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Kentucky Route Zero - an unofficial community play-through

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So act II opening to a rejection letter is pretty powerful for me personally. I’ve been testing for interpreter certification, and I’ve received a lot of these rejection letters, and it just hurts and feels hopeless.  Like what have I been using all my time training for, just to fail?

Anyways, I’m kind of curious what consequences result of Lula’s choices here.

I chose to endorse the Graveyard and the dealership because… why not?  I don’t know.  This is the first time I started to narrow in on this theme of re-purposing something which comes up later.

I’m kind of unsettled that they mention they don’t know if they are “outside or inside”?  I guess everything about the 0 is kind of unsettling though.

The 3rd floor of this office building is amazing, and I’m glad that the characters don’t even comment on it.  It just exists.  Almost like a hallucination that you’re not sure if it’s real or not, so maybe you just don’t mention it, and wait to see if other people notice, but no one ever mentions the 3rd floor….

I was upset that I could not take a donut from the conference room.

What kind of a jerk just listens to a skipping record?  Come on man seriously!


I listened to the sermon at the “church”  (again an old building repurposed) and it was quite creepy, but emphasizes the merits of work.  And made some obscure reference to 4 martyrs in chicago.   Does anyone know what that is in reference to?

***

The POV shift to the CC cameras is cool in the museum of dwellings.  I noticed most people ignored me, or tried to hide from us nosing around the shanty.  That reminds me of how I was a bit dismissive of the weaver woman.

I’m getting a very House of Leaves vibe from this game.  In that things are very impermanent, and feel like you are reaching, exploring out into a darkness that is materializing and shift right before you.

The combination of this construction paper style art, or rotoscope look, combined with vector graphics.  Also the juxtaposition of this rural americana in the music selection of bluegrass (good but not my style) against the more esoteric almost scifi mystery behind the Rt 0 is incredibly unique.  SO unique that I can barely comment because even my attempts to compare it to something misses the point or falls flat.

Increasingly surreal as I look for Doctor, but the themes of abandonment, aging, disrepair, and recycling or reuse continues not only with the scenery among the office, the museum of dwellings, and even prior locations like Equus, or even in our protagonist who comments “I’m not as tough as I used to be.”  A man who once had a strength and purpose has started to age and crumble along with his surroundings.  There’s this lost feeling of not having a place in the world anymore. 

Why does sleeping in the museum cause them nightmares?  Since it’s the museum of dwellings… maybe it reminds them of the house they lost?

How is that enormous bird and Ezra “brothers”?  I understand the parents lost the house, but where did the parents vanish to from the bus station where they were sleeping?

In contrast to the feelings of the fickle and capricious world characters and locations, Conway notes that the trees are “Nice to have something to lean on.”  Something stable or constant in an otherwise changing world.  The dog (blue), and shannon are kind of like these trees right now for him. 

The song in the background of the forest says “Feeling kind of blue on my long journey home.”  Perfectly matches the feeling of sadness of conway and the dog as they search for the place they belong, yet knowing they may never find it.

Shannon noted that she was separated from her sister out of anger.

When assuring Ezra we’ll help them search for her parents:

“It’s not scary; it’s hopeful.”

I don’t know.  Feels kind of scary to me LOL.

The ending of this ACT has me asking even more questions.  I have a funny feeling this Neurypnol TM is going to be an important plot device considering the DR’s allusions to having signed his soul away with the pharmaceutical company.

     

Occuluncus: No, no.  The eye stays closed!

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Celebreon - 14 March 2020 09:01 PM

I’m getting a very House of Leaves vibe from this game.  In that things are very impermanent, and feel like you are reaching, exploring out into a darkness that is materializing and shift right before you.

I haven’t finished replaying Act II yet, but I had to reply when you mentioned House of Leaves. I was fascinated by that novel, until at some point (about halfway I think) it started scaring me in a way no book has ever scared me before. It was a very strong feeling and I have not touched the book since. But I’m not getting the same vibe from KR0. Surrealism, left-wing views, nostalgia, hardship, sadness, but no abyss. 

