Unlike my other favorites in the 25 Days of Favorites articles, this choice was simple. I tend to be fond of underrated games as I am not a person who only plays popular games and mainstream games. I like to be surprised by the amazing subtlety of the lesser know games. The game I chose may not seem underrated to some of you, since I know it was well received by a lot of you, but sales wise and “on the radar” wise it wasn’t the best. I’m overly fond of it for many reasons, and that is why my favorite underrated game is none other than:
Alice: Madness Returns
Alice: Madness Returns happens to be one of my all time favorite games, but it’s also the one game I seem to always have to describe to people since it’s apparently a bit unknown to the general public. Yet everyone who I know of that has played the game based off my word that it is good has loved it. Madness Returns is the sequel to American McGee’s Alice, a game which showcases and alternate reality of the classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. In this story, Alice is driven insane by the death of her parents for which she is blamed. She must retreat to the safety of Wonderland to escape the horror of life, but she quickly sees that her Wonderland is no better off. Fighting through the waves of horrible creatures, Alice learns that it is her that must save Wonderland and restore it’s beauty all the while fixing her own life. It’s very dark and creepy, but intensely amazing.
The game is an action/adventure platformer with a hack-and-slack type of gameplay. Madness Returns features characters from Lewis Carroll’s stories such as the Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat, and of course the Red Queen. The gameplay is rather fun and seeing classic characters done American McGee style is amazing, but one thing I really love is the story. Everyone knows the classic Alice in Wonderland story, but this interesting twist keeps players on their feet and makes them think a little more than before. It’s much more serious, not only is Alice in danger, you know that the danger is brought on by her own mind and the fact that it’s plagued with madness and guilt. Alice has to save herself and playing as her, watching her struggle and fight is very intense and dare I say enlightening. It seems to portray the conflicts of the mind, conflicts that we all face in our day to day lives, but intensified and Wonderland-ified.
Another thing that I adore about this game is the artwork. I was so impressed with it that I went out and bought the art book, and have been though it a few times. I just look seeing the artist work put in to video games in general, but I really enjoyed the art work in this game above most others. Part of it is due to my love of all things Alice in Wonderland. I have been a huge Alice fan since I was a kid, and I think it has a lot to do with my broad imagination. The other part is the detail put into making each scene of the game special and unique, yet keeping the game in tact and making it very Alice. It’s very cool to see such brilliant, skillful work like this done for any game and especially cool when it’s such a unique game like this.
For me, Alice: Madness Returns has it all. Fun gameplay, fantastic storyline, and great graphical content. It’s too bad this game didn’t take off and become more popular, because I believe it was really well done and neat. Like I said, everyone I have recommended it to loved it so it’s not just me! I’ll always regard this game as one of my all time favorites, and definitely as my favorite underrated game.
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West