Alice is Dead: Episode Two
Have you heard the news? Alice is Dead. In 2009, Mike Morin and his team released an unsettling little fairy-tale-gone-wrong that became a breakout success, and the sequel has finally arrived. Alice is Dead Episode Two picks up immediately where the first left off and provides a tantalizing bit of exposition before things go from bad to worse. It's time to warm up your point-and-click skills if you ever hope to solve this mystery. Just make sure you put the kids to bed first before you play this one. (And play the first episode if you haven't already!)
The game is played with the mouse, clicking on objects to pick them up or find out more about them. If an object appears in your inventory, you can use it by clicking on it once, then on where you want to make use of it. Unlike other point-and-click or escape titles, the cursor won't change if you can interact with an area. Fortunately, areas are small and well designed so that there's very little pixel hunting, if any. You can navigate between areas or look around by clicking the hearts at the edges of the screen.
The puzzles this time are a bit more involved, but not by much. Most of them make an appropriately mad sort of sense if you apply Wonderland logic to it. Even if your brain doesn't work that way, all the puzzles in the game can be solved just by paying careful attention to your surroundings and the information you've been given. If you get stuck, just stop and take a closer look at items in your vicinity... or a closer listen. Just keep your eyes open for any secrets you might trip over.
Analysis: The good news is that the second episode in this strange series continues the high standards of quality the original set. The bad news is that those of you who were hoping for a lengthy escapade into this twisted Wonderland are going to be disappointed. While it might take you a little longer to complete than its predecessor, the sequel is still going to leave you wanting more. Whether that's good or bad depends on how patient you are, as this installment also ends on another cliffhanger with the promise of more to come.
Frankly, if this sequel is any indicator, the old adage holds true; good things come to those who wait. The idea of a twisted Wonderland is hardly one that's gone unexplored before in pop culture, but something about it provides fertile ground for the imagination. While you'll likely sail through it in half an hour at the very most, you'll want to drag your feet the entire way. Morin's Wonderland is revealed in tiny bits and pieces gleaned from your surroundings, and feels like an early draft from Tim Burton as edited by Quentin Tarantino, who thankfully deemed Johnny Depp in pancake makeup too weird to make an appearance here. I honestly think that the Alice series boasts some of the best and most appropriate artwork I've ever seen in a point-and-click game, with everything from the character designs to the environment perfectly suited to the mood and theme. The series' signature creepy-cool music makes a comeback, and the voice work by Joshua Tomar is very well done.
While it lacks the some creepy punch the first installment had, except perhaps for a peek through a wall that may send you some shivers, Alice is Dead Episode Two is still fun, imaginative, and, most importantly, wonderfully weird. I may wish it had been longer and a bit more complex, but that's just the greed talking. As a snack-sized portion of gaming for your day, it does not disappoint. Oh, and make sure you hang around until the end of the credits. You might just make a new friend. Enjoy your nightmare fuel, dear.
Play all 3 games in the Alice is Dead series: