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"Is it mad to pray for better hallucinations?"


Alice: Madness Returns is the sequel to the 2000 video game American McGee's Alice, and once again puts you in control of Alice Liddell, as she attempts to save Wonderland from a rampaging train and her own subconscious.

The game takes place one year after the conclusion of the original, and Alice is still struggling to recover from the emotional trauma of losing her entire family in a fatal fire. After spending a decade institutionalized in an insane asylum, she is finally released to the care of a psychiatrist, Dr. Bumby, who tries to help her conquer the nightmarish hallucinations that still haunt her. Alice embarks on a mission to root out the true cause of her family's mysterious death by returning to Wonderland, which has... taken a turn for the worse. By teaming up with old friends (and foes) and journeying through a variety of expansive locales, Alice must work through her own mind to discover the truth about the accident that killed her family... even if it makes her go insane.

The game was released in June 2011 (more than a decade after the original first came out) and was developed by the same creative team (including American McGee). The game has received mixed reviews: its pros are the unique art style, the music, and continuation of the story from the previous game, while its cons are poor level design and repetitive gameplay

Tropes used in Alice: Madness Returns include:
  • 100% Completion: From collecting bottles and memories to shooting snouts to completing mini-game rooms. That's in addition to the standard get-all-weapons and complete-all-chapters objectives.
  • Action Girl: Alice, but mainly in the Wonderland sequences. Also a Strange Girl.
  • Air-Aided Acrobatics: Thanks to the steam vents and the ability to use Alice's multi-jumps from it.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: After "defeating" the March Hare and the Dormouse, the Hatter mourns that all he wanted was a tea party and holds a mock one while ignoring both Alice and the falling debris.
  • Alluring Anglerfish: The ice snarks, though they don't actually use their lures you can use said lures to locate the snarks.
  • Amoral Attorney: Radcliffe.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Alice's outfit keeps changing as she travels to different areas of Wonderland, and there's also some DLC outfits that have special effects to go with it.
  • Anti Frustration Feature: You can choose to skip the Musical Fish's mini-game, the mini-game wherein you rearrange the blocks and the Chess mini-game.
  • Arc Words: "What have you done?" Interestingly enough, the answer is nothing. According to the caterpillar, Alice turned a blind eye to abuse because of her willful ignorance. So, yes, she literally had done nothing to stop the abuse.
  • Arm Cannon: See Giant Enemy Crab entry below. Technically, a Pincer Cannon.
  • Artificial Limbs: The DLC "Hattress" costume has Alice sporting a mechanical arm and hand.
  • Art Shift: Cutscenes are shown in a 2D comic-style way.
  • Ascended Extra: The Insane Children didn't have a purpose (or dialogue) in the original game, but appear in the sequel as the fully-voiced inhabitants of the Dollhouse, who are being turned into mindless dolls by the Dollmaker reflecting Bumby brainwashing children into becoming prostitutes.
  • Asshole Victim: Bumby. Yeah, what Alice does at the end is clearly murder, but few players, at least, will hold it against her.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Oh so many of the various enemies, boss or not. Several enemies can shrug off certain weapon attacks when not struck at the correct spot.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: In Chapter 4, Alice gets the chance to rampage around the remains of the Queen of Hearts' garden as a giant.
  • Attack Reflector: Alice's parasol allows her to do the Umbrella Block. Sends all but the most weighty enemy projectiles back at them. A critical technique for eliminating a certain enemy's ability to block.
  • Awesome Yet Practical:
    • The fully-upgraded Teapot Cannon. Even in Nightare Mode, it is able to take down Mooks with a single hit and only needs two hits for certain other enemies, if you hit the right places. It also upgrades ammo capacity at four hits before it heats up too much and cools down much faster.
    • The Dodge move. It's a makeshift sprint ability. It grants invulnerability against enemy attacks during transition. It automatically prevents "dodging" off an edge, say a cliff or platform. No penalty to its amount of use.
  • Back from the Dead: The Mad Hatter, Queen of Hearts, Cheshire Cat and Duchess. AND the Card Guards. These latter have decayed somewhat in the meantime.
  • Background Boss: While the Dollmaker does remain in the safety of background to attack you with its appendages, after a while, it will expose its weak point for you to hurt.
  • Bald Women:
    • Happens to Alice as a result of returning to Rutledge in-game.
    • The Alice: Madness Returns storybook prequel of a sort allows you to interact with a shaver to shave her head as part of the story.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: Most of the game involves Alice wandering the twisted remains of her own mind to unlock her true memories.
  • Be as Unhelpful as Possible: Instead of helping Alice (who is demanding that he help her board the train), The Mad Hatter spends his last moments trying to have a tea party with the Hare and the Dormouse.
    • Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you realize that this is exactly what Alice herself is being in regards to the other children in Bumby's orphanage due to her being too preoccupied with her own problems and pitying herself to notice and/or care about the problems of others.
  • Berserk Button: The ending, where Alice pushes Bumby into the path of a train in a fit of Tranquil Fury when she realizes that he will escape punishment for his crimes against her and the other children.
  • Big Bad: Dr. Bumby, who is trying to get Alice to forget about Wonderland and the house fire to cover his tracks and so he can use her as a prostitute.
  • Bioluminescence Is Cool: Almost every living thing in the Deluded Depths. Heck, even Alice's dress has an angler lure and rows of glowy dots.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Alice has defeated the Dollmaker, saving her mind, and finishes her real world confrontation with Dr. Bumby. At first, it looks like the doctor himself will get off scot-free, until, after turning away and walking a few steps, she turns around and flashes a calm and disturbing smile, walks back up to Bumby, and pushes him into the path of an oncoming train. Then, she walks out... to find that London and Wonderland have blended together.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The Game: Part Two. Even the "real world" isn't.
  • Black Blood: The initial 2D cutscene with the White Rabbit. First some gore, then his head pops like cork with black ooze gushing out.
  • Bleak Level: Out of natural story progression, Chapter 5.
  • Blob Monster: The various Ruin enemies. In Creepy Doll flavor no less.
  • Body Horror:
    • In the opening, Alice has a dream where the White Rabbit randomly explodes in a shower of blood, and then an army of doll hands appear and shred Alice's face off.
    • The brains of the Insane Children are exposed when you first see them.
  • Bonus Feature Failure: Collecting bottles unlock concept art that's already available in other media.
  • Boring but Practical:
    • The Teapot Cannon is easily the most boring weapon in the game. Once upgraded, it does absurd amounts of damage with huge splash, even on the hardest difficulty. Bonus points for a New Game+ where it can allow you to safely break the defenses of enemies in the early game who would cause you massive problems otherwise.
    • A level 4 Vorpal Blade. There's an intrinsic quality to a large kitchen knife that attacks twice to thrice as fast as realistically possible while not requiring a noticeable break in between each strike.
  • Boss Vulnerability:
    • One particular enemy can go into an ethereal state as well as utilize subterranean movement, which renders it invulnerable until it exposes its weakness.
    • The Dollmaker goes into Type 2 territory once you deal with a couple of its appendages, of which are Type 2 themselves from the start. From that point onward it looks like you finally have a chance to hurt the boss directly.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: If you're willing to throw down a couple bucks, you can download a "Dress Pack" that includes alternate costumes and weapons. Some (like the reskinned version of the Pepper Grinder, the Octo-Grinder) deal double damage, and some of the dresses have ancillary benefits. The most powerful is the "Fleshmaiden" dress, which lets you use Hysteria (normally a Super Mode attack that is only available when you're about to die) at any time. The option to buy the dresses is only available for console players, so PC players who didn't preorder the game are left in the dust... unless they edit the game's .ini files to unlock the dresses manually.
  • Broken Bird: Alice.
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth:
    • Whenever Alice dodges, it's always with a slew of butterflies. When she floats, there are butterflies at her sides. And when she dies, she explodes into a swarm of butterflies, and respawns with... yup, butterflies.
    • The Caterpillar becomes a butterfly as the Infernal Train stampedes through his sanctuary.
  • Button Mashing: A level 4 Vorpal Blade attacks so fast with very little delay in between full combos that it seems like you can chain attacks indefinitely.
  • Call Back: The Cheshire Cat's ending monologue is composed almost entirely of stock lines that he said during the first game.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: All the "help" that Alice received during her time in Houndsditch wasn't all that benevolent after all. You show 'em, girl!
  • Catch and Return: One enemy can block, collect, and return-fire your Pepper Grinder shots.
  • Cats Are Snarkers: Back for more it seems.

