I’ve been obsessing over Alice: Madness Returns, sequel to cult classic American McGee’s Alice from 10 years ago, because the game exhibits an astonishing level of artistry. As the (continuing) story of a grown Alice struggling with the aftermath of a fire that killed her family, the game consists of visiting a Wonderland corrupted by insanity and death, and helping Alice find her way back to truth and relative peace of mind. While the original game was memorable for its macabre and dramatic presentation of our beloved Alice and the denizens of Wonderland, Alice: Madness Returns raises both the storytelling stakes and the level of artistic quality in the environments and character designs to achieve something truly unique and rewarding. I won’t go over the game itself – check my personal blog for an upcoming review if you’re interested – but I did want to highlight how a key element of the game’s success comes in the various dresses Alice, including a variation on her familiar blue dress, wears throughout the game. Besides the imaginative detailing, the dresses are sartorial representations of the various places Alice fights her way through – the Vale of Tears, the Mad Hatter’s Industrial/Steampunk domain, the underwater Deluded Depths, the decayed castle ruins of Queensland, and a surreal, sinister Dollhouse city. Such is American McGee and his team’s attention to detail that the clothes are as instrumental as any other game element in creating the story’s mood and expressing Alice’s relationship to Wonderland, which is as a whole representative of her damaged psyche.
This video draws heavily from the Art of Alice book to demonstrate the conceptualization of Alice’s various looks. The pause button will be your friend.
This video shows the dresses as seen in the game’s configuration menu, along with a set of extra dresses available as part of an add-on pack that I haven’t been able to get my hands on. As Alice is rotated to give you views from all angles, you’ll see how the dresses move – the physics are remarkably fluid. For those of you interested in the gaming aspects, the end of the video shows off the arsenal of unique weapon-toys Alice wields throughout her dangerous journey in Wonderland.
So there you go. Eye candy for fashionistas…in a computer game. No wonder cosplayers have so much fun dressing up...