Alice: Madness Returns is the sequel to the 2000 video game American McGee's Alice, and once again puts you in control of Alice Liddell, as she attempts to save Wonderland from a rampaging train and her own subconscious.The game takes place one year after the conclusion of the original, and Alice is still struggling to recover from the emotional trauma of losing her entire family in a fatal fire. After spending a decade institutionalized in an insane asylum, she is finally released to the care of a psychiatrist, Dr. Bumby, who tries to help her conquer the nightmarish hallucinations that still haunt her. Alice embarks on a mission to root out the true cause of her family's mysterious death by returning to Wonderland, which has...taken a turn for the worse. By teaming up with old friends (and foes) and journeying through a variety of expansive locales, Alice must work through her own mind to discover the truth about the accident that killed her family - even if it makes her go insane.The game was released in June 2011 (more than a decade after the original first came out) and was developed by the same creative team (including American McGee). The game has received mixed reviews; its pros are the unique art style, the music, and continuation of the story from the previous game, while its con was somewhat repetitive gameplayThe game's creator already has plans for a 3rd game, complete with the story already being written. However, due to Electronic Arts being reluctant, persuasion is needed.
And Your Reward Is Clothes: Alice's outfit keeps changing as she travels to different areas of Wonderland, and there's also some DLC outfits that have special effects to go with it.
Arc Words: "What have you done?" Interestingly enough, the answer is nothing. According to the caterpillar, Alice turned a blind eye to abuse because of her willful ignorance. So, yes, she literally had done nothing to stop the abuse.
'Centaurs in Oxford' or some variation of crops up repeatedly in the collectible Memories, and the Queen of Hearts mentions it again before the climax.
Artificial Limbs: The DLC "Hattress" costume has Alice sporting a mechanical arm and hand.
The March Hare, Dormouse and some of the Dodos have these too.
Art Shift: Cutscenes are shown in a 2D comic-style way.
Few minigames are also played in a 2D -sidescroller style with distinctively different art from the main game.
The trailers were done by an outside company and so look somewhat different to the game.
Ascended Extra: The Insane Children didn't have a purpose (or dialogue) in the original game, but appear in the sequel as the fully-voiced inhabitants of the Dollhouse, who are being turned into mindless dolls by the Dollmaker reflecting Bumby brainwashing children into becoming prostitutes.
Attack Its Weak Point: Oh so many of the various enemies, boss or not. Several enemies can shrug off certain weapon attacks when not struck at the correct spot.
Attack Reflector: Alice's parasol allows her to do the Umbrella Block. Sends all but the most weighty enemy projectiles back at them. A critical technique for eliminating a certain enemy's ability to block.
The fully-upgraded Teapot Cannon. Even in Nightmare Mode it is able to take down Mooks with a single hit and only needs two hits for certain other enemies, if you hit the right places. It also upgrades ammo capacity at four hits before it heats up too much and cools down much faster.
The Dodge move. It's a makeshift sprint ability. It grants invulnerability against enemy attacks during transition. It automatically prevents "dodging" off an edge, say a cliff or platform (even invisible ones). No penalty to its amount of use. All it lacks is the ability to move through enemies and obstacles, which you'd expect given Alice becomes an immaterial cloud of butterflies.
Back from the Dead: The Mad Hatter, Queen of Hearts, Cheshire Cat, and Duchess. AND the Card Guards. These latter have decayed somewhat in the meantime.
Be as Unhelpful as Possible: Instead of helping Alice (who is demanding that he help her board the train), The Mad Hatter spends his last moments trying to have a tea party with the Hare and the Dormouse.
Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you realize that this is exactly what Alice herself is being in regards to the other children in Bumby's orphanage due to her being too preoccupied with her own problems and pitying herself to notice and/or care about the problems of others.
Berserk Button: The ending, where Alice pushes Bumby into the path of a train in a fit of Tranquil Fury when she realises that he will escape punishment for his crimes against her and the other children.
Big Bad: Dr. Bumby, who is trying to get Alice to forget about Wonderland and the house fire to cover his tracks and so he can use her as a prostitute.
Bioluminescence is Cool: Almost every living thing in the Deluded Depths. Heck, even Alice's dress has an angler lure and rows of glowy dots.