Alice: "Blasted Cat. Don't try to bully me. I'm very much on edge."
Cheshire Cat: "Purrrfect. When you're not on edge, you're taking up too much space."

  • Chekhov's Gun: In the beginning of the game, while walking around, you can find a girl singing a song.

Little Girl: "The train is coming with its shiny cars. With comfy seats and wheels of stars. So hush my little ones have no fear. The man in the moon is the engineer."

    • The Final Boss repeats it. Seeing what he's doing, it's no wonder why she was singing it.
    • The latter line is actually a possible remnant of an earlier build of the game; one of the final levels was to take place on the moon.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Take a wild guess who sports one of these.
  • Clock Punk-Steampunk-hybrid: Almost everything about the Hatter's Domain. The March Hare-Dormouse Humongous Mecha is the obvious embodiment.
  • Cognizant Limbs: Subverted in that you can only actually hurt a certain boss' appendages one at a time, but later on, both appendages will enter the playing field, which can be individually targeted.
  • Common Knowledge: Once again, this game refers to the Queen of Hearts and the Red Queen as if they are the same character, going so far as to include chess motifs in the design of the Queen of Hearts' castle.
  • Concept Art Gallery: Progressively unlocked in content as you collect more bottles.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: The various levels with identifiable hot liquids. Even platforms that regularly get submerged in them are safe to step on once they emerge.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • If you look at the background in some places of the Deluded Depths, you can see fallen parts of what appear to be the Mad Hatter's factory.
    • Several of Alice's dialogue with characters from the original game.

Alice to Hatter's head: "I recall leaving you in a decrepit condition, but not in pieces."
Alice to Cheshire Cat about the Queen: "Didn't treat you too well either; lost your head as I recall."

  • Cooldown: The ranged weapons.
  • The Corruption: The Ruin, a tarlike substance which can spawn monsters and solidify to block your path.
  • Counter Attack: The principle of the game's combat style, used both by Alice and the various monsters.
  • Crapsack World:
    • What Wonderland has become in the intervening years between the games.
    • The "Real World" as well. This game is not kind to 19th century London.
  • Crashing Dreams: The end cutscene for each chapter is related to the start of the next in this fashion more or less.
  • Creepy Child: The Insane Children.
  • Creepy Doll: The enemies in the Dollhouse level. Alice gets turned into one for a while, with a doll head on her head.
  • Cryptic Conversation: The Cheshire Cat pops in at many points to give cryptic clues and comments to Alice.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: See Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever above. Unless you're horribly careless, that moment will be a cakewalk.
  • Curse Cut Short/Last-Second Word Swap: The Cheshire Cat suffers a near slip in Deluded Depths, Chapter 2. Just as you're about to face the Cannon Crab in melee for the first time in person.

"You're sufficiently fortified to kick some a-... Uh, to boot these creatures' nether regions."

