The Amazing & Astonishing RPS Advent Calendar: Day 24

By RPS on December 24th, 2013 at 10:00 am.

This is it. The 24th door. The panel behind which every developer on Earth desperately hopes to be. Last year it was Far Cry 3. In 2011 it was Skyrim. 2010 saw Minecraft grab it, 2009 went to Dragon Age, in 2008 it was World Of Goo, and the very first was Portal in 2007.

So what is it this time? Did you guess?

It’s Kentucky Route Zero!

John: We surprised ourselves with this one. Looking back, while indie games have as much of a chance of occupying our top spot as anything mainstream, there’s still a sense of our previous picks being guessable. Far Cry 3 perhaps threw people, despite its being undoubtedly the right choice along with its many faults. But this is the one that even we weren’t expecting to realise should be here. This has been an extraordinary year for games, and especially indie games. Just so much that’s been interesting. But it’s also been a year without that one uniting blockbuster. 2013 hasn’t offered us a Minecraft, or a Skyrim. In fact, 2013 has been packed with more people playing Minecraft and Skyrim than ever before. But I’ve preferred this year for it. This is the year of Papers Please, The Stanley Parable, Proteus and Brothers. This is a year where eighteen out of twenty-four of our favourite games have been independent. And in the Leftovers entries appearing over the next few days, even more of them that could have made the cut. We have been so blessed with so much that’s so novel, inspired, and thoughtful, rather than bombastic, epic and built of spectacle. And it’s in a year like 2013 that a game as brilliant, as stunningly written and crafted as Kentucky Route Zero so entirely deserves the top spot.

The writing dazzles me. The prose, especially. It has the pace, the life, and the dexterity of a great literary novel, delivered with utter nonchalance, and indeed irreverence. It switches between sentences that are just sublime, to deliberately bad jokes, or spoofed purple prose. It says, “I can be this good, but I’m also going to be this too.” And it’s all a part of KRZ greater whole: an endless sense of unease, of instability in the very fabric of reality. A game that veers between the crushing sadness of abject loneliness, to office floors occupied by bears, as people, objects, sentiments and purpose drift in an out of existence. It’s far, far cleverer than I am, and I love being adrift in that, dragged along by its flow, grasping what I can grasp.

Then with this, it’s beautiful. Breathtaking, in relative simplicity. And oh sweet joy, simplicity that isn’t made of cubes. Indeed, it’s made of lines. Sometimes crafted into paintings I would hang on my wall, sometimes the barest scratches of white on a black screen, and heck, sometimes even text adventure. Then layer that with Ben Babbitt’s exquisite score, and you have something incredibly special.

2013 saw the first two chapters of five come out – are people going to be annoyed we’ve given the number one spot to an incomplete game? It’s tough, because we have. Could we end up giving it 2014′s as well? I guess it’s plausible. Let’s see what betters it in the next year. In the meantime, I’m so delighted that such a wonderful game is here on Christmas Eve. I’m even more delighted that Jim ended up pitching for an adventure game to be in the top spot! What a day. But that should hopefully give you an idea of quite what a game this is – one that can even draw in genre-haters to the point of loving it more than everything else. That’s quite a thing.

Jim: I can’t fucking believe it. Jesus Christ. I am backing a point and click adventure for Game Of The Year. Something cosmically, fundamentally wrong must have happened for this to be true. And true it is.

As we composed this list, the realisation that Kentucky Route Zero was the game of the year appeared at the back of my mind. It sat there patiently, waiting for me to notice it. And I did, but then walked past, pretending I was doing something else, and then came back with a grand double take. There it is. The choice. And okay, yes, this game is really something. It matters. Let me try and take a stab at why. Because I have to explain this most peculiar of circumstances.

One reason for KRZ’s success is that it works so well as the kind of game it is trying to be. It is a careful adventure, with a dreamlike story, an easy and comprehensible interface, and a sort of casual, impossible-to-capture cool in its look and sound. It’s unintimidating, but coloured with something sinister. A sense of unease. It is a game that it’s easy to hang out with, to spend some time clicking through and admiring, a game that you might show to a knowing friend. Hey, this looks cool, it seems interesting. Yeah?

Yeah.

And then you begun to unpick the elements of why it is so competent, and why that is so interesting. The exquisitely minimal visual presentation explores architectural and spatial themes in a way that few adventures manage to address or present so elegantly. These kinds of games have been interested in these kinds of ideas since their inception, but they seldom manage to explore them intelligently, constantly hampered and constrained by their form and technology. That’s not true here. From the first moments the game examines space with fades and pans that shame most cinema. It collapses scenes, it creates cross sections, it disintegrates. KRZ watches things with an artist’s eye – a vocabulary of silhouettes and unexpected scenes for action. Even the most familiar game-like places – subterranean spaces – are sketched with a careful sense of what they need to be for this strange tale. They have their own character, their own nature within the constraints of an offbeat and anti-something story. (What is it against? I don’t know. But it seems against something.)

Ah yes, that story. That’s what really excites – a game that is genuinely good at telling a tale, and it is a story whose still waters run deep. Familiar thoughts expressed in unusual terms. Characters and ideas we met before, in other fictions, but they’re different now, the same character with a different face, as in a dream. It’s a powerful demonstration of how ancient mythology and modern pop culture each sit in the same vast continuum, if you know how to step back and look. The same myth-making that took place around the fires of the ancient world, and the finest poems written by the Greek masters, and the stories played by the light of pixels in a basement in contemporary Swindon, they are all part of the same vast current of culture. All that is detectable, right here, in a videogame.