And made some obscure reference to 4 martyrs in chicago.   Does anyone know what that is in reference to?

I think that’s a reference to the Haymarket riots in Chicago.

PS: Good to see you again, zane.

     

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.- Philip K. Dick

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I’ve finished Act II, which means I’m one day behind my own schedule. Finishing before April is however no longer that important since going abroad is currently not feasible.

I would describe the game as a piece of poetic interactive fiction intermingled with some tremendous eye-candy. I like it a lot so far and my only complaint is that getting around takes too much time. Conway limping slowly is the obvious example, but following those driving instructions in my pamphlet took too long for me to be bothered with trying to find them all.

Celebreon - 14 March 2020 09:01 PM

The 3rd floor of this office building is amazing, and I’m glad that the characters don’t even comment on it.  It just exists.  Almost like a hallucination that you’re not sure if it’s real or not, so maybe you just don’t mention it, and wait to see if other people notice, but no one ever mentions the 3rd floor….

I loved it too - just wish it was possible to somehow interact with it.

     

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Karlok - 14 March 2020 11:29 PM

PS: Good to see you again, zane.

It just so happens with the current situation my schedules been cleared for about a month, so iv got some time for adventure games Tongue
I nearly stopped playing in act 3 in the hall of the mountain when the game kept spinning repeatedly and I just wasn’t getting that there were 2 icons for Xanadu… So I would click the look and then continue to spin around… Slowly… And not get anywhere. But on my 5th or so spin I noticed they were separate and I’m moving onward again…
EDIT: iv now finished chapter 3 and i have to say it was actually the best chapter so far by a pretty wide margin. The whacky lore and strands of back story have hit a boil: im into it.

     
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Karlok - 14 March 2020 11:29 PM

I haven’t finished replaying Act II yet, but I had to reply when you mentioned House of Leaves. I was fascinated by that novel, until at some point (about halfway I think) it started scaring me in a way no book has ever scared me before. It was a very strong feeling and I have not touched the book since. But I’m not getting the same vibe from KR0. Surrealism, left-wing views, nostalgia, hardship, sadness, but no abyss. 

And made some obscure reference to 4 martyrs in chicago.   Does anyone know what that is in reference to?

I think that’s a reference to the Haymarket riots in Chicago.

Oh thanks for that.  I’d never heard of Haymarket riots.

I had a similar experience with House of Leaves.  It’s quite scary in a totally different way.  I think what reminds me of that book, is how when cruising along the RT0, you can pass something, turn around to go back, and it’s vanished and changed into a route to something else (I just came from here, how did it do that?)!  It reminds me of the shifting labyrinth in the book and even conway has a southern kind of realness about him that reminds me of navy.  I live in Texas and although we have lots of large cities, there 100s of miles of rural farm land between.  It’s not a big deal here to jump in the truck and drive 600 miles.  Especially at night this game kind of reminds me of that feeling of getting lost out in West Texas, where there’s no lights, no people, nothing for hours and hours.  And I guess it kind of does have this void-y abyss quality to it.

     

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I finished Act II last weekend.

So I like how things are evolving. The world logic the game unravels is intriguing, unexpected, but never gratuitous. The multiple references to artists and intellectuals sometimes feel like a running name-dropping joke, but when you consider them individually they always make sense, and those who didn’t convey an extra layer of meaning at least made me smile - and when you consider them globally they’re an admirable effort and the kind of pretentious I can tolerate.

I found this act to be much shorter than the first one though - which made me wonder whether I hadn’t skipped a whole section inadvertently. I didn’t find much to explore while one the Zero, for example. The navigating-in-circles in birds eye view (ha) was a bit confusing to me, so although I enjoyed exploring large circles of otherwise unattainable land, I wasn’t thorough in that investigation and probably missed several spots of interest. I also think I only visited half of the museum (loved the shift in point of view too, by the way) - I thought I could visit the other side of the ground floor “on my way out”, but by then I suppose I should have understood there is no such thing in KR0 Grin.

Loved the cathedral/bureau, the inspiration was spot on and it really conveyed the interrogation on inner/outer space. The 3rd floor was my favourite one Laughing I wish we could have rummaged through the files some more.

