American Mcgee’s Alice and Mental Illness

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American McGee’s Alice is a game that I have been wanting to play, but at the time I could only get the sequel: Alice: Madness Returns on Origin. Last week, I saw a Facebook ad that Humble Bundles released Alice: Madness Returns – The Complete Edition so I decided to get the game again so I could play the original game and get the fun DLC for the sequel which include like new costumes and weapons. I am very glad I did as I loved this game especially due to how it portrayed mental illness!

Background

American McGee’s Alice is a horror interpretation of Alice in Wonderland by American McGee. Alice’s parents died in a fire while she was asleep. She managed to wake up and flee, but her parents did not survive. Alice could not cope so she became catatonic and was put in an asylum until she woke up. Alice goes into Wonderland after her stuffed rabbit appears to beg her for help.

Alice is in Wonderland which has been deformed showing how her mental state has declined. The Queen has corrupted Wonderland turning into a land of ruin and horror. You can see her corruption in the form of tentacles that have spread throughout the different levels. The inhabitants of Wonderland are also corrupted with the Chesire cat being so thin you can see his bones and horrendous creatures such as the boojum roaming around. The music also has a psychological effect on the gamer with eerie synths mixed in with old children’s toys. Occasionally a haunting chorus or mechanical like sounds will be in the soundtrack as well. This music also shows just how much Alice’s mental state has deteriorated since the tragic loss of her parents. Alice’s mental state is also part of the game. Your health bar is a Sanity meter which deteriorates as you take hits and powerful attacks can only be used through Willpower which is like the magic in this game. Most weapons except for the beginning weapon require Willpower to use.

The Loss of Innocence

When the game begins, Alice sees The White Rabbit which kinda resembles her stuffed rabbit except The White Rabbit is in better shape. Alice’s first task is to track down her beloved Rabbit with the help of Chesire’s advice. Chesire serves as Alice’s guide throughout the game. I believe you could ask him for hints as a button exists for that, but it doesn’t work in the remastered version that I played. I believe he also looks so thin because Alice has a real black cat and if the cat survived the first it would also be very thin.

Alice’s first area is a short mining area where the workers have been enslaved. They no longer have a will to fight back so they just do as The Queen says. Alice only wants to look for her Rabbit so she mostly ignores them. Then she goes to a school with Insane Children. Unlike Alice, there is no hope for these children. They are lost in their madness and have been experimented on by someone. They represent various mental illnesses like the happy and crying one symbolizing being bipolar. Alice is different from them as there is hope that she can still wake up from Wonderland and won’t be lost in her madness. Alice must gather ingredients from the school to grow smaller so she can find the Rabbit who shrunk himself.

Finally, the last world is The Vale of Tears which shows Alice’s grief as the water is literally tears from her statue. The first boss is The Duchess who enjoys killing people and The Queen lets her. She’s the first boss which shows you just how corrupted Wonderland has become.

After finally catching up to The White Rabbit, she loses him in The Vale of Tears. The White Rabbit is squished by The Mad Hatter who has grown quite mad. Alice loses the one friend she wanted to see most and she does not know how to go on. She feels that death follows her everywhere. Mentally, Alice cannot recognize that she is not responsible for her parents’ death. The Voracious Centipede is the next boss she faces who is Alice’s last obstacle before she can grow up. Alice shrunk into a small state so she can be with her Rabbit. Now that her childhood has been destroyed with the Rabbit’s death, Alice must grow up by eating a Mushroom which allows her to physically grow and face the Queen.

Facing Guilt

Alice ends up in a hellish landscape which acts as a hub world. This world connects to the next set of levels before Alice will finally fight The Queen. But, Alice must first go through this hell and find pieces of for the Jabberwocky staff which will open the door to The Queen.

While Alice is finding these pieces, she is captured by The Mad Hatter. The Mad Hatter shows just how “mad” Wonderland has become. He has turned himself into a machine and has started doing experiments on The Dormouse, The March Hare, and The Gryphon. He also experiments on The Insane Children which shows Alice’s fate. These Insane Children are turned into automaton monsters that attack Alice. They can only do what their creator commands them and no longer have any “sanity” or “will” of their own. Alice’s brain seems to be aware that this will be her fate if she doesn’t wake up soon. Alice has to first fight Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum which reference the orderlies who have been abusing Alice while they think she is not aware of what’s going on around her. Then, Alice must fight her madness through The Mad Hatter.

