Developer: Walt Disney
Price: $4.99 Download on the App Store
There's speculation that Lewis Carroll was Jack the Ripper. Tim Burton, with his Edward-Goreyesque artistic tastes and his fascination with lovable corpses and the like, might be a kindred spirit.
But their collaboration across centuries in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland (the movie,) has inspired a diabolically twisted and addictive version of Alice in Wonderland (the app). It’s a game you’ll want to play at home, not on the bus or as a time-waster. You’ll need to immerse in Wonderland and concentrate. And you'll love it.
But first, a warning: The game controls in Alice the app are translucent overlays that you can “lose” at crucial moments. This can be incredibly frustrating because “Alice” combines action with puzzle solving. If you've solved the puzzle and are now working your way through the necessary—though sometimes irritating—already-discovered actions, it's maddening to be betrayed by a one-pixel finger error.
As you move through Alice's Wonderland, you'll find inscriptions rendered in a lovely flowing hand, as well as other important information delivered in a delightfully 19th-century serif font. Though hard to read on the iPhone’s small screen, it's a thematically perfect choice and I can't wait to play Alice in Wonderland on an iPad where the larger screen will allow graphically rich apps like Alice to be showcased.
Yes, this game is gorgeous—from those crippling translucent controls and stylized notes to the intricately drawn moving parts and backgrounds. Alice the app isn't full of graphic failings where functionality has not been disregarded; those are choices, sacrificed for a visual theme. Wonderland is an app just weeks ahead of its time and will become even more popular on the iPad.
Carroll’s sense of the absurd is approximated (or borrowed) throughout; If you love Wonderland as much as I do, you’ll find it evoked effectively throughout the game.
The Alice in Wonderland app uses puzzles that are maddening but not insoluble. The puzzles involve trips through the looking glass and deft use of the powers of the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, the March Hare, and the Mad Hatter. Death can come in many ways, but usually consists of starting over just a few steps earlier in the puzzle.
The controls, if crippled, are also simple. Alice goes forward and backward, jumps, and reads/uses items. The four other main characters have similarly simple ranges of action and each has a different skill. Your task is to figure out the solution to a puzzle, then combine simple actions by each of the characters into the right sequence to make your solution work. The haunting score sets the mood perfectly.
Disney's Alice in Wonderland app is worth the money, and will leave a smile long after the app is gone.