Alice: Madness Returns
By Chad Sapieha,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Gory game based on children's character is for adults only.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
This fantasy action game places a children's literature character in a decidedly adult tale of insanity sprinkled with blood, sexual themes, and profanity.
Positive Role Models
Alice appears to be nearly the only good person in both the real world and Wonderland. However, even though she clearly states that she’s “not looking for a fight,” she is nonetheless forced to defend herself, killing hundreds of fantasy creatures in bloody combat in the process.
Ease of Play
Both the combat as well as the platforming and adventuring elements are relatively simple and employ controls that should prove intuitive for most players. Difficulty ramps up gradually, and players can choose between four skill levels.
Violence & Scariness
Alice defends herself from fantastical creatures, including trolls and flying insect-like enemies, using a large knife and a pepper grinder that functions much like an automatic weapon. Some foes bleed when struck, their blood splashing onto the ground and Alice’s dress. Enemies grunt in pain, and some explode or lose their heads.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Outside of Wonderland, Alice walks past harlots who expose deep cleavage. Players overhear conversations that suggest prostitution. The word “whore” is used several times.
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Infrequent use of very strong language, including the words “f--k” and “c--t.”
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that despite starring a familiar children’s literature character, Alice: Madness Returns is absolutely not intended for kids. The game’s heroine is an adult version of the classic Alice who is struggling with her sanity, and the Wonderland she visits is infested with creatures and hazards looking to kill her. She defends herself using a knife, a machine gun-like pepper grinder, and other weapons that create bloody carnage. Parents should also note that while in the dismal real world, Alice encounters prostitutes (though there is no sex in the game) and characters who use severe language.
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Alice: Madness Returns
Based on 8 parent reviews
Not for the Fainthearted or People that Don't Like Gore
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What’s It About?
The sequel to a nearly decade-old game for grown-ups that imagined Lewis Carroll’s famous Alice character as a young woman in an asylum dealing with the death of her parents, ALICE: MADNESS RETURNS sees our heroine continuing to struggle with her sanity. She journeys from the real world -- a gray, dismal place filled with foul-mouthed, shifty-looking characters -- back to Wonderland, which is brighter and more colorful but filled with malevolent fantasy creatures looking to kill her. With guidance from the Cheshire Cat, she equips herself with weapons to defend against the things attacking her and sets out to explore the now-perilous make-believe realm.
Is It Any Good?
It’s tempting to simply write off this continuation of Alice’s tale as a gory exploitation of a beloved children’s character, but there are some interesting ideas at play. As a girl, Alice’s extraordinary imagination takes her to a scary but ultimately safe place. But what will that same imagination do when she gets older and suffers a terrible loss? This game, like its predecessor, puts forth the notion that her capacity to dream will take her to much more terrifying -- indeed, even lethal -- locales.
Unfortunately, the storytelling never moves much beyond this intriguing idea. Worse, the actual gameplay, though well-tuned and intuitive, is rote and repetitive. It’s a shame that there should be such a lack of creativity in a game inspired by a story that celebrates the imagination. Grown-up fans of the classic tale with a taste for dark fantasy may find enough of interest to make the journey worthwhile, but everyone else can leave this one safely on the store shelf.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the original Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and imagine what might have become of her character when she returned to the real world.
Families can also discuss violence in games. Where do you draw the line on violence in the media that your kids consume?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
- Available online?: Not available online
- Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Release date: June 14, 2011
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Violence
- Last updated: August 29, 2016
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