After that comes a very emotional boss. The Jabberwocky. The Jabberwocky is all the pain and guilt Alice is feeling. He tells her that she was too busy dreaming of Wonderland to save her parents and the boss fight takes place in her house on fire. Alice receives help from The Gryphon, but he is killed when she has to face The Jabberwocky the second time. Alice must face her guilt alone, but The Gryphon gives her advice before passing away. He just tells her to try her best to face The Queen. It’s such a small line, but it has an impact on me. I have anxiety and sometimes it’s really nice to hear that I just have to “try my best” instead of feeling like I have to do everything perfectly.

Facing Yourself

Alice must then fight through The Queen’s castle. The castle is macabre; full of tentacles, blood, and flesh. It’s a physical reminder of how disturbed The Queen is. Before Alice can face The Queen, she has to lose everyone. The Chestire Cat dies while explaining to Alice how both she and The Queen cannot survive. The Queen makes sure that Alice has lost all of her allies and must face The Queen alone.

The Queen is a two part battle. The first part shows a figure with no face whose body is connect to Wonderland through tentacles. After that, the form changes into Alice and The Mad Hatter, The Queen is Alice and her madness. That’s why Alice must face her alone. She must face all of her trauma and mental illness by herself as she needs to free herself from this hell she’s trapped in. The Queen tells Alice that there is no hope causing Alice to feel despair. But hope appears in the form of a butterfly which protects Alice through the final fight. It quickly restores her Willpower while she fights against The Queen until The Queen dies.

The End

After facing herself, Wonderland is restored to it’s beauty. Also, all of Alice’s friends are brought back to life. Alice is able to wake up and leave the asylum. She also finds that her cat has survived. By facing her madness and learning to accept everything she has gone through, Alice can finally wake up and live her life the way she chooses.

Have you played American Mcgee’s Alice? What games do you think portray mental health in a positive light?

Final Fantasy XIV: First Impressions and Calming Anxiety

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Final Fantasy XIV is my first major MMO. I have two free ones and this one is currently free due to a long free trial that will go up to level 60. After that, I can choose to pay for the game and it’s latest DLC and also start a subscription plan. I decided to get this on Tuesday after hearing the news about the free trial going up until 60 and I find the game to be very fun and soothing!

Past MMO Experience

So I have slowly being getting used to MMOs, but mine are all free ones. It started with my Android. I saw a game called Perfect World on there and I was in love with the mythology. I recently restarted so I could become a character that can shape shift into a fox called a Vulpine. The game is beautiful for being a mobile port. After that, Black Desert came out on mobile. I am playing as a sorcerer class and love it! It’s a fun game and I am interested in learning more about the black spirit and the story.

With COVID going on I was missing my friend so we each found an MMO. He enjoys Tera so we play that together occasionally and I like  Blade & Soul which has kung-fu style action and a story focusing on vengeance.

Creating My Character

Pretty much the first day was spent creating my character as it was actually difficult. I was between the Miqo’te which were cat-like and the Au-Ra which were dragon people. It was so hard, but I’ve never played as a dragon before and I loved the scale patterns on my character. After that I could decide the tail, the scale patterns, makeup, and any extra features.

After that, it was time to pick the class which was even harder than the first choice. The issue I was having is I needed to choose between a physical class and a magic class. There was also a world I wanted to start in, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to the class. It was Limsa Lominsa which kinda looked like Alcamoth to me from the pictures. I decided to go with a Lancer and I thought I would play a physical class better, and I can do more classes on one character later.

After that there was a goddess and birth date. I decided to match my birthdate to the goddess I chose. I chose Halone who was a warrior.

Story and Quests

I got distracted by side quests like I usually do so I have not seen much of the main plot. I know that there was a war in Eorzea caused by Bahamut 5 years ago. I am an adventurer who has arrived at Gridania and I am currently helping out the locals there.

So far I have learned how to collect items, fight enemies with my lance (which have so far just been ladybugs, squirrels, and mushrooms), and learned more about how the game works. I have not had any memorable quests yet, but I am still having fun getting experience and just exploring!

Exploration

This has been the most fun for me and the most relaxing part of this game! Some players have minions so I can see red pandas, dogs, and moogles. I saw the cutest delivery moogle hovering over a rock. I also have seen fireworks at night which was fun! Last time I logged on, it was raining. The world is so pretty and detailed! The fireworks were the most relaxing part for me because I just had my character dance around while I watched fireworks and it was really nice to just relax.

