Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition is an overall landmark effort in the realm of video games. It explores various facets of the medium’s abilities with storytelling and evocatively shifts its gameplay and gorgeous visuals to keep things interesting. Paying dividends if you decide to input your own personality, it’s a work of art that I can’t recommend enough.
Kentucky Route Zero is a fascinating story with a thick atmosphere and themes which will leave you thinking long after playing each act. It's one of the best stories I've ever played or read in a video game, and I implore everyone to play it. Kentucky Route Zero is something special.
Some of the most poetic writing I’ve read in anything, let alone a video game. But it could only exist as a game, never a book or a movie. It lives in its medium perfectly, with unique perspective changes that may or may not align with the written words, and choices that make the player feel like a creator, while leaving one curious what they missed in choosing one answer over another. The music is inspired. The visuals are **** message speaks perfectly to the broken world we live in, the one not repaired since the 2008 recession that inspired this game. When someone asks if video games can be art, this is the game I will point to in response.
To speak of entrancing elements, head writer Jake Elliott has taken nearly ten years to spin the intoxicating yarn present in this game. He is frequently fussy in his prose (and obtuse in proximity to reality) throughout Kentucky Route Zero but nonetheless deserves a massive amount of praise. He runs with each environmental detail and every stray thought presented by the main characters, giving them ample space to breathe and worm their way into your thoughts. The excellent dialogue and theming are well-supported by Tamas Kemenczy’s polygonal vector art visuals, which suffuse each scene with a haunting beauty fit for this weary, broken world. The characters are blank-faced, but they require no expressions to communicate their state of being with clarity and appropriate gravitas.
As the video game industry experienced tumultuous change in the last decade, Kentucky Route Zero has felt like an anomaly, unconcerned with industry trends. Even as an episodic game, developer Cardboard Computer took years at a time to release acts — something most episodic titles try to avoid. It’s like Kentucky Route Zero was rejecting every rule, doing things its own way. Through that, it became one of the most important experimental games ever, establishing itself as a major player in the discourse of whether games are art. Kentucky Route Zero screams an emphatic and stubborn “yes” to that question.
By the end, the characters and story beats are too numerous and diffuse to coalesce into a fully satisfying finale. I won’t spoil it here, but even my relative disappointment at the conclusion reinforces something I love about the rest of the experience: Kentucky Route Zero is about appreciating the journey, not reaching the destination.
Developed over nearly a decade, the last episode of Kentucky Route Zero has finally arrived, and with it the complete edition of the game. It can almost be considered as an interactive fiction, but with a real attention given to the player and the meaning of its actions throughout the game. As a subjective experience, it also questions the connections between video games and other forms of art.
Kentucky Route Zero is a coffee table book of a game. I don’t feel like you’re really supposed to try and take it all in as a whole. Instead, KRZ, with it’s myriad of references and views, seems like it’s supposed to be taken a piece at a time. Some players are sure to absolutely love that, while others, like me, would prefer something more grounded...I don’t like Kentucky Route Zero, but I’m glad it exists.
This is a tough game to recommend because I know its appeal is niche but personally I loved it. One of my favorite games of 2020 :).
If you're a fan of the magical realism genre then this is definitely worth considering. Be warned though that this is a basically a visual novel. You can walk through areas, interact with objects and make dialogue choices and there's some very simple vehicle sections but you're playing it for the story and the artstyle.
The appeal for me comes from the strong character writing. I love how i'm able to shape a character's backstory as well as their choices and how that influences the story. It feels very much like i'm part of a living novel. The way different characters see their reality is conveyed in some interesting ways as well. It's a very unique game with some great music, a wonderful art style and a world which captivated me. Not for everyone but it might make a very big impression if you're the right audience.
I found it incredibly difficult to rate this game. I played it because I had previously played Mutazione and several reviewers of that game claimed that Kentucky Route Zero was a clear influence. I loved Mutazione so much that I paid the rather hefty price tag for Kentucky Route Zero but was ultimately disappointed to discover there's no real siilarity between the two games at all, beyond the fact that they are both essentially point & click adventures … which would be like saying that Monkey Island and Grim Fandango are similar games. They're really not.
It gets even more difficult to review because, after a little while, I did start to get drawn into the game. I wanted to know more about the characters and what was happening. I was immersed, even if only for a short while. But sadly as the game went on it got more and more confusing, more and more abstract, until eventually I had literally no idea what was going on and it ultimately turned into a grind to simply reach the end.
It was, however, very pretty in its own distinctive way. And the dialogue was compelling. It was just the story was so meta that my Switch nearly folded itself in half.
A few other reviewers have compared Kentucky Route Zero to David Lynch's work, and I'm inclined to agree: I think that's a good comparison. If you enjoyed the likes of Rabbits, or the fever-dream inspired parts of Twin Peaks, then this game will be right up your alley. For everyone else, sadly, I'm not convinced there's very much to get excited about.
An atmospheric game set in Kentucky that has some bad things to say about capitalism without meaningfully addressing a couple of capitalism's - and the setting's - connected comorbidities: racism and settler colonialism.
SummaryKentucky Route Zero is a magical realist adventure game about a secret highway in the caves beneath Kentucky. An antique furniture delivery man trying to make his small shop's last delivery gets lost along the way and meets a haunted TV repairwoman, a young boy and his giant eagle brother, a pair of robot musicians, and dozens of other c...