Monday, July 4, 2011

Isn't Alice : Madness Returns just wonderful?

Just when you think a game can't possibly be better than you imagine, it turns out that it is.[slight spoilers inside]

You can't possibly imagine how happy I was when I finally got my hands on this game.I had to wait two weeks after it was released.Two friggin weeks! I had exams and stuff going on, and I was certain that I wouldn't study at all if I had bought the game when it came out.And it was a wise choice, since the day I bought it, I ended up staying till 4 am just because I couldn't stop playing.

So,from where should I begin?Ah,yes,the Wonderland itself.When I was thrown in Wonderland at first,I was taken aback at how peaceful the place was.I was expecting the twisted version of the place right off the bat, so it took me by surprise.Of course,after the first small part where you're taught the basics of the game, Wonderland shows it's true face; sludgy enemies,lava pits,and of course countless chances to die. I loved it. At that point I was so thrilled, I couldn't even let down the controller and take a bite off the sandwitch.

Went on like that for a while, and then came a cutscene, and I was finally allowed to eat. At that point, the game said "That's how you use Hysteria, now I'll take all your roses(life points) but one, and force you to use it!". Then I said to myself "No, Nick, you can manage without it!" (since I wanted the Level-headed trophy too). But the fight ended up plainly easy (it was only a bunch of the 1st enemy you encounter,you can kill them with one hand) so I didn't have to worry at all.

Then I moved on in chapter 1, which is fairly large, mind you, and got an alternate dress as well.Not even close to the beauty of the original blue-white dress,but it was ok as an alternate costume. Then found Mad Hatter, did errands and stuff, and so on.I don't really want to indulge any more on the story, however as the game progresses, pieces of the story get together, bit by bit, and suddenly things start to make sense. Maybe Alice isn't so mad after all.

Moving on to the gameplay parts. For starters, what I expected was mostly a horror game, with less gameplay, and mostly creepy parts. I was actually counting on the superb atmosphere, and only expected mediocre gameplay. But the game was more than that after all. The two main parts are the platforming-puzzle half, and the battle half. For platforming, I actually like it, even though I thought they devoted too much space in some parts of the game, forcing you to keep jumping up and down, up and down, up and down. But still, it was ok because of the background and the slow music, making it relaxing even after doing those crazy stunts for 15 minutes.

Platforming in this game also came along with it's sister soul, puzzle solving. A good thing about Alice:MR is that you won't be able to progress far in the game without using your head. You must be quick-witted and careful at some parts, or you could get stuck,and even stop playing the game because of frustration. Along with the countless secrets scattered in every chapter, you're likely to have a nice experience, since a simple,one-way,safe and obvious platform progress could easily get boring.

Now,the battles. This is actually my favourite part.Alice starts out with her Vorpal Blade,the popular dagger you can see her swinging around in screenshots and trailers, and gets some weird weapons along the way.Like the Pepper Grinder. Because you can, and will kill enemies by shooting them just with pepper.Now, I wonder if this could actually work in real life...
Battles at the first parts of the game are quite simple.You don't need to dodge too much,you can just hack with the Vorpal,and it's over.But as you go to the next chapters, suddenly you have to dodge, and you have to be careful, because the enemies can block, can employ different attacks at once, and can damage you a lot.Still, it's not as bad as it sounds. You are allowed to upgrade your weapons, and also complete special puzzle areas, the Radula rooms, to get more roses and survive more hits. You get more weapons along the way, and of course enemies get more complicated, but that's the pleasure of the fighting part, isn't it?The pace of battles is also really fast, making them even more awesome.
My sole complaint is that there weren't as many battles as there was platforming, and unfortunately there weren't any large-scale battles as well.Oh, there was one, but it probably doesn't count.You'll know when you get there.

Overall, the game might not give the vibe of a masterpiece, but I believe it is one of those, even with it's minor flaws.For me at least, since ultimately opinions are always subjective. But I don't believe someone who likes the grim atmosphere, the puzzling but interesting game progression, and the fast and enticing battles would not like this game.It might not get a 10,but I would gladly give it a 9,for the hours of pleasure it's provided me till now, and the many more hours that are likely to come.Give it a shot fellas, I can't really think how someone would be able to resist this sequel.And check the soundtrack too, since it's befitting of the game, and a nice companion when you need it.

A little gallery is also due, just like a bad habit that persistently refuses to die.

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