Places: The Wonders Of A Dark Wonderland In Alice Madness Returns

by Kayla Herrera on Feb 26, 2013 at 08:09 AM

EA’s first Alice game from 2000 began as a dark representation of the famed childhood story with wretched creatures and a menacing Wonderland, but Alice: Madness Returns swept me away into a world only my nightmares could compare to. The art style and the vast imagination of every detail of the world engrossed me into a retelling of what Wonderland was really capable of.

Alice: Madness Returns was one of the few games that genuinely captivated me, by both the story and the design. I was either amazed or not entirely sure what I was staring at. The environment went back and forth between Victorian London and the horrid Wonderland. As a writer, it takes a lot to create a whole new world, focusing on originality and a creative imagination to make a place come to life. For an artist, creating a world like Wonderland took guts, and a lot of warped imagination. When it comes to art styles, writing or film, I am drawn to the dark imagination, like Stephen King or Tim Burton. I think that’s why Alice: Madness Returns’ Wonderland stuck out in my mind. 

Wonderland was frightening, from the mossy, dilapidated architecture to the gory character design. Each level was comprised of a different theme dating back to the original children’s story. Such an example was the story of the Walrus and Carpenter, where the walrus ate all of the “baby” oysters. 

Another example was the territory of the Queen of Hearts. The color red was strategically woven throughout the world in a way that did not portray candied hearts and lipstick kisses, but gritty gore and rusty weapons. 

Alice’s dress changed with every level to match the theme, as if combat had fashion statements. But by doing so, she became a part of Wonderland. In any level, gazing off into the distance made me wonder what else could be out there. What else did the artist’s imagination conjure, even more twisted than blackened china-doll creatures and the brassy, spider-like tea-pots? The whole time I played Alice in her Wonderland, there was the searing question of whether or not Alice was insane or truly waging a war against Wonderland. The questionable insanity affected Wonderland and how she perceived it. Very much like the world of Tim Burton, Alice: Madness Returns recreated a childhood franchise with eloquent darkness and imagination and set the story against a Wonderland worthy of any Stephen King novel.