Kentucky Route Zero is a magical realist adventure game about a secret highway in the caves beneath Kentucky, and the mysterious folks who travel it.
User reviews:
Recent:
Mixed (11 reviews) - 63% of the 11 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
Overall:
Very Positive (1,253 reviews) - 86% of the 1,253 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Feb 22, 2013

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Buy Kentucky Route Zero - Season Pass

All Five Episodes of Ketucky Route Zero will be automatically available upon their release

 

Recent updates View all (1)

July 20

Act IV Available Now!



Howdy!

We’re happy (and more than a little relieved) to let you know that Act IV is done & ready to play. This has been a challenging process for us, but we’re excited about the work and eager to share it with you.

Here’s an observational trailer for Act IV.

49 comments Read more

Reviews

"Smart, thoughtful, sweet and incredibly well crafted – it’s the perfect game to play in the small hours of a lonely night. Be warned though; it’ll leave you hungry for unknown roads and longing for an invitation to the blues."
Rock, Paper, Shotgun

"Evokes the feeling of old ghost stories told around a campfire. There's the familiarity of friends and family around a warm, man-made fire, but with it comes the unnerving tale of the strange and unusual. Kentucky Route Zero is beautifully bizarre and perfectly poignant, and most of all, deserves your attention."

9.5 - Destructoid

"However you respond to its ethereal imagery, this is a game which makes a rare suggestion: who a player is may be more important than what they do."

84/100 - PC Gamer

About This Game

Kentucky Route Zero is a magical realist adventure game about a secret highway in the caves beneath Kentucky, and the mysterious folks who travel it.

The game is developed by Cardboard Computer (Jake Elliott, Tamas Kemenczy, and Ben Babbitt), and features an original electronic score by Ben Babbitt along with a suite of old hymns & bluegrass standards recorded by The Bedquilt Ramblers.

The game is split into five acts. Acts I, II, III, and IV are available now. The remaining act will be released when it's completed. Taken as a whole, Kentucky Route Zero is roughly the length of a summer night.

Key Features

  • A focus on characterization, atmosphere and storytelling rather than clever puzzles or challenges of skill.
  • A unique art treatment inspired by theatrical set design.
  • A haunting score accompanies the ambient sounds of the bluegrass state.
  • Wander the highways of Kentucky.
  • Make some friends before morning.

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • OS:Windows 7
    • Processor:1 GHz
    • Memory:512 MB RAM
    • Graphics:Directx 9.0c compatible video card
    • DirectX®:9.0c
    • Hard Drive:250 MB HD space
    • Sound:Sound card
    Recommended:
    • OS:Windows 7
    • Processor:1 GHz
    • Memory:1 GB RAM
    • Graphics:Directx 9.0c compatible video card
    • DirectX®:9.0c
    • Hard Drive:250 MB HD space
    • Sound:Sound card
    Minimum:
    • OS:OSX 10.5 Leopard
    • Processor:1 GHz CPU
    • Memory:512 MB RAM
    • Graphics:OpenGL 3.0+ compatible video card
    • Hard Drive:250 MB HD space
    • Sound:Sound card
    Minimum:
    • Processor:1 GHz CPU
    • Memory:512 MB RAM
    • Graphics:OpenGL 3.0+ compatible video card
    • Hard Drive:250 MB HD space
    • Sound:Sound card
Customer reviews
Customer Review system updated Sept. 2016! Learn more
Recent:
Mixed (11 reviews)
Overall:
Very Positive (1,253 reviews)
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1,149 reviews match the filters above ( Very Positive)
Recently Posted
eq12345
6.0 hrs
Posted: September 26
This game is by far one of the most beautiful games I've ever played.
It is a mystery game, but not a bit cruel. Even the music blends perfectly in. You don't even miss the voices; it feels perfectly natural to read and click screen messages,
I played through chapter 1, 2 and 3 and could not wait for chapter 4 to arrive.