And the museum. That was a well-curated trip through both the recent history of alternative dwelling and the consequences of the even-more-recent economic crises. And still in line with the theme of challenging the notion of interior vs exterior space. And that parallax forest! Heart What a fine performance of spatialisation of time, one that at the same time efficiently conveys the feeling of duration. Julian is my favourite character so far. I had the brothers’ names mixed up at first, so when Ezra spoke with the dog (I name her Blue, by the way. And I talk to her as much as I can.) I thought it was the eagle doing the talking and thought that was adorable.

Things are growing deeper and more beautiful in that second act and I have extremely high hopes for the rest of the game.

     

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im not 100% sure but im beginning to think this game has some considerable replay-ability. Like im not sure how much the events so far would change based on decisions, but it seems theres constantly different bits of information and scenes you would see on another play through. Its a different approach from the telltale: “here are the branches, choose left or right”... instead theres many little twigs everywhere.
Another thought: the large number of characters has become borderline confusing. Maybe its my eyes, but i can barely tell them apart.. and theres so much jumping back and forth between back stories.

     

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What can i say, im really bad at these playthroughs… i either have no time to catch up or play the whole thing in a short burst.. and just like that iv finished act 5. So im going to record some thoughts before i forget them….

On the end and act 5: I thought this was a really interesting case of sometimes the “right” ending isnt the “best” ending. Act 5 felt right for the story. It did not entertain very much. All the intensity and intrigue that mostly had been built up in act 3, doesnt deliver in act 5. No show down with the strangers. No return to the zero. Its a very pretty atmosphere driven melancholy panorama, full of pensive moments. Its not a thrilling engrossing ending that keeps you glued to the edge of your seat.. You can sense early on what this episode is going to be, and thats what it remains. A sad thought about the end, it seems like conways destination with this delivery is to find peace and “home”.. a space thats off the grid from addiction and the debts of society, and he just never made it there.

On act 4: i thought this was another meaty episode following up on 3.. the chapters just seem to have a life of their own and 4 is no exception… its the river chapter, very distinct and memorable. At the end of 3 a violent storm is brewing in the story, and then 4 is a long eerie calm before the storm. I cant help but question the design decision of “choose to see a scene or skip it.” At first i didnt understand, and i missed the 2nd “scene” because i assumed both options would lead to content…. not “choose content, or nothing.” Furthermore, reading up now, apparently missing that scene cost me the ability to see the last interlude. But im not too worried about it… it doesnt sound like it adds much to the end.

Misc questions: One thing i never understood, what is the sound that junebug and johnny make while walking? There was at least one moment in dialogue where its implied theyr robots.. but i dont think it was literal… am i missing something? Also, conways dog… is there any more interaction or resolution with that? I briefly saw an icon over the dog while conway was getting taken away and i didnt get a chance to click it…. And then thats just it… no peep from the dog again. I thought about potential symbolism with the cat/bug being conway/dog, but eh i dunno. Another misc thought, if they ever kickstarted a project to get this whole thing voice acted, i would be right on board. It would be ambitious.. it would be very different from the average voice performance and it would take so much planning from the dev… but it would be sooo cool. So much interesting potential to add flavor to the game. It would also help the characters to feel distinct.. because it was not always easy telling them apart.

In conclusion: Im not disappointed. I expected a very abstract experience and thats what it is. It really is a beautiful game with a lot of very memorable moments. (Junebug playing in the bar is one of the best) It wouldv been nice to get back to the zero one last time in chapter 5 with a climactic conflict. But it is what it is… and it stays true to that. I think act 3 is still the “best” pretty easily.

     
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zane - 19 March 2020 10:11 AM

What can i say, im really bad at these playthroughs… i either have no time to catch up or play the whole thing in a short burst.. and just like that iv finished act 5. So im going to record some thoughts before i forget them….