Bittersweet Ending: Alice has defeated the Dollmaker, saving her mind, and finishes her real world confrontation with Dr. Bumby. At first, it looks like the doctor himself will get off scot-free, until, after turning away and walking a few steps, she turns around and flashes a calm and disturbing smile, walks back up to Bumby, and pushes him into the path of an oncoming train. Then, she walks out... to find that London and Wonderland have blended together.
In the opening, Alice has a dream where the White Rabbit randomly explodes in a shower of blood, and then an army of doll hands appear and shred Alice's face off.
The clockwork cyborg dodos.
In Tundraful, several frozen creatures, mostly birds, can be found with part of their torsos missing. Not to mention what is found under the Dreary Lane Theatre.
Queensland is made of this.
The brains of the Insane Children are exposed when you first see them.
Boring, but Practical: The Teapot Cannon is easily the most boring weapon in the game. Once upgraded it does absurd amounts of damage with huge splash, even on the hardest difficulty. Bonus points for a New Game+ where it can allow you to safely break the defenses of enemies in the early game who would cause you massive problems otherwise.
A level 4 Vorpal Blade. There's an intrinsic quality to a large kitchen knife that attacks twice to thrice as fast as realistically possible while not requiring a noticeable break in between each strike.
One particular enemy can go into an ethereal state as well as utilize subterranean movement, which renders it invulnerable until it exposes its weakness.
The Dollmaker goes into Type 2 territory once you deal with a couple of its appendages, of which are Type 2 themselves from the start. From that point onward it looks like you finally have a chance to hurt the boss directly.
Bribing Your Way to Victory: If you're willing to throw down a couple bucks, you can download a "Dress Pack" that includes alternate costumes and weapons. Some DLC weapons like the reskinned version of the Pepper Grinder, the Octo-Grinder, grant double-dakka before overheating, and some of the dresses have ancillary benefits. The most powerful is the "Fleshmaiden" dress, which lets you use Hysteria (normally a Super Mode attack that is only available when you're about to die) at any time. The option to buy the dresses is only available for console players, so PC players who didn't preorder the game are left in the dust... unless they edit the game's .ini files to unlock the dresses manually (and for free).
Whenever Alice dodges, it's always with a slew of butterflies. When she floats, there are butterflies at her sides. And when she dies she explodes into a swarm of butterflies, and respawns with...yup, butterflies.
The Caterpillar becomes a butterfly as the Infernal Train stampedes through his sanctuary.
Button Mashing: A level 4 Vorpal Blade attacks so fast with very little delay in between full combos that it seems like you can chain attacks indefinitely.
Call Back: The Cheshire Cat's ending monologue is composed almost entirely of stock lines that he said during the first game, as is most of his other dialogue (some of which were Dummied Out in the original).
Calling the Old Man Out: All the "help" that Alice received during her time in Houndsditch wasn't all that benevolent after all. You show 'em, girl!
Catch and Return: One enemy can block, collect, and return-fire your Pepper Grinder shots.
Curse Cut Short/Last-Second Word Swap: The Cheshire Cat suffers a near slip in Deluded Depths, Chapter 2. Just as you're about to face the Cannon Crab in melee for the first time in person.
"You're sufficiently fortified to kick some a-... Uh, to boot these creatures' nether regions."
Cut and Paste Environments: There are 16 Radula Rooms but only 2 environments to go between them. There are several exceptions where Alice plays a new level of one of the minigames, but she still returns to one of the same 2 environments to collect her reward.
Darker and Edgier: Some feel this way about Madness Returns compared to the original.
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Falling causes you to rematerialize on a nearby platform with no penalty. This actually makes diving into the abyss a viable shortcut in some cases. Being killed by enemies bounces you back to the last checkpoint, which usually isn't that far off. Either way, it's a minor inconvenience.
Falling does kill you proper in some cases, most notably the beginning of Queensland.
Degraded Boss: The Menacing Ruin. You first encounter it one-on-one, learning how to survive its offenses as well as making it more susceptible to your further counterattacks. Then they appear with slight regularity for the rest of the game as tougher mooks, though not that often.
The Colossal Ruin actually gets tougher in repeat appearances, since the first time it retreats before you kill it. However, you'll likely be stronger by the time it shows up again, making defeating it that much easier.
