If you’re into the surreal, Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition might just be your next addiction if you’ve not already played it. It’s a game with a strange history. Released in an episodic format, its first act was released all the way back in 2013 on PC. Then, it wasn’t until seven years later that the fifth and final act was released. All five were bundled up and released on consoles at that point, too, in the form of Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition.
Now, Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition has also made its way to PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, making it available to an even wider audience. Not that it was entirely necessary thanks to backwards compatibility. Being essentially a point and click adventure game with a an attractive but undemanding art style, it isn’t a game that benefits from more pixels being fed to your brain at an increased framerate. There’s also no voice acting to speak of, nor any gameplay elements to translate to the DualSense controller for added pizzazz.
If you already own Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition on PS4 or Xbox One, then, and have played it through to completion, there’s nothing here that’s going to make another playthrough more enticing. The good news is that you get a free upgrade, though, so if you ever do feel the urge, you might at least appreciate the marginally improved visuals and loading times.
These new PS5 and Xbox Series X/S versions of Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition are, of course, generally intended for new players, jumping into the game for the first time. The question is: if you haven’t done so yet, should you? The truth is, it’s a hard one to answer. As Becca found while reviewing Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition for us back in 2020, it’s an experience that’s often confounding, and not exactly what you’d call fun.
Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition is mainly centred around a man called Conway. Wishing to make his last delivery – an antique that’s to be dropped at at 5 Dogwood Drive – he stops off at a gas station after driving through the night getting nowhere. It’s here where the player steps in to take control of Conway, and things just go from weird to weirder. Is the dog that’s with Conway his, or just a stray he’s picked up? Were the people you’ve just met in the basement of the gas station ghosts? These are questions you’ll be asking yourself within minutes, and they’re soon eclipsed.
Throughout the five acts that the game is composed of, plus strange interludes between each, you’ll encounter a whole cast of characters, and one thing seems to connect them all: the mysterious Route Zero. “Just what is it?”, you’ll wonder. And don’t bet on having an answer. This is an experience that seldom makes sense, so if you like a conclusion that’s neatly wrapped up, it might leave you cold. For those that simply enjoy a journey, however, there’s much to admire.
The writing in Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition, for example, is sometimes quite simply wonderful. It’s frequently witty and often thought provoking. Even more interesting, however, is the way it lets you steer the narrative. Sometimes you’ll be selecting dialogue options for multiple characters in a single conversation, making you feel somewhat like you’re creating the story and defining character traits. It make the game particularly unique.
There’s one thing for sure: Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition isn’t for everyone. Its pace can be ponderous at times, rarely does it make much sense, and it doesn’t wrap things up neatly for you. Those who appreciate the journey rather than focusing on the destination, however, are likely to have a good time with it. More importantly, it might just make you think.