I’m not going to waste anyone’s time picking out the various threads of allegory and metaphor that sit like clever bones under the skin of KRZ. That’s for you to do as you play, if you can bothered. Or if you even notice. Because you may not. That’s why this game can and will side-step the accusations of pretension that gets slung at other games with such layered intent. And it won’t matter if you miss those depths and those references. It’s a stylish, meaningful experience with powerful imagery. An education in classics might help you write a thoughtful essay about this fine slice of adventure, but an appreciation of popular TV and 20th century imagery is likely to suffice. And that, motherfucker, is as true of KRZ as it is of the whole of life.

Alec: Last year I worried that my colleagues were all hepped up on goofballs when they picked What Is The Definition Of Meaningless? for our prize of prizes, but this year there is consensus (which surprised us all, I think) and I’m proud to be considered as hepped as the rest of ‘em by anyone bemused by our choice.

In any other year, I might well have resisted. This year, as I wrote yesterday, I’ve been drawn more to games that make me feel something than I have games that press my adrenal or logic buttons. Part of that is ennui for the targeting reticule, but perhaps it’s more to do with the year I’ve had. I became a father in May, which has caused a massive and very challenging reassessment of both my priorities and what I want the world to be, and I’ve also faced some personal difficulties which have caused me to become far more inward-looking and self-questioning than I already was. Hence, it was a given that I’d find myself drawn to games that explore, or at least grope towards, the human condition.

Kentucky Route is most certainly an impressive aesthetic achievement, rich in the lexicon of both cinematography and graphic design, an extremely careful meld of sound and vision to create the sense of a place that could not exist, and an emotional state that’s both comforting and maudlin. That’s only part of it.

The goassamer story, a lightly-sketched hero’s journey, is just a guideline, a dimly-lit, empty, lost highway for that aesthetic and that state to follow, so they can seem to go somewhere even though perhaps they do not need to. KRZ’s less malevolent Lynchian dioramas plug into age-old human fancifulness, and especially a non-testeronal (Steinbeckian rather than Lynchian, perhaps) idea of what makes a man a man. I dream of the open road. The reality of the open road would be tedium and discomfort. Kentucky Route Zero’s road is something of both, an unreal place where material troubles fade away but existential ones intensify.

Or maybe they don’t. Maybe that’s just what I bring into the game. Because, to me, it’s somewhere where I can ask that question that’s been nagging at me so much lately – what kind of man, what kind of person do I want to be, and what kind am I now? – and see how it feels without the risk of terrible consequence. The expertly low-key mood and tone and sound helps, as does the thrumming sense of a great and learned intelligence lurking beneath the game’s apparent nonchalance, but it’s the choice of attitude that seals the deal. Conway, and sometimes Shannon, face relatively certain outcomes no matter what they do, but can choose how they respond to them, to those they meet and to each other – with patience, with respect, with empathy, or with irritation, with anger, with rudeness. It doesn’t matter to the game, or at least it doesn’t so far, but it matters to the player. My stakes here, thank God, are not saving the galaxy, or whether an NPC will help, or whether I’ll get the optimum cutscene. My stakes are my self-respect.

My favourite aspect of the game, other than the clear Moment of 2013 which is Floor 3: Bears, is that I can choose how I talk to my dog, Blue. I can be pitying, treating her as old and frail and dependent and helpless, or I can treat her as a resilient trooper, a confidante, a creature who’s patiently reflecting on the world around her rather than succumbing to her exhaustion. I choose the latter, every time, but it doesn’t matter. She doesn’t understand my words. She won’t act differently, whatever I might choose to say. The game won’t act differently either. But I will feel the gentle warmth of having treated a fellow being in, I suppose, the way I would want to be treated.

I also, in short, out-of-order fragments, tell my own, imagined version of Conway’s past. I could tell his tale as a stony man of violence, vice and debt, now fallen on hard times, or I could tell it as one of quiet regrets and solitude, a gentle soul who could never quite pull it together enough to succeed, but has never let that get to him too much.

That’s also why my Conway never complains about his injured leg, and quietly strives to get on with things. That’s the man I’d like to be. The man I am would whine and gripe and demand sympathy and support, and pray for immediate reprieve. What can change the nature of a man? Not, if I’m honest, Kentucky Route Zero. It’s not a magician. But it can at least show me what it feel like to be a different sort of man. A better one.

Adam: The year’s most literate and literary game is also its best. When we first discussed the idea of giving Kentucky Route Zero the top spot in the snow-spangled calendar, I frowned for so long that I needed to apply an iron to smooth out the creases in my forehead. We’ve included episodic content on the calendar before but to have an unfinished game as our pick for the year’s best? It didn’t seem right.

It is right though. Kentucky Route Zero may become more brilliant when all of its tale is said and done, but the journey really is more important than the destination in this case. I didn’t need to read the entirety of Ulysses, Tristram Shandy or A Confederacy of Dunces to know that they were almost certainly among the most important and entertaining books ever written. A large measure of the joy experienced in the presence of great work of art comes from an appreciation of the craft with which they have been constructed. The symbols and their meanings – whether written in prose, paint or code – are often a secondary consideration.

I can stand in a cathedral and feel the awe and dread that I mark as a token of a faith I’ve never been comfortably equipped with. And I can gleefully rattle through Joyce’s encyclopaedic and mythic streets without fully comprehending half of what I read. The marvels of artistry are not exclusively reserved for believers and scholars. Kentucky Route Zero is heavy with symbols and allusions, but leaving them unpicked does not diminish the quiet power of its sad and strange world.

