February 11, 2023Kentucky Route Zero Review

The developers of Kentucky Route Zero, Cardboard Computer, took about seven years to fully release all of the chapters of Kentucky Route Zero. The very first chapter of Kentucky Route Zero was first released in 2013, and from there, they would release one chapter after the other until they released the last chapter in 2020.

Kentucky Route Zero is a chill click-and-point adventure game. However, it’s not the same as your typical point-and-click games on the market. Kentucky Route Zero features an incredibly unique story that takes the point-and-click genre to a different and higher level.

The game, Kentucky Route Zero, brings you on a meandering journey full of beautiful graphic design and creative content. Each chapter you take will bring you on a different, strange, and twisting path. Many have followed the game through its seven-year course, and that goes to show how good the game is with multiple players waiting for each chapter to be released.

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Release Date: January 7, 2013
Developer/Publisher: Cardboard Computer/Cardboard Computer
Genre: Point-and-Click, Adventure Game
Platforms: Linux, Windows, OS X, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Metacritic Score: 81%
Steam Review: Very Positive
  • IGF Excellence in Visual Art
  • Game Developers Choice – Best Narrative
  • Indiecade – Visual Design
  • Indiecade – Story & World Design
  • Rock, Paper, Shotgun – “Game of the year”
  • Game Developer Choice Awards – Best Narrative
  • Destructoid – Best Musical
  • Killscreen – Game of the year

Where Conway’s Journey Begins

The game follows a truck driver, Conway, who delivers antiques to different locations. However, after the little antique shop he works for closes its doors, we finally get to start the game and follow Conway on his journey.

You will begin to follow Conway’s delivery to 5 Dogwood Drive, an address that nobody seems to have heard of or know where it is but which is reportedly located somewhere along an imaginary road known as “The Zero.” While delivering a package to the unknown address is the main goal of the game, you slowly, yet gradually, meet other lost travelers along your journey to 5 Dogwood Drive. Each character has a unique personality and an interesting story that will intrigue you even more. Together, as you travel across Kentucky to search for the unknown address, the presence of each companion will further shape your journey into an interesting one.

Traversing Through The Zero

As you traverse through Kentucky, you meet different characters along the way. Over the course of its five acts, KRZ leads you through a lot of bizarre pit stops. The bulk of the plot is presented through character interaction and discovery as you go through various situations by pointing and clicking through the game. However, the emphasis here is on creating an intriguing atmosphere and unforgettable moments rather than just solving puzzles.

Searching for the Zero can be quite tricky, but in the first act, control switches to Shannon, and by the end of the first act, where you’re already at the old mine, Conway injures his leg. From the second act, you’re given free access to the Zero. I won’t dwell too much on each act because I’ll leave that for you to explore, but the main point of Kentucky Route Zero is to take you and other characters you will soon control on a twisted journey.

That said, the start of the game was certainly very easy, but as the game progresses, the creative content, storytelling, and challenges you’ll encounter will also get harder as you finish each act.

Playing Kentucky Route Zero is like taking an unpredictable walk along an even more unpredictable path; each episode is more daring and unpredictable than the one before it. As a result, even when played one after another, each act will still surprise you. In addition, I have been completely engaged throughout the game thanks to the endearing characters and compelling writing of the game’s plot.

Kentucky Route Zero’s World and its Characters Dialogues

A structure is never “just a structure” on Kentucky Route Zero’s otherworldly route; every structure has a small artistic twist. You’ll witness Kentucky’s odd little nooks and its citizens like a traveler exploring the peculiar little nooks of the country. Despite the fact that I was never entirely certain where the plot would take me, I constantly looked forward to what came next.

Cardboard Computer was able to define Kentucky Route Zero’s world as something like a magical reality of our world and KRZ’s world. Kentucky Route Zero became the existence of a recognizable real world in which extraordinary events are possible, as well as fantasy logic. Overall, Cardboard Computer was able to recreate an otherworldly world with real-world elements incorporated into it.

The way Kentucky Route Zero routinely transforms the way its dialogue is conveyed and continuously expands its vocabulary is certainly one of my favorite aspects of the game. Some scenes may be simple discussions from a standard point-and-click side view, while some may be as complicated as choosing the “right” dialogue to use. In relation to that, you will constantly face different dialogues and conversations with different characters that will affect the story.

As you travel through the Zero to look for your unknown delivery address, you will be faced with different conversations with characters without knowing what the “right” response to make in each conversation is. So, think carefully about what your responses will be because, as soon as you make your choice, it becomes a simple truth of the game. But what’s even more interesting is that you won’t just control Conway. As the game progresses, you’re also able to control different characters and decide their dialogues.

Having said that, the various dialogues you’ll encounter will vary depending on the decisions you make. Although your decisions won’t truly affect the plot’s conclusion, they will significantly alter the narrative you hear as you move forward through the game. And when your band of companions slowly expands, you will be faced with new viewpoints to assume, and the dialogue of the story may shift even more.

By the final act, you will be controlling a lot of characters. The flow of the story and its different dialogues might be confusing for some but natural for others. Despite the many dialogues, you get different choices that will make the conversations (with yourself) a bit more interesting.

The Game’s Artistry and Message

Kentucky Route Zero is a compilation of different stories about different characters. The game tackles a lot of different subjects, including death, memories, experiences, and even the collapse of rural America. With the various story combinations, you get a big picture of the bleak picture of rural America and the various characters in the game struggling to make ends meet.

Each character’s story isn’t frequently tackled in video games, and Kentucky Route Zero treats the subject with care by tackling the characters’ stories one by one. It is jam-packed with artistry, including music and poetry, in this simple but complete adventure game.

If anything, the fantastical, dreamy imagery serves to emphasize the many messages the game showcases.

Final Verdict

We’ve mentioned before that Kentucky Route Zero’s chapters were released sporadically over a span of seven years, so I’m not sure whether or not to be envious of those who played the game on its initial release or be grateful that I was able to play the game with all the chapters released already. Despite that, I still enjoyed the game in its entirety, even if I wasn’t able to play it on its initial release.

Kentucky Route Zero tells the story of the different characters’ struggles and fights against their hardships. And with the last act, you’re able to see hope that wasn’t shown as much in the first parts of the game. The universe of Kentucky Route Zero feels palpable, real, and tied together, especially when, in the final act, the sun warms the horizon.

That’s a wrap! We hope you enjoyed reading about the dreamlike game of Kentucky Route Zero! If you want to read more articles like this, check out our blog here.