Slowly and effortlessly, the Kentucky Zero Route begins. An old man named Conway tries to get directions at a gas station. He has a rusty, antiquated truck in his back. Yet his destination can’t be found. It is said that this path can not be reached easily. During all its five acts (and its many interludes) Kentucky Zero Route remains sluggish. But it’s never straightforward, except for this opening scene.
Without the story of its creation, it is impossible to speak of this adventure game. The first of five scheduled episodes began on Kentucky route Zero in 2013. Every few months subsequent episodes had to be released… but that was not the way things worked out. Act II came out later in the year, Act III was released only in 2014, and two years later the penultimate act came out. The game is finally coming to an end, seven years after its release.
What’s the whole buzz then? Why have so many people waited almost a decade for the end of this story? It doesn’t explain that fast. Kentucky Route Zero is basically a pretty simple adventure point and click game. You don’t have to gather items or solve puzzles during the game. You can not stuck or get lost. You can’t get stuck. It’s all about being here and discovering its people.
This room and its people are what makes Kentucky Route Zero so special. It’s a timeless universe. It’s a world. It’s about the present, the challenges of the past decade and what a hundred years ago might have been. Partly South Gothic, partly magical realism, partly a smear criticism of capitalism and its people. The main aim–to provide furniture to an unreachable house–is really just an excuse for entering this planet. First, you go by way of a path called “Null,” which is not shown on any map, by taking Conway’s squeaky truck across winding roads and side streets.
There’s a different feeling for every act. The first is an auto drive, as you search for the “0” on your way to the abandoned mine. The next act brings you to an odd office-the Reclaimed Space Office and then to a museum filled with ancient houses which are now in storage. You’ll go on a guided tour of a whiskey distillery run by brilliant orange skeletons who only work because they owe their employers. So, when he was shot years ago, you find a telephone operator who still works.
Most of the narration is written-and there is a large amount of text. It is sad, mystical and impenetrable occasionally. He can read in Americana like a Murakami book. And because it is collaborative, you also feel like you are writing the story with its authors because you choose messages, from song lyrics to information on personal relationships.
Sometimes the game can be completely weird, but the oddity is always familiar. For example, there is a floating gas station, which is always in another place, so you never really know where to find it. Or two singers make robotic sounds inexplicably as they walk and move around the room, playing almost open spaces. Conway seeks help when he’s wounded and he learns that his leg is now the same orange skeleton arm that the distillery workers have. He was hurt, and was in a financial situation that was equally urgent.