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This is the first part of the Kentucky Route Zero series that comprises five acts released episodically. The first act is the only one also released separately for a limited time, the others have to be bought as part of a full season. It is an adventure game with dream-like characters and locations in the magic realist tradition. The story follows Conway, a driver for Lysette's Antiques, Funiture, Glassware and Curiosities who ends up with his truck in the rural part of the state Kentucky in the USA. The game starts with him asking for directions at the Equus Oils gas station as he is looking for the Kentucky Route Zero highway to make his delivery.

The gameplay is similar to a 3rd-person point-and-click adventure. Conway can be moved around and objects or persons that can be interacted with are highlighted with actions such as examine or use. The game has no inventory and only minor puzzle-solving elements. Most of the gameplay is narrative driven with dialogue options in conversations that influence the events. Rather than telling the player the story, the player is the one to determine the characters' emotions and approach. That way the characters are shaped through the player. There is for instance a moment where Conway is no longer controlled and the player determines the dialogue of a new character Shannon when she is introduced to the player without any prior knowledge. The goal of this approach is to adapt the story according to the player's choices. Many solutions to puzzles also need to be deducted through conversations rather than direct item combinations.

As Conway explores the environment looking for the Zero, he meets different characters where the lines between dream and reality are often blurred. Travelling between locations is done through a top-down map with various highways. It is usually up to the player to figure out where to go next. Certain conversation elements are stored in a separate notes section. This first act is divided into five scenes and the choices can be carried over to the next episode. Not all game elements are shown with visuals. As much of the game is heavy on text, many events are only shown through text similar to interactive fiction combined with an ambient soundscape. The 3D visuals are reminiscent of Flashback or Out of This World.


Kentucky Route Zero: Act I Windows Conway approaches the gas station.
Kentucky Route Zero: Act I Windows Exploring the gas station's basement.
Kentucky Route Zero: Act I Windows Walking towards a house up the hill.
Kentucky Route Zero: Act I Windows A graveyard near the house

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Critic Reviews

Destructoid Jan 29, 2013 9.5 out of 10 95
Darkstation Feb 08, 2013 4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars 90
Adventure Gamers Jan 28, 2013 4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars 90
GameTrailers Mar 20, 2013 9 out of 10 90
IGN Jan 11, 2013 8.3 out of 10 83
GameFront Jan 21, 2013 80 out of 100 80
Thunderbolt Games Jan 18, 2013 8 out of 10 80
Shoost Jan 27, 2014 7.5 out of 10 75 Jan 23, 2013 75 out of 100 75
GameSpot Jan 11, 2013 7 out of 10 70


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Sciere (507600) added Kentucky Route Zero: Act I (Windows) on Jun 27, 2013
Other platforms contributed by Sciere (507600)