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Kentucky Route Zero - an unofficial community play-through

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Karlok - 25 March 2020 09:50 AM

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.

i had not noticed! But it definitely felt like a very strange basement shape… now it makes much more sense.

     
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I just finished Act IV, still a few days behind my schedule.

zane - 17 March 2020 07:15 PM

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.

This seems especially true for this act, since there are so many scenes where you have to choose between two options.

zane - 19 March 2020 10:11 AM

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.

Perhaps I misinterpreted the choices. I assumed staying on the boat would be a separate scene, but never tried that option. If it simply means skipping an interlude scene, then replaying the act is not that important after all.

Karlok - 25 March 2020 09:50 AM

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.

I missed this too and can’t understand how when I see your screenshot.

     

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Pegbiter - 28 March 2020 07:09 PM

Perhaps I misinterpreted the choices. I assumed staying on the boat would be a separate scene, but never tried that option. If it simply means skipping an interlude scene, then replaying the act is not that important after all.

yeah i thought the same, but the staying on the boat stuff is just “and then some time passed.” I think that was a weird design choice, i guess to allow impatient people to hurry through the episode. I still think the game has a fair amount of replay-ability with different dialogue choices and the chance to explore again. Maybe not high replay-ability though.

     
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I’ve now finished Act V (and the game). In order to access the final interlude “Death of a Hired Man”, I had to replay the first scene of Act I. Apparently, I’d missed going back to Equus Oils to talk to Carrington.

Regarding Conway: I assume it’s not possible to have him reach his destination. Or did anyone manage to stop him from leaving with the skeletons in Act IV? I quickly clicked one option and first though he would have escaped the dinghy with the other one. There probably wouldn’t have been much of a difference though.

zane - 19 March 2020 10:11 AM

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.

I agree about the final act not being very entertaining, as in fun. But is any of the acts really trying to be fun?

zane - 19 March 2020 10:11 AM

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.

I assumed they were literal robots based on the sounds but did not understand the context of it. More voice acting sure could be great!

Luhr28 - 22 March 2020 05:41 PM

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.

To me, quite a few games qualify as art. Kentucky Route Zero is perhaps in a league of its own though.

     
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Pegbiter - 02 April 2020 07:15 PM

To me, quite a few games qualify as art.

Care to share with us? (maybe a new thread?)

     
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Luhr28 - 08 April 2020 01:28 AM
Pegbiter - 02 April 2020 07:15 PM

To me, quite a few games qualify as art.

Care to share with us? (maybe a new thread?)

Sure, here’s a thread.

     
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Pegbiter - 22 March 2020 06:08 PM

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

I agree, ambitious is the right term. As for the references, so am I Grin

I’m terribly late on the schedule, weirdly enough I haven’t played much since the beggining of quarantine - perhaps I’m trying so hard to be reasonable about it that I end up avoiding it altogether? Or after spending most of my day working / studying behind a computer screen I feel like doing something else? Or too many online fitness classes and Skyperitifs?

Anyway, I just finished Act IV yesterday. And boy, does this game keep getting better and better. The diversity of narrative techniques, the constant shift in tone, the unpredictability of characters and the way the player is invited to flesh them out with subtle and enigmatic strokes, is simply flabbergasting. The broadth and depth of influences, from artistic to intellectual to sociopoliticial, of the inventiveness shining through both form and substance, and the way they are not only woven into the game but make up the crux of it, never ceases to amaze me.

I was both sad and relieved to see Conway walk away with the distillery guys. He was the one with whom the game started, I can’t picture him getting out of the picture like that before the end, or maybe I can, nothing is unexpected anymore. And who’s going to take care of Blue? I love that dog.
The ghost ship with a cat crew was a wonderful touch. I wanted to follow them for a while, find out where they were going, how they lived, if they lived at all. It may have been supposed to be creepy, I just found it cute.
Oh I could have roamed for hours on the Echo, exploring stopping places and artificial islands that no one remembers making, being carried by the flow through memories and forgotten spaces.
I felt sad just leaving the truck behind at the end of the chapter. I had grown attached to it. It was almost a character in its own right.

     
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So I finished Act V yesterday. It was perfect. From the meowing to the spatialisation of time to that ghost town full of melancholy and hope if you allow there to be. There was never such a thing as a goal or climatic event to reach, or a story to wrap up, a mystery to solve. It’s life. It’s a journey, and an enigmatic one, and everything is left to do, and another storm is brewing, perhaps, the cat thinks so, but for now they rest. They took the time to bury other people’s dead, to take care of other people’s ghosts, juste like they’ve been doing all along. I say “they”, but ther’s no such thing a a definite they, it’s a one-way stream, a collection of encounters. Some kind of warmth. For now they all lie in the setting sun, together, humans, animals, leftover spirits - a still shot of difracted memories. It’s beautiful. There never was such a thing as a question or an answer in this game. You have to keep on rolling. And you’re never alone. There’s always a trace, a resonance, somewhere down the road. The most meaningless of moments can have an echo somewhere, to someone, in the most unexpected of ways, even if partial, even if deformed beyond comprehension, it does not equate to nothing. Whatever has existed, has existed. And the depiction of contemporary America is grim and ruthless, but there is hope. These people are hope, to the core. You have to keep on fighting, we all have to, even if it just means keeping small, anecdotal, expendable things alive.

