Alice: Madness Returns Preview - Chapter 1

We wander through the dreary streets of London and return to Alice's Wonderland in our latest preview.

We've had several opportunities to fall into the rabbit hole that leads us to the wonderfully bizarre world that is known as Wonderland. In the latest preview build that we've received, we played through the entire first chapter on our own to get an idea of how the game begins. Unlike our previous demos, we weren't given access to all the weapons so we were able to get a better sense of the pacing and were introduced to all of the disturbing creatures one at a time.

This was our first time playing from the beginning as Alice in London, where she has spent the past 10 years in an asylum and is now working at the Houndsditch Home orphanage. During the intro, we got a chance to see what goes on in her troubled mind, as the soothing voice of a psychiatrist coaxed her to forget the painful memories of her past. Her memories are played out like a model paper theatre, and the images are disturbing to say the least (see above). When she came to, we were able to take control and wander through the depressing corridors of the home that was populated with snarky young children. Upon leaving the home, it didn't look like things were much better on the streets. It was clear that we weren't exactly in the richest neighborhood in London because everything was incredibly dreary and bleak. Alice's hair was jagged and she was dressed in plain clothes, which was a stark contrast to the different versions of Alice we've seen in previous demos.

Not that the darkest alleys of London weren't fun to walk through, but without giving away too much of what happens, we found ourselves back in the dreamlike Wonderland. We started off in the Vale of Tears, where Alice looked less scrappy and we were surrounded by luscious trees and blooming flowers. The first part of Wonderland serves as a tutorial to get you used to Alice's abilities to jump, glide, shrink, and attack with the vorpal blade. We've covered many aspects of the game already in our other write-ups, so the biggest change we noticed is that the game does do a good job (at least on normal difficulty) of teaching you the techniques you'll need to survive. It takes a few hours to get through the Mad Hatter's domain, and during that time, we were shown new techniques and introduced to new enemies one at a time so that we could familiarize ourselves.

When things got rough and Alice was low on health, we could go into Hysteria mode by pushing down on the left stick. All the color gets drained so that you're fighting in a world that's black, white, and, of course, red. While it's not a mode you want to find yourself in too often, the Sin City look is quite stylish. You can't get hurt in this mode and your damage is augmented with the hope that you finish off the enemies before Hysteria runs out. The downside is that enemies won't drop teeth if you defeat them in this mode. (Teeth are the currency for weapon upgrades). Even if you do happen to die, you won't be bumped back too far, and you can try again. For the most part, enemies don't swarm around you in large clusters very often. You'll spend a good amount of time exploring the Hatter's mechanical world, hitting switches and jumping gracefully from one steam vent to another.

A vorpal blade to the face usually works but some enemies require another strategy.

We mentioned before that pig snouts are located throughout the world and will lead you to collectible bottles. You have to keep an ear out for the "oink oink" sound as you play. The only way to learn more about Alice's past is to collect memories that are scattered throughout Wonderland. The game is fairly linear, so you'll find memories along the way, but for others, you'll need to shrink to get through a keyhole or do a bit of exploring to get to them. If you do happen to feel lost, shrinking lets you see the graffiti that has been left behind by the insane children, which will guide you in the right direction. Sometimes, arrows or invisible platforms will appear, and they linger for a brief second when you return to normal.

EA recently announced that Chris Vrenna (composer of the first game and formerly of Nine Inch Nails) will be contributing a track to the score, but the main composer is Jason Tai from Spicy Horse. To listen to an exclusive track from the game, check out the most recent Sound Byte. One thing that is exceptionally good in Alice is the art design, which contributes to the haunting atmosphere. Not only do the visuals do an excellent job of portraying the fantastical world that Alice has been thrown into, but the music also complements the scenes nicely. From what we've played, the voice actors have done a solid job as well.

The Vale of Tears is where you'll first step foot in Wonderland.

We look forward to playing the entire game when Alice: Madness Returns hits the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on June 14, so look for our full review then.

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Discussion

50 comments
Apostrophel
Apostrophel

Holy crap, it allmost seems as they have twisted it too much. Looks awesome. :D

winterpigeons
winterpigeons

I can't wait for this game! Thank god it also come with the downloadable first one when you pre-order it, because i never played that, but I really want to now.

fractal05
fractal05

Poor, disturbed Alice. Worse case of PMS and heavy bleeding ever. The child has even gone mad!

owermars
owermars

First part was creepy - but also funny and had an interesting storyline.... But this one looks better than first one.... I sure that, it will be a good game!...

