American Mcgee's Alice may be my favorite adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. In terms of writing and atmosphere, it's certainly the cream of the crop. What Rouge Entertainment accomplished on the Quake 3 engine, of all things, is nothing short of incredible. I genuinely think when it comes to translating an Art style with the tech they had, they couldn't have done better. The dark, twisted atmosphere is killer and the soundtrack unmatched. The voice acting is also one of the best I have ever heard, with Sussie Bran as Alice and Roger Jackson as the cheshire cat beeing pitch perfect. I could honestly listen to them banter for ages. Its all wonderful, except for the gameplay. That is an entirely different can of worms.

Alice suffers what I like to call "second half dropoff syndrome". An unfortunate decease many, many games up until fairly recently have suffered from. Basically the first half is excellent, falls right into what its gameplay limitation are capable of, but then you hit the midway point. From then on it becomes awful, with bullshit enemies, instant death pits and levels that stretch on for way too long. For Alice, that point is about when you reach the level Mirror Image, the mad hatters' domain. The platforming turns to shit and most of the weapons become useless. The ice wand is already crazy overpowered, but introducing the jabberwocky's eye staff makes even that redounded. It kills all the challenge, and now the only threats are instant death pits. Unlucky then that Alice has tons of enemies who's single job it is to push you off narrow pathways. Great. I don't exactly think we needed that in a game where jumping isn't great to begin with. I probably shouldn't be surprised about those issues, considering American Mcgee used to work at Id software and many of Alice's exact issues can be found in Id's early catalog. The storm on the red queen's castle was a slog, combining all those issues. The atmosphere still fucks, but it's the point where I wouldn't blame anyone for just watching a Let's play instead.

I still recommend you check out Alice in any way you see fit because I think it's one of the defining pieces of Video Game art from the early 2000s, that sadly never got the spotlight it deserved. On the bright side, EA pretty much stopped giving a shit about the series and now just sells its sequel completely DRM free. So it's super easy to mod the original into the sequel, since it was originally sold as a bonus DLC remaster for Alice: Madness Returns. You can then just access it through the main menu of Madness Returns. So fuck EA and pirate the fuck out of their games. Rise up, Goth Gamer Nation.

Reviewed on Feb 12, 2024