My experience with Kentucky Route Zero was similar to what I had with the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. On first viewing, I was confused and I think I hated it. Then after a while, I started thinking about it, and gave it another chance and eventually my feelings about it changed. The same happened with Kentucky Route Zero.
This game’s story starts off simple enough- you play a delivery man, Conway, working for an antique company making his final delivery. Conway only needs to find the address of 5 Dogwood Drive and he’s done. What follows is a larger than expected journey through the roads and locations of Kentucky, as Conway meets a host of interesting characters, and experiences many memorable moments.
This game is very minimalistic, both visually and gameplay-wise. as it is purely a narrative-driven game. You’ll spend the majority of the time engaging in conversation with the many characters you’ll meet throughout your journey. It’s surprising just how open and friendly these characters are, as it’s not long until they start telling you their life stories. But this is one of the game’s pros and cons. Many conversations are interesting and feels like you’re talking to an actual person. On the other hand, some conversations drag on and can get boring.
But what stands out in this game is its many different and unique storytelling techniques. The story may start with the perspective of Conway, but as the journey goes on, you’ll notice many perspective changes that keeps the slow pace of the game fresh and interesting. The game’s atmosphere is another standout, as the music, ambient sounds, and lighting are all effective in immersing you into this intriguing world.
I found myself enjoying this game more when I WASN’T playing it, rather than when I was. Thinking back on all the experimental techniques this game uses to tell its story, the truly memorable moments (most of them music-based), and they way they portrayed the game’s themes of debt and the clever way it was represented, I feel this game will stick with me more than many others. It may not have always been exciting to play through (in fact at times it was downright boring) but anyone who wants to experience an unexpected but memorable journey with unique storytelling, I do recommend Kentucky Route Zero to those people.