Desperation Attack/Super Mode: "Hysteria", which activates when your health is down to one rose, and allows you to deal increased damage and be invincible for a limited amount of time, although enemies won't drop teeth.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: In the Dollhouse level, there is one section where you have to pass through a doll. Through the doll's legs. And you come out of its mouth.
And how can we forget that Alice needs to tear the clothes off of the doll enemies in order to expose their weak points? The fact that this is the level where Alice comes to the realization that someone must have been in Lizzie's room the night of the fire can hardly be called a coincidence.
Double Jump: Up to Eleven with a Quadruple Jump. And a glide feature for each individual jump on top of that. And the Dodge ability on top of that. Alice has an absurdly long jumping range that you will almost never take full advantage of.
Edge Gravity: Applies during targeting, aiming, and/or dodging.
Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: If Alice isn't already this by default, certain scenes where the lighting can accentuate the effect will make her this. The Queen of Hearts has even more unnaturally-pale skin.
Elaborate Equals Effective: As Alice's weapons evolve or upgrade, they become more detailed and elaborate. It even provides the page image for the trope.
The Ruin are oily blobs made up of random doll limbs and train parts that are utterly foreign to even the most bizarre realms of Wonderland. They clue the player in that Alice's current problems stem from an outside source.
Their master, the Dollmaker, and the Infernal Train their mechanical parts come from. The latter looks like a motorized gothic cathedral that turns Wonderland into a Steampunk hell, and the former is a giant Dr. Bumby, with fountains of oil for eyes and puppets for hands.
The Red Queen makes a return despite being dead. Remember, that which is not dead that can eternal lie....
Electric Jellyfish: There are red jellyfish in the Deluded Depths that kill you on contact (equivalent to falling), but whether or not they are electric is up to debate.
Enemy Mine: The Queen of Hearts begrudgingly assists Alice on her quest to find the Infernal Train, not because she genuinely wants to help, but because she's angered that the Train has more or less made her irrelevant.
Fishing For Mooks: Drifting Ruin in some areas will be floating about not bothering you, but are within Pepper Grinder range. Though they can't be hurt when their doll face is hidden, they can be aggro'd individually.
Flash Step: Alice's dodge move is her exploding into butterflies that flash across the screen. During this, she can't be hurt.
Floating Platforms: The game is a platformer after all. Includes the almost invisible variety. The ultimate expression of this would be Cardbridge.
Floating Continent: Not a continent, but several glorified floating structures made out of cards in Cardbridge.
Friendly Fireproof: Averted in several instances, of which the most spectacular would be the Executioner accidentally one-hit-killing the lesser undead Card Guards when he misses with his scythe.
Gatling Good: The Pepper Grinder doesn't have multiple barrels, has no spinning aside from the crank, and its level 4 upgrade ups the rate of fire to about 500 to 600 rounds per minute? If anything it just looks and sounds like a Gatling weapon in action.
Hair Flip: Usually due to the physics (or Physx as it may be), rigorous movement like wildly mashing directional keys or the shrinking key produces some rather pleasant looking hairplay.
Hammerspace: Probably where Alice keeps her weapons, like the Teapot Cannon, the Hobby Horse and the Pepper Grinder. There isn't enough space to keep them all in her dress. They tend to disappear into thin air once she's finished using them.
Harmless Freezing: The Ice Snark's freezing breath doesn't so much as nick a rose petal, but immobilizes Alice nonetheless. Costumes that depict her bare-legged especially apply.
Heel Face Turn: Many of the antagonists from the first game help Alice, including The Duchess, The Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts (to serve her own means).
Heroic Willpower: Near the end, Alice is forced into a doll body. As she tumbles down a chute, she regains control and bursts from the doll in her Wonderland outfit.
Hit-and-Run Tactics: Downplayed a little due to the general effectiveness of the ranged weapons, but as far as melee strategies go, is quite essential against the larger, more dangerous and resilient mooks.
Interface Screw: One of the battles with the ghost sailors has never-ending waves of Slithering Ruin spawn with him. Though basically harmless, it makes keeping a target lock on him (to destroy his bombs and stun him) nearly impossible. You either have to free-aim or get him to melee.
Invisible Wall: Visible ones, everywhere in the game. You can jump up to it, but you just cannot land on it.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Radcliffe sees Alice's desire to find out what happened on the night of the fire to be futile, but he still supports her.
The Lab Rat: The Dormouse now has wheels for legs when you first see him.
Last Lousy Point: Subverted/Inverted. If you are missing just one collectible of any type after completing the game, the summary page on the main screen will oddly enough show 100%. Presumably it rounds up instead of down.
Little Miss Badass: Sure she's 19 already but still, the kinds of foes you have to overcome in the game...
Loading Screen: This one gives you tips and hints. It also offers relevant quotes.
Locomotive Level: Not much of one anyway. You take Alice to trigger one set of cutscenes to another before your first real boss fight.
Madness Mantra: The Dormouse. "A good worker is a live worker! Paid to live and work! A bad worker, is a dead worker; and vice versa! Don't be a bad worker, bad workers are slaves! And dead! Payday for good workers has been postponed, indefinitely! Payday for bad workers is CANCELLED! A good worker is a live worker! Paid to live and work! A bad workeró" It becomes the Most Annoying Sound if you happen to get stuck on that level, though.
The Carpenter forces Alice to run his errands so he can finally finish organizing a play, which turns out to be a front for The Walrus to eat both the entertainment and the audience.
More importantly, Dr. Bumby. His apparent "therapy" is a front to brainwash his child charges into mindless prostitutes that he can rent to wealthy clients, and his "treatment" of Alice is just a convenient way of disposing of any remaining evidence connecting him to the death of the Liddell family.
The Maze: A small one, just before you find the cake. Hard to get lost though.
Mind Screw: The London/Wonderland transitions make sense only on the first two or three occasions, given that some explanation is given as to how Alice ended up where she awoke. About halfway through, though, logic starts to collapse: first, Radcliffe disappears halfway through a conversation with Alice and his townhouse is reduced to a condemned hovel; then Alice emerges from the Mysterious East level in jail, having been found in the street, screaming about trains, with no way of telling just how much she saw was real or imagined. Then the Rutledge asylum level crops up, and suddenly Alice's so-called real world appears to have lost what little sanity it possessed. And then there's the final levels and the epilogue.
Mini-Game: Most of the levels have at least one of these. Some skippable, some not.
Money Grinding/Money for Nothing: It's possible to just complete the first chapter over and over to max out your weapons, giving you full power long before you'd normally have it (sometime in chapter 5, usually). Once you do, though, any teeth you collect are only good for use with the Hattress dress, which uses them in place of health.
Money Multiplier: The Steam dress increases breakables teeth drops. The Silk Maiden dress increases enemy teeth drops. This only works after you've beaten the game, though.
Money Spider: Almost every enemy (save Zerg Rush types like the Boltflies) drops teeth, which are the game's currency for purchasing weapon upgrades.
Monster Compendium: As well as other characters, accessible from the menu. Subverted in that the "detailed information" is just basically Alice's opinion for each entry. Some of the monsters don't even appear in the game, possibly due to budget/deadlines.
Mook Maker: To generate the Bolterflies and Ink Wasps.
More Dakka: The purpose of upgrading the Pepper Grinder.
Mythology Gag: The Vorpal Blade is found upon the remains of the Jabberwock.
Narrative Filigree: Some memories qualify. The London segments also, with all their details that serve no purpose other than to establish locations and act as background props.
New Game Plus: Mainly to run through the story again with upgraded weapons and dresses. Also so you can break the couple of shells (for a few measly drops) on top of the slide that leads to the remains of the Jabberwock and the Vorpal Blade.
Nintendo Hard: The Royal Flush outfit is an optional version, reducing you to a maximum of four roses. Then there's Nightmare difficulty, where Alice's weapons only deal 75% of the default damage while she will receive three times the damage from everything else. You can also purposely refrain from upgrading your weapons. Now put them together.
No OSHA Compliance: Just look at the working environment of the Automatons in Hatter's Domain with the new establishment.
No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom: The London levels, with no enemies, platforming, or collectibles, may as well be straight corridors. The rest of the game is riddled with hidden things off to the sides of the main path, though.
Chapter 6 is a straight run to the end, same as the London sequences. This makes a bit of sense, since Alice keeps popping back to London every time you change areas.
