The Kentucky Route Zero Night Thread

An interstate highway — sixty-five — running from Alabama up to just shy of Chicago. It ought to be quitting time in this part of Kentucky, but the daylight just won’t shake. The sun just won’t go away.

There are some works of art that just stick in your head, that you find yourself coming back to again and again. You mull them over, thinking back on their words, sounds, or images, trying to decide what they mean to you and why you can’t stop thinking about them. The as-yet unfinished Kentucky Route Zero (the final Act is expected later this year) is one of those works, at least for me.


A chapel and graveyard, disconnected from any road, in the middle of a dark woods. Occasionally it seems that pale, glowing figures, difficult to track with the eye, appears. Sometimes they roll huge barrels in or out of the building. Sometimes they just loiter for a moment, then fade out of view.

At the most basic level, KRZ is a point and click adventure game, about a man trying to find a secret, subterranean highway that will let him finally make his last delivery. It’s firmly rooted in the traditions of magical realism, landing at a point somewhere in between David Lynch, Gabriel García Márquez, and Neil Gaiman. It’s full of simple but beautiful art, bits and pieces of Americana, and strange places that slip by in the warm Kentucky night.


She was a scrawny calico. We’d seen her there before. She must have lived there. I wonder if she preferred the peace and quiet of the daytime flower shop, or the buzz of activity and ear-scratching strangers that came with nighttime concerts.


Why do all the best music venues have live-in cats?

Besides the writing I’ve quoted throughout this header, the music also makes the game stick out in my mind. There’s an excellent and mostly ambient score, but the diegetic music is what’s really memorable. There’s a bluegrass band that acts somewhat like a thematic chorus, appearing in each act and playing versions of traditional American songs. Some of them can be quite haunting, especially in-context.


1. No open flames near the gasoline.

2. No consumption of beer or spirits on the premises.

3. In case of sudden darkness, do not panic. Relax. Count backwards from five.

4. Strictly limit time spent in the basement to fewer than three minutes of every hour.

Have a great night everyone.