's not very rewarding and there's at least a hundred of them.
I should also mention that there are small mini-game type sections within stages as well. These are also quite boring and some of them seem slapped together at the last moment. For example in one section the game changes up into a shoot 'em up style game where you control an under water ship shooting at skeleton fish. It's not challenging, it's slow, there's no boss, and no power ups. You just tap the fire button and wait till it's over. Other mini-games include slide puzzles. None of these mini-games add anything to the experience. They just slow down the game.
The combat in the game is very Zelda-like, as in you target an enemy, wait for an opening and attack and some enemies have a weakness to a certain weapon. It's alright for what it is. However many times when there are several enemies to fight picking the one you want can be a hassle and sometimes the camera doesn't give you the best angle. The weapons are cool though and very fitting for the theme of the game. Alice has the Vorpal Blade, which looks mostly like a giant kitchen knife, a Pepper Grinder which operates like a machine gun, a Hobby Horse that acts like a giant sledge hammer and a Tea Pot that lobs drops of tea like grenades.
All in all this is an okay game, but the level design is absolutely atrocious. At $20 it's a little pricey, I'd pick it up for around $10.