story & narrative
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a well-known and well-loved story but is better known for its 1939 cinematic retelling that introduced the world to color television. Despite the number of times the story of Oz has been adapted, the newer versions rarely retell Baum’s original plot and always attempt to put their own spin on the events. Into Oz is a faithful retelling, one that the player would expect to find if they were to fall right into the book’s pages.
Plot: After plunging into the land of Oz, the player finds themselves in a strange and unfamiliar country. They are quickly introduced to a furry flying companion by the name of Maud who assists them in their journey. As the player ventures on, they encounter other natives of Oz who decide to also accompany the player on their way to the Emerald City as they seek out the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Together, they all join forces in order to solve the challenges before them and proceed forward.
Game Progression: The player moves from one area to the next by completing puzzles with the help of their companion(s). Each challenge they face offers a unique perspective and skillset to lend to the player’s cause as they travel from one area to the next. Communication and collaboration plays a key role in traversing this strange new land.
Cut scene(s): Beginning in the “real world,” the player navigates around their bedroom until they come across a book on a nearby table. Across the cover, they can see the title of the book. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum. As they pick up the book and open its pages, the first cinematic is triggered, showing the room around them beginning to shake and the player being sucked into the pages of the book in a flash.
In the next scene, the player’s vision appears to blink and they look around at a colorful and otherworldly. After a few seconds the cut scene draws to a close and the player resumes control.
Into Oz is a whimsical 3D virtual environment that feels as fantastical as it does real. Although there are human and humanoid characters, Oz is still a land outside of reality. Magic and surrealism is visually apparent in the world its inhabitants.
The world itself is full of vibrant colors, and lively creatures, both friend and foe alike. The various lands and areas that the player can explore exude different qualities and tones, making it easy for the player to identify which areas may be friendly or which may be under the control of a wicked witch.
~ Don’t forget: follow the yellow brick road! Only then will you find your way home. ~
The player begins by falling into the first chapter of the book, arriving promptly at the Munchkin City. Here, the player meets the Munchkins, who welcome the player with open arms for causing the demise of the Wicked Witch of the East simply from being cast into their world.
The player meets one of their companions and then is forced to find a key of some sort in order to open the gate that blocks their way forward. Only after solving a puzzle can they locate the key and proceed to the next chapter, as they follow The Yellow Brick Road. Just as the name implies, chapter two takes the player down a road paved of yellow bricks. Along the way, the player passes by a farmer’s field, travels through a lightly wooded area, and then ventures deep into a forest where the trees are far more densely populated.
After leaving the forest, the player can see The Emerald City’s white glow in the distance, but is faced by a ravine to large to cross. Working collectively with their companions, the player creates a way across and is able to reach the gates of The Emerald City, though still unable to enter without a specified item that is said to have been dropped in a nearby field. The player must find the item, and after doing so is allowed within the city. There, they meet a woman who introduces herself as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and promptly instructs the player to prove themself by killing the other remaining Wicked Witch, The Witch of the West.
Taking that command, the player must venture to The Castle of The Witch of the West in order to find a way in which to dispose of her, per the Wizard’s instructions. Only then can the player and their companions return to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in The Emerald City to have their own requests fulfilled. However, after doing as instructed and returning to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, they tell the Great Wizard of their deeds only hear no word back in return. The player, after discovering the man behind the curtain, learns of the Witch of the South and how she is the most powerful of all the Witches. Oz granted the companions each of their requests but is unable to grant the player the ability to travel home.
The player is then directed toward the Witch of the South who resides in Quadling Country.
Maud, the Winged Monkey
Appearance: With rich brown fur and agile features, Maud looks as ordinary as any other monkey...except for the minor detail that this monkey comes with a pair of her own wings. The wings themselves resemble that of a bat, with small claws at the ends. Adorned on her head lies a small red fez with a golden tassel dangling out the tippity top. There lies a small scar above her right eye, ever so narrow and fine, perhaps originating from a disagreement amongst one of her fellow winged monkeys. It is best not to forget that while Maud may present her allegiance to you, she is also an animal, bringing forth her own challenges and affordances along the way.
Animations: You may occasionally notice Maud picking fleas from her fur or snapping her tail around as she flies through the air. If she gets tired, she may land on the ground and walk for a short spell, or ride atop one of the other party members until there is further need of her abilities.
Abilities: Maud can climb and fly in order to access objects and areas that may be out of reach to the other party members. She is intelligent and can easily understand what is being asked of her as long as she is properly directed. Since she has thumbs, this also makes her a convenient companion to have along for those times when she needs to grab an item that may be too distant for the player to reach.
Relevance: Formerly indentured to the Witch of the West, and native of the land of Oz, Maud has a unique perspective and awareness on how and where to travel. Some places may be more welcoming than others, or inaccessibly at times, so it is important to pay attention and follow Maud’s guidance throughout Oz.
Relationship(s): Maud is a companion to the visitor of Oz (the player), and a former winged monkey of the Witch of the West. As the player travels further around Oz and gathers more companions, Maud remains in the party, but only holds loyalty to the player/character with the hat.
Back Story: Maud was under the power of the Wicked Witch of the East up until the point when the Witch was crushed by her own castle. Grateful to the player for freeing her, Maud decides to join them on their journey to the Emerald City to seek out the Wizard of Oz.
Appearance: The Scarecrow is dressed in baggy clothes of neutral colors, with numerous, more colorful patches of cloth spotting all over from repairs that had been made. The top of his head has been covered in dyed straw to resemble that of hair, giving him a more lifelike appearance. With hollow eyes and a thinly packed body, this scarecrow is the very definition of scraggly.
