Product Details : KENTUCKY ROUTE ZERO
Although it’s styled as a point-and-click adventure, Kentucky Route Zero focuses more on building a sense of place than constructing elaborate puzzles.
It’s centred on deliveryman Conway, who’s trying to finish his last job, and ends up navigating there through a weird and magical path – the eponymous Route Zero, which becomes a greater focus than the destination itself. As one character suggests at the start, it’s how you get where you’re going that matters.
This theme also surfaces in Route Zero’s structure and interface; looking down on a line-drawn map, you can guide Conway either along the direct highways or the twisted back roads. The former will get you to the end quickly , but sticking to the main road means that you’ll hear the drone of traffic rather than the crackle of crickets, and miss out on mysterious locations, such as the pitch-black diner or the abandoned museum on the beaten path.
It’s these incidental locations and diversions that reveal Route Zero’s ambition and character, as they trickle natural mystery into otherwise suburban humdrum. These enigmas are mainly presented through interactive text, to the tune of a crackly bluegrass soundtrack, which helps to subtly build mystery. In fact, the literary and musical artistry are the game’s main strengths.
For all its strengths, though, Route Zero’s approach will be too reductionist for some, and this is compounded by its brevity and the financial model. Route Zero is currently just the first act of a larger game, and new episodes will be delivered throughout the rest of the year, although you can pre-order the lot now to gain extras. Regardless, the first episode functions perfectly as a standalone offering.
While Route Zero’s limited scope is a valid concern, it isn’t a criticism. Just as the longest novels aren’t always the best, Route Zero is better for its limited size and depth. It’s edited in a way that encourages and rewards imagination; adding more to the mix would just dilute it.
Fans of traditional adventures should still be warned that this isn’t a game in the vein of Monkey Island or King’s Quest, however. There’s nothing here that will furrow your brow or tax your brain cells, but that’s only because that would ruin the game’s warm, rich monotony. And while monotony may sound like a weird attribute to praise in a game, the fact remains that Route Zero’s lullaby-like structure offers plenty of returns to those who succumb to its regular rhythm.