If it’s a ghost story – and it is certainly full of phantoms, including the road itself – then it is at once the most affecting and sinister that I’ve come across in years. The visual invention involved in the imagined camera’s movements puts the game head and abstract shoulders above almost anything released in the last ten years. As it stands, across these first two acts, Kentucky Route Zero contains fear, doubt, love and regret. Much more besides, but those are the things that fail to evaporate when I turn off the game. Months later, I remember these people and admire their mistakes.

It is the most literate game I’ve ever played and perhaps the most literate game ever made. The frame breaks, dissolves and resolves, and always communicates a sense of character. Nothing is wasted, which is unexpected in the world of game, which is so often reliant on filler between the moments that matter. And those moments can matter because they involve the player, asking for clicks and slides that are meaningless, demanding slightest effort for a lack of reason.

Kentucky Route Zero doesn’t ask a great deal from its players, in terms of direct input, but it does invite a great deal of intellectual and emotional energy. That is a form of interaction. We engage in it every time we read a book, watch a film or go to the theatre. In one sense, there is little that differentiates this game’s means of telling its story from an animated film, but this is a point and click adventure that indulges in the pointing and clicking.

From the first click, when a game is played in iconic form, it’s clear that this is a work that has great writers, artists and musicians behind it, but that is also absolutely a part of the world of play. The opening scene has a fucking chess piece towering over it. When you load this up, you’re not simply reading a progression of words on a screen and you’re not watching a video. You’re working through a text – in the broadest sense – and addressing it on the terms it has set.

As a consideration of dream, unreality and the attraction of the unlikely, Kentucky Route Zero is a fascinating and beautifully made work of art. It utilises cinematic tricks that make the majority of films look dated and derivative. The panning shot toward the television, out of the window and toward the barn, has more grace and mystery than anything in Inception’s dreamscapes.

Dense with crackling prose and shot through with scenes of tenderness, humour and grief, it’s the best game I’ve played this year. It might be the best one I play next year as well.

Nathan: I am, quite knowingly, RPS’ resident baby, but 2013 was the first year that made me feel old. For reasons still unbeknownst to me, my neck began to break down. It hurt a lot. It made my whole world wobble and swirl, as though my head was a melon milliseconds from being split by a hammer. Sometimes I even had trouble speaking as a result. I worried that it might be very serious.

When this first started, it was a total shock to my system. I’m 24. I’m supposed to be immortal for at least another 3.75 years. But there I was (and to some extent, still am), feeling like my body was already creaking into its final stretch. I didn’t know what to do with myself, especially after numerous visits to the doctor offered no concrete explanation. Self-destruction soon followed, because human nature can be profoundly stupid at times. I embraced terrible relationships, I sealed away notions of optimism and hope, and I got really, really bad at returning phone calls and paying bills and keeping in touch with friends and and and. I mean, what did any of it matter? As a rampant hypochondriac having his first real brush with anything resembling mortality, I was certain it was all over. Now it was time to rue and regret.

Kentucky Route Zero transported me to a space that felt old, hamstrung, as though its best days were long in its rear-view mirror. It was alive, certainly, but also tight in the embrace of its own ghosts. Life and death were intertwined here. Sifting out which was which was akin to spotting a telltale freckle on an identical twin. Only the keenest of eyes could do it.

It was kind of really, really chilling for me, given the timing. Often, my tendency is to avoid media that reminds me of my most profound mortal fears (I still haven’t watched much Breaking Bad because, you know, cancer). Kentucky Route Zero’s oil slick of sick left me gasping. I wanted to pick through the mysteries of this living, breathing graveyard, but something about it was just hitting way too close to home.

I did play it, though. And I don’t think I’ve felt closer to any game characters this year than Conway and Blue. “An old hound in a straw hat,” the game first said of Blue. “Both have seen better days.” I could see their aches and pains painted across the screen each time they trudged forward. More importantly, I could feel them. I hunched to get a better view, and my neck crackled. Pain radiated. This trip was going to be tough on all of us.

But like Alec, I found a little bit of myself in Conway. I played him as a man haunted by an unfulfilled past – shoulders hunched over, heavy with regret – but unable to stop moving forward because, really, what else do you do at that point? You either keep inching forward or you pull up the dirt like a blanket and wait for Death to snuggle up next to you for One Last Sleepover Party. Neither seemed like particularly great options to me, but one was still infinitely better than the other.

And then Conway injured his leg and had to drag his splintering bones up that awful hill. That was the moment. I mean it, too: the moment for me in games this year. It’s how I’d been feeling summed up in a single, tortuous shot. I clutched the back of my neck as he, Blue, and Shannon climbed and climbed. It’s a kind of reflex I’ve developed. I squeeze as though my hand is a clamp, like I’m holding myself together. My chest was tight. My nerves were glass. Would they make it to the top? Would they be OK? Would I be OK?

They succeeded, of course. In retrospect, it didn’t even look that hard. Conway and co’s setbacks were, at worst, temporary. Sure, they’d taken life’s licks and come out worse for the wear, but they were far from done. In that moment (and, upon reflection, so many others), I realized that Kentucky Route Zero is a story of both torrential melancholy and withering embers of hope. The game’s world is a haunted, poverty-stricken place, but these characters stuck it out. They didn’t let fear or regret paralyze them. They existed in the moment, and I was right there with them.

I’m still far from 100 percent physically speaking, and I wonder if I’ll ever make a full comeback. I don’t really know what 2014 holds on this front, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. But sometimes you just have to put a straw hat on an old hound dog and hope for the best. Maybe I have seen better days, but that doesn’t mean I’m finished.

Back to the Calendar!

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240 Comments »

  1. Kill_The_Drive says:

    Merry christmas to RPS!

