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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Themes focus on issues central to modern American life, including work, dreams, obligation, and growing debt. The story can be interpreted as a critique of capitalism.
Positive Role Models
Main characters are likable and sympathetic, but make some questionable decisions. Delivery driver Conway, in particular, descends both physically and mentally as game progresses, resulting in erratic behavior.
Ease of Play
There's not really any way to lose. Players progress by exploring and making dialogue choices.
Violence & Scariness
There's no combat, but Conway breaks his leg in a mine accident and must receive medical treatment. Dialogue contains discussion of death. Skeletons appear later in the game.
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Dialogue contains occasional profanity, including the words "damn," "hell," and "s--t."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Conway takes a powerful anesthetic that causes hallucination. Characters discuss alcohol and drinking, and Conway drinks whiskey.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition is an adventure game for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs. This version collects all acts and interludes of a popular episodic adventure game into a single package. It's a surreal story that focuses on a small group of companions traveling around the highways and back roads of rural Kentucky, hoping to deliver a package. There's no combat or action, though one of the characters breaks his leg and must seek medical attention -- including a powerful anesthetic drug -- to treat his injury. The characters explore the world, observe events, and chat with people they encounter. Topical themes touching on modern American issues -- including people laboring under mounting debt even as they continue working -- eventually begin to emerge. Conway, one of the main characters, appears to be a man descending in his faculties, suffering mental and physical deterioration while reflecting on the past. Dialogue includes occasional profanity, including the word "s--t." A scene is set in a bar, and one of the main characters drinks whiskey, affecting his behavior.
Is It Any Good?
Is it a game, or is it art? That's the question that Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition will leave many players pondering. There's no failing, succeeding, or even really changing how things play out. You can control character movement, pick where to go next, and make dialogue choices, but really you're just along for the ride, taking in the images and dialogue that the game's designers intend for you to see. Best to think of it as an interactive version of your favorite surreal TV show -- think Twin Peaks, or The Prisoner -- but with themes and ideas that are a bit more comprehensible and relatable. Kentucky Route Zero is, at its heart, a story about the American condition. It's about people getting along in a world that, at best, seems to have forgotten or ignored them, or, at worst, is out to slowly crush them. It's about people withering under debt, traditional livelihoods being threatened by progress, and people remembering the past, for better and worse.
To get the most out of this compelling, imaginatively told tale, it's best to go in without expectations. Don't go looking for conflicts and challenges, because you won't find them. At least not in the traditional sense. It's better to allow yourself to be enveloped by the game's mood and mystery, facilitated by a haunting soundtrack that transitions between banjo blues and creepy rhythms, and a dark, minimalist visual presentation where areas hidden by shadow are often as striking and memorable as those bathed in light. Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition is a game designed to make players think about their lives and those of the people around them, the psychological and emotional obstacles we all face and the direction in which we're headed. It doesn't pretend to have any answers, but it does show people enduring and persisting, and perhaps that's a start.
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