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. Developed by Cardboard Computer (Jake Elliott and Tamas Kemenczy), the game features an original score by Ben Babbitt, along with a suite of old hymns and bluegrass standards recorded by...
User reviews:
Recent:
Mostly Positive (25 reviews) - 76% of the 25 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
Overall:
Very Positive (1,204 reviews) - 86% of the 1,204 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Feb 22, 2013

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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

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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.

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

The game is split into five acts. Acts I, II and III are available now. The remaining two acts will be released as they're 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
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Recent:
Mostly Positive (25 reviews)
Overall:
Very Positive (1,204 reviews)
Recently Posted
Bokslag
( 4.0 hrs on record )
Posted: June 29
wierd art 10/10
Helpful? Yes No Funny
MechZahn
( 4.8 hrs on record )
Posted: June 28
Amazing game that with every episode did something so cool that yes I'm not made that so far it's been about an episode a year. What I love most about KRZ is it's use of game play mechanics, to tell stories in such a way that it communicates things that are pretty darn near impossible to say not in novels but by design. Keep it coming team your work inspires me.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
italktotherain
( 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.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
HooksForHands
( 7.7 hrs on record )
Posted: June 27
Tonally immaculate. Hyperbole be damned - this is a singular experience. Eagerly anticipating the next chapters so I can write something more meaningful.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Zeekerss
( 4.1 hrs on record )
Posted: June 27
This game is like being in a dream. It's about achieving one specific goal, but it's strangely incoherent and nonsensical. I begin to get immersed in the surreal stories and different experiences along the way and almost forget the original purpose of it all, and by the time it's over I don't think I'll have remembered why it ever began.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
wingedsubmariner
( 4.7 hrs on record )
Posted: June 25
Even if the developers were to quit right now, and not release any of the other planned chapters, this would still be the best game ever made. Ignore the recent spate of downvotes - the gaming community needs to learn patience.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
ryan_francis_thomas
( 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.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
C_Rupe
( 14.9 hrs on record )
Posted: June 25
amazing.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
DuaneDibbleySMEG
( 41.7 hrs on record )
Posted: June 25
Really love this game. It's so simple, yet complex. The story just seems to grab you and pull you in. Can see why people are annoyed about lack of urgency from the developers, but there could be a multitude of reasons fo this. They are a small company (only producing one game so far, I believe) and this game is art, which shouldn't be rushed. So, give it a go and try not to get lost.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
VernumV
( 1.8 hrs on record )
Posted: June 24
A very beautiful game. They managed to perfectly capture the strange feeling of driving around late at night.
Helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
74 of 91 people (81%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
3.0 hrs on record
Posted: June 11
This game is broken up into five acts, the first of which was released in January 2013, nearly 3.5 years ago. The developers said they had intended to release a new episode every three months, which would have wrapped the game up by April of the following year. As of now, we still only have three episodes. There were also very few progress updates until recently, leaving customers in the dark as to its status for a long time. The developers insist that the game is still being worked on, but the fact each act only takes around three hours to finish would seem to suggest the developers aren't putting a whole lot of effort into a timely completion. It's a shame because the acts that are out are really good, but the constant delays and the developers lack of a sense of urgency force me to not recommend it.
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54 of 73 people (74%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Not Recommended
4.2 hrs on record
Posted: June 5
The game is good, but the time it takes for new episodes to be realeased is a little confusing. I understand that episodic games are developed by each chapter, but 2 years? Really? I con't really reccommend this game because of this.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
25 of 30 people (83%) found this review helpful
1 person 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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20 of 32 people (63%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
2.9 hrs on record
Posted: June 13
Unfortunately, it looks like I'll be waiting quite a few more summer nights before I get to play through this game's full story.

What is there so far is nice, but it's been so long since the early chapters that I decided to wait until the whole thing is done to finish it. I can't say I honestly reccomend it in its current state, but it does look like it will be worthwhile once it's finished.
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9 of 14 people (64%) found this review helpful
Recommended
11.4 hrs on record
Posted: June 5
It's the kind of game you play early in the morning with a mug o' coffee.
OR late at night after taking a shower... with a mug o' coffee.
because the first few parts of this game is slow paced as fu**
But it does get interesting in the most odd ways.

PS: The flow of the dialogue in this game is very interesting, if you're into non-linear type of stuff, check this game out.
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8 of 13 people (62%) found this review helpful
Recommended
7.7 hrs on record
Posted: June 16
I don't say this lightly, but I consider Kentucky Route Zero the greatest achievement in video game narrative to date. This game is so unique, so sublime, that it's hard to even describe what makes it so good. The subtext in the dialogues, the eerie beauty of the art, the melancholy, the sensation of weird that that makes you shiver as you navigate the world. It's magical realism in the American South, and each chapter is better than the last.The team at Cardboard Computer has really done their homework. I'd say that I'm anxiously awaiting the last two chapters, but nah, let them take all the time they need to finish this masterpiece.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
Recommended
4.1 hrs on record
Posted: June 27
This game is like being in a dream. It's about achieving one specific goal, but it's strangely incoherent and nonsensical. I begin to get immersed in the surreal stories and different experiences along the way and almost forget the original purpose of it all, and by the time it's over I don't think I'll have remembered why it ever began.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
179 of 202 people (89%) found this review helpful
Recommended
23.3 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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155 of 186 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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164 of 199 people (82%) 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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