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 (66 reviews) - 69% of the 66 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
Overall:
Very Positive (1,252 reviews) - 85% of the 1,252 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Feb 22, 2013

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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.

43 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! Learn more
Recent:
Mixed (66 reviews)
Overall:
Very Positive (1,252 reviews)
Recently Posted
Coleo_Kin
( 11.7 hrs on record )
Posted: July 24
It's Mc♥♥♥♥in good
Helpful? Yes No Funny
LJS67
( 11.2 hrs on record )
Posted: July 24
I am really bad at review writing but wanted to add a positive review no matter how pathetically it is done . I absolutely love this game. It is hypnotic, relaxing, beautiful, philosophical, artsy. It just draws me in and takes me to this beaitiful place the developers have created - where many not so beautiful things happen in fact, but we just keep travelling. This game is not for everyone. But if you like reading and making choices and rambling along with an mesmorizing soundrack and interesting characters, then you might just appreciate this. Everything is intercommected so attention must be paid in order to get the most out of this experience. If that seems like too much work for a "game" then maybe it's not for you. I love this game and with each episode have been surprised each time at how much I get sucked into this strange world and become engrossed in this story. One final episode to go and I shall wait patiently with both anticipation and a twinge of regret that with the last episode this the trip down that highway will come to an end.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Junebug
( 16.0 hrs on record )
Posted: July 24
No 3D AAA quality graphics.
No jaw-dropping action sequences.
No challenging puzzles.
No revolutionary gameplay mechanics.
No multiplayer mode you'll enjoy for hours here.

But lost highways.
Endless caves.
Pre-historic gigantic birds carrying houses to the forest.
Ferries carrying mammoths.
Whiskey factories running by skeletons.
Lost rivers.
Forgotten bars.

But it's basically the story of some ordinary people with familiar pains, weaknesses, goals, pasts, loves and disappointments among all these oddness, looking for an adress that doesn't exist in today's familiarly unfamiliar US. Also an unusually mature meditation about life, death, love, ambition, reality, poverty, capitalism, meaning and existence.

And oh god, it's wonderful.
10/10
Helpful? Yes No Funny
PHLAK
( 6.7 hrs on record )
Posted: July 23
KR0 is a point and click adventure game with a very chill and relaxing vibe. You can just sit back and absorb it after work or before you go to bed. Though, to be honest, calling it just a game falls a bit short. KR0 is really more of an experience than just a game. You'll really find yourself taking in the atmosphere and feeling for the characters and story. If you haven't already, I highly recommend picking up a copy for yourself, you wont regret it, plus, we still have Act V to look forward to.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
cooling-off stockholder
( 6.8 hrs on record )
Posted: July 22
With Act IV out this game continues to be the best way to spend my life.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Sol_HSA
( 7.9 hrs on record )
Posted: July 22
Interesting art style. Atmospheric. Nice audio design punctuated with some nice music. Hard to undestand, probably by design. I suppose it's art.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Venomlemon
( 3.3 hrs on record )
Posted: July 22
You either love it or hate it. I can't but hate it. I know there must be a lot of people who appreciate this type of game and find it appealing from the get go but for me it has been nothing but grinding of teeth from the start. It's a text adventure with an abstract art to support the "narrative". If you enjoy poetry, going to modern art exhibitions and overall being "in and philosophical" with art world and have deep thoughts of how colour blue might taste like, this might be for you. In that case I also recommend movies like Mulholland Drive and Norwegian Wood. What comes to my personal tastes, these types of products just make me unreasonably angry. Yes I get the meaning behind symbolic meanings and "art is in beholders eye" I just don't agree they are good idea to have. Especially when it comes with cost of being a game.

I guess it comes down to having so few gameplay elements in it and being more of a interactive fiction. I never enjoyed walls of text, especially when I feel like it's absolutely meaningless what you do in the game and are just in for some weird art exhibition.

So far game has had few high points, but not nearly enough to survive past what can be described as computer demo-scene art from 90's.

/end of rant

Helpful? Yes No Funny
DarkOwl
( 7.4 hrs on record )
Posted: July 22
So far I've really enjoyed KRZ. Acts I, II and III have all been compelling.

But Act IV... it's different. It seems like a lot of vignette scenes, and maybe I've forgotten the first three acts in the two years it's taken IV to be finished, but it feels like IV is just chock-full of expository dialogue, whereas in the prior episodes the dialogue was tighter.