Unfortunately, I can't seem to follow the story anymore. Up to chapter 3 there was a complex, but interesting story unfolding. But I haven't yet found the story within chapter 4. It all seems a meaningless bunch of gibberish, and so I could not make my mind up if I should play it any longer. It's a shame, but I have the feeling the great potential of chapter 1 to 3 has just been thrown away. What a pity.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Azriel
13.9 hrs
Posted: September 25
One of the most beautiful and sad games I've ever played. Perfectly crafted. Act IV, while released after some delay, is the furthest from disappointment that I could hope for, especially as it's to be played twice (it seems). Easily in the top five games I've played.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
totorouboros
10.4 hrs
Posted: September 17
This game is a huge mess packaged in a nice style.

It's like a hipsterish fontdesigner had a stroke, and this stroke got mixed with dementia and written down as the story of this game. It starts storylines, introduces characters and events sometimes randomly and then they abruptly end... or just show up again. Or get mixed with other storylines.

The gameplay feels like never reaching an ♥♥♥♥♥♥, it just keeps starting and after a short time ending the stimulation, never letting you reach full satisfaction. After a while of playing it i just feel like i have to reach the end of the story, just for the sake of it. It just doesn't even feel in the slightest pleasurable anymore.

Also the dynamic is not so good... the controls.. just don't work very well with the environment. Everything is too slow, it's sometimes hard to get to places because of how the environment of a level is designed, othertimes the angle of the camera is just a huge nuisance, and usually progressing is exhausting because it's just slow and very inefficient. It feels like you have to work so hard to just get an interesting scrap of the whole story.

Not even the Joker would like this incoherent Chaos.

2/10 for effort i guess.
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john.fisherman
1.1 hrs
Posted: September 17
A gorgeous visual experience and a poetic fantastic-realism setting. If David Lynch were to make a game, this would be it.
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parkerrwyd
2.1 hrs
Posted: September 12
Absolutely incredible.
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fat_cap [Rusty Anvil]
3.9 hrs
Posted: September 11
!
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Overkill
0.8 hrs
Posted: September 10
I love point and click adventure games more than any other genre, this one really does try to be different and some people are going to love it, for me I just can't get into it or enjoy it. I guess for the money I spent on it £1 (keysite) I haven't wasted too much.
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cyb-009
7.2 hrs
Posted: September 10
Very strange but very intriguing.

The way the world slowly warps into ever more surreal situations and visa's after the reasonably normal start at the gas station keeps you going, wanting to find out what weird but also kind of comfortingly normal situation you'll find yourself in next.
The whole visual style does an great job of this, as does the writing.

Maybe more of a visual novel than a adventure game I think.
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Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
9.7 hrs on record
Posted: August 27
Beautiful and brilliant. On the surface it's a point and click adventure without any real puzzles, but the magic is in the experience of it. Sip this game like a fine bourbon, the pace is slower than anything else I can recall playing.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
1.2 hrs on record
Posted: August 29
Really like the art style of this game. I was hooked after the first hour and want to see more of it. Plenty of mystery and a nice interface.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
8.5 hrs on record
Posted: September 4
KRZ is like a work of art that deserves the title masterpiece. The sound, the visuals, the characters, the story are bundled together to create an experience unlike anything i've seen in years. Totally recommended.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
10.0 hrs on record
Posted: September 24
I am waiting for 2025 to play the final act :'O
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
5.5 hrs on record
Posted: September 10
This game is probably not for everyone, but it's perfect for a guy like myself. Despite a few minor bugs (nothing game-breaking) I'm loving it. As I write this I have finished all but Act 4. It has a dream-like quality that I can appreciate, and some interesting psychological as well as technological points to make. Fans of movies by the likes of David Lynch and some of David Cronenberg's will feel at home playing this game...also makes me think of writer Philip K D*ck. I went in pretty blind so won't say much else to that end. There is a quite a bit of dialogue which - while interesting and well-written - does not seem to affect the outcome much. Even so, I appreciate the writing more than in most games that are dialogue-heavy. The characters are well written and interesting, and the dialogue feels true to them. It's definitely worth picking up on a sale if you are into atmospheric games with some pretty unique themes.