Animations: Not all the patches in the Scarecrow’s clothes have been stitched well, so from time to time the Scarecrow may have bits of straw or grain falling out of a loose area or hole.
Abilities: The Scarecrow assists the player at times when they may be stuck or confused on how to proceed. Asking the Scarecrow will generally provide the player with a tip on what to do or where to go next.
Relevance: The Scarecrow is one of the key companions. He provides useful tips and hints to help the player on their journey, though he himself hopes to get brains from the Wizard.
Relationship(s): After being saved from the vicious pecking of crows, the Scarecrow joins the player on their journey to find The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Back Story: Just as many Scarecrows are, he was propped up in a farmer’s field to ward off crows but instead was pecked at incessantly by them until the player came along and pulled him down.
Appearance: As his name states, the Tin Woodman is a man made of tin. Each part of his body was specially crafted piece by piece from a tinsmith. He wields a woodcutter’s axe, remnant from his former life.
Animations: With the Tin Woodman comes not only his axe, but also an oilcan to ease those rusty parts. Water has a tendency to create rust pretty quickly, causing the Tin Woodman’s movements to gradually grow stiff and creaky. When the player selects the oilcan for use, the Tin Woodman will rotate his joints to see if they’re well lubricated.
Abilities: By using his axe, the Tin Woodman can cut objects and foes as well as intimidate them by wielding it.
Relevance: The Tin Woodman assists the player with any and all chopping needs. After the player loosens up the Tin Woodman’s joints with the oilcan, he decides to accompany them to the Emerald City.
Relationship(s): The Tin Woodman is one of the key companions who accompanies the player to find The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as he himself seeks a heart to feel again the love he has lost.
Back Story: Formerly a Woodman in the land of Oz, the Wicked Witch of the East was bribed to curse the Woodman’s axe. Piece by piece, his axe chopped off limbs, and piece by piece the tinsmith would forge a new arm and leg to replace them, until one day his head was chopped. The tinsmith crafted a new head for him and all that was left was his body and eventually the axe also chopped that off. The tinsmith found him and crafted yet again a part to replace it, putting the Woodman back together. But for all of the things he crafted for the Woodman, he forgot to give him a heart, and so the Woodman lost his love for the Munchkin girl he had fallen for.
Now that he was made of tin, when his metal got wet, rust would build up. One day while chopping wood, his joints grew stiff and he froze in place unable to move, until the time came when the player discovers the Tin Woodman and oils his joints to release him from his frozen state.
Appearance: The Cowardly Lion is a large, four-legged, male African lion.
Animations: Being the cowardly lion he is, he can usually be seen with his tail tucked between his legs, or flicking ever so slightly from side to side.
Abilities: He can carry and move heavy objects that may be blocking the player’s path. If the Cowardly Lion roars at an enemy, it has a chance to temporarily stun them.
Relevance: Again, one of the key companions that the player meets along the way. The Cowardly Lion seeks an audience with the Wizard, hoping he will be able to give him Courage so that he won’t be so cowardly anymore.
Relationship(s): The Cowardly Lion is a companion to the player whom they acquire last along the Yellow Brick Road as they travel toward the Emerald City.
Back Story: Whenever the Cowardly Lion were to roar, all manner of creature and man would run and fear. He recognizes himself as a coward but learned from a young age that even if he is afraid, if he roars, everything runs in terror from him.
Appearance: The Wizard firstly appears as a woman before the group, and secondarily appears as a man, or the man behind the curtain after he’s been discovered.
Animations: His form will change as long as he is using his contraption behind the curtain. Once discovered, he becomes rather timid, often scratching his bald head and smiling sheepishly at the group.
Abilities: The Great Wizard, Oz, is said to have the power to take on any form he wishes. He is a scientist and thusly performs “surgeries” of a sort on the companions of the player per their request for the desired quality or items they wished to gain.
Relevance: It is also said that the Wizard can grant and achieve anything, though the player learns the reality of that rumor shortly after returning to the Emerald City the second time after the encounter with the Wicked Witch of the West.
Relationship(s): The Wizard is the ruler of the Emerald City (until his identity is discovered), and grants each of the companions (except Maud) their desired requests.
Back Story: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, or Oz, the Great and Terrible, is the ruler of the land of Oz and resides in the Emerald City.
The Witch of the West
Appearance: This Wicked Witch has green skin and brown hair. One eye has a swirl of colors ever changing, expressing the presence of magic, while the other is a constant shade of purple.
Animations: The Wicked Witch of the West can be seen cackling to herself for brief moments of time, and should water touch her, her entire body will melt into a puddle on the floor.
Abilities: With a telescopic eye, the Witch of the West can see far distancing making it an easy task to keep a watchful eye on any and all she wishes. She also holds the power of the Golden Cap, allowing her 3 favors from the Winged Monkeys, excluding Maud who is seemingly immune to the Golden Cap’s summons as she served the Witch of the East prior, not the Witch of the West.
Relevance: The Wicked Witch of the West is the primary antagonist, seeking to gain the power of the silver shoes from Dorothy but unable to harm her due to the Witch of the North’s kiss.
Relationship(s): Conspires with the Wicked Witch of the East. She has a pack of wolves at her command, as well as a flock of crows and a swarm of black bees.
Back Story: One of the two wicked witches in Oz, the Witch of the West is the last remaining wicked witch after the death of the Witch of the East. She rules the land of the West in the Country of the Winkies after taking it over with the assistance of the Winged Monkeys, and running the Wizard of Oz off the land.