So a couple of random notes on the game as a whole : 1) if a game ever came close to stream of consciousness it is this one 2) in many ways, medium is the message 3) I think I missed some content along the line. That’s alright. It’s meant to be that way 4) what a varied, complex and intelligent representation of time in all its aspects 5) few are the works that manage to be both incredibly relevant in denouncing a particular, historically and culturally situated context, and hauntingly universal, pertaining to human condition itself.

I understand there is a final epilogue about Conway. I didn’t have the option to play it, so I suppose I have to go back to the game at some point. But I can only “restart” Act I, so, does it mean I have to play through the whole game again?

     

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NickyLarson - 14 April 2020 10:40 AM

I understand there is a final epilogue about Conway. I didn’t have to option to play it, so I suppose I have to go back to the game at some point. But I can only “restart” Act I, so, does it mean I have to play through the whole game again?

So to my understanding it works like this… you meet a character in act 1 (Carrington), that character then has bit lines in each of the other chapters. I *think* as long as you talk to him in act 1 and 4 then it unlocks.
I just watched the epilogue on youtube.. it’s very boring. Nothing to do with Conway. Not interactive. Personally I don’t think it’s worth replaying parts just for that.

     
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Thanks zane! I guess I can always watch it on Youtube. I’d like to play through some parts to access some of the content I’ve missed, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to replay it straight away.

     
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NickyLarson - 14 April 2020 10:40 AM

1) if a game ever came close to stream of consciousness it is this one

Does that make this the Ulysses of video games?

NickyLarson - 14 April 2020 10:40 AM

I understand there is a final epilogue about Conway. I didn’t have the option to play it, so I suppose I have to go back to the game at some point. But I can only “restart” Act I, so, does it mean I have to play through the whole game again?

As zane wrote, the “Death of a Hired Man” epilogue is not about Conway and it’s barely interactive. You do however have to replay very little in order to see it. Replay the first scene of Act I, go directly back to Equus Oils to talk to Carrington, leave with the truck again, and then you can exit to the menu and access the epilogue (if you previously finished Act V).

     
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Pegbiter - 14 April 2020 01:36 PM

Does that make this the Ulysses of video games?

Heh, I guess you could say that Grin
Thanks for the extra information on the epilogue!

     
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Sorry I dropped out of this discussion. 

I finished Act III and IV, and I don’t have a ton to say.  I particularly like the part where you can pick the lyrics for june/jonny song.  I forgot if that is their name.  While I’m not the hugest visual novel/interactive fiction guy, I was intrigued by a song that I could lead the direction I wanted to hear.  I wish this was kind of a whole genre of interactive software/music stuff.

Before when I mentioned the repeated themes of disrepair, renovation, and even feeling like the world has left you behind, clearly continue with the Xanadu computer game, which I was excited to try, and the beginning seemed kind of cool.  Later I was disappointed with it.  And those theme also show up when Conway refers to the skeleton type leg as “not his.”  Just being patched up causes Conway not to recognize it.

I was kind of surprised by conway’s willingness to accept the entrapment scheme of the distillery or whatever that place was.  It seems he is willing to make up excuses as to why he should accept an unfair debt, simply so he can have a place he belogs.  Conway is middle aged, and he is on the last day of his job. It seems he just wants somewhere to belong.  That he doesn’t want to put effort in to making a new place for himself in the world.  Or maybe he’s afraid of feeling lost.
Do any of you have other theories on why Conway is willing to go back there?

Honestly, in general this game is too vague for me.  In the first few Acts, I was really motivated by these intentional mysteries hinted at throughout, because I assumed there would be more solid answers revealed throughout the game.  Sadly the vignettes are amazing, but too short for me personally.  I would really like to see vignettes like these comprised of multi=hour stories so that they can have some more impact or narrative pay-off. 

Those two people keep muttering about if they are going to invite conway (or is it ezra) to join them, but they are anxious about adding a third person and changing their dynamic?  It’s weird.  They talk about how it’s been great just the two of them, but then sometimes it feels… sexual or something.  I don’t know.  That’s what I mean about this game being too vague.  I don’t mind subtlety but… eh.

With that said, I have not done act V yet.  Maybe I will completely change my tune, but it doesn’t seem to be that kind of game in general.

     

Occuluncus: No, no.  The eye stays closed!

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Celebreon - 16 April 2020 09:12 PM

Those two people keep muttering about if they are going to invite conway (or is it ezra) to join them, but they are anxious about adding a third person and changing their dynamic?  It’s weird.  They talk about how it’s been great just the two of them, but then sometimes it feels… sexual or something.  I don’t know.  That’s what I mean about this game being too vague.  I don’t mind subtlety but… eh.

Theyr just talking about raising ezra, since he doesnt have a family, at least thats what i assumed and i think its safe to say.
I know what you mean about wanting more concrete things from the story.. But no, youre right.. its going to stay the course with what its doing. It does it well…. but yeah…its very low key… and abstract.

     
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Celebreon - 16 April 2020 09:12 PM

I was kind of surprised by conway’s willingness to accept the entrapment scheme of the distillery or whatever that place was.  It seems he is willing to make up excuses as to why he should accept an unfair debt, simply so he can have a place he belogs.  Conway is middle aged, and he is on the last day of his job. It seems he just wants somewhere to belong.  That he doesn’t want to put effort in to making a new place for himself in the world.  Or maybe he’s afraid of feeling lost.
Do any of you have other theories on why Conway is willing to go back there?

I also found it weird that he instantly accepted that he had to do this. Perhaps it’s a combination of wanting to feel like he has a purpose and usually just going with the flow.

     

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