Alice Asylum – Is the return of the franchise still possible?

Initiated in the early 2000s by American McGee and published by Electronic Arts, American McGee’s Alice reappropriates the masterpieces of Lewis Carroll and imagine the sequel in a platform / adventure game with nightmarish and disturbing accents.

Alice Liddell is in Rutledge Asylum where she has been locked up since her home burned down that destroyed her family. She has been followed there for more than ten years by a sadistic doctor forcing her to relive her own traumas. The player is led to evolve in Wonderland, tyrannized by the Queen of Hearts who causes hell and chaos to reign there. We quickly understand that our decrepit environment is a reflection of the young girl’s mental health.

This first opus will delight a solid base of fans because the graphic bias and the creepy and horrific artistic direction resulting from the imagination of the designers will find its audience and convince the critics.

Alice Asylum outing
Alice Liddell armed with her Vorpal Blade and accompanied by the mysterious Cheshire Cat will become iconic.

However, we will have to wait more than ten years to know the rest of his adventures. In the meantime American McGee founded Spicy Horse, his own studio, but remains edited by Electronic Art. Alice: Return to the land of madness made a comeback in 2011 on all platforms of the time (PC, PS3, Xbox 360). Although the game is somewhat redundant with few weapons available, it keeps its sublime artistic direction to itself, a tone that is still horrific and disturbing and accentuates its background. Here, Alice’s spirit has almost reached the breaking point, a hellish train wrecks what remains of Wonderland. She will try to bring together the fragments of her memory to finally understand the origins of her trauma.

It was a new (small) success but it reveals the disagreements between EA and McGee. Indeed, Electronic Arts is criticized for having communicated on a “hardcore horror” game, blurring the image of an opus which certainly keeps a strong aesthetic put refocuses on its character, its madness and its torments. This will affect sales and word of mouth will not help enough. Yet the players who have had the pleasure of confronting themselves once again in Wonderland often keep fond memories, testifying to their attachment to the franchise.

Alice Asylum outing
With the features of a young adult, this suite establishes the iconography of Alice and her Wonderland.

American McGee will respond later in an interview stating this

What was frustrating was how EA Marketing interfered, telling STS [société responsable des bandes-annonces NDLR] from the start that the creative direction was ruled by them and not by us (the developers behind the tone and the story). This gave birth to trailers much more gore and darker than the game… and it was a voluntary break from EA. They wanted to trick players into believing Alice: Return to Madness Country was a hardcore horror title, even though we refused to go for that tone. Their thought was that even if it didn’t, you could communicate about it and trick players into buying it (while keeping out more casual players, like female players, who can get scared with dark trailers).

EA will choose to communicate on this introductory trailer of the game, without showing any action of the game or any environments which are however the main strengths of the title. An incomprehensible a posteriori choice.

It was to everyone’s surprise that in September 2017 American McGee is interested in launching the work of a third opus. It will nevertheless be necessary to wait until March 2018 for McGee asks his community on Facebook who immediately gets carried away from this prospect. Therefore, crowdfunding is launched via the platform Patreon which will quickly meet with success allowing 9 developers to start preproduction.

It’s towards a prequel titled Alice Asylum that is heading the new adventures of Alice, 13 years old this time, who will return to the aesthetic codes seen in the first opus with a young girl always so tormented. The story will begin when he arrives at Rutledge Asylum after his house burns down. Psychological phases of accepting grief such as denial, anger and negotiation will be discussed.

Alice asylum outlet
On these new illustrations Alice appears with more childish features and gave up her Vorpal Blade for a plush.

During her journey, Alice will have to cross the 8 Kingdoms of Wonderland and defeat those who inhabit them to achieve a semblance of inner peace. Her arsenal will be reviewed because in addition to her legendary Vorpal Blade, Alice will be able to count on her little girl’s toys to overcome her enemies. A large magical wardrobe will also be available. In addition to the help traditionally given by the Cheshire Cat, his little white rabbit will have a role to play. Alice Asylum promises to revisit his own myth …

However, a problem of weight remains as to the future of this future Alice Asylum. Indeed, the rights are still held by Electronic Arts which is not, to this day, stakeholder in the process of creation. American McGee has control over development, funding and publishing at the moment and given the grievances against EA the situation appears to be at a standstill. Only reasons for hope, production is progressing rapidly and American McGee continues to regularly inform via social networks including Instagram on the progress of the project. the community remains very active and continues to follow the progress of production as evidenced by the 3000 or so regular contributors.

To this day, we still don’t know if Alice Asylum will be marketed or on which platform.


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