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Kentucky Route Zero Act II Thoughts - Destructoid

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Hi, I'm 17 years old and live in England, outside London. I grew up in India, and grew up in PC gaming (as well as handheld Nintendo consoles) thanks to my older brother. The games I have fondest memories of were Worms, Counter Strike, Mortal Kombat and Pokemon. And Super Mario 64.

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Kentucky Route Zero, for those of you that don’t know, is an allusive and weirdly magical 5-part episodic adventure game. Act II, in theme with the game’s tone, has been secretly released overnight, with no press release or official launch trailer. To my delight, I found it sitting in the Steam version of Kentucky Route Zero, whilst I was simply installing it and not at all expecting the second act to have arrived.

Let’s get this out of the way -  I have a lot of good things to say about Act II. I’ll be spoiling minor cool moments from the Act to illustrate why I love it, so PLEASE do yourself a favor and spend the hour that it takes to play this magical thing.



If you haven’t heard of Kentucky Route Zero, let me get you caught up. You play as Conway, a truck delivery guy, trying to get to 5 Dogwood Drive, which lies beyond the mystical Route Zero, to deliver a package. KRZ is an adventure game without puzzles and is more laid back and relaxing, focused on telling a great story. You travel the roads of Kentucky at night with a woman named Shannon and your loyal canine buddy, named in Act I. Conveniently, Act II doesn't rely too heavily on Act I, and a newcomer could dive into it with little to no discomfort. 

Act II resumes where Act I left off, not in narrative, as you begin with a short prologue giving an insight into the life of a clerk and a new character, Lula Chamberlain, but rather in style of storytelling - multiple pseudo-perspectives through which the story is told. After this brief foray into this new character, the game's first 'scene' goes back to Conway and Shannon, shortly arriving at the Bureau where Lula works. It's here where the game's slightly magical tone comes to place, with an office floor full of bears and a wall of TVs with interesting thoughts, such as that a well-lit elevator contributes to the lack of motion that a passenger should not feel during a ride.



As the act develops, you’ll choose the words in conversation for Shannon, a little girl named Ezra (who by the way is fucking fun to control due to the simple fact that she’s youthful and can run fast), the aforementioned Lula and perhaps most interestingly, a couple of ghostly museum security guards conversing and describing as they watch Conway, Shannon and your dog (mine named Blue), as you, the player, control Conway around the museum.

Although the story and characters are intriguing in it’s own surreal and beautiful way - a huge eagle that carries a brother and sister, who are more concerned with moving houses than finding their parents, for example - it’s the way that it’s told and presented which astounded me the most. 

The gorgeous and striking visuals (not to mention some great sound design) come together with some really ingenious writing in ways - ways I won't spoil - that must be played to be understood. Despite being, in a way, minimalistic, the small cast of characters come off as genuine and unique with down to earth personalities of their own, due to the eloquent and sometimes poetic writing.



The Second Act not only matches the wonder of the first, but develops on ideas in new and exciting ways. Simply said, Kentucky Route Zero excels in atmosphere and storytelling, inviting you into it's bizarre and beautiful world, and you must go play it now.
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