I would like to introduce you to a dark and twisted version of Wonderland, full of danger, darkness, and death. American McGee's Alice is one of the most enjoyable games I have ever played. It's a really awesome third person action game exclusively for the PC. The story is like Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, but much more sinister. After the events of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Alice's parents die in a fire. She tries to kill herself out of survivor's guilt and becomes incarcerated in an insane asylum for 10 years. The White Rabbit calls Alice to return to the macabre form of Wonderland, twisted by her own insanity, to defeat the Queen of Hearts to become sane again. Here is the opening of the game.
The characters in this reimagining of Wonderland are delightfully creepy. The Cheshire Cat is emaciated and tattooed with a wicked grin. He can be summoned to give you cryptic messages to guide you through the game. Besides Alice, he is my favorite character. The actor that provides the cat's voice is perfect. He, the White Rabbit, and a few others are Alice's only allies in her twisted fantasy world. The Duchess is a crazed cannibal, driven mad by pepper. The Mad Hatter is obsessed with time, clockworks, and his own genius. He turns people into machines or experiments on them in his asylum with help from his minions, the Tweedles. The clockwork aspects give parts of the game a steampunk look. As revealed in the accompanying casebook, all the people in Wonderland resemble people in Alice's real life in the asylum. For a complete list of characters and their new personalities can be found here.
The game is pretty hard, even on easy mode. However, it's so fun to playThe game isn't just an action adventure game, but has many puzzles that need to be solved as you progress into Wonderland. I personally love puzzles and this made the game all the more enjoyable for me.
One of my favorite aspects of the game is the music. It's haunting and makes Wonderland so much more scary to go through. The composer responsible for this is Chris Vrenna, who founded the punk band Tweaker and played drums in Nine Inch Nails. "Most of the sounds he used were created using toy instruments and percussion, music boxes (in a short documentary about the making of the game that appeared on TechTV, the music box used appears to be an antique Fisher-Price music box pocket radio), clocks, doors, and sampled female voices were manipulated into nightmarish soundscapes, including instances of them laughing maniacly, screaming, crying, and singing in an eerie, child-like way." * The music is obviously going to be repetitive for each stage, but I never, ever got tired of it. Sometimes I would want to stay in one area just to hear the music, so I bought the game soundtrack. It's available on Amazon if anyone is interested. This video features the track called Dementia and the poster's funny comments about the soundtrack. Please enjoy.
The graphics for this game aren't all that great. It was made in 2000 and the story and gameplay totally make up for the graphic's shortcomings. The game seems to be pretty rare to find, since it's out of print, and is being sold at pretty high prices. If you can find it, please play it. It's awesome. AND American McGee's Alice 2 is supposed to be coming out at some undetermined date. I can't wait!!
I will leave you with the trailer:
* from the American McGee's Alice Wikipedia Article.
* Inspired by Velvet's Alice in Whatsitland week at vvb32 reads.