Kentucky Route Zero
Cardboard Computer's ongoing episodic series has been aging like a fine bottle of bourbon since its debut in 2013. Taking as much inspiration from David Lynch as it does Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Flannery O’Connor, KRZ follows truck driver Conway and an expanding band of characters as they explore the metaphysical Zero and meet its residents. Just as Twin Peaks was able to jump from asides on the Tibetan Book of the Dead as it was to celebrate a good cup of coffee, the odd, the spiritual, the downtrodden, and the mundane all sit comfortably next to one another in Kentucky Route Zero. While taking gameplay cues from Nineties point-and-click adventure games, KRZ is more akin to an interactive novel, with choices shaping the tone of the story rather than causing outright narrative shifts. This is never made more apparent than the climax of Act Three, when the player chooses the lyrics to "Too Late to Love You" at the Lower Depths bar. There's no wrong choices to be made, but simply what feels right in the moment. No matter the lyrical selections, the song matches the soaring, melancholic heights of Julee Cruise’s "Falling" in an elegiac set piece that seems to transcend space and time – all from within a dingy dive bar via a singer accompanied by a keytar. It’s genuinely one of the most beautiful moments in gaming.
With four episodes currently released out of a planned total of five, we're eagerly awaiting the series finale later this year. A steady drip-feed of interactive gifs have been teasing at Act V’s release via Cardboard Computer’s Twitter account.