    • Keing1968 says:

      my classmate’s mom makes $65 an hour on the internet. She has been without a job for eight months but last month her income was $15832 just working on the internet for a few hours. view website,,,,
      http://www.Rush64.com

  2. Chanter says:

    May I say, this is an excellent choice.

    • battles_atlas says:

      It really is. I played the two episodes way back around the start of the year, and its still carved in my mind like nothing since.

      Given the care that is invested into this I’d be surprised if all three remaining parts arrive next year. Happy to wait though.

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      tumbleworld says:

      Yes, totally. A beautifully-written piece on a beautiful game.

    • S Jay says:

      I really liked the first episode, but got out during the road clockwise/counterclockwise puzzle in the beginning of the 2nd episode.

      • Wedge says:

        I… what? I wasn’t even aware the game had “puzzles”, much less anything to the degree that would cause someone to give up. At worst it made you wander a bit, which was fine, since there was plenty to see if you went a bit off track.

    • The Random One says:

      I had written this off, thinking that RPS wouldn’t put an unfinished game as their GOTY. But it is truly astounding, and I agree with the hivemind’s pick. The first ep is a bit slow, a bit too much Twilight Zone, making pointless references to Borges without hitting the magical realism nail, but by the second one it finds its footing and hits the ground running. I think it’s about time I replayed the second chapter and fully explored the overworld.

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    amateurviking says:

    Merry festives everybody!

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    drewski says:

    I think the reason I am surprised about this is that I only heard about it a week ago in the comments here. As a speculative potential winner. Which is weird to me because it’s so hard to avoid constant chatter about anything vaguely good when it comes to games.

    No idea how it slipped by me. Maybe it’s that I habitually ignore episodic games and generally am not bothered with adventure games. But I guess it sounds worth checking out.

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      RaveTurned says:

      Same. While I recognise the name, that’s about all that I know about it. Which is odd because RPS covered its Kickstarter and have run several other features on it this year, including a WIT for both episodes. This feels like some kind of bizarre selective blindness. :/

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        drewski says:

        Given that the WIT for episode 2 only got 27 comments, seems we’re not alone in missing it, though.

    • fish99 says:

      Same here with this *and* Gone Home, I know the names, but haven’t seen enough discussion of them at RPS before this calendar started to make me think they were anything special. A quick glance at their metacritic user and critic ratings also shows nothing extraordinary. Oh well.

      • John Walker says:

        Can I suggest tag searching both of them, and then reading the many features we’ve written about them?

        • fish99 says:

          I’m talking about the comments though, not articles. I don’t recall seeing them discussed much before this calendar started.

    • TheTingler says:

      Yep, me too. Heard vague rumblings about it being very good this month, but enough to win RPS’s game of the year? Guess I’ll be checking it out. Just played through Brothers, The Stanley Parable and Gone Home and this’ll be the next I believe. C’mon Steam Sale… just… a little… cheaper…

  5. scottyjx says:

    Jim, your opening paragraph is magical.

  6. vanilla bear says:

    I guess I should look out for this then!

    (No Cinderella-ending for Kerbal Space Program, alas.)

    • WrenBoy says:

      That actually is a surprising omission especially given the weakness of the field this year.

      I’m happy enough to see KRZ winning but my list would’ve been different. Mainly because I’m not sure I even played 24 games which came out this year.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Maybe they discounted self-proclaimed “early access” games? Which is odd while still including unfinished episodics.

      • vanilla bear says:

        I don’t think there are any hard-and-fast rules – in fact, Jim starts the Minecraft entry by saying “Pedantically speaking, this isn’t a game that came out in 2010. It’s only just gone into beta. But then again, whatever label software wizards might put on their projects, if you are paying money to play it, then it’s out.”

        That said, if a game is likely to improve in the future, that indefinably cheapens what you have *now*.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Then it’s surprising KSP hasn’t made the cut at some point since RPS’ first mention of it in 2011, because it really is a spectacular PC-playing-to-its-strengths game. It’s brilliant how it gives you a solid, intuitive feel for the problems of rocket design (more fuel means more mass means needs more fuel, for example), for how orbit works (lateral speed!), the horrors of not having enough delta-V to get home, the double-edged sword of atmosphere for dragging you down all the way up yet capturing and cushioning you all the way back, how gravity slingshots work…

          (Heh. On the subject of PC-being-PC: wat, no mention of Euro Truck Simulator 2? ;) )

          • vanilla bear says:

            Rewind to the 11th ;)

            Agreed with all that. KSP is also pretty unique – but looking back over the RPS Advent calendar, it would be hard to criticise it for picking too many similar games. And I’ve only played 5 and a half of them anyway!

          • LionsPhil says:

            Whoops, there it is indeed. I even commented on it.

      • John Walker says:

        We have no such rules. It’s just stuff we’ve liked best this year, that came out in some form this year.

        The calendar is the 24 games we successfully argue to be there, and Kerbel was not a game enough of us engaged with to make it. It may well deserve to be on *a* best games of 2013 list, but it didn’t make it onto *our* favourite games of 2013. That may be a gross oversight, but it’s an important part of this being a list of our gaming passions, rather than some of the more clinical “acceptable” lists you’ll find elsewhere.

        • vanilla bear says:

          Graham only mentioned Spelunky and KSP when asked elsewhere about his favourite games of the year, so maybe it will make next year’s calendar once he’s taken over RPS.

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      Nogo says:

      I played way more KSP than anything else this year, and I would’ve argued to keep it off the list.

