“The size of the world is impressive. There are many fantastic places to explore and great characters to meet. But what really excites us, and what we hope will excite you too, is that we can create an Oz that becomes a defining version, like we did with Alice. When people think of Alice, they now think of a bloody Alice with knife in-hand. We have that chance with Dorothy, to reinvent her and seer into history a version that can go beyond and live above the MGM or Disney film versions. This will be our Oz, our Dorothy, your Oz, your Dorothy.” — American McGee
Spicy Horse Games, a game studio spearheaded by Alice Madness Returns‘ American McGee, has just launched a Kickstarter campaign for their new game OZombie. OZombie is a game that hopes to reinvent Dorothy and the world of The Wizard of Oz in a new, much darker way. The game will tackle themes of conformity, employing zombies and their master, the Scarecrow, as a metaphor for conformist society. McGee says the world is an “impressive” size and should be full of intriguing locales to explore.
OZombie‘s crowdfunding goal is $950,000, and, at the time of writing, it has already reached over $86,000, so it’s doing well. The campaign currently has three stretch goals. If the first is reached, at 6000 backers, the team will open the mysterious box from the game’s Kickstarter trailer. If the second is reached, at 11,000 Backers, Chris Vrenna, at one point a drummer and keyboardist for Nine Inch Nails, will join the team to compose the soundtrack. The third goal has been thus far left ambiguous, labeled with, “Defined as the campaign progresses.”
In terms of the world, OZombie is described as a very unique approach to Oz, adapting a steampunk aesthetic with all kinds of strange technology. The land is divided into four unique countries, with Emerald City standing proudly as the centerpiece. Outside of the specific territories, there are “many more lands to explore:”
“Our Oz is mystical, filled with magic, enchantment, and a vast collection of unique “Ozite” artifacts. It also contains adapted and evolved hardware imported by visitors from other lands, usually represented in a style called “steampunk,” which has its own particular look and feel. The Land of Oz, as in the books, is divided into four diverse countries, with four distinctive populations – Munchkins are in the East, Winkies in the West; Gillikins in the North and Quadlings in the South. At the center of Oz you’ll find the legendary Emerald City, the capital and home to the ruler of Oz. Beyond these native territories and the deadly deserts that surround them are many more lands to be explored.”
The game’s world is remotely located in the Pacific Ocean, which the team says allows them to explore themes in an open space:
“Our Oz, distant and remote, is an island set in the Pacific Ocean. Freed from the constraints and conventions of Western culture, we can explore themes of society and self-reliance in a sort of ‘clean room’ environment. Dorothy will arrive by boat, a refugee from a world on the brink of ecological and societal collapse.”
The story of OZombie plans to be rich and full of societal commentary, using the zombies as metaphors for “mindless” conformity:
“As a kid I was a huge fan of Robert Heinlein’s stories. There are several “Heinlein themes” that I like and want to explore: Individual liberty and self-reliance, the obligation individuals owe to their societies (and vice versa), the influence of organized religion on society – and the tendency of society to repress nonconformist thought. Hence, “zombies” are destroying Oz in a mindless (heh) fashion, without thinking of the future consequences of their actions. The fact that they are “zombies” or that their leader is obsessed with “brains” is less about the traditional “brain eating” concept of zombies and more about mindless conformist behavior.”
The antagonist of the game will be none other than Scarecrow. The game’s story is outlined in a much more in-depth fashion on its Kickstarter page, and I highly recommend you check it out. And here is a picture of how Spicy Horse plans to redesign the protagonist Dorothy:
OZombie is being developed on Unity3D, so it can come to a myriad of different platforms, but Spicy Horse is planning for the initial release to be on PC, Mac, Linux and large screen mobile devices (tablets and large format phones). They say to please not “Worry about the mobile delivery somehow ‘watering down’ the experience on other platforms.” In the future they hope to release the game onto consoles. If you’re interested in OZombie, then head on over to the game’s Kickstarter page to read more about it and support it!