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 (67 reviews) - 68% of the 67 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
Overall:
Very Positive (1,261 reviews) - 85% of the 1,261 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

 

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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.

44 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 (67 reviews)
Overall:
Very Positive (1,261 reviews)
Recently Posted
anubisrectifies
( 5.7 hrs on record )
Posted: July 27
Kentucky Route Zero is a masterpiece. Atmospheric, intelligent, insightful, sublime, magical realist and thoroughly American, it is a beautiful and well-executed exploration of the possibilities for storytelling in a young medium. Some may accuse it of aimlessness, or a meandering, dense-and-yet-unexplained plot, but plot is both what this game is about and what it is not about. If you want clear-cut answers and no ambiguity, this game is not for you. If, however, you have an open mind and a romantic heart, you will experience a game like no other. No doubt it will stand as a classic in the canon of literature, film, theater, and yes, video games, that stick in your mind and refuse to leave.

Highly recommended.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Moonbug
( 3.4 hrs on record )
Posted: July 27
This game is simply amazing. The mood, the ambience, the dialogue and the characters. I can easily say this is my favorite indie game by far. This game is more of an experience, and it really draws you into its world. I wish I could write out more, but I'm not too good with my words. All I can say is this game has some fantastic writing, and its worth getting lost in (especially at night, with the lights closed).
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Orionis
( 2.8 hrs on record )
Posted: July 27
Easily my favourite indie game of all time. Would recommend for anyone looking for an experience more than a game.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Fire Sprite
( 4.8 hrs on record )
Posted: July 26
Totally worth the wait! Been here and I'm not leaving now. Would buy again
Helpful? Yes No Funny
wllppr
( 27.0 hrs on record )
Posted: July 26
Kentucky Route Zero is the most bewitching, intriguing, thought-provoking, and simply beautiful piece of interactive media I've come across in years. Many criticisms have been levelled against the protracted development time, which is both a weakness (unclear communication) and strength (opportunity to revisit, the release of interludes) of the episodic nature of the game. Now that 4 out of the 5 planned Acts have been released, it's a perfect time to pick it up and dig in. With the recent release of Act IV, it's clear how much care and detail has been put into each successive release - including a major revamping of the engine. Small choices and decisions from each Act carry through in unexpected ways, combining exponentially to create both subtle and major changes in each playthrough. The writing is simply great, too - probably the finest example of Telltale-style narrative choice out there. Every option you don't pick adds flavor to the world, its characters, and their motivations.

The game opens up a few times each Act, letting you explore the roads of Kentucky and the mysterious roads & rivers beneath it. Tons of hidden encounters and locations can be found in these parts, completely missable if you choose to rush through. Many places can be revisited, with some surprising changes to be found. It's really a joy to replay and uncover these secrets, choose different paths in conversations, pick up on new threads and connections each time. The game's themes of memory, loss, debt, place, identity...are really embedded everywhere you look. I get a kick out of all of the references and influences, too: historical, architectural, artistic, early poetic computation, stagecraft and set design - not pretentious, just added depth & flavor.

A Few Situations You Might Encounter Playing Kentucky Route Zero:
- Performing recorded found sounds at a theremin concert on a houseboat.
- Playing a text adventure simulating the creation of the archaic supercomputer you're playing it on.
- Picking mushrooms on an artificial island of cypress trees.
- Exploring a museum of domeciles, mostly inhabited.
- Touring a subterranean whiskey distillery underneath a church burial ground.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
BluebirdOfDarkness
( 6.3 hrs on record )
Posted: July 26
The visuals are gorgeous and the story is mesmerizing.

I'm looking forward to Act V, and I'm happy to wait for it.

(Like Ida says in Act IV (to paraphrase): Things happen slower down here.)
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Bobi Roka
( 7.8 hrs on record )
Posted: July 26
Wasted another 2 hours of my life on this last night. I honestly don't know why I bother - I guess it's just morbid curiosity about why the 4th instalment had taken so long. I can only assume it's down to logistics and/or laziness because the latest episode isn't anywhere near as ambitious as previous instalments. I think it's possible that I didn't see some of the 'scenes' because you're given a choice of what to do, but when one of said choices involves loading VHS tapes into a VCR and reading text descriptions of what is being viewed then I'm not especially compelled to find out what the alternative is. This series represents the absolute height of pretentiousness IMHO and I will only tolerate it because at the very least it respects my time. Roll on the final episode so I can be rid of it forever. Avoid this series at all costs. There are so many better things you could do with your time.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
DragonFax
( 5.8 hrs on record )
Posted: July 25
Too aimless.

With the first episode, I fell in love with this series. It was odd. There were mysteries to understanding the world presented in this game. There were new techniques in game dialog and story that I hadn't seen before. And the simplistic look didn't scare me away at all.

With the second episode, more mysteries, no answers. But there were yet more new mechanics to enjoy and theorize about.

I was excited to start the 3rd episode, but by the end it was quite apparent that there is no "plan" here. There is no story. Just a bunch of random things happening. This made it difficult to care about any of the characters, and their stories. By the end of the 3rd episode it was a fight to keep going long enough to finish it.

The 4th episode was even harder to start, knowing that plodding through tons of slow dialogue wouldn't gain any real answers or plot development. It was a fight to keep pushing through, without caring about the characters or situations, as they were going nowhere.

I won't bother to play the 5th episode... if it ever comes out. I'm putting this in my steam category reserved for games to never look at again. Along side several permanently broken and forgotten titles, some kickstarters that were never finished, but released anyways, and the Worms series.


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biegelk
( 13.0 hrs on record )
Posted: July 24
This might be my favorite game of all time. This game is impossible to describe--when I tell people they should play it, I can only say things like "this game is baffling--but sometimes in a way that makes you smile, and sometimes in a way that makes you sad, and sometimes in a way that makes you nervous." The world of KRZ is magical and ethereal; playing this game feels the same way as having a philosophical conversation at three in the morning. It's an almost mystical experience. It feels very important while you are playing it. I really cannot stop thinking about it.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
allhail42
( 9.0 hrs on record )
Posted: July 24
A surrealist painting set in motion. Well written, imaginative and gripping. Once it gets into your head (which happens quickly) it will stay with you. A treat for your mind.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
41 of 45 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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26 of 31 people (84%) 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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26 of 32 people (81%) found this review helpful
3 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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7 of 8 people (88%) found this review helpful
Recommended
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
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11 of 16 people (69%) 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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9 of 13 people (69%) 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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7 of 10 people (70%) 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 9 people (67%) 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 13 people (62%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
5.8 hrs on record
Posted: July 25
Too aimless.

With the first episode, I fell in love with this series. It was odd. There were mysteries to understanding the world presented in this game. There were new techniques in game dialog and story that I hadn't seen before. And the simplistic look didn't scare me away at all.

With the second episode, more mysteries, no answers. But there were yet more new mechanics to enjoy and theorize about.

I was excited to start the 3rd episode, but by the end it was quite apparent that there is no "plan" here. There is no story. Just a bunch of random things happening. This made it difficult to care about any of the characters, and their stories. By the end of the 3rd episode it was a fight to keep going long enough to finish it.

The 4th episode was even harder to start, knowing that plodding through tons of slow dialogue wouldn't gain any real answers or plot development. It was a fight to keep pushing through, without caring about the characters or situations, as they were going nowhere.

I won't bother to play the 5th episode... if it ever comes out. I'm putting this in my steam category reserved for games to never look at again. Along side several permanently broken and forgotten titles, some kickstarters that were never finished, but released anyways, and the Worms series.


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10 of 17 people (59%) 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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