I also learned about FATE running around which are timed events. I went into a village and there were opo-opos running around. I was too low leveled, but I had fun learning the combat more. I did find another one that was in my level and also helped me get my first main quest done because it involved a lot of fighting mushrooms!

Future Plans

I would like to explore more classes. I want to try to do the Arcanist class for my character so she can have physical and magic. I also want to go to Limsa Lominsa when I am able to. I really need to get a chocobo so I don’t have to walk everywhere, but I’ll need to level up more first. I am looking forward to playing more of the free trial becuase it is fun and relaxing game for me to play!

What are your thoughts on Final Fantasy XIV?

 

Adventures in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

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Replaying The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has been really fun! It’s all I have been playing lately so I wanted to highlight some memorable things that have happened while I was playing.

Exploration

I entered the Novigrad and Velen areas and the first thing I like to do is collect quests and explore the area as reading notice boards brings up question marks for treasure or monsters. So I started visiting the notice boards and exploring all the question marks that came up.

I forgot that once you exit the tutorial area, exploring can be dangerous because you can easily run into very powerful monsters. That’s how I have a fast travel location that spawns me into a group of powerful ghouls which I have to run away from. I have also had to come back to some question marks later because of golems (which I somehow forgot were a thing) and wyverns (basically dragons that can’t fly).

Another funny and scary thing that happened while I was exploring was a leschen appeared. They scare me, I don’t like how powerful they are plus the creepy long black robe and antler skull head. Of course he had to appear while I was adjusting to wearing glasses while gaming since they’re meant to give my left eye a boost and protect me from blue light and glare. So a nice stroll through the forest admiring how detailed things were from further away turned into a chase, but I somehow got away from it!

The only other glasses related incident happened during a quest that luckily didn’t involve combat at the time. I like drinking tea at night and knew that it can fog up my glasses, but I also liked how clear I can see the TV with them on so I figured while exploring a side quest I could keep them on unless combat happened. So while this woman was telling me please do not explore this side quest further as no one needs to know what happened to her sister, my glasses started fogging up but I could still see her and see that she was hiding something.

Contracts

Patrol Gone Missing

This one I came across accidentally. I was exploring and a wyvern appeared. I panicked because they’re typically too high level for me so instead of planning like I have been trying to do before fights; I just kept hitting it with my sword. I somehow survived and then the contract was complete.

Jenny O’ The Woods

This one was really sad, but there are sad contracts in this game. Usually if you come across a wraith contract, you know something traumatic happened to her. In this case she loved someone and wanted to leave her abusive relationship. The guy found out and killed them both. She appears at night in a black dress and was hard at first due to a small error. I didn’t wait until night to prepare with bombs, potions, and oils. I meditated during the day to wait until night came to make her appear after drinking the potions and preparing the oils so they wore off and she killed me quickly. When I prepared at night and then summoned her, the fight was easy!

The Merry Widow

This one was a creepy one. It involved a grave hag and she kept talking about her wanting her bones back. She was in the old graveyard luring kids out and killing them. She also had a tongue vine move that could really hurt so I had to make sure I dodged so I would not take damage.

Side Quests

Thou Shalt Not Pass

I love the reference to The Lord of the Rings films! Basically I needed a pass to enter Radovid’s areas. I could have gotten one for finding out who was killing the troops. It turned out to be elves and I like elves so I decided to leave them alone. Because I did not tell the guard who was killing the troops I had to get them from a shady merchant. Somehow the guards fell for it and let me in even thought the writing was atrocious and there was no stamp.

Wild at Heart

This was the most recent sidequest I did. This man lost his wife in the woods. The village including him thought she was killed by wolves. While exploring her sister came by and told me not to explore further because there was no use finding out how the sister died. I could have stopped but I wanted to see what had happened. It turns out she technically killed her sister. She was in love with her sister’s husband who was a werewolf and did not know the sister knew he was a werewolf. She brought her sister to see her werewolf husband to scare her off from marrying him which led to him accidentally killing her. He then wants to kill the sister for forcing him to kill someone. I let him do it because I was mad that she killed her sister out of jealousy and then the werewolf asked me to kill him so he wouldn’t kill anymore and Geralt automatically did that.

