K is for Kentucky Route Zero

You’ve probably heard of Route 66 and the Autobahn, but have you heard of the Route Zero in Kentucky? Most are convinced it doesn’t exist, but a mysterious stranger at a worn down gas station has just intimated otherwise. Welcome to Kentucky Route Zero.

Kentucky Route Zero is an interesting game to review, in part because it doesn’t feel quite like a game. There are aspects that hearken back to classic point-and-click adventure games, but the focus is more on the narrative rather than the puzzle solving. Imagine a cross between an adventure game like Broken Age (which is excellent, by the way) and one of those classic Choose Your Own Adventure books. There are branches in the dialog, but they mainly serve to fill in your own backstory as the avatar.

The art style is minimalist and evocative of paper figures in a child’s pop-up theater. The music is atmospheric and serves to underscore the feeling that despite appearances, something in this patch of Kentucky country is just not quite right. As I was playing, my wife pointed out that I tend to play lots of weird and creepy games. Kentucky Route Zero isn’t as dark or morbid as Inside, but it’s got a somewhat similar feel of wrongness to it.

All in all, it’s hard for me to recommend Kentucky Route Zero. It’s not that it’s bad, per-say, I just didn’t get into it as much as other games that I’ve played. If you try it at a friend’s house and love it, go for it. If an interactive graphic novel sounds like your jam, jump in. It just wasn’t for me.

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