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American McGee kickstarts zombies in the land of Oz

Together with Spicy Horse, American McGee has taken his latest macabre fantasy game based on The Wizard of Oz to Kickstarter.

Together with Spicy Horse, American McGee has taken his latest macabre fantasy game based on The Wizard of Oz to Kickstarter.

(Credit: American McGee)

The Scarecrow has gone mad — mad for brains! Having killed one of the gods of Oz, he seeks to create a world where life only has meaning because of the presence of death. Into this world comes Dorothy, the great-great-granddaughter of the original Dorothy Gale, to try to overthrow the Scarecrow and his minions and restore imagination and compassion to Oz.

This is the premise of American McGee's latest project, in the same twisted vein of his Alice games and animated series American McGee's Grimm.

Concept art for the Scarecrow.(Credit: American McGee)

OZombie is set to be a massive open-world adventure, with an entirely new take on Frank L Baum's classic children's novels, playable on as many platforms as possible — PC, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS, all DRM free where possible.

"While inspired by Baum, our Oz will be a non-conformist version, distinct from both his original, and all subsequent adaptations (including American's Oz project, which Atari killed nearly a decade ago)," the Kickstarter page said. "Honoring Baum's sublime vision, Oz is a real place, rather than a young girl's dream. That idea was an MGM invention."

The single-player campaign will be based around various types of gameplay, with an emphasis on role playing, tactical combat, exploration and narrative — and, once the game has been played through once, players will be able to access a multiplayer mode, including tournaments and raids.

Concept art for Dorothy.
(Credit: American McGee)

The zombies aren't quite like the zombie craze of recent years, either. Borrowing a little from 1978's Dawn of the Dead, the game will play off themes of mindless conformism. McGee is also borrowing from author Robert Heinlien's themes of freedom and self-reliance, and the impact of religion on society.

Scarecrow has infected a larger society in which survival has become the only value; do anything to survive is the mantra that all his followers conform to and perpetuate. So killing him is neither victory nor resolution. Dorothy will have to do much more — build communities and persuade allies to root out and destroy the damage to multiple cultural and political institutions to restore a humanistic civilisation. The return of individual integrity, responsibility and non-conformity is arduous and dangerous.

The game itself comes with a pledge of US$15, with reward tiers up to US$10,000 that include merchandise, artwork, in-game digital rewards and T-shirts — and, for the very highest pledge, a trip to Shanghai to meet the development team.

Plus, it has a really fun campaign video.

Head on over to the OZombie Kickstarter page to check it out.