On the end and act 5: I thought this was a really interesting case of sometimes the “right” ending isnt the “best” ending. Act 5 felt right for the story. It did not entertain very much. All the intensity and intrigue that mostly had been built up in act 3, doesnt deliver in act 5. No show down with the strangers. No return to the zero. Its a very pretty atmosphere driven melancholy panorama, full of pensive moments. Its not a thrilling engrossing ending that keeps you glued to the edge of your seat.. You can sense early on what this episode is going to be, and thats what it remains. A sad thought about the end, it seems like conways destination with this delivery is to find peace and “home”.. a space thats off the grid from addiction and the debts of society, and he just never made it there.[/spoiler]

I would find it hard to envisage a better ending than what they gave us in Act 5. I didn’t see a need to revisit those locations, the zero, the strangers. The themes were mostly addressed in the interactions, with a forward-looking view and a somber acceptance that some things can’t be returned to, and yet everything which is old is given new life. It really felt like a fresh start and something hopeful. The ending itself with the funeral stuck with me, all these people burying their pasts and bravely accepting an unknown future without fear. I didn’t envy anyone throughout the game for the broken lives they had lived, but for the first time in the game it made me want to join them in this brave new world they were entering.

     

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Not been posting cause I’m ill. No, not C or c. Smile Will catch up in a few days.

     

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.- Philip K. Dick

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I’ve been following the comments on this thread with interest as I’d recently completed the game before the playthrough started.
Perhaps I’ll get back to some thoughts but just to say I’m glad Karlok that you’re not suffering from any c’s & whatever it is I hope that it’s not serious - get well soon. 

     

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Donuts McGee - 20 March 2020 12:50 AM

I would find it hard to envisage a better ending than what they gave us in Act 5. I didn’t see a need to revisit those locations, the zero, the strangers. The themes were mostly addressed in the interactions, with a forward-looking view and a somber acceptance that some things can’t be returned to, and yet everything which is old is given new life. It really felt like a fresh start and something hopeful. The ending itself with the funeral stuck with me, all these people burying their pasts and bravely accepting an unknown future without fear. I didn’t envy anyone throughout the game for the broken lives they had lived, but for the first time in the game it made me want to join them in this brave new world they were entering.

Well… like i said… It is the “right” ending. It just isnt exciting or very engaging. The whole episode feels more like an epilogue..  Its well done. It just feels kind of deflated when you realize the climactic action all passed in act 3. Still, it fits perfectly in the message and context of the story. Could they have struck more of a balance in high intensity and still kept the pensive melancholy? I think so. Did they need to? Not really, but it wouldv driven up better audience reactions. 

     
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You can put me down as another who loved the ending. Sure, they could have gone for the big climax, drama, intrigue. That is all the rage in modern media from games to movies and TV, and frankly, I’m tired of it. This is more like a slow winding down, the end of a weary and long journey, a reflection of what came before and what’s coming. And like you said, it’s the right ending.

The whole episode is a funeral, the end of everything that came before and reminiscence of it, all in one place. And the ending song? Just perfect.

If any game could qualify as art, KZ0 is as close as it gets. It wouldn’t be out of place being exhibited a museum or gallery. How many games could you say were art? Not many at all.

     
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I finished Act III tonight, still a few days behind my schedule.

zane - 16 March 2020 11:17 AM

iv now finished chapter 3 and i have to say it was actually the best chapter so far by a pretty wide margin. The whacky lore and strands of back story have hit a boil: im into it.

I couldn’t agree more.

NickyLarson - 17 March 2020 06:06 PM

The multiple references to artists and intellectuals sometimes feel like a running name-dropping joke, but when you consider them individually they always make sense, and those who didn’t convey an extra layer of meaning at least made me smile - and when you consider them globally they’re an admirable effort and the kind of pretentious I can tolerate.

In this particular case, I would prefer to call it ambitious rather than pretentious. I’m probably missing many of the references though.

Karlok - 21 March 2020 12:12 AM

Not been posting cause I’m ill.

Get well soon!

     
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I will be finishing Act II tonight, but I made an amazing discovery just now when I was replaying Act I to looking for a good wallpaper scene. Amazing to me, that is, it wouldn’t surprise me if everybody else had already noticed that the horse at Equus Oils continues underground. That makes so much sense.

     

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.- Philip K. Dick

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