      It’s a great toybox, but there really isn’t much to do once you figure out all the quirks. Maybe when career mode gets properly balanced and bases have a purpose it’ll make sense for the list, but for now, not so much.

  7. yogibbear says:

    Metro Last Light? Anti-chamber?

    Oh well…

    I haven’t played this. I look forward to finding out why you all think it’s so special. Merry XMAS to everyone!

  8. Syra says:

    Great, and I’m glad bioshock wasn’t in the list. Do you have any comments on the slow updates for this game? I was going to buy it months ago but steam community site is full of people demanding refunds because they are 12 months late on episode 2 or something?

    • John Walker says:

      They haven’t committed to a release schedule, and episode 2 was certainly worth waiting for. They say episode 3 is nearly complete and should be out soon.

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      basilisk says:

      This pathological hatred of BioShock is something I will never understand. You didn’t like it, and that’s fine, but why would anyone be glad it never made it to an arbitrary list? That’s just childish.

      Back on track, anyone knows when KRZ is going to be complete? I’ve owned it for quite some time now, but I’m not really a fan of episodic gaming, so I’m patiently waiting for the full package.

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        drewski says:

        Yeah, I don’t get the whole pleasure at a game not being on the list thing either.

        • Fenix says:

          Yeah makes no sense to me either. I haven’t played Bioshock Infinite [yet] but even if it were the worst game I can imagine it to be (which judging by what I’ve read that doesn’t seem to be the case) I can’t bring myself to be glad of its absence from this list.

          Plus, Syra you might be disappointed as this is not the end of the advent calendar and they will be doing leftovers now :).

          • Syra says:

            I don’t hate it, it should be acknowledged as a footnote … but it wasn’t even close to one of the best games this year – see my reply below!

        • Bull0 says:

          I don’t get the whole “taking every opportunity to bash a game that I didn’t like much, even when it hasn’t been mentioned and isn’t relevant to the discussion” thing. Like the stuff you like… let other people like the stuff they like… that’s it.

        • Muzman says:

          You’ve never taken pleasure when the obvious awards bait film that is seemingly pre-ordained to win by virtue of pressing those awards buttons doesn’t get any Oscars? (or, more commonly, annoyed when the transparent awards bait film with all the right profits and exposure gets all the awards at the expense of more obscure and interesting work?)

          You might not have I suppose. And that’s fair enough. But my point is its not an uncommon sentiment in other arenas.

      • Lemming says:

        For me it’s not hate, it’s relief. I played through the game once, and I enjoyed the look and the story, but that didn’t hide the most basic and uninspired game play to have graced my monitor since the FPS boom in the nineties. I expected most if not all reviews to point that out, throwing back the curtain to show the little old man working the controls trying to pull a fast one on us all, but being caught in the act. Then I saw reviews and peers alike praising it. And then I got sad.

        Bioshock Infinite is a game that appears to be created by someone who was only told about the original, but never actually played it.

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          basilisk says:

          Bioshock Infinite is a game that appears to be created by someone who was only told about the original, but never actually played it.

          Well, yeah, but why is that a problem? Yes, unlike the first BioShock it’s not really any sort of “spiritual sequel” to either of the System Shocks (it’s got more in common with Half-Life 2, really; a tightly designed rollercoaster with smoke and mirrors everywhere), but why should that detract from the experience?

          • Yglorba says:

            The problem is that there are several tightly-designed Half Life 2-inspired shooters every year. Bioshock Infinite wasn’t a terrible game, but if it didn’t have the Bioshock label on it we wouldn’t still be talking about it and it wouldn’t have reviewed quite so highly.

            There’s nothing wrong with making a competently-executed but essentially derivative shooter. But the reception Bioshock Infinite got at its height was a bit grating.

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            drewski says:

            I think the complete opposite – if it didn’t have the Bioshock name and legacy, it wouldn’t have to deal with such unrealistic expectations and be allowed to stand on its own. I think it would have been received better, not worse.

        • fish99 says:

          I just find it odd that anyone would get so precious about Infinite not following the Bioshock formula, when Bioshock itself, while a good game, was so inferior to System Shock 2, and threw out all the RPG elements, complexity and replayability.

          Bioshock 1 had a lot of issues as well, like the poor PC version (dodgy widescreen support and mouse acceleration at launch), the poor last third of the game, the awful end boss, the poor ending, the reuse of the SS2 twist, the limp gunplay etc.

          Me I was happy just to enjoy Infinite for what it was: a solid game with a great story (especially the ending) and a beautiful setting.

      • S Jay says:

        I don’t think it is hatred (at least I don’t hate it). It is a very pretty game, gorgeous art really, but the game itself is pretty “meh”.

      • KevinLew says:

        For me, it’s not that I hate seeing popular games win awards, but Bioshock Infinite is a so-called “triple-A” game from a well-known developer and publisher. In effect, the game already has plenty of attention and it doesn’t need another award to stack on top of its huge pile of money and accolades. I’d rather have a game that was lesser known but extremely well made get some recognition, and I was pleasantly surprised that KRZ won it.

        I personally love KRZ myself. By the way, in the first chapter, the game essentially tells you what happens in the final scene of the final chapter of the game. This is one of the games where giving the ending away doesn’t ruin the story for me, and I want to know how the cast got there.

      • jonahcutter says:

        It’s likely backlash at the lavish, over-the-top praise the game received. It was literally called perfection, while many found it a very flawed game.

        I won’t rehash the criticisms of the gameplay, story and AI. There are many excellent critical analyses of the game that do that. My favorite is: http://www.actionbutton.net/?s=bioshock , which recognizes the game’s greatness while examining its deep, crippling flaws.

