Kentucky Route Zero : TV Edition – PS4 Review 1

Kentucky Route Zero – TV Edition to give its full name, is the console port of developer Cardboard Computer’s episodic adventure. First released in 2013 with five acts appearing sporadically with the final act coming in January 2020. As a lapsed Edge reader, this reviewer watched from afar with interest as the KRZ acts gathered plaudits, though while we had a PC capable of playing the game we weren’t particularly inclined to play anything on it having long since switched to consoles.

That said, when the opportunity arose to play it on consoles, we leapt at the opportunity to do so. Be careful what you wish for as while Kentucky Route Zero is really quite good, we’d argue the slow pace probably isn’t all that well suited to consoles. Least of all on a massive telly. You see, KRZ is quite dark. Not in terms of subject matter, more in terms of the fact that it’s set at night. Mostly.

It probably wasn’t an issue on a PC monitor where you’re typically up close and personal to the screen, but it makes for a game you’ll want to play in low light like you’re a morlock or something. Once you eliminate every possible external light source, you’ll be set.

Best described as a series of five distinct vignettes with the only real common thread being the main protagonist Conway and his companion Shannon. There’s others you’ll meet across the five chapters, the titular Route Zero being a constant too. Even if at the outset the reason for it being mentioned in hushed tones isn’t altogether that clear.

The opening act begins with Conway pulling up at Equus Oils on a highway 65 somewhere in Kentucky.  He’s lost and hoping to make a delivery to 5 Dogwood Drive. The only staff member there is an old timer called Joseph and he helpfully tells Conway that the way to Dogwood Drive is via the titular Kentucky Route Zero.

The gameplay here is very much point and click with a heavy focus on the storyline. There’s a few moments where you can deviate a little where you’re rewarded with a trophy. But for the most part, the storyline is pretty fixed with only your dialogue choices being the only real difference between thousands of other people who’ve also negotiated Route Zero.

What Kentucky Route Zero does very well is it never makes you feel like your actions are inconsequential to the storyline. It happens that they are for the most part, but it doesn’t feel that way. Too many story-based games are guilty of making that part painfully obvious to the player, but the deft storytelling here never has that feeling. There’s a lovely unreal feeling throughout that never outstays its welcome. Almost Lynchian in some ways.

As you progress through the episodes, Kentucky Route Zero does a great job of doubling down on the weirdness. Yet, you’re so entrenched in participating that you don’t really notice it happening. It reminded us of Philip K. Dick’s work to some degree, given he’s one of our favourite authors that’s high praise indeed.

Yes, it’s text heavy but nor does it ever get tedious. The writing is very well done with each character having their own distinctive voice. Kentucky Route Zero is very much a game to ruminate over. Play it at a considered pace rather than powering through. Think of it of as a book to dip in and out of and you’ll be well rewarded. We admit it’s difficult to put into words quite how good KRZ is, but it’s definitely our sort of thing.

In conclusion, Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition is a fantastic port of a great episodic point and click adventure. Take your time playing and you’ll be handsomely rewarded with a nuanced story. Don’t binge this, enjoy it at your own pace.

Kentucky Route Zero - TV Edition
9 Overall
+ Deftly told story that immerses you in the weirdness
+ Fantastic plot threads throughout all five episodes
+ Lovely graphical style that enhances the unreal feeling
- It’s so dark graphically, especially early on
- You might find the pace a bit slow, we didn’t
- Shame it took this long to reach consoles
Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition is a fantastic port of a great episodic point and click adventure. It’s really rather excellent. Get to it.

About Ian

Ian likes his games weird. He loves his Vita even if Sony don't anymore. He joined the PS4 party relatively late, but has been in since day one on PS5.

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