  • Cut and Paste Environments: There are 16 Radula Rooms but only 2 environments to go between them. There are several exceptions where Alice plays a new level of one of the minigames, but she still returns to one of the same 2 environments to collect her reward.
  • Cutscene Boss: "Battle time, Missy."
  • Darker and Edgier: Some feel this way about Alice: Madness Returns compared to the original.
  • Dead Little Sister: Big sister actually.
  • Death Is a Slap on The Wrist: Falling causes you to rematerialize on a nearby platform with no penalty. This actually makes diving into the abyss a viable shortcut in some cases. Being killed by enemies bounces you back to the last checkpoint, which usually isn't that far off. Either way, it's a minor inconvenience.
  • Degraded Boss: The Menacing Ruin. You first encounter it one-on-one, learning how to survive its offenses as well as making it more susceptible to your further counterattacks. Then they appear with slight regularity for the rest of the game as tougher mooks, though not that often.
    • The Colossal Ruin actually gets tougher in repeat appearances, since the first time it retreats before you kill it. However, you'll likely be stronger by the time it shows up again, making defeating it that much easier.
  • Derelict Graveyard: The later parts of Chapter 2, underwater.
  • Desperation Attack/Super Mode: "Hysteria", which activates when your health is down to one rose, and allows you to deal increased damage and be invincible for a limited amount of time.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In the Dollhouse level, there are two dolls you have to pass through. One passage, called "Frog's Way", begins between the legs of a doll that's sitting upright, and you come out it's rear. The second doll is lying on its belly. Again, the entry point is between its legs. You come out of its mouth.
    • Alice needs to tear the clothes off of the doll enemies in order to expose their weak points? The fact that this is the level where Alice comes to the realization that someone must have been in Lizzie's room the night of the fire can hardly be called a coincidence.
  • Double Jump: Up to Eleven with a Quadruple Jump. And a glide feature for each individual jump on top of that. Alice has an absurdly long jumping range that you will almost never take full advantage of.
  • Down in the Dumps: Chapter 5.
  • The Dragon: Possibly what the Executioner is to the Queen Of Hearts.
  • Dream Land: Wonderland.
  • Dream People: Some of Wonderland's characters are reflections of the real-world characters in Alice's mind, so it's subverted?
  • Dronejam: The London areas early in the game.
  • Drop the Hammer: The Hobby Horse.
  • Early Bird Boss: See Degraded Boss above.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: As per the last game. With a brand new villain.
  • Edge Gravity: Applies during targeting, aiming, and/or dodging.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: If Alice isn't already this by default, certain scenes where the lighting can accentuate the effect will make her this. The Queen of Hearts has even more unnaturally-pale skin.
  • Elaborate Equals Effective: As Alice's weapons evolve or upgrade, they become more detailed and elaborate. It even provides the page image for the trope.
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • The Ruin are oily blobs made up of random doll limbs and train parts that are utterly foreign to even the most bizarre realms of Wonderland. They clue the player in that Alice's current problems stem from an outside source.
    • Their master, the Dollmaker, and the Infernal Train their mechanical parts come from. The latter looks like a motorized gothic cathedral that turns Wonderland into a Steampunk hell, and the former is a giant Dr. Bumby, with fountains of oil for eyes and puppets for hands.
    • The Red Queen makes a return despite being dead. Remember, that which is not dead that can eternal lie....
  • Electric Jellyfish: There are red jellyfish in the Deluded Depths that kill you on contact (equivalent to falling), but whether or not they are electric is up to debate.
  • Elegant Gothic Lolita: Alice in most of her getups, but especially in Chapter 1.
  • Embedded Precursor: Certain versions of Alice: Madness Returns include a copy of the original game, newly outfitted with achievements.
  • Enemy Mine: The Queen of Hearts begrudgingly assists Alice on her quest to find the Infernal Train, not because she genuinely wants to help, but because she's angered that the Train has more or less made her irrelevant.
  • Escape Sequence: In Queensland from the Executioner. That is, until the Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever trope kicks in.
  • Eternal Engine: Hatter's Domain. Used to construct the Infernal Train under the management of a rogue March Hare and Dormouse.
  • Everything Fades: Corpses rapidly decay out of existence. Averted with Phys X on, where corpses, residue and damage shows and stays.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: The Card Guards. The Queen of Hearts Castle may count too, since it's a castle made out of rotting flesh.
  • Evil Counterpart: Alice's is the Infernal Train, which is her own subconsciousness.
  • Face Heel Turn: The Dormouse and March Hare are now both evil.
  • Fail O'Suckyname: Let's face it, the name Angus Bumby is kind of hard to take seriously, even after you find out what he did to Lizzy and the other orphans.
  • Fake Memories: See the Retcon and Trauma-Induced Amnesia entries below.
  • Final Boss, New Dimension: The dimension being the Infernal Train that wrecks all others it passes through.
  • Fishing for Mooks: Drifting Ruin in some areas will be floating about not bothering you, but are within Pepper Grinder range. Though they can't be hurt when their doll face is hidden, they can be aggro'd individually.
  • Flash Step: Alice's dodge move is her exploding into butterflies that flash across the screen. During this, she can't be hurt.
  • Floating Continent: Not a continent, but several glorified floating structures made out of cards in Cardbridge.