        One of my biggest criticisms was in regards to its widely acknowledged strong point. Because even for all its beauty, it was only skin deep. I never felt any depth to the environment. I played the game thinking the big reveal would be that it was all really a theme park, animatronic construction by the antagonist, so posed and robotic it all felt.

        I’ve been “backstage” at Disneyland several times for an old job, and Infinite felt very much like that. Turn the wrong corner and immediately become aware of how thin the veneer of “magic” is when you see the metal frames holding up the fiberglass forms of the sets.

        Most damning of all: The first thing I did when finally let loose on Columbia was to promptly jump over the side to get a sense of the height and danger of being suspended high in the clouds, and insta-warped back to where I was. Result: sense of immersion, magic and danger forever lost.

        All that was left was an appreciation of the art design from an intellectual perspective. I see and acknowledge its beauty. But there’s no emotional engagement with it because it has made no effort to be anything more than the thinnest, and easily peeled away, of veneers.

      • The Random One says:

        I think that if a game does something that we don’t like, and that pushes something we don’t enjoy causing it to become more famous, there isn’t a problem with liking that it’s not getting recognition. It’s not petty hatred or revenge; it’s simply joy at seeing that your own values are being reflected by a big publication. Aren’t we all glad that no CoD game ever made to the list?

        That said, I didn’t think Binf was bad enough that it would be snubbed off the list – I think it’s more victim to its over-hyping that to its actual lack of quality. Although most of its problems do arise from trying to take on too much, essentially trying to tackle American exceptionalism, class and race prejudice, quantum mechanics and alternate universes without a firm grasp on any of those. It’s perhaps more navel-gazing than most of the “artsy fartsy indie games” that came out this, year, and harms itself much more in the process.

      • Premium User Badge

        Nogo says:

        Because I’m a weak, messy human and it’s nice to feel vindicated.

        Also I’d be incredibly chuffed for paying full price if I hadn’t gotten XCOM and Civ in the deal. So it’s a nice little “HA!” for that “oh god, we need pre-orders because this is a bit of a stinker” ruse they pulled.

        Dang it man, just give me my moment of selfish humanity for a bit.

    • Syra says:

      You’ve misunderstood me, I don’t hate bioshock. I aknowledge that it was a beautiful world and interesting – if sometimes meaningless and pretentious – story with a great AI companion (for a rare change). My problem is that it was an awful shooter. Like the very worst. It felt disjointed, the game mechanics and the story never came together, instead of informing each other there was a jarring disconnect. It was just all pretty shooting gallery corridors, the whole combat mechanics were underwhelming and enemies were dull and predictable. The real insult was that it was bloated by about 10 hours too much of pointless shooting and the likable parts could have been covered in about 2 hours and I would have liked that game more. The repetitive awfulness of it made me struggle almost every minute through just to see those brief glimmers of wonder like the scene in the basement with the guitar.

      I was so incredibly disappointed by the final package that I’m pretty sick of all the media outlets out there calling it game of the year, and I’m glad that RPS for at least some reason, seems to have passed the hype.

      • mouton says:

        Oh come on, “the very worst” shooter? Let us not go into extremes. It wasn’t very inspired but it was playable.

    • Phoibos Delphi says:

      I played through Bioshock Infinite. Twice. That said, I rarely finish shooters these days. But I played this one twice, for the sake of the story, the set design (Hall of Heroes anyone),the fuckin´greatest soundtrack ever, the best sidekick in years and for the fun I had with the mechanics.

      I understand that some people don´t like it. But coming to the forums, several times to share your hate for the game and mock the people who liked it is childish behaviour.

      I really can´t understand this game did not make the list, especially after last years inclusion of FarCry 3 which in my eyes is not half the game that Bioshock Infinite is. But you won´t see me hating other games because my GOTY is not RPSs GOTY. Show a little christmas spirit, Syra!

      Edit: Syras post above and this one were written simultaneously it seems :-)

      • Syra says:

        Merry Christmas :p for what it’s worth I agreed with far cry 3! My GOTY isn’t even on this list either, as it was a consolebox game ;)

      • S Jay says:

        The Hall of Heroes is really gorgeous.

        I didn’t like the game, but the art is really outstanding.

      • Premium User Badge

        drewski says:

        BS:I is this year’s Fallout 3 – whatever merits it has, it has become the game it’s ok to hate in public. The backlash has become the perception.

      • hilltop says:

        In response to Phoibos:

        I really don’t consider FC3 and Bioshock: Infinite in the same class. Farcry was excellent fun to play despite a story that was simply endured. The gunplay in Bioshock was tedious beyond belief (for me and many people) and the redeeming quality in it was the story unfolding.

        The ‘game’ part of FC3 was a triumph. In Bioshock, it just seemed like an interruption.

        • Enkinan says:

          I didn’t even realize FC3 won last year and started playing it on my new rig a few weeks ago. The story can be kinda corny, but damn is it fun to wander around that world.

    • shimeril says:

      I’ve not played Bioshock Infinite and will happily admit it doesn’t interest me. The reason I’m glad it isn’t on the list is it gives some other game that I knew little or nothing about an opportunity to be on the list. So many indies here, some of which I own and many of which I don’t. That will be rectified for some of them soon. Well done RPS people on managing to mostly agree on bringing a year of gaming down to celebrating the joy of 24 games. My list would have been way different, and way shorter. My kingdom for more gaming time. Happy whatever-you-celebrate everyone.