I hope that Act V returns to form, because whilst I did enjoy IV in the sense of I've enjoyed KRZ to this point, I didn't enjoy it *as much* as the first three acts which were truly mind-blowing.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
mitbox
( 5.8 hrs on record )
Posted: July 21
Maybe it's just me, I just couldn't get into this game. It's content was just random nonsense strewn together to me.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Logan
( 0.2 hrs on record )
Posted: July 21
this game was ♥♥♥. it was boring and felt like i was in the 90's. If i had actually paid for this game i would have asked for a refund. Literally wiping your ♥♥♥ with your money is a better use of it then buying this game.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
31 of 34 people (91%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
7.9 hrs on record
Posted: July 13
It is spooky, odd, unsettling, disturbing, and unfinsihed. It's a ghost story, and then it's surreal and absurd, and deeply disturbing from time to time. Too real and too painful in places. A ghost story that's just a shade away from reality. It's not realistic graphics, and it's not jump scares. But it haunts me. And I don't think I have a second playthrough in me. I don't think I want to walk through that graveyard again. But how is it? It's phenomenal. It's an experience. It's clicking and reading. No real action. Not ever too puzzling. But so odd of an experience. Characters I care about, and other characters I despise for one reason or another. I will gladly play Act IV when it releases, but sometimes while playing, I would have to save and quit and walk around the real world to make sure I was in the right reality.
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25 of 30 people (83%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Recommended
1.8 hrs on record
Posted: July 3
Kentucky Route Zero is a secret highway.
I hope I never find it.
Every stop is pulling me in.

Who knew you could bend storytelling
into such magnificent shapes.
Constant surprises and intrigue.

If David Lynch grabbed some cardboard
and fashioned it into a computer.
He might be able to create something
strange and unusual but this,
this is beyond Twin Peaks.

More like Quadruple Peaks.
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23 of 27 people (85%) found this review helpful
Recommended
4.2 hrs on record
Posted: July 4
INTRO:
just finished the 3 available acts for this game. actually, i had a snack just now, but after i got caught up with the game itself, i knew i wanted to write a review. so here's something informal touching on what i wanted to comment on.

it grabbed me. from the start, i was intrigued. i played through the 3 acts in 4 hours, stopping once to retrieve noodles that i ate while continuing to play. this is something hl2, ori and the blind forest, ac iv: black flag, twdg, and quite a few others out of the handful i've actually played have not been able to achieve with me. it's not that i disliked them, they just didn't catch my pitiful attention span the way this did. now, for my (informal) review proper.

AMBIENCE:
the world feels a lot like ours, but slightly off. for example, things appear after darkness is illumined, things that weren't there before. small details and supernatural, magical little events reminding you that this game's world isn't 100% realistic, yet strangely close to that.

i described the game as having a bit of a welcome to night vale feel. and after playing, i had a feeling not unlike post-movie stupor in which some poking is needed to make you feel 'normal' again.

GRAPHICS:
there is a wonderful aliased 3d art style with low-poly, kind of blocky models. but there are small details with beautiful lighting and movement making what's seemingly simple really quite complex. the use of colour is amazing, not unlike the palettes of firewatch - another gorgeous game.

something i really, really loved was the movement, especially with the camera. there are some scene rotations that honestly took my breath away. the artists definitely put the capabilities of 3d to great use.

WRITING:
there was plenty of narration and dialogue. i personally love reading, and i loved the writing of this game. it ties in well with its ambience, and i liked how dialogue options weren't a huge pressure in the sense that they could have serious ramifications later on. a lot of back and forth gave insight to characters, telling more about them than existing solely to drive the story forward with little more substance than that.

SOUND:
the music helped a lot with the ambience, really adding to that slightly odd/off kind of feel. i particularly enjoyed the sound effects. good sfx can really flow with immersion, stuff like driving, the radio, footsteps, etc. there are also plenty of quieter moments with minimal audio addition that added to calm, silent, creepy scenes.

GAMEPLAY:
not much to say here; it's point and click. a lot of explorable areas weren't too big, and nearing interactive characters/objects gives the option to interact with them. i did get lost at one point driving, but this shouldn't be a huge issue because you get directions that you are free to refer to as needed when on the road.

OUTRO/TL;DR:
overall, i recommend this game if you'd like something more story-driven with less focus on gameplay/skill. it's still rife with interactive elements, but you're really playing for a great narrative that comes with interactivity.

finally, i want to say i was very, very immersed. i can't really explain how i felt playing this, so i'll loosely transcribe what i said over chat earlier. it was really good. it was an experience. i don't know how to explain it, but it was inspiring as hell. i draw and write, and during gameplay i felt like i could bang out ten pages, no sweat, if i tried right then and there. playing it reminded me of what it feels like to play a video game. like, that's what you can feel like to play a video game. probably sounds silly, but it reminded me of what video games can do to a player who embarks on its journey. like, y'know, question reality and life. that kind of thing.

it's a good game. even just these three acts were a very fulfilling experience, but i can't wait for the next two. it's past 3:30 am and i was gonna fix my sleep schedule but damn this was worth it.
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10 of 13 people (77%) found this review helpful
Recommended
7.9 hrs on record
Posted: June 28
A game about exploring the weirdness along the roads and highways of Kentucky, KRZ is a memorable journey through a variety of unique and interesting environments with a wonderful cast of characters. The visuals are beautiful and the dialogue is the best I've ever seen in a game; both perfectly capture the essence and pull you into the story and world that it creates. Although the waits between acts have been lengthy, you will find it well worth the wait when you see what they accomplished with the time (Act III came a couple years after Act II but is the most fleshed out, diverse, and impressive to date).