Meeting Characters From Previous Games

Letho

I met Letho after a widow asked me to save her old home from monsters. The home was abandoned and full of traps where I met Letho. He was on the run after the man who hired him to slay the king in the last game decided to kill him to hide what he did. I chose to follow Letho where he confronted the people who were after him and Geralt offers him a place at Kaer Morhen.

Lambert

I found Lambert, who I know now from both the books and the games, while I was hunting a werewolf. Lambert killed the werewolf and then he is after all the men who killed his best friend Aiden (who now reminds of Beyond: Two Souls because I just completed the game). I helped him find leads, but I need to go to the next area to finish the quest. I want to finish the main quests in the area I am currently in before continuing.

Continuing Story

I have finally see what The Wild Hunt can do again. I was meant to meet a contact that was following Ciri. The Wild Hunt came and killed him and now the area is permanently covered in frost. I am on my way see the witch who saw Ciri last.

What games have you all been playing recently? Any stories from the games you have been playing?

 

My Picks For The Great JRPG Character Face-Off!

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As soon as I saw this community post from pix1001 and Winst0lf, I knew I had to participate. JRPGS are my favorite video game genre! I love the stories they tell and I love having a party that I get to meet and interact with. The most recent JRPGs I have been playing is Persona 4: Golden and Persona 5: Royal.

Also, as a little side update, this is my first post that I am writing with my first pair of glasses! They are mainly for computers and reading because they have blue light filtering and anti-glare protection. My left eye needs a bit of help seeing especially with the bright lights that computers and TVs make!

5. Igni from Final Fantasy: XV

I needed to include someone from Final Fantasy: XV as that was my first console game and what led me to buy my PlayStation 4! Igni is really sweet. He looks after Noctis as if Noctis was his brother. He is caring and makes sure everyone has a nice meal while they are traveling. He is also a good advisor to Noct helping him through difficult times likes losing his wife, Lunafreya. I also enjoyed his backstory in Brotherhood Final Fantasy XV. He wanted Noctis to learn his duties while also trying to recreate a pastry that Noctis had once because he does care about Noctis and he shows how he cares though his cooking. He helps Noctis learn to be responsible instead of slacking away from his duties.

4. Reyn from Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

This game is one of the reasons why I got a Nintendo 3DS! Reyn really grew on me throughout the series. Yes, he does say some awkward one liners like “It’s Reyn time”, but they make me laugh because he’s so enthusiastic. He does it to hype everyone and himself up and it does work. I love that he just wants to support everyone and keep them safe. It was also adorable how he has a crush on Sharla. He make me smile and laugh and is just a really nice friend.

3. Sora from Kingdom Hearts trilogy

These games have a special place in my heart because I bonded with my best friend with them! I decided to pick Sora from this series. Sora is a really sweet kid. He cares about his friends and he is loyal. He is also open to helping others out and makes a lot of friends along the way during his journey. Sora also cheers his friends up like when Riku embraced the darkness and tried to hide himself. I enjoyed playing as Sora and I am really hoping I hear more about him in the next installment.

2. Fiora from Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

I love Fiora’s story and character development in this game! I love how she cares for others and she’s also strong willed. I love her relationship with Shulk in the game. I am also glad that she got a happy ending when twice it seemed like she wouldn’t make it to the finale. She is courageous as well; standing up against the Mechon in the beginning of the game to save her friends and later trying to save her friends from Zanza.

1. Ann from Persona 5

It was a tough choice, but Ann is my favorite JRPG character of all time. Like Fiora, she is caring and also strong willed. She looks after her friends and especially Shiho when Shiho is hospitalized and is working hard to walk again. She spends most of her time either looking after the party or looking after Shiho. I also love her Persona, Carmen. I love Carmina Burana, it’s my favorite opera! Ann went through hell with Kamoshida and she wanted to make sure no one suffered injustice from him or any other adults who abuse their power. I admire her courage to stand up for others. She is one of my favorite characters in the game and I am loving seeing all the new interactions with her in Persona 5: Royal

Thanks to Shoot The Rookie and Winst0lf for this really fun idea! I loved thinking about who my favorite characters are and they were tough choices. I also went for games I fully played as some characters I want to wait on. For example, I do like Chie in Persona 4:Golden and thought about including her on this list, but I also haven’t spent as much time with her as I have the other characters on this list.

Now that I have told you who my favorite JRPG characters are: Who are your favorite JRPG characters? Write a post about your picks for Pix and Winfst0lf’s The Great JRPG Character Face-Off