  9. CookPassBabtridge says:

    I’ve not played this yet but thanks to all for the disarming honesty and vulnerability as well as picking something really unique. I don’t know that others would have felt this, but I had to stop playing the Stanley Parable because it induced a shockingly painful depressed state in me as I found the ‘dark’ parts. I was convinced of my silliness that a game could do that but now I feel somewhat released from that reading such honesty above. Can also relate to Nathan’s neck pain as I have suffered with trigger points in my whole upper body for months. Hope it gets better Nathan.

  10. rustybroomhandle says:

    Good game, but I have to wonder – if it happens to drop the ball in the remaining episodes, will the game as a whole still be held with the same high regard?

    • Premium User Badge

      Anthile says:

      Considering people dismiss the entire Mass Effect trilogy because of the last five minutes of the last game, the answer is most certainly a resounding no.

      • Premium User Badge

        AndrewC says:

        A lot of those people are not the sorts of people who would play Kentucky Route Zero.

        • Geebs says:

          Best logical fallacy of the thread. People who like games don’t like games? I’m lost.

          • The Random One says:

            I think he meant, people who have so fragile understandings of media that they are willing to dismiss an entire journey because the ending they were presented with was not to their satisfaction are not likely to play a game based on slow, methodical exploration of unsettling environments. I think.

          • Bull0 says:

            Which is nonsense. As is the “fragile understanding of media” shtick. You’re telling me that if Of Mice and Men ended with “And then it was all a dream, and I woke up and had chips” you’d still call it a great work, and my dissatisfaction with it would speak to my “fragile understanding of media”?

          • Grygus says:

            You’re so right. If I have a nice drive that ends with me plunging to my death over a cliff, we should consider that drive a nice journey overall, and anyone who thinks differently just doesn’t understand driving. I’m so glad you’re here to keep things in perspective by claiming that a story’s resolution has no impact on its literary or entertainment merits, without reducing yourself to thinly veiled ad hominem. Such objectivity is sadly lacking in most Internet culture, and I’m happy you’re here to help us out at the RPS comments section. Thank you.

          • The Random One says:

            I think that if Of Mice And Man ended like that, you would be able to say “it’s a great book with an incredibly shitty ending”, instead of “it’s an awful book because of its final words”. You could also go on to say that the rest of the book loses weight because the ending dismisses everything else as reality, but in doing so you’d aknowledge it’s good.

            Following the nice drive analogy, I’d admit that the Mass Effect ending is so bad that it ruins the entire franchise if it actually killed you.

          • Talon2000uk says:

            Soooo apart from that, how was the play Mrs Lincoln. :D

          • Premium User Badge

            AndrewC says:

            If you define anything that ends in death as inherently worthless, you must hate your life. That is a hard place, and I hope you find help.

        • PopeRatzo says:

          Most people are not the sort who would play Kentucky Route Zero.

      • Skiddywinks says:

        I hesitate to say fans dismiss the trilogy because of the last five minutes of ME3. More accurately, fans’ memory of the trilogy is soured by the last five minutes of ME3, and any future MEs will be dismissed. Or approached with more caution than a naked man trying to best a hornet’s nest.

        It was a monumental let down of writing and story telling, only made so bad because of the impeccable writing up to that point. I hear some combination of two of the three founding guys wrote the ending on their own, whereas the rest of the game was a stock pot of all the developers and writers. I don’t know how true that is but I can seriously believe it.

        • Syra says:

          Well, I would say as a mass effect2 fan, that my memories of the trilogy were soured by the first half of the first game, which was dull, the majority of the thrid game which was retreading the second in an uninspired way, and the ending which was a bit of a cop out, because they needed a binary choice instead of programming some convoulted conclusion from all your gameplay decisions (final cinematic aside).

          Oh well, at least the second one can exist in a vacuum.

      • Kadayi says:

        There’s a lot more wrong with Mass Effect 3 than the ending. The whole pacing of the game, coupled with the decision to turn narrative decisions into a numerical points wholly undermined the experience (and lets not even get into the terrible one dimensional characters they introduced). The developers pretty much wrote themselves into a corner from the beginning, and albeit undoubtedly they could of made a better job of the actual ending, in terms of options they bailed on the costly victory (which they’d essentially promoted to the fan base incessantly) Vs going for the Pyrrhic one and it essentially blew up in their face in terms of the reaction.

        Still chalk and cheese Vs KRZ. Like Alec says. Its a different sort of game, so drawing conclusions from one and applying them to the other are somewhat misplaced.

    • John Walker says:

      The first two chapters of the game are our favourite gaming experience of 2013. It doesn’t get any more complicated than that.

  11. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    I thought it came out last year…
    Seems it was January, which confuses my brain. Good pick, then!

  12. NathanH says:

    I think that including an unfinished game is dangerous and wrong, particularly for a game that seems to be getting a lot of the praise for narrative elements, but it is quite difficult to work out where episodic games that span multiple years should go.

    • Alec Meer says:

      DANGEROUS AND WRONG. I kinda get a kick out of that.

      • NathanH says:

        It’s a great badge of honour isn’t it? The backstory to my using the phrase is that an eminent academic once used it to describe one of our research group’s major methods, and we liked it so much we now use it all the time to describe anything that looks a bit funny.

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          I sense an imminent change in the RPS webpage strapline

          • Premium User Badge

            jezcentral says:

            At least he didn’t say “Dangerous and not even wrong”.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      I’d like to be dangerous and wrong.

      • NathanH says:

        It’s like the upgraded form of being dark-and-edgy.

        • Premium User Badge

          AndrewC says:

          Dark and edgy wears a leather coat. Dangerous and wrong wears a cow.

          • Premium User Badge

            thedosbox says:

            “Dark and edgy wears a leather coat. Dangerous and wrong wears a cow.”

