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I don’t think I could name a more beautiful game. I don’t use ‘beauty’ in the straightforward sense of Kentucky Route Zero [official site]’s appearance, although its bold geometric shapes and flat-wash colour absolutely qualifies, as does its wonderful architecture – Americana infused with magic realism. There is the soundtrack and the sounds too, ambience and steel guitar and the lonely sound of engines – gentle sonic beauty, but again that is on the surface.
In fact there is beauty woven through the core of KRZ: its love of images, its love of words, its love of the American landscape, and perhaps most of all in its preoccupation with the warmer side of the human mind. Whether that be conviviality and the coming together of sympathetic souls, or pulling solace from solitude and from the road. This has been a theme, of sorts, throughout KRZ’s first three acts, but the fourth arguably pushes it more to the fore, consciously slowing down and allowing its expanding cast to idle, to find themselves in idyllic rather than unsettling locales. This could be a good life, if they wanted it.
Kentucky Route Zero Act 4 is nearly done, we proclaimed back in November of last year. The statement was made entirely in good faith, but nearly done proved to be a somewhat flexible term, as was the promise that it would be released soon, which I think we can all agree was last seen receding in our rear view mirror shortly after the new year. But better late than never, as they say.
Kentucky Route Zero, as developer Cardboard Computer describes it, is a magical realist adventure game about a secret highway in the caves beneath Kentucky, and the mysterious folks who travel it. It's a point-and-clicker, but unlike most other games in the genre it follows a meandering but fairly linear path on a journey filled with choices rather than goals: You poke around, you discover, you maybe see something unexpected, and you move on. Dialog is sparse, the visual style is striking, and the audio is something close to perfect.
The release of Act 4 is notable not only because KRZ is such a remarkable game, but because it's taken so long to get here. The first act was released in January 2013; act two game in May of that year, and act three in May 2014, more than two years ago. Cardboard Computer acknowledged the long wait last summer when it assured supporters that the game is not abandoned, canceled, a 'scam,' a performance art piece(?), or anything else but a work-in-progress. But it also warned that, despite the longer-than-expected wait, its process would not change.
Which is fine with me. Good things are worth waiting for, as people like to say, and Kentucky Route Zero is very good indeed. Find out more at kentuckyroutezero.com.
Act IV of Kentucky Route Zero [official site] is finally here, continuing the magical realist journey through subterranean Americana. It’s a pretty flipping special game. We declared the first two episodes our favourites of 2013 and 2014’s Act III was just as lovely but the wait for IV has been long. But doesn’t KRZ teach patience, to enjoy slowness and quiet? It’s here now, and that’s just fine. Settle down with a bottle of Wild Turkey for a lovely evening.
I haven t a lot of patience for dialogue in games. Weighted by exposition and lumpen characterisation, it tends to lumber, but I love the dialogue in Kentucky Route Zero. Telling a story which balances the bizarre with the everyday, it communicates so much with so few words. And the technology that lies behind them is ancient, wielded by games pretty much since their advent. But Kentucky Route Zero employs a twist of design that makes a world of difference:
THE MECHANIC: Multiple choice … [visit site to read more]
Kentucky Route Zero developer Cardboard Computer has tweeted to say that "Act IV is almost done! Excited to share it soon". That was followed by another Tweet of the screenshot above, seemingly from Act IV, which is definitely actually happening!
This is good news. Earlier this year the team had to Tweet to assuage fans desperate to immerse themselves in the next stage of the brooding magical realist adventure game.
So, for total clarity: KRZ Act 4 is not abandoned, canceled, a "scam," a performance art piece(?), or anything else but a work-in-progress.
— cardboard computer (@cardboardcompy) August 2, 2015
The first episode of the five-part series was released in February 2013. Episode three was released in May 2014.The development pace matches the slow-burn feel of the series. By the accounts of those of us that have played them so far, the acts have been worth the wait so far. Personally I'm saving acts II - V for a continuous playthrough on a wintry day.
Oh, happy day! Act IV of Kentucky Route Zero [official site] is “almost done”, say developers Cardboard Computer. They have a picture of a wee boat and everything. It’s a lovely boat. It’s not that we believed Act IV wouldn’t come, as apparently some had started to mutter after more than a year between acts, it’s just grand to hear from it again and know we’re not too far from playing. Even with only two of five planned acts out, KRZ was our game of 2013.
I’ve been on holiday, which means I’ve spent more energy walking around and looking at things>, than I do when I’m at work. It’s a tricky thing, this holiday business. How am I supposed to enjoy the majesty of nature (and the cold pint in a country pub that waits at the end of nature) when my muscles are aching, the sweat is like an oil slick on my brow, and I’ve fallen into the habit of checking my maps every fifteen minutes because I’m convinced I’m walking in the wrong direction.
This article is a part of a series based on 6 months as resident speaker at VideoBrains called A Psychogeography of Games. Psychogeography is a big chewy word put together by drunk French dudes in 1955 to talk about how the landscape of our lives affects how we feel, think and act. Here, I m particularly interested in how the geography of our lives affects how we make games – the psychogeography of our games. So, in 2015, I m going on a series of walks with some of my favourite game designers, in places that have affected how they think about what they make, and turning these into talks and articles.>
This first piece is about a walk with Jake Elliott (Kentucky Route Zero [official site]). Except that because I don t fly, the first walk happened in two different continents we walked on the same day, on different continents, to similar places.
You know that there are adventure games, and you know that some of those adventure games are better than others. But do you know which one is best, and which one is twenty-fifth best? Well, at last you can find out, with our definitive, unimpeachable breakdown of adventure gaming’s best moments.