  • Floating Platforms: The game is a platformer after all. Includes the almost invisible variety. The ultimate expression of this would be Cardbridge.
  • Foreshadowing: A lot, especially in the memories.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Averted in several instances, of which the most spectacular would be the Executioner accidentally one-hit-killing the lesser undead Card Guards when he misses with his scythe.
  • Gatling Good: The Pepper Grinder doesn't have multiple barrels, has no spinning aside from the crank, and its level 4 upgrade ups the rate of fire to about 500 to 600 rounds per minute? If anything it just looks and sounds like a Gatling weapon in action.
  • Ghibli Hills/Green Hill Zone: Technically not the first environment you start controlling Alice from, but once you enter Wonderland shortly after. And then you go down the slide....
  • Ghost Pirate: One enemy type, except they aren't explicitly stated to be pirates. More of sailors.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: The Cannon Crabs who are also Cigar Chompers that light the fuse of their cannons with said cigars.
  • Giant Hands of Doom: One boss uses this.
  • Giant Mook: The Ruin enemies have their larger variants with corresponding threat potentials, namely the Colossal Ruin. Also one particular Doll and Wasp enemy. See also Giant Enemy Crab entry above.
  • Giant Poofy Sleeves: Somewhat for a few dresses. Look at the main page image above for an idea. One DLC dress feature red and white chess-piece knights for epaulet-sleeves.
  • Giant Waist Ribbon: All of Alice's dress have ribbons, although they are stylized to fit in with her dress, so they may be unnoticeable until further inspection.
  • Gimmick Level: The Oriental Scrolls.
  • Girl with Psycho Weapon: As seen in the page picture. Bonus points for hysteria mode where Alice's color palette turns black and white, her arms get covered in blood, and her eyes cry blood.
  • Go for the Eye: Guess which enemy is most easily dispatched in this manner.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Alice's tenuous grip on reality is shot right in the face when she realizes the circumstances behind her family's death.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Alluded to in one memory where Alice's older sister says how she smoked a cigarette and it was of no fun, then subsequently declaring interest for trying a pipe in future.
    • Meanwhile, the Hookah-smoking caterpillar is an obvious example of a Good Smoker in this game.
    • The Cannon Crabs smoke cigars.
  • Gusty Glade: Courtesy of the Yeti.
  • Hair Flip: Usually due to the physics (or Physx as it may be), rigorous movement like wildly mashing directional keys or the shrinking key produces some rather pleasant looking hairplay.
  • Hammerspace: Probably where Alice keeps her weapons, like the Teapot Cannon, the Hobby Horse and the Pepper Grinder. There isn't enough space to keep them all in her dress.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Most major NPCs end up giving you one. Or five.
  • Harder Than Hard/Idiosyncratic Difficulty Level: Nightmare Difficulty.
  • Harmless Freezing: The Ice Snark's freezing breath doesn't so much as nick a rose petal, but immobilizes Alice nonetheless. Costumes that depict her bare-legged especially apply.
  • Heel Face Turn: Many of the antagonists from the first game help Alice, including The Duchess, The Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts (to serve her own means).
  • Heroic Willpower: Near the end, Alice is forced into a doll body. As she tumbles down a chute, she regains control and bursts from the doll in her Wonderland outfit.
  • Hit and Run Tactics: Downplayed a little due to the general effectiveness of the ranged weapons, but as far as melee strategies go, is quite essential against the larger, more dangerous and resilient mooks.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Nanny is definitely this, considering how troublesome of a child Alice has turned out to be.
  • Hornet Hole: In this case, Samurai Wasps. They invaded the domain of the Origami Ants and are infesting the honeycomb-like environment.
  • Hypno Fool: One of the many trusted methods of Dr. Bumby, who wants to help Alice forget her memories of the fire. Because he's the one who caused it.
  • Idle Animation:
    • After not moving her for a while, Alice will either yawn and stretch or clasp her hands behind her back and rock back and forth on her feet.
    • Real-world Alice instead hugs herself then breaths into her palms and rubs them for warmth, or just plain lean forward towards the left or right to glance around.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: Alice's underwater clothing. It's bio-luminescent and has an angler for a "tail" of sorts. The DLC clothing is equally impossible, especially the flesh dress.
  • Improbable Weapon User/Improvised Weapon: You get to kill enemies using a hobby horse, a teapot and a pepper grinder.
  • Inconveniently-Placed Conveyor Belt: An interesting variant of the Conveyor Belt of Doom where parts of the belt (scroll?), marked as a burning Chinese word for "fire", itself are lethal to Alice in the Mysterious East chapter.
  • Inertial Dampening: The falling-into-Wonderland sequences. Alice magically "brakes" to a slow descent before her feet touches the ground.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Averted. In real life, Alice is disturbing, but harmless. It takes extreme provocation to make her do anything beyond shouting.
  • Instant 180-Degree Turn: That, or near-instant, as Alice's hair can be seen flailing briefly.
  • Interface Screw: One of the battles with the ghost sailors has never-ending waves of Slithering Ruin spawn with him. Though basically harmless, it makes keeping a target lock on him (to destroy his bombs and stun him) nearly impossible. You either have to free-aim or get him to melee.
  • Invisible Wall: Visible ones, everywhere in the game. You can jump up to it, but you just cannot land on it.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Radcliffe sees Alice's desire to find out what happened on the night of the fire to be futile, but he still supports her.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: A literal, fridge brilliancy and kid of meta example: Pay close attention and you'll notice that Alice's Sanity Slippage gets noticeable deranged spikes after each slide you go down.
