You could be forgiven for missing out on American McGee’s first vision of a twisted Wonderland, released for the PC ten years ago. You hear that? I’m forgiving you. You have attained absolution. Now, go say five Hail McGees and an Our Alice. Haha. No, I’m not a priest. I just pretend to be one, for fun.
It was a PC-only title, so any console kids would have missed out on the story of Alice and her struggle to regain sanity after the tragic loss of her parents in a supposedly accidental house fire. Developers Spicy Horse are hoping to reach a larger audience this time, with both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions planned for release in 2011.
The Shanghai-based studio has clearly activated hype mode, using the Tokyo Game Show to release a new trailer and some screens for their long-awaited sequel.
The trailer shows a more grown-up Alice, a melancholy stick-figure who has come a long way since being thrown into the funny-farm a decade ago. Someone who will have to convert her psychological fallout into something useful in order to solve the mystery of her parent’s death. But in those huge child-like eyes there is still a sense of terror. Thanks to those eyes, we know she is still a vulnerable heroine.
Oh, and the giant, fiery tentacle-thing too. Yeah. Definitely vulnerable.
The game itself will see the damaged girl returning to her inner world of twisted landscapes and gothic villains but the passage of time has affected even these, with decay likely to be a major theme.
Though this be madness, there is method in’t. The art direction looks decidedly influenced by some of the only good things to come out of the eighties: macabre fantasy films. It feels like someone took The Dark Crystal and used it to stab David Bowie in Labyrinth, before using his blood as part of an oil painted masterpiece. Such lovely brushstrokes. Such vivid colours. Thanks, Bowie.