American McGee's Alice is a third-person action game released for PC on October 6, 2000. The game, developed by Rogue Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts, is set in the universe of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Alice was designed by American McGee and features music composed by Chris Vrenna.
The game is based on the id Tech 3 engine first used in Quake III Arena. A PlayStation 2 port was in development but was canceled. Notably, the game's box art was altered after release to show Alice holding the Icewand instead of a bloodied vorpal sword, and to reduce the skeletal character of the Cheshire Cat's anatomy. EA cited complaints from various consumer groups as its reason for altering the original art, though McGee stated the alteration was made due to internal concerns at EA. A third version of the box art has Alice holding the Cards in her hands instead of a sword or wand.
Alice has grown in value and become a collector's item since its release, with new copies selling for $100-200 on auction sites and used copies selling for close to $100. The game is prized in the order of its release artwork with the Vorpal Sword, a.k.a. "bloody knife," version being highly valued, followed closely by the Ice Wand release and, finally, the comparatively innocuous Hand of Cards version.
Set years after Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, the game features an older, more cynical and macabre incarnation of Alice.
Shortly after her second adventure, Alice's house is burned down by an accidental fire, killing her family, and leaving her as the only survivor. Due to her survivor's guilt, she tries to commit suicide (bandages can be seen on her wrists), and becomes catatonic. She is institutionalized in Rutledge Asylum, where she remains insane and is consistently mistreated by the workers. Ten years later, the White Rabbit summons Alice to aid a radically altered Wonderland, which became a twisted version of itself as it came under the despotic rule of the Queen of Hearts. The Cheshire Cat serves as Alice's companion throughout the game, frequently appearing to guide her with cryptic comments.
The game's setting presents a considerably more macabre rendition of Wonderland than seen in Lewis Carroll's original portrayal. Wonderland, being a creation of Alice's mind, has been corrupted by her insanity, which becomes the prevailing theme of the game; if Alice manages to save Wonderland, she will restore her own sanity as well.
The new Wonderland is composed of nine provinces. When Alice falls down the rabbit hole, she finds herself in the Village of the Doomed, the home of the Torch Gnomes. The Village of the Doomed is composed of a network of tunnels and caves, patrolled by the Queen of Hearts' card guards. Beyond the subterranean village is the Fortress of Doors, where the main attraction is a school of insane but harmless children. Within the school lies an ancient book of recipes for magic potions, as well as the ingredients for one concoction in particular which will be useful to Alice.
Beyond the fortress and across a rough, uncharted landscape lies the Vale of Tears, where Alice's friends Bill McGill and the Mock Turtle reside, along with the cannibalistic Duchess. A giant river runs throughout the gloomy, mist-shrouded landscape, and another aquatic location is accessible through a well inside Bill McGill's house. The well is sealed until the Duchess is slain.
On the other side of the Vale of Tears lies Wonderland Woods, one of the largest regions in the game. The woods are initially filled by ponds, cliffs and jump mushrooms, but much deeper into the woods is a region of rock and magma. This section leads to several new regions including the Cave of the Oracle, the Pale Realm, the Jabberwock's Lair, and the Majestic Maze. The Cave of the Oracle is home to a wise entity that is revealed later to be the Caterpillar.
The Pale Realm makes a transition to the surface of a chessboard, as delving further into this area leads to the White Castle of Looking Glass Land, which is home to life-size chess pieces; the White pieces join Alice in the fight against the Red pieces, a deviation from her normally unhelpful "allies" from earlier portions of the game. Alice is twice transformed into a chess piece herself to pass certain obstacles.
Following this is a distorted version of Rutledge Asylum (where Alice has been incarcerated since her parents' tragic deaths). It is run by Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and also houses the Mad Hatter's laboratory.
The path to the Jabberwock's Lair leads into the Land of Fire and Brimstone, a volcanic region of Wonderland and a reminder of the fire in which her family died. It is here that the terrible Jabberwock a semi-mechanized servant of the Queen of Hearts and the incarnation of Alice's guilt resides, in the remains of Alice's old home.
The Majestic Maze ends on the road to Queen of Hearts Land, a region heavily guarded by card guards, boojums, and other members of the Queen of Hearts' personal army.
Queensland is the final province of Wonderland. In it lies the Heart Palace from which the Queen of Hearts commands. Tentacles and other repulsive appendages are seen protruding from every organic wall in this area, and numerous areas even resemble body parts, giving the impression that Alice is travelling through her own body.