SukkaMan
SukkaMan

Goddamn, I can't believe I'm hearing about this sequel for the first time just now. The first one is one of my favorite games ever, and I had no idea there were even plans for a sequel. Can't wait, only one month to go!

jets78
jets78

i,ve never played part 1 but this looks realy cool.

Kyrylo
Kyrylo

Twisted Horror.... I like it!

chaos269
chaos269

i cant wait for this game, i really enjoyed the first one and hoped for a new one and its finally coming.

187umKILLAH
187umKILLAH

I can't wait to grab hold of it and play with it for hours on end ! ...oh, and this game should be fun too :)

hybrid7seven7
hybrid7seven7

looks thrilling, I'm glad to see such a rich universe being explored. And wow i never realized it was this close to release.

jookiyaya
jookiyaya

Holy crap!!! The Trailer intro was VERY disturbing. Wow Now I regret reading the book so many years ago. Haha. ^^

pashmina626
pashmina626

I'm still trying to decide if I should get the game or not.

madsnakehhh
madsnakehhh

Only 1 month away, yeah! BTW, not watching nor reading this, i don't want to spoil anything...

Smokescreened84
Smokescreened84

The more I see, the more interested I am. Knowing that the first game is packaged with the game - download code - is a great incentive for anyone who never played the game - be it due to their PC at the time not being able to manage the game or they weren't gaming on PC, or were maybe a little too young at the time. This might be one of the more refreshing titles of the year, maybe. Have to play it to find out.

eRogue310
eRogue310

ITZ ABOUT TIME!!! I've been waitin' for Alice2 since 2003 when I first fell into Wonderland with American McGee. From the look of the previews -itz gonna be a hell of a ride! I'm ready! Game On Alice-Letz Go!!!!

Hellawess
Hellawess

Creepy! I'm buying this game as soon as it comes out.

kitty
kitty moderator

This game looks beautiful, I really like the art style for this game. The game play seems to be good as well, judging from the game play videos I've seen. I can't not wait to get my hands on this game.

Quezakolt
Quezakolt

Chris Vrenna is working on the new Marilyn Manson album, so that might be why he is only contributing and not scoring the whole game.

killer690
killer690

Maaaaaan, that is one f*cked up rabbit hole.........

kytomasi
kytomasi

The intro reminds of me Metalocalypse on adult swim lol.

UnderSeven
UnderSeven

This, like most american mcgee titles are games that you want to love, but often fall really short. The original was a below average shooter/platformer which had really bad hit detection and not very interesting combat/weapons. I hope this game a is a lot better.

Leir_Bag
Leir_Bag

I was thinking that this game would get too influenced by Burton's movie, witch is dark, but not so much. I'm actually glat that the game will be really original and f***ed up.

detroithardcore
detroithardcore

I'm glad that it will come with the original, (which I never played). I think more games should do this, like Chronicles of Riddick. Now I can see the back story without having to go hunt down a game.

kratospete
kratospete

we can see the art in this game is gonna be unique so lets hope the gameplay and story be good

calvinsora
calvinsora

This looks very interesting, I always like a Burton-esque atmosphere.

ChiefFreeman
ChiefFreeman

graphically, it looks nice, but if it's as shallow as the original pc game, I'll pass.

HailHellfire
HailHellfire

I'd like to see Camille Rose Garcia use her artwork in a video game...it would be mind blowing...

finalserenade75
finalserenade75

The artstyle and the atmosphere both look very promising, I dunno about the gameplay though.

spitfire2010
spitfire2010

Possibly no one knows about the original?! Its amazing!!! Im REALY excited about this games progress, I hope it becomes worthy of its predecessor.

Pete5506
Pete5506

The first game was interesting, I will be picking this up

SigitP
SigitP

alice will be horor???

pcty
pcty

didn't liked the first game I don't know if I'm gonna get this one

Chaos_Angel_14
Chaos_Angel_14

I think I may be the one person who plans on picking up this before L.A. Noire.... ( I do plan on playing both though...)

cosita46
cosita46

It looks good, I will be picking this one up.

Jhaller90
Jhaller90

looks like a fairy-tale punk horror driven adventure looks interesting

moryatii
moryatii

wish it a great game to play, although with silly role design

Mattyrock
Mattyrock

Alice's voice sounds annoying in the tralier but everything else seems promising.

jcopp72
jcopp72

I want this game, but it will have to wait untill I am done with L.A. NOIRE

godofwar1229
godofwar1229

too bad L.A. Noire and this come out so close together