GAME NAME: Kentucky Route Zero, Act I
DEVELOPER(S): Cardboard Computer
PUBLISHER(S): Cardboard Computer
With so many press conferences, shows, announcements, and the myriad of blockbuster games, it’s not often that something slips through the cracks. Thanks to a small, successful Kickstarter campaign, the recently released Act I of Kentucky Route Zero from Jake Elliot and Tamas Kemenczy of Cardboard Computer won’t, and shouldn’t, be one of those titles. Kentucky Route Zero shows us again that the little guy is very much capable of great things.
Kentucky Route Zero, Act I (the first of five Acts to be released) is an adventure game about a secret highway in Kentucky, with elements of magic in a realistic environment. You’ll bump into some folks along the way as you explore new places and move forward with Conrad, the courier for an antique furniture business.
Saying much more than that after playing through Act I a couple of times – it’s pretty quick, only taking about an hour to get through – would be a tremendous disservice to the game and to the experience. It’s an “on-rails” Choose Your Own Adventure book and you are at the controls. Simply start it up and you’ll jump right in trying to figure out what’s going on and what to do next. No tutorial. No instructions. No grand cinematic opening. Just point-and-click and off you go.
Visually, Kentucky Route Zero is a very pretty, simplistic, and dark game. Textures are limited, areas are small, and character models are basic at best, but there’s something hauntingly beautiful about the world that’s there in all of its simplicity. I found myself just wanting to keep looking at the game. The atmosphere that’s created by the soundtrack is also engrossing. Between the story unknown, visuals and music, it’s a captivating experience. You’ll want to know more, find more, and play more, which is perfect for an adventure-type game.
While Act I is, all in all, pretty quick to get through, I find myself still thinking of my character and how I’ve molded him and what is coming next in the story. I don’t think I can ask for a better experience than that, and it just goes to show how meaningful great storytelling and direction are for video games and the worlds that can be created. There are many studios that could really take this lesson to heart instead of creating the same, generic versions of games we’ve been seeing sit on shelves for the last decade. Creativity and imagination are clearly not gone from the world. I can’t wait to get my hands on Act II.
Similar to The Walking Dead Episodes I-V, Kentucky Route Zero will be releasing each act separately with no definitive release date set for Act II yet. Act I is available as a stand-alone option for $7 or you can purchase all five acts for $25 and receive the download when it is released.