38 Games Like Alice Madness Returns

Often the most seemingly innocent of childhood stories carry a darker, crueller edge to them. Death, torture and pain are often commonplace in many of them, and games like Alice: Madness Returns serve as a sharp, surreal and spectacular reminder of this fact. They take the otherworldly elements to entirely new levels, stripping away at the cuter, fluffier outer coating of any story and exposing the raw Grimm spite within. Such a twist serves as an excellent opportunity to experiment with styles or ideas this type of story would never get away with, from murder to corruption or even social strife. Setting it in a narrative already far removed from reality, it sidesteps much of the inherent criticism which can so easily hurt attempts to explore such stories, or even allows them to reach new audiences. While many visual and vocal aspects help games like Alice: Madness Returns stand out from the crowd, the true genius often lies in how each is tied to its mechanics. From mind-bending logical puzzles to simply beating enemies over the head, the context and style of each action nevertheless pushes to build upon its themes; each time going the extra to show some sliver of the broader world and how it relates to the protagonist in question. Even when it lacks the expected deeper message, sometimes an overarching change in environment alone is enough to give a sense of renewal to a series. Every survival horror junkie has seen groaning zombies and grey corridors a hundred times over, to the point where it is mundane to them. A mere visual minor change, such as a switch to a bright pink parlour with the undead singing the French national anthem, can be enough to stand out from the crowd and get someone spooked. This is the real genius of games like Alice: Madness Returns, as they find a way to work around relatively basic or direct ideas, but nevertheless invent ways to keep them utterly enthralling right up until the credits roll. However, beyond everything else, what helps these games to remain utterly engaging is their penchant for strong characterisation and striking dialogue. Offering the right quip or internal comment requires a storytelling talent few possess, and all too often snark can translate to insufferably smug. Yet, games like Alice: Madness Returns can nail this quirk, pinning down the exact brand of sarcasm or sincerity needed to make a protagonist all the more human, and a world all the more alive. In the face of such underlying commentary, even puzzles which stick to the most tried and true mechanics can still stand up to criticism, and utterly ignore the sense of seeming played out. If you wish for a game with excellent thematic and narrative, or a tale which eschews genre conventions in favour of something much more experimental, then take a look at the games listed below.

Games Like Alice Madness Returns