            Well done sir, I may have to repurpose that on the internets.

        • Premium User Badge

          DrScuttles says:

          A dangerous and wrong Batman sounds far more terrifying than a dark and edgy one.

          • LionsPhil says:

            A unstoppable thirst for justice, and an unflappable ability to consistently get the wrong man. Brr.

          • Strickebobo says:

            Christian Bale was a dark and edgy Batman. Ben Affleck is dangerous and wrong.

      • Jams O'Donnell says:

        I used to be dangerous but now I’m deadly.

      • The Random One says:

        If being dangerous and wrong is wrong, I don’t want to be… wait I screwed this up.

    • Premium User Badge

      Carra says:

      I’ve been used to waiting for ep3 for years now.

      • SuicideKing says:

        24/12/2013

        2+4=6
        1+2=3
        2+0+1+3=6

        (6/3)/6=1/3

        That means P(ep3)=1/3 which is pretty much a confirmation of something and yeah.

    • KenTWOu says:

      An unfinished game? Man, they put DLCs in their list of their most favoured games! :)

  13. Geebs says:

    I’ve adopted Valve Time for early access and episodic games this year. I’ll play this When It’s Done.

  14. Squirrelfanatic says:

    Merry Christma to RPS and all fellow readers. The Advent Calendar was – as we have come to expect – a great success. More great titles to try out once I’ve got some more time, looking forward to it.

    Thanks for yet another year of previews, WITs, game club coverages and all other kind of articles!

  15. Premium User Badge

    Big Murray says:

    What I’m taking away from this is that nobody at RPS liked Bioshock Infinite.

    • Ysellian says:

      I’m sure it will get an honorable mention, Bioshock was still a good game but just better not better than the 24 mentioned.

  16. Angel Dust says:

    YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

  17. Edgewise says:

    I fully trust that you guys are right about this game. I’m just letting all the chapters fall into place so I can gobble it all up without the frustration of having to wait for installments. That’s one (occasional) benefit of good criticism; when you trust it well enough, you can decide how you want to consume something without having to spoil too much of the surprise.

    • battles_atlas says:

      I’m not sure that is necessary with this game. I’m usually the same, but the episodic structure quite suits the fractured nature of KRZ. Even if no further episodes materialised I’d still hold this in the highest regard.

      • The Random One says:

        I agree, but exactly because of that it would also work to play the entire game at once; the game is not fractured only at the end of the episodes, but also has hard breaks between them, so the whole think would still fill cohesive.

  18. Armante says:

    Fine choice. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with episode one, the way it washed over me when I played it through late one evening with the lights out and headphones on.

    My, but it’s beautiful. Loved the art, style and movement. Must find time to play part two, but that’s not easy with a new-born baby boy to look after :)

    Nathan; I hope the neck gets better. I have issues with my left hip, and constant pain is no laughing matter I know. To state the perhaps obvious; assuming you sit in front of a monitor all day, have you assessed how you sit and most likely stretch your neck forward towards the screen? Go see an osteopath, is my recommendation. Take care OK?

  19. pertusaria says:

    I’ve really enjoyed this, along with the first free out-take, so far (carefully not replaying so that my spur-of-the-moment decisions add whatever they’re going to to the plot). Not saying much more to avoid spoilers, but I really got a kick out of the floor full of bears as well. It’s a bit of a risk as to whether the rest will be as good, but I think it’s earned its spot. Papers, Please is probably my personal game of the year so far (excluding all the games I haven’t got round to), but this is a lot more fun to play.

  20. Caiman says:

    I’m heartened by the recognition of so much independent gaming in this year’s advent calendar. I definitely feel that AAA offerings this year have been incredibly disappointing. I didn’t buy a single game this year from a major publisher, despite one or two that raised themselves above the dross. And yet this was probably my favourite year in gaming since the mid ’90s. My game of the year was a randomised platform game that you can beat in less than half an hour (although it takes many hours to reach that stage of competency). KRZ is on my wishlist, but I think I’ll wait until it’s nearing its end before I play through it.

  21. airtekh says:

    Hmm, this one passed right by me I’m afraid.

    I shall check it out when all the episodes are done though. Can’t stand playing something that’s unfinished.

    • battles_atlas says:

      The story of KRZ is the kind that is never finished. This is really a journey not a destination. Just buy it and play it.

    • hilltop says:

      I agree. The first episode alone is a marvellous experience. To be honest, the game takes so much investment (in terms of engagement and time) that I don’t think it would be that enjoyable to play through the lot in one sitting when finished. It actually lends itself quite well to a drip-feed.

      It really is worth not waiting for.

  22. Jams O'Donnell says:

    I had been waiting for the game to be fully complete, but now I’m starting to think that that’s a foolish idea. Honestly, I’d been letting this game mostly pass me by — I kind of just told myself that the art style was the game’s main selling point, but it sounds like there’s a lot more to it.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      I’m in the same boat really. I’ve kind of made a decision (Telltale excepted as they are usually relatively solid at regularly releasing episodes) to not undertake an episodic game until it’s complete (largely down to the woefully inconsistent release schedule of games like The Dream Machine).

      Now I’m torn as to whether to stick to my guns or relent and see why people love this game so much (to be honest I already was interested by it, liked the art style and I love me some point and click).

  23. Lucid Spleen says:

    Have to say I’m somwhat surprised by this. GotY and not even finished? When it’s done I’ll definitely give it a whirl though. Meanwhile, I have Gone Home, Shadow Warrior and few others saved for the holiday. As soon as I have the shopping done – I seem to be running low on chocolate and other necessities.
    Anyway, I wish a