If you love games with distincitve visuals, extraordinary dialogue and characters, and a bit of surreal mystery, this game is 100% for you. See you on the Zero.
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7 of 8 people (88%) found this review helpful
Recommended
10.3 hrs on record
Posted: July 20
Don't give a **** about the delays because this game is incredible. The only other two games I've played as atmospheric as this are Limbo and Hyper Light Drifter. I remember a long time ago I think it was One Life Left that stated Sunless Sea had some of the best written content in all of videogames, and for a while they were correct, until I played this game. I've never enjoyed reading any videogame narration anywhere near as much as this game.

The entire game is surreal and abstract - including the writing - so be a fan of that. But if you can handle it, and game atmosphere interests you, this is an absolute must-play.

10/10 would cry at the song in the woods again
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6 of 7 people (86%) found this review helpful
Recommended
10.0 hrs on record
Posted: July 20
Kentucky Route Zero is truly the epitome of the quote "Every Frame a Painting". Beautiful, sad and thought-provoking, it's the kind of game you end up sitting in silence and thinking about long after you've finished playing. If you're anything like me you'll probably be screenshotting your way through your playthrough every chance you get; the cinematography and use of colour is just gorgeous and every move the camera makes works to frame the game's subjects in the most gorgeous and cinematic fashion possible (much like Shadow of the Colossus does)*. The attention to detail in the storytelling is simply breathtaking and the humour and references to media/information theory are v clever in their implementation (see: the Shannon-Weaver model).

If you enjoy stageplays, quietly weird fiction, and slow, thoughtful and intelligent storytelling then I definitely recommend this game. A wonderful example of Southern Gothic literature and excellent playwriting, it touches on themes such as debt, poverty, loss and being lost, and overcoming obstacles. The characters are diverse, sometimes quirky, often sympathetic, and always fascinating and engaging in their own rights. Having just finished Act IV last night in one sitting I'm left fairly heartbroken at its turn of events, but also hopeful that things will turn out okay in the end, even if the main players may not have much in the means of influence within the world of the game. Ben Babbitt's soundtrack is beautiful and adds perfectly to the ambience of the game, and the aliased style of the graphics are simple and minimalist (especially whilst traveling the Zero) and yet perfectly unique and fitting to the feel and tone of the game.

It's a multitude of things that make Kentucky Route Zero as enchanting as it is – it's a poem, it's a ghost story, it's a piece of art cinema; it's a collection of vignettes on what it means to be lonely vs alone and the many different ways people may find it hard to fit into society. In my experience, it's best played late at night, when it's quiet both within and without – being in the right frame of mind is key to fully appreciating the game, but KR0 does a fine job of bringing you into that mood as soon as you start up the game anyway.

I'll finish here with a quote from a Tweet my friend (who gifted me the game) posted last night:
"He just wants to finish a delivery. She just wants answers about a family mystery. Things complicate, as they do. I hope they un-complicate."

So do I... so do I.

(*In case you haven't guessed by this point, I am, in fact, a Film Hons. grad and a filmmaker. haha)
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8 of 11 people (73%) found this review helpful
Recommended
4.5 hrs on record
Posted: July 2
Hauntingly beautiful, intimate, and real, It's an experience unlike anything else I've ever seen. Best played on a cool summer night.
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8 of 12 people (67%) found this review helpful
Recommended
4.9 hrs on record
Posted: July 20
ok ok so despite the long wait between acts (act iv was just released after two years) and the game being slightly overpriced for the hours it gives you—the writing is so beautiful that i can't recommend this enough!! and with great art and soundtrack to go with it!! i want every word tattooed on my skin!!!

10/10 would inject this game into bloodstream
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10 of 16 people (63%) found this review helpful
Recommended
10.8 hrs on record
Posted: July 6
Captures feelings I have never experienced in a videogame, an aimless drive in the country after a long summer day.
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163 of 313 people (52%) found this review helpful
7 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
7.8 hrs on record
Posted: June 25
While the first three acts are intruiging and fun to play, I cannot recommend this game simply because of the ridiculous amount of time it has taken to release the last episodes. When I purchased this game in Spring 2013, it was promised that the remaining 5 episodes would be released within a year. Act 2 was released in May 2013, and act 3 was released in May 2014. We have been waiting on act 4 for two years, an inexcusable amount of time given what was advertised initially. Do not purchase until it is clear this game is not abandonware.
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