The point and click style of gameplay is one of the oldest forms there is. Graphics and gameplay systems have developed and improved significantly over the years. This allows for more intricate and arguably more immersive ways of letting someone play a game. Point and click games are quite rare these days, but Kentucky Route Zero is an exception. This game leverages the bygone art of the point and click game to tell an immersive and surreal story that has earned it extremely high marks from critics and fans alike. If you’re itching to travel on the enigmatic Route Zero, here’s what you need to know about the game.
Kentucky Route Zero Premise
In Kentucky Route Zero, a truck driver named Conway must make a delivery. After becoming lost in the wilds of Kentucky, he eventually makes his way down to Route Zero, a mysterious subterranean path populated with strange characters. Over the course of five acts, Conway travels the route, meeting new friends and experiencing their stories. He also gets a chance to meditate on his own past, and the events that led him into this strange subterranean quest.
As mentioned before, Kentucky Route Zero is a point and click adventure game. It has a heavy emphasis on dialogue, similar to visual novels like Doki Doki Literature Club. You can choose responses in dialogue scenes, both for Conway and, occasionally, for other characters as well. By clicking around you can also guide Conway through the environment and help him solve simple puzzles. The gameplay is not intensive, but this allows Kentucky Route Zero to focus more heavily on the story it’s trying to tell.
Kentucky Route Zero Major Characters
As a story-focused game, Kentucky Route Zero has a very heavy emphasis on character. Throughout the course of the game you are following Conway’s story, learning more about his character and his past. Much of this development comes from seeing how Conway interacts with other characters and what he does when he becomes involved in their personal stories as well. Since this game has such an involved plot, revealing too much about these characters would be a major spoiler. If you haven’t tried Kentucky Route Zero yet and you’re interested, you might want to skip this section. If you want to learn more, though, here’s a list of some of the most important characters in the game.
- Conway: The main character of the game is a deliveryman who works for Lysette’s Antiques. The beginning of the game sees him set off on his final delivery for the company. During the drive, Conway gradually comes to terms with his troubled past, including the cause of the alcoholism he’s been struggling with. Conway also owns an elderly dog who acts as a stalwart companion during his journey.
- Shannon: Shannon is a TV repairwoman who joins Conway’s travels. Due to her family’s history as immigrants and her struggling business, Shannon is in a precarious spot in her life. Depending on the choices the player makes, her life can be profoundly impacted by her travels with Conway.
- Ezra: Ezra is an imaginative young boy who Conway meets on Route Zero. He joins the trip in the hopes of reuniting with his family. During the journey, he is accompanied by his brother Julian, who is a giant eagle.
- Junebug and Johnny: Junebug and Johnny are a pair of mechanical musicians who aid Conway in act 3 and later join the group. They were built as robotic workers designed to drain a mine, but after listening to music left behind by the former miners, they realized they wanted more out of life.
- Will: Will serves as the operator of the Mucky Mammoth tugboat. This vessel serves as the main setting for act 4 of the game, and while Conway and his friends travel aboard, they can learn more about Will’s story and his past as a theater teacher at a university.
- Cate: Cate serves as the captain of the Mucky Mammoth. She is a mycologist who studies mushrooms and grows many samples on board. She joins the group in act 4 and becomes a major part of their quest to reach the end of Route Zero and complete Conway’s delivery.
Kentucky Route Zero Titles in the Series
While Kentucky Route Zero is a standalone title, its history is a bit more complicated than you might think. The game was not launched as a complete title at first. Instead, each of its five acts was released separately as a standalone product throughout its development period. As of 2020, the game was finished, and you can now buy the complete version on PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and even Android and iOS. Here is the full release calendar for Kentucky Route Zero.
- Kentucky Route Zero: Act I (2013)
- Kentucky Route Zero: Act II (2013)
- Kentucky Route Zero: Act III (2014)
- Kentucky Route Zero: Act IV (2016)
- Kentucky Route Zero: Act V (2020)
Kentucky Route Zero Cheat Codes
Unfortunately, Kentucky Route Zero does not offer any traditional cheat codes. Since it is an entirely story-focused game, cheat codes could seriously impact the flow of the story. Fortunately, that same reliance on story means that there is very little in terms of challenging gameplay to confound the player. If you get stuck at a puzzle, you can look up a walkthrough without having to worry about bending the code of the game to your will. As an alternative to cheat codes, here’s a full list of achievements for Kentucky Route Zero.
- Paperclip Labyrinth: Follow the bureaucratic loop in the Bureau three times.
- Organ Performance: Listen to the organ performance in the Bureau.
- Happy Tuesday: Win the claw game at Sam and Ida’s.
- Hypnagogic: Hypnotize Shannon in the mine.
- Phil and Jane: Find Phil and Jane on the Zero.
- Say Something Romantic: Watch Flora launch her paper boat.
- Under the Horizon: Find Flora’s boat in the distillery.
- You Died: Die in Xanadu.
- Here, You Pick: Learn about 12 dishes in Sam and Ida’s.
- Finding Carrington: Return to Equus Oils and find Carrington there.
- Patch Speaking: Answer the phone in the Rum Colony.
- I Bet A Dog Will Eat It: Share Joseph’s home-made jerky with the dog.
- The Map: Walk the Seers’ earthwork path in the town.
- Act I: Complete Act I.
- Act II: Complete Act II.
- Act III: Complete Act III.
- Act IV: Complete Act IV.
- Act IV Again: Complete Act IV again.
- Look For Me Under Your Bootsoles: Complete Act V.
- Limits & Demonstrations: Complete Limits & Demonstrations.
- The Entertainment: Complete The Entertainment.
- Here and There Along the Echo: Complete Here and There Along the Echo.
- Un Pueblo de Nada: Complete Un Pueblo de Nada.
- Death of the Hired Man: Complete Death of the Hired Man.
Kentucky Route Zero FAQ
How many endings does Kentucky Route Zero have? Many story-focused games boast more than one ending. These titles generally emphasize player choice and the impact your decisions have on the narrative. This is a big draw when you’re telling a story through an interactive medium, after all. Kentucky Route Zero, however, is not such a game. The title has only one ending, and while your choices do impact the flow of the narrative to some degree, it all leads to the same conclusion.
How long does it take to beat Kentucky Route Zero? Kentucky Route Zero is a very slow-paced game, eschewing the action sequences of traditional video games in lieu of intimate character moments and lengthy dialogue scenes. That said, it’s still not a very long title. Most fans will be able to polish off Kentucky Route Zero in about 9 to 14 hours. Since there aren’t any difficult bosses or platforming challenges to overcome, this runtime should hold relatively steady for all players, regardless of skill level.