Of Corsets Sexy: The Steam dress is made of one which only binds the mid-torso region.
Offscreen Start Bonus: The first time you play as 2D Alice in Chapter 3. Head left immediately for your first peach.
Oh Crap: Played HILARIOUSLY when the Executioner corners Alice, only for her to eat a cake to make her grow giant. He drops his scythe (and his jaw, and probably his lunch, too) and then gets up close and personal with Alice's foot.
Done more seriously at the end, when Bumby sees Alice's Slasher Smile and realizes he's messed with the wrong girl.
Teapot Cannon:"Throw an instant tea party. It will be a blast!" Considering that the weapon is essentially a grenade launcher...
Hobby Horse:"Stampede through the opposition! A SMASHING HIT!!!" Your sledgehammer in Wonderland.
The Knightmare from the DLC, referencing (but not limited to) a female horse, nightmare (duh), and a Visual Pun.
One of the loading screen tips tells you to "season enemies at range" with the pepper grinder.
The Eye-pot enemies.
Puzzle Pan: Especially in the later chapters as the landscape gets seemingly more non-linear, but isn't.
Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Wonderland Alice. For the white part, it could be due to the lighting or even the graphic rendering.
Reality Alice is even more dual-toned than Wonderland Alice, minus the bonus costumes.
Real Time Weapon Change: Finisher combos are quite damaging in this fashion. Also results in an achievement for using the Hobby Horse, switching to the Vorpal Blade, then back to the Horse in a single combo.
Red Sky, Take Warning: Not necessarily of an incoming threat, but just as you leave Radcliffe's disused premises and move along the streets, the sky seems to be burning in the horizon until the full picture comes into view.
Remixed Level: The Vale Of Tears, Hatter's Domain, and Queensland.
One part in Chapter 3 has ever-replenishing blob monsters harassing you as you try to make dangerous jumps across lethal muck.
A battle against a Drowned Sailor has Slithering Ruin constantly respawning in groups of four. Since sailors vanish frequently, it's impossible to maintain a target lock.
There are a few instances of Slithering Ruin doing this with Menacing Ruin, as well, but it's not nearly as bad as with the sailor.
Retcon: The opening of the original shows that the fire that killed Alice's parents was caused by her cat knocking over a carelessly lit lantern. Madness Returns implies that this is actually a fabricated memory brought on by Alice's mental trauma, and the point of the game is to find out what actually happened that night before her repressed memories drive her insane again. Not to mention the fact that there is no mention of a sister in the first game.
Rewarding Vandalism: The breakables, which basically nets the equivalent of cash and medkits. They also spit out a Slithering Ruin on occasion, but it's no real threat.
Rustproof Blood: The blood stains on Alice's classic dress will always be there, red as ever.
Sanity Slippage: You can see this in the game, especially at certain points like the asylum "level" with Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Even in Wonderland itself, whenever blood and destruction start appearing. Those make it quite obvious that Alice's mental health is taking a turn for the worse. The instances where Alice goes back to Wonderland from Victorian London count as well.
Sequel Gap: Both in-universe and in real life. Madness Returns was made 11 years after the original game, and revolves around Alice having spent a decade in therapy and an asylum.
Except that she had already spent a decade in therapy in the first game, where she was 18 years old, while in Madness Returns she is 19.. American McGee didn't want to make controversy with an underaged heroine in a bloody game.
Sequel Hook: Or is it? Bumby is dead and Alice has found out how her family died. But as she exits the train station, the "real world" of London has merged with the fantasy world of Wonderland - the soundtrack refers to this track as "Into Londerland" - and she is wearing a dress that previously existed only in her mind. The Cheshire Cat also has a little monologue at the end that hints at another sequel.
Alice herself gets in on this — the art section in the extras menu has biographies on the various characters and enemies in the game written from Alice's point of view. She has quite the impressive vocabulary.
Shoot The Bullet: One way of stunning an ethereal enemy once it starts chucking explosives at Alice.
The Giant Enemy Crab enemy in the game loses its Arm Cannon in a Type 3B fashion. Yet the most flamboyant one has got to be the Doll Girl. Alice can first strip its clothes off, remove its arms, crack open its torso, and finally waste the huge abomination by destroying the heart.
The Samurai Wasps' masks can be broken, although sometimes it's possible to kill them without breaking their attire.