I definitely hope to see more games like this in the future. I believe it will be a game I will play through again at some point, the same way I periodically rewatch Twin Peaks every so often.

The only bug I really encountered relates to saving the game. While in the Forest I saved the game and exited before I got to the doctor. Later when I loaded the game back up, the triggers to progress had disappeared. I ended up having to restart the entire Act, which was a bit frustrating because it was at the very end and I could not restart just at that scene, but had to go all the way back through all the scenes. I didn't mind terribly going back through and choosing the other dialogue options along the way, though the outcome is the same regardless. I can see this frustrating some folks more than myself.
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4 of 7 people (57%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
36.6 hrs on record
Posted: September 19
I loved this game. I was enthralled by it's story and presentation. It truely is a piece of art.

But I cannot recommend it or support it with a positive review until it's complete. The wait for Act V has been beyond acceptable.

Come on guys - finish the story.
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
183 of 206 people (89%) found this review helpful
Recommended
29.6 hrs on record
Posted: May 20, 2014
For those who have not previously come upon it, Kentucky Route Zero is a five part point and click/text adventure hybrid described by its creators as a "magical realist adventure game about a secret highway in the caves beneath Kentucky, and the mysterious folks who travel it."

I often find Kentucky Route Zero a difficult game to describe. The narrative follows the final delivery of a driver whose company is undergoing financial difficulty, as he seeks out 5 Doogwood Drive, an address that isn't on Conway's maps. Stopping for directions, Conway is told that it can be found on the other side of the Zero, a mysterious underground highway that the game derives its name from. As a vague plot synopsis, that probably isn't immediately appealing, and yet Kentucky Route Zero manages to be one of the most engaging and interesting gaming experiences I've ever had.

Gameplay is a juxtaposed combination of traditional style point and click adventure mechanics in 3D scenes for key areas, and evocative text only sequences, punctuated by an exploration oriented "driving" interface represented as a stylised overhead map.

The choices the game presents you with rarely offer alternate outcomes. In contrast to more traditional point and click adventures, where progressing is a matter of chosing the correct dialogue options or performing the correct tasks, KR0 opts for a far more subtle and resonating style in which your choices define the tone of the game and the attitudes of its characters in response to the situations and predicaments they encounter. In some ways, it feels as though the player's actions control a shifting lens through which subsequent revelations are seen - an understated, yet powerful mechanic that somehow makes the player's actions feel more real and meaningful than one would usually find.

The characters in and around the Zero feel deep and rich. Even characters whose appearances seem bit parts carry a sense of life and believability. As the game progresses, Conway attracts a party of companions who join his search for 5 Dogwood Drive, each with their own outlooks and energies, motivations and troubles. Each new character shifts the dynamics of character exposition, bringing new aspects of familiar faces into relief with the flashlight of their own perspectives.

Visually, Kentucky Route Zero offers a deceptively simple style, and at first glance could be mistaken for 2D vector work. Instead, KR0's point and click scenes are entirely 3D, combining some great set design, fantastic lighting and some nice camera work with dynamic effects that work to enhance and support the game's aesthetics rather than define them (in particular, there's a super neat bit with some trees towards the end of Act II that creates an opportunity for two pairs of characters' contrasting experiences and enthusiasm to be presented at once in a way that is both interesting and in some ways moving).

From a sound design perspective, the game is equally striking, with the already atmospheric visual and narrative tone boosted further by the kind of immersive soundscapes that tend to not be directly noticed until highlighted, but as soon as you're aware, you can't help but admire them.

Kentucky Route Zero is a masterful work of interactive storytelling that is executed astoundingly well. For those who already know this, here are a couple of articles and interviews which are worth checking out if you haven't come across them already.