  • Karmic Death: Bumby is pushed into the path of a train after his Wonderland incarnation attempted to destroy the land using the Infernal Train.
  • Knife Nut: See page image above.
  • The Lab Rat: The Dormouse now has wheels for legs when you first see him.
  • Last Lousy Point: Subverted/Inverted. If you are missing just one collectible of any type after completing the game, the summary page on the main screen will oddly enough show 100%. Presumably it rounds up instead of down.
  • Little Miss Badass: Sure she's 19 already but still, the kinds of foes you have to overcome in the game...
  • Loading Screen: This one gives you tips and hints. It also offers relevant quotes.
  • Locomotive Level: Not much of one anyway. You take Alice to trigger one set of cutscenes to another before your first real boss fight.
  • Logo Joke:
    • From EA to a Cheshire Cat Grin.
    • A sign hanging outside a pub in London looks exactly like Spicy Horse's logo.
  • Lolicon: Subverted in a disturbing nature.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me:
    • The parasol will block many kinds of attacks from ever reaching Alice's rose petals. See also Attack Reflector entry above.
    • The shield-bearing[1] Madcap.
  • Lurid Tales of Doom: The newspapers in the Houndsditch Home.
  • Macro Zone: Chapter 3, past the Vale Of Doom.
  • Made of Evil: The Ruin are pure, concentrated negative emotions. Many players have compared them to the Heartless from Kingdom Hearts.
  • Madness Mantra: The Dormouse. "A good worker is a live worker! Paid to live and work! A bad worker, is a dead worker; and vice versa! Don't be a bad worker, bad workers are slaves! And dead! Payday for good workers has been suspended indefinitely! Payday for bad workers is CANCELLED! A good worker is a live worker! Paid to live and work! A bad worker—" It becomes the Most Annoying Sound if you happen to get stuck on that level though.
  • Manipulative Bastard:
    • The Carpenter forces Alice to run his errands so he can finally finish organizing a play, which turns out to be a front for The Walrus to eat both the entertainment and the audience.
    • More importantly, Dr. Bumby. His apparent "therapy" is a front to brainwash his child charges into mindless prostitutes that he can rent to wealthy clients, and his "treatment" of Alice is just a convenient way of disposing of any remaining evidence connecting him to the death of the Liddel family.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Right before Alice kills Bumby, she becomes "Wonderland Alice", her dress and physical features changing. It's unlikely that this was truly a physical transformation, but Bumby's shocked expression indicates he clearly noticed something. Whether he was simply surprised by her sudden confidence or had some spiritual hallucination, it's hard to say.
  • The Maze: A small one, just before you find the cake. Hard to get lost though.
  • Mental World: Wonderland.
  • Mind Screw: The London/Wonderland transitions make sense only on the first two or three occasions, given that some explanation is given as to how Alice ended up where she awoke. About halfway through though, logic starts to collapse: first, Radcliffe disappears halfway through a conversation with Alice and his townhouse is reduced to a condemned hovel; then Alice emerges from the Mysterious East level in jail, having been found in the street, screaming about trains, with no way of telling just how much she saw was real or imagined. Then the Rutledge asylum level crops up, and suddenly, Alice's so-called real world appears to have lost what little sanity it possessed. And then there's the final levels and the epilogue.
  • Mini Boss: The largest Ruin and Doll enemies.
  • Money Grinding/Money for Nothing: It's possible to just complete the first chapter over and over to max out your weapons, giving you full power long before you'd normally have it (sometime in Chapter 5, usually). Once you do though, any teeth you collect are only good for use with the Hattress dress, which uses them in place of health.
  • Money Multiplier: The Steam dress increases breakables teeth drops. The Silk Maiden dress increases enemy teeth drops. This only works after you've beaten the game though.
  • Money Spider: Almost every enemy (save Zerg Rush types like the Boltflies) drops teeth, which are the game's currency for purchasing weapon upgrades.
  • Monster Compendium: As well as other characters, accessible from the menu. Subverted in that the "detailed information" is just basically Alice's opinion for each entry.
  • Mook Maker: To generate the Bolterflies and Ink Wasps.
  • More Dakka: The purpose of upgrading the Pepper Grinder.
  • Mythology Gag: The Vorpal Blade is found upon the remains of the Jabberwock.
  • Narrative Filigree: Some memories qualify. The London segments also, with all their details that serve no purpose other than to establish locations and act as background props.
  • New Game+: Mainly to run through the story again with upgraded weapons and dresses. Also so you can break the couple of shells (for a few measly drops) on top of the slide that leads to the remains of the Jabberwock and the Vorpal Blade.
  • Nigh Invulnerability: The Executioner.
  • Nightmarish Factory: The Mad Hatter's domain, which is used to build the Infernal Train.
  • Nintendo Hard: The Royal Flush outfit is an optional version, reducing you to a maximum of four roses. Then there's Nightmare difficulty, where Alice's weapons only deal 75% of the default damage while she will receive three times the damage from everything else. Now put them together.
  • Non-Human Undead: The Card Guards, from the first game, are now this.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Just look at the working environment of the Automatons in Hatter's Domain with the new establishment.
  • No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom: The London levels, with no enemies, platforming, or collectibles, may as well be straight corridors. The rest of the game is riddled with hidden things off to the sides of the main path, though.
