Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition

released on Jan 27, 2020

Kentucky Route Zero is a magical realist adventure game about a secret highway in the caves beneath Kentucky, and the mysterious folks who travel it. Gameplay is inspired by point-and-click adventure games (like the classic Monkey Island or King's Quest series, or more recently Telltale's Walking Dead series), but focused on characterization, atmosphere and storytelling rather than clever puzzles or challenges of skill.

The game is developed by Cardboard Computer (Jake Elliott, Tamas Kemenczy, and Ben Babbitt), and features an original electronic score by Ben Babbitt along with a suite of old hymns & bluegrass standards recorded by The Bedquilt Ramblers.

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This review contains spoilers

I'll always remember when Conway leaves with the boys from the distillery. My initial reaction surprised me: I had an indignant feeling that "my Conway wouldn't do that." And then, duh. He's not my Conway. That's the point, beyond the fact that this is a story that someone else has written; the systems that drive our lives take people, take choices, take ourselves away from us if we let them. I am not stronger than those forces, the game was telling me. It was stunning. It hurt.
But it wasn't depressing, because there were people left to carry on, and they got to go make a surreal little communist art colony in magical Appalachia, with cats and queer robots, and that's a pretty good ending.

There's a melancholic nostalgia that permeates Kentucky Route Zero. It's filled with raw and real shit. Real people. My heart breaks for these characters.

Ben Babbitt's soundtrack for this game is sublime - worth playing for that alone.

This game changed what I thought a video game should be. It's a classic point-and-click adventure with all the story telling of an ancient Greek tragedy with the music of classic American folk.
The game touches on themes like capitalism, addiction, the death of the frontier and the small town, isolation/loneliness, and even reality itself. The game explores all of these concepts enough to feel relatable and real, but not enough to truly say anything other than "yeah, you get it." It's perfect. I think about it constantly.
Kentucky Dog Game really feels like it exists in a world I relate to and understand, despite being cartoon-y and foreign. Homer for life.

By far one of the best videogames I've ever played: avant-garde gameplay and convoluted, sublime narratives. It is at the same time an incredibly good game, a great piece of literature, and a brilliant piece of cinema.

Played on windows? Kinda played need to replay