Kentucky Route Zero is easily one of gaming’s oldest stories, with 5 episodes told over the span of 7 years for it to culminate in one of the most memorable sagas in the medium. The story structure is similar to that of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The Expanse, and other titles where there is no fixed protagonist, but you act as the storyteller, and decide how everything goes. Now on current-generation consoles, here is my Kentucky Route Zero TV Edition review for the PS5.
Without going into much detail, Kentucky Route Zero begins with the story of Conway, a delivery driver trying to do his job but later on, is made part of a much bigger picture. The more you play the story, the more this makes sense, and you might feel a bit lost in the opening hours.
The game follows the point-and-click adventure formula similar to that of Monkey Island or Telltale Games but with a lack of inventory, quick-time events, and other means of interaction. The story is all told through dialogue and unlike the titles above, what you choose has a serious impact on the ending you choose.
The game acts as an evolving story through several dialogue prompts, that initially involve Conway, but as the story develops further, more players join the fray, and this is where the game begins to tell the real story.
Each of the characters has a unique and memorable personality that will play a part in the story and toward the end as well. This is one road trip you will not want to sleep on.
This is a game you absolutely want to play from beginning to end as its message is thought-provoking, layered in meaning, and will really leave you wondering what the other dialogue choices would have yielded on follow-up playthroughs.
There really is no gameplay to talk about. The majority of the game revolves around using the cursor to interact with objects in the environment and choosing the dialog prompts that come up on the screen. This is where the game shines the most. Its simplistic style of storytelling only asks that you pay attention to the dialog and look for the next narrative clue to progress the story hidden in the lines of dialogue.
Aside from clicking on story prompts, you also need to interact with objects in the environment to progress the story at certain points. While most point-and-click adventure games revolve around a formula of finding person A an item to get to the next part of the story, Kentucky does not do that and is much more layered and nuanced in its approach to doing so.
There isn’t much to talk about when it comes to gameplay. In the end, it’s a relatively explorative experience when compared to other titles in the genre. It’s one that even with the mundane gameplay loop, pays off toward the end.
My only real gripe with the story was how much more involved you have to be in the narrative process by reading lengthy and often novel-like bits of dialogue. Some even made me read from the start to make sure I had made the right decision.
The game has a very stylistic presentation. It’s a good mix of Broken Sword 1 with a little bit of Monkey Islands’ visuals. The game presents its scenes from a long shot, barely ever getting too close to the screen. This is where you can truly appreciate the loving detail put into the game world.
While this was reviewed on the PS5 and you will be at amiss to find any modern graphical features such as ray tracing, or the like, the visuals are easily one of the game’s biggest strengths, especially once you get into the really detailed parts.
Initially, the game has a very monotone color palette but as you explore the story and unlock more of it, you go to new places that are rich in visual detail and really make you appreciate the story that took 7 years to tell.
The music is also another strong point of the game. Whether you’re listening to the in-game soundtrack or the seldom-appearing musicians who play a tune on the screen at opportune moments in the game, the sound design is another brilliant element of the title as well.
Kentucky Route Zero is a game that took its time to tell its story in real-time hours and even in the game. The nearly dozen hours I spent playing the 5 episodes put me on a journey I won’t soon forget. With a rich cast of characters, unique storytelling across the five episodes, and excellent presentation make it is a must-play for fans of the point-and-click genre.
What did you think of our Kentucky Route Zero Review? Share what you think about it in the comments below.
This review is based on the PS5 version of Kentucky Route Zero TV Edition. The key was provided by Annapurna Interactive.