The Madcaps lose their cup helmets and saucer shields. The Menacing Ruin loses its doll arms and faces. Even the Bolterfly nest has a "damaged" model.
An interface one where the closer you are to qualifying for Hysteria, the more cracked the borders of the Main Window become.
Splash Damage: Most notably the Teapot Cannon. Which leads to....
Splash Damage Abuse: Just before your first encounter with the Ink Wasps, you can use the Teapot Cannon's splash radius to destroy even the furthest Ink Wasp Stone, allowing you to rid the area of enemies (save one actual Samurai Wasp) before triggering the cutscene that introduces the Ink Wasp.
Spring Jump/Springy Spores: The red and blue spring mushrooms. Red propels Alice to somewhere higher in the map, blue sends Alice to the next map, often the top of a slide.
Start Screen: But no Attract Mode, at least for the PC version. The video file is still there in the game's folders, but won't play for whatever reason.
Stripperiffic: Averted mostly. Only the two costumes, one chapter based and one DLC, reveal Alice's bare legs, and only one of that two actually shows some cleavage. A couple other DLC costumes also go as far as showing her shoulders and a bit of cleavage, but even these are less form-fitting than usual.
Super Drowning Skills/Super Not Drowning Skills: Played straight in order in Chapter 2. In the tundra, if you touch the water, that's it for Alice. Once past a certain submersion sequence, the game resumes normally. Underwater. With no breathing apparatus whatsoever. Plus there's perfectly clear and audible dialogue underwater as it would be in air. Justified considering it's all in her mind.
There Are No Therapists: Averted, of course, since Alice sees Dr Bumby regularly. And then double subverted, since it turns out that Bumby's trying to hypnotize Alice into forgetting all her memories so she can become a prostitute.
Time Bomb: The clockwork bomb. Its only real use is as a temporary paperweight to hold down switches. What little use it has in combat is overshadowed by Alice's other weapons, especially the Teapot cannon later on.
Well, it's not much use for killing things (small area of effect, low damage, no upgrades, only one at a time) but it's far from useless in a fight. To start with, it draws in enemies as well as or better than Alice herself making it a great distraction when you need a breather or to get behind something. And the explosion itself will stun most enemies and break the defenses of some, making it very useful when combined with other weapons and good reflexes.
Toy Time: The Dollhouse level. The slides which bring you to the next section of the game could count as well.
Videogame Dashing: The Dodge move. Also has the handy property of making you invincible until you reform.
Villain with Good Publicity: Dr. Bumby, which he points out to Alice when she finally confronts him and threatens to expose him. After all, who are people going to believe: the respected and upstanding member of society, or the raving lunatic who spent ten years locked up at Rutledge?
Warmup Boss: The Menacing Ruin introduces you to the concept of deflecting enemy projectiles as well as an opponent that hurts you and eats punishment a lot more than most other enemies encountered up till that point.
Water Is Air: Ballistics and airborne movement in the second half of Chapter 2 are not affected by the environment. Takes a turn for the weird when you realize that the Siren costume has its own physics. That means any other costume used underwater will behave like Alice was in air. Conversely, using the Siren costume in non-underwater areas makes it look like only Alice is underwater while her immediate surroundings are in air.
What Happened to the Mouse?: A few characters, both in Wonderland and reality. Is the Mock Turtle still brooding over his loss? How about Witless and Radcliffe?
Then there's the question of Alice's mysterious benefactor: right at the start of the game you can enter her room, and find a portrait of her family. She mentions that it was sent to her by some stranger. This plotline is never followed up on later in the story.
Where I Was Born And Razed: Subverted. It wasn't Alice who caused the fire, and seems like it also wasn't who or what she initially thought was either.
Womb Level: The interior of the Queensland castle remains more or less as per the first game.
Wreaking Havok: The PC version of the game touts expansive use of PhysX effects, where the Pepper Grinder spews clouds of dynamically shifting pepper into the air, rocks smash into tiny shards, and the Ruins break down into piles of procedurally animated goo.
Your Head Asplode: In the opening cutscene we have Alice and the White Rabbit happily drinking tea whilst drifting down a river... then the Rabbit starts twitching and oozing goo before his head pops off like a cork in a shower of Black Blood.