    • Chapter 6 is a straight run to the end, same as the London sequences. This makes a bit of sense, since Alice keeps popping back to London every time you change areas.
  • Nostalgia Level: The Vale of Tears, the Hatter's Domain, and even Queensland. But In Name Only. Wonderland was warped again since the previous game, leading to those levels becoming Remixed Levels.
  • Obstacle Slide Course: Burning sludge patches litter the slide sections of the game.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: The Steam dress is made of one which only binds the mid-torso region.
  • Offscreen Start Bonus: The first time you play as 2D Alice in Chapter 3. Head left immediately for your first peach.
  • Oh Crap:
    • Played HILARIOUSLY when the Executioner corners Alice, only for her to eat a cake to make her grow giant. He drops his scythe (and his jaw, and probably his lunch too) and then gets up close and personal with Alice's foot.
    • Done more seriously at the end, when Bumby sees Alice's Slasher Smile and realizes he's messed with the wrong girl.
  • The Oldest Profession: It's a big theme of the game, and it is not romanticized. At all.
  • Ominous Fog: The Hyde Park sequence.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: The Queen Of Hearts actually uses this phrase after Alice maims the the first of the various heart organs protected underneath cannon towers.
  • Our Goblins Are Wickeder: The Madcaps.
  • Palette Swap: The Insidious Ruin in Queensland have a reddish hue instead.
  • Parachute Petticoat: How Alice rides air vents.
    • Also how she slows her descent in the air.
  • Petal Power: Alice can heal herself using the huge violets.
  • Pressure Plate: Once in the original game, many in this.
  • Psychological Torment Zone: Wonderland gets corrupted and manipulated by the Wonderland manifestation of the Big Bad in Alice's mind.
  • Puzzle Pan: Especially in the later chapters as the landscape gets seemingly more non-linear, but isn't.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: The entire reason Dr. Bumby is such a vile villain.
    • Also present as a way of showing Even Evil Has Standards, as the crooks in the bad part of town make some lecherous and perverted comments towards Alice, but let her be when she says "no".
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin:
    • Wonderland Alice. For the white part, it could be due to the lighting or even the graphic rendering.
    • Reality Alice is even more dual-toned than Wonderland Alice, minus the bonus costumes.
  • Real Time Weapon Change: Finisher combos are quite damaging in this fashion. Also results in an achievement for using the Hobby Horse, switching to the Vorpal Blade, then back to the Horse in a single combo.
  • Red Filter of Doom: Mainly in the 2D cutscenes whenever they show.
  • Red Sky, Take Warning: Not necessarily of an incoming threat, but just as you leave Radcliffe's disused premises and move along the streets, the sky seems to be burning in the horizon until the full picture comes into view.
  • Remixed Level: The Vale Of Tears, Hatter's Domain and Queensland.
  • Respawning Enemies: In addition to the situations involving Mook Makers, this is used in several situations to screw up your auto-targeting:
    • One part in Chapter 3 has ever-replenishing blob monsters harassing you as you try to make dangerous jumps across lethal muck.
    • A battle against a Drowned Sailor has Slithering Ruin constantly respawning in groups of four. Since sailors vanish frequently, it's impossible to maintain a target lock.
    • There are a few instances of Slithering Ruin doing this with Menacing Ruin, as well, but it's not nearly as bad as with the sailor.
    • Also the Colossal Ruin in the Dollhouse.
  • Retcon: The opening of the original shows that the fire that killed Alice's parents was caused by her cat knocking over a carelessly lit lantern. Alice: Madness Returns implies that this is actually a fabricated memory brought on by Alice's mental trauma, and the point of the game is to find out what actually happened that night before her repressed memories drive her insane again. Not to mention the fact that there is no mention of a sister in the first game.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: The breakables, which basically nets the equivalent of cash and medkits. They also spit out a Slithering Ruin on occasion, but it's no real threat.
  • Runaway Train/Afterlife Express: The Infernal Train, which is a literal train of thought plowing its way through Wonderland.
  • Rustproof Blood: The blood stains on Alice's classic dress will always be there, red as ever.
  • Sanity Slippage: You can see this in the game, especially at certain points like the asylum "level" with Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Even in Wonderland itself, whenever blood and destruction start appearing. Those make it quite obvious that Alice's mental health is taking a turn for the worse. The instances where Alice goes back to Wonderland from Victorian London count as well.
  • Scenery Porn/Scenery Gorn: The artwork of the whole game is beautiful. Even the levels of the "ruined" Wonderland.
  • Sequel Gap: Both in-universe and in real life. Alice: Madness Returns was made 11 years after the original game, and revolves around Alice having spent a decade in therapy and an asylum.
    • Except that she had already spent a decade in therapy in the first game, where she was 18 years old, while in Alice: Madness Returns, she is 19. American McGee didn't want to make controversy with an underaged heroine in a bloody game.
  • Sequel Hook: Or is it? Bumby is dead, and Alice has found out how her family died. But as she exits the train station, the "real world" of London has merged with the fantasy world of Wonderland (the soundtrack refers to this track as "Into Londerland"), and she is wearing a dress that previously existed only in her mind. The Cheshire Cat also has a little monologue at the end that hints at another sequel.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness:
    • How the Octopus snarks about the Carpenter.

