Kentucky Route Zero continues to be a spectacular game, though the soundtrack in this act is what becomes the most important, as we meet some new companions to aid us in the journey. The two musicians create the most mind-blowing songs that literally make the roof disappear. Sounds familiar? Seems like surrealism is almost the main theme in the game.
But let’s start from the beginning of the act, the opening of Conway speaking to Lysette in an almost dreamlike setting full of warm and summery colours. For those who don’t remember, this is the lady for whom Conway makes deliveries of antiques. As gorgeous as the animation and colouring in this game is, there aren’t many happy colours, it’s a moment of happiness in the middle of a gloomy journey.
Sadly, at one point of that conversation, we return to the idea of antiques in a metaphorical sense, carrying our stories, our tragedies. Lysette seems to recall a tragedy that still haunts Conway, so perhaps this conversation isn’t the most pleasant. Lysette’s memory loss is portrayed, as she forgets words and her actions from just last night. It’s quite sad to see her in such a state. Though it is all just a memory, a dream, or even a hallucination caused by the anaesthetic while Conway’s leg is in the process of being fixed by Doctor Truman, there still is a mysterious antique to deliver.
As our hero awakes from his sleep induced by Neurypnol TM, he finds his leg pretty different, as if it was completely replaced with a yellow-glowing skeleton. However, though he claims that it is not his leg, it appears that for everyone else, it is still Conway’s normal leg. The doctor did say that there may be some strange and unexplainable after effects of the drug that may remain forever, but he found this after effect unusual.
While Conway is getting used to his ‘new’ leg, the least he can do is enjoy the journey in the attempt to make his final delivery. He truly seems to appreciate every single one of his companions. As grouchy as he was because of the pain in the previous act, he appears a whole lot happier and more interactive in this act.
After their leave from the doctor, we return to the Museum of Dwellings, specifically, its parking lot since the museum itself is closed overnight. Seeing people at the entrance, there is an opportunity to approach them and speak to them, but our presence isn’t acknowledged at all.
From there, we travel through the night and just when the player’s thought the delivery couldn’t get any harder, the truck breaks down in the middle of the road. Stuck besides a fallen tree, the group waits for help. Now, hope you’re excited about this part, because this is where we meet our musical companions that I mentioned at the start – Junebug and Johnny. Although they’re late to their gig, they’re very happy to stop and fix our truck and then drag us to the gig with them.
Once we reach the bar, The Lower Depths, we find yet another moment of beauty during our companions’ performance. It is truly magical. Once the walls and the roof dissolve into nothing, the starry sky and the moon are revealed. You’ve got to play it even if it’s just for this view, it’s a magnificent and spectacular performance. To make it even better, it’s interactive too, you pick the lyrics of the song as it’s being sung, and it’s really well made.
After this comes one of the most memorable places of Kentucky Route Zero – Hall of the Mountain King. We enter the lower depths but in a literal way, as this location is a cave, which is only lit up by a pile of burning electronics. The interior of the cave is tall with pillars of rock, and many different tunnels are exposed.
Speaking to Donald, a computer scientist who is a friend of our guide at Equuis Oils, we find out about the history of the cave, his research and past. He also introduced us to a mouldy computer, which he created with the purpose of it documenting its own creation. It also has a very strange simulation called Xandau, which essentially is a game within a game, where you create the story within the story.
Donald claimed that the computer was sabotaged by creatures called Strangers, as a result we go to find them, but the actual interaction happens off screen, while Ezra and our friendly punks wait in the foggy forest surrounded by graves. All in all, we don’t actually know what happened while Shannon and Conway went to talk to the Strangers until we tell the story of the meeting to our companions.
Returning to the bureau, after Lula figured out the directions to Dogwood Drive and was located for us using Xandau, we wait for the ferry. In the meantime, this is where Conway tells us about the events that took place with the Strangers, who seem to just be walking, glowing skeletons, just like Conway’s leg.
So, what happened when they went to see these Strangers? Turns out that Conway was mistaken for one of their new employees, and ends up drinking some of their most expensive whisky to celebrate the occasion. Essentially, Conway is told that he will have to work in order to pay back the whisky.
Finally getting onto the ferry with a mammoth, we reach the end of the act, which I think is the longest of the four, but one of the most enjoyable. As weird as the world of Kentucky Route Zero is, it’s definitely something original. Leaving us, more or less, with a cliffhanger in every act, but at the same time, it’s a good type of cliffhanger. The one which you look forward to knowing what happens next, but can wait, which is great considering the time between the releases.
Magdalena Kolodziej is a freelance journalist and contributor to PN2. You can find her on Twitter @magda_0019