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The Places You’ll Go: American McGee’s Wonderland
Welcome to the first entry of The Places You’ll Go, a chronicle of some of gaming’s most interesting and memorable locations. From the floating islands of Zeal to the deepest halls of Rapture, we’ll chronicle some of gaming’s coolest locales. For our first entry, I’m taking a look into the wonderful world of American McGee’s Alice to see American McGee’s twisted version of Wonderland.
Growing up, I was a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland. Not so much the story itself, but the world it centers around. In fact, if it wasn’t for Alice in Wonderland, I may have never become so interested in video game worlds. I wanted to learn everything I could about that odd world and the nonsensical creatures that inhabited it. Thankfully, American McGee’s Alice and its recent sequel has given me the chance to explore the whimsical world.
Too bad it’s not quite as whimsy as I expected.
While we can debate the quality of the Alice games all day, (And I happily will) I believe that it set up a very strong and fantastical world. Using the crazy world of Alice in Wonderland as the starting point, American McGee’s Alice creates a wonderfully dark world. The usual sights of Wonderland are juxtaposed by buckets of blood and plenty of dark imagery.
Chessboards become the battleground for a brutal war between the white and red kingdoms, a hellish train rampages across Wonderland, and statues cry dark goop in the Vale of Tears. Every area in Wonderland from both games looks visually distinct, especially in the sequel. Everything gets much worse when you take the time to consider the fact that Wonderland is a representation of Alice’s mental state, and the dark images shows just how twisted her psyche truly is.
Of course, the landscape of Wonderland itself isn’t the only thing that makes this world great. Both games are filled with interesting and entertaining wildlife, some of them nicer than others. There are the usual Wonderland creatures such as the Cheshire Cat, Card Soldiers, and Chess Pieces, but there are plenty of other original monstrosities (Such as the insane children and the dolls) that fit in perfectly.
While the fate of the Alice series may rest in the hands of the animated feature for now, I’d honestly accept anything that could show me more of this fantastic world. I want another chance to raid Hatter Industries or to take another look at the Queen of Hearts’ imposing castle. I want another chance to go down the rabbit hole to American McGee’s Wonderland.