If you're undecided or would like to see more examples of this team's narrative work, Cardboard Computer have so far released two free standalone interludes, Limits and Demonstrations, and The Entertainment, which take place between Acts I and II, and Acts II and III respectively.
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156 of 187 people (83%) found this review helpful
Recommended
2.1 hrs on record
Posted: January 5, 2014
Y'know, when all was said and done, Kentucky Route Zero managed to be my game of the year. I couldn't tell you exactly why. The game's trippy, mysterious. Gorgeous. I could stare at this game for hours, but, of course, the mystery drives me on--because this is a real mystery, not some generic 'who murdered whom?' It's far more than that. I want to know who Julian is, what significance the mine has, how the barn ended up in a museum, and why the museum's occupants... why does the museum have occupants? Kentucky Route Zero is a mystery, a real mystery. I want to know more--I must know more!

And yet... the more I know, the less I understand. This is less of a traditional point and click adventure game, and more of... well, some sort of adventure. There's one point in Chapter 2 where my mouth dropped open, though I was looking at nothing more than inky blackness and a 2D map sketched in white lines.

This game looks good, but it sounds even better. The experience is practically made by sound. Oh, sure, the strange figures that appear if you shut off the lights in the mine are frightening, but something about it is way more compelling when you've got those headphones plugged in. Immersing yourself in this game's aural landscape is like taking a bath. Soothing. Gentle. Calm.

And yet... something there is unsettling, always unsettling. This is a room with a Bureau in an old cathedral, an abandoned storage facility that used to be a church, a floor occupied entirely by bears. This is a game that unnerved me with a simple phrase and a sound effect. This game... this game... it's something you, and everyone you know, ought to try.

As games I tried in 2013 go, Kentucky Route Zero was moving, mysterious, engrossing, and over all too quickly. For now. The first two chapters have released, and the game will be updated with three more in the future. I can't wait.

I loved every second of it, and I'm sure you will too.
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165 of 200 people (83%) found this review helpful
Recommended
9.4 hrs on record
Posted: November 23, 2013
I never played many point and click games so I wasn't sure what to expect going in, but I really enjoyed my time with Kentucky Route Zero. Its strange and puzzling story/atmosphere will certainly bring in fans of David Lynch and surreal story lovers.

Soak in the world, the characters and the music. Don't speed your way through.

And While all the acts aren't out yet, I only have positive feelings towards the devs. They are taking their time to make it the best they can!
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111 of 127 people (87%) found this review helpful
Recommended
3.9 hrs on record
Posted: June 24, 2014
I've finished the 1st Act and I have to say I'm impressed.
About 10 years ago, I went to a university course on "Hyperliterature and new forms of narration". It was very enlightening, we studied some of the new waves of storytelling, watched some David Lynch movies, played some live rpg games (based on Kult, best rpg ever) and so on... best course I ever attended, shame it was so short. I remember writing an essay about videogames, mostly focused on my experiences with graphic adventures and a game I couldn't stop playing by then called Half Life 2.
I just wish I could go back again today, after playing Kentucky Route Zero. It feels like the kind of game I was wishing for in those days.

KR0 is a captivating exercise of storytelling, sucks you in from the beginning and minimizes the interface to focus on the audiovisual experience. Same goes for all the technical aspects of the game. Graphics, music and gameplay are well polished and just let you enjoy the story without getting in the way. They all do their part, and do it very good.

The enviroment is dreamlike, inmersive, deceptively lifeless. So many details appearing out of the corner of the player's eye, so many left to the player's imagination.
This is not a usual adventure, but more an interactive story. The narration comes mostly from what you see and what you hear, saving you from reading huge walls of text. Actually, the text is just another element, and it doesn't give any important information most of the time. It does add up to the overall experience and it's a pleasure to read.
Something that caught my attention is that you never seem to be in control, just like in a dream. Your mind will struggle to follow a logic path to the story, but the game will break your will and ultimately take you for a ride. Just sit back, get comfy and enjoy it.

I can't wait to go back and continue with the game, just wanted to recommend it to everyone looking for a good, innovative experience in the already bursting indie scene. Games like this make me feel proud to be a gamer and, having passed my 30, look to my friends who jumped off the videogame train because it wasn't mature enough for society standards and think "You don't know what you're missing".

PS. Big points for the references to Gabriel García Márquez, recently passed away colombian writer, creator of the magic realist that influences this game heavily. I bet he would be proud and happy to play this game.
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