"For starters, the Carpenter is a pusillanimous, parsimonious, pettifogging moron."

    • Even goes into a bit of Sophisticated As Hell territory when he drops the very next line after Alice responds:

Alice: "...I need-"
Octopus: "Your needs are shite."

    • Alice herself gets in on this: the art section in the extras menu has biographies on the various characters and enemies in the game written from Alice's point of view. She has quite the impressive vocabulary.
  • Shoot the Bullet: One way of stunning an ethereal enemy once it starts chucking explosives at Alice.
  • Shout-Out: You'll find one hidden staircase in the Queen's Castle that leads down to a tiny throne. In it sits a small skeleton sporting goggles and a Pstandard Psychic Pstance...
    • Speaking of which, the collapse of her tower, complete with eye on top, recalls the demise of a certain ethereal tyrant.
  • Shows Damage:
    • The Giant Enemy Crab enemy in the game loses its Arm Cannon in a Type 3B fashion. Yet the most flamboyant one has got to be the Doll Girl. Alice can first strip its clothes off, remove its arms, crack open its torso, and finally waste the huge abomination by destroying the heart.
    • The Samurai Wasps' masks can be broken, although sometimes it's possible to kill them without breaking their attire.
    • The Madcaps lose their cup helmets. The Menacing Ruin loses its doll arms and faces. Even the Bolterfly nest has a "damaged" model.
    • An interface one where the closer you are to qualifying for Hysteria, the more cracked the borders of the Main Window become.
  • Shrinking Violet: Literally. There are violet flowers that indicate invisible stuff nearby. Alice can see it if she shrinks.
  • Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom: A few interior levels of the game.
  • Snow Means Death: A motif of Hysteria, where Alice and her view turns monochrome, save for a few explicitly red objects like blood and roses, just to accentuate the moment.
  • Speak Ill of the Dead: A loading screen quote asks us, "If the living can be spoken ill of, why not the dead?".
  • Spikes of Doom: The Dollhouse level interiors. Which are basically nails sticking out from wooden surfaces.
  • Spin Attack: Chaining Vorpal slashes or switching to it from the Hobby Horse results in this.
  • Splash Damage: Most notably the Teapot Cannon. Which leads to....
  • Splash Damage Abuse: Just before your first encounter with the Ink Wasps, you can use the Teapot Cannon's splash radius to destroy even the furthest Ink Wasp Stone, allowing you to rid the area of enemies (save one actual Samurai Wasp) before triggering the cutscene that introduces the Ink Wasp.
  • Spring Jump/Springy Spores: The red and blue spring mushrooms. Red propels Alice to somewhere higher in the map, blue sends Alice to the next map, often the top of a slide.
  • Start Screen: But no Attract Mode, at least for the PC version. The video file is still there in the game's folders, but won't play for whatever reason.
  • Strapped to An Operating Table: Not to mention after being shaved. In a straightjacket. In an asylum.
  • Stripperiffic: Averted mostly. Only the two costumes, one chapter based and one DLC, reveal Alice's bare legs, and only one of that two actually shows some cleavage. A couple other DLC costumes also go as far as showing her shoulders and a bit of cleavage, but even these are less form-fitting than usual.
  • Super Drowning Skills/Super Not-Drowning Skills: Played straight in order in Chapter 2. In the tundra, if you touch the water, that's it for Alice. Once past a certain submersion sequence, the game resumes normally. Underwater. With no breathing apparatus whatsoever. Plus there's perfectly clear and audible dialogue underwater as it would be in air.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted, of course, since Alice sees Dr Bumby regularly. And then double subverted, since it turns out that Bumby's trying to hypnotize Alice into forgetting all her memories so she can become a prostitute.
  • Third-Person Seductress: The author intended that London Alice looks like she is dying of starvation, and while she is slim, she is surprisingly shapely. On the other hand, the Wonderland Alice is quite curvy and attractive, when it's not horribly creepy.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: The Carpenter and The Walrus. To a lesser extent, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Even some of the memories you retrieve are suspect.
  • Time Bomb: The clockwork bomb. Its only real use is as a temporary paperweight to hold down switches. What little use it has in combat is overshadowed by Alice's other weapons, especially the Teapot cannon later on.
  • Toy Time: The Dollhouse level. The slides which bring you to the next section of the game could count as well.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Okay, so the fire killed the Liddell household except young Alice. The time in Rutledge suggests Alice remembering things differently if the collected "Alice" memories are anything to go by. See also the Retcon entry.
  • Under the Sea: The Deluded Depths in Chapter 2.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Doll head side-scroller level. Games of chess. A shoot-em-up level featuring a boat. It's all here.
  • The Unfought: The March Hare and Dormouse try to confront Alice in a Humongous Mecha after apparently disposing of Hatter, only to be thwarted by Hatter himself before they can even throw a punch.
  • Vent Physics: Staple of the game's platforming.
  • Victorian London: Where Alice's "real life" segments occur between levels.
  • Videogame Dashing: The Dodge move. Also has the handy property of making you invincible until you reform.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Dr. Bumby, which he points out to Alice when she finally confronts him and threatens to expose him. After all, who are people going to believe: the respected and upstanding member of society, or the raving lunatic who spent ten years locked up at Rutledge?
  • Walk, Don't Swim: The Deluded Depths.
  • Warmup Boss: The Menacing Ruin introduces you to the concept of deflecting enemy projectiles as well as an opponent that hurts you and eats punishment a lot more than most other enemies encountered up till that point.
  • Water Is Air: Ballistics and airborne movement in the second half of Chapter 2 are not affected by the environment. Takes a turn for the weird when you realize that the Siren costume has its own physics. That means any other costume used underwater will behave like Alice was in air. Conversely, using the Siren costume in non-underwater areas makes it look like only Alice is underwater while her immediate surroundings are in air.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Carpenter sunk ships to build the theater town to protect the citizens from the Infernal Train.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: A few characters, both in Wonderland and reality. Is the Mock Turtle still brooding over his loss? How about Witless and Radcliffe?
  • Where I Was Born and Razed: Subverted. It wasn't Alice who caused the fire, and seems like it also wasn't who or what she initially thought was either.
  • White Mask of Doom: Found on the various Ruins. Static and creepy-looking.
  • Womb Level: The interior of the Queensland castle remains more or less as per the first game.
  • A Worldwide Punomenon: The leaflets for the weapons acquired:
    • Teapot Cannon:"Throw an instant tea party. It will be a blast!" Considering that the weapon is essentially a grenade launcher...
    • Hobby Horse:"Stampede through the opposition! A SMASHING HIT!!!" Your sledgehammer in Wonderland.
      • The Knightmare from the DLC, referencing (but not limited to) a female horse, nightmare (duh), and a Visual Pun.
    • One of the loading screen tips tells you to "season enemies at range" with the pepper grinder.
      • The Eye-pot enemies.
  • Wreaking Havok: The PC version of the game touts expansive use of PhysX effects, where the Pepper Grinder spews clouds of dynamically shifting pepper into the air, rocks smash into tiny shards, and the Ruins break down into piles of procedurally animated goo.
  • Your Head Asplode: In the opening cutscene we have Alice and the White Rabbit happily drinking tea whilst drifting down a river... then the Rabbit starts twitching and oozing goo before his head pops off like a cork in a shower of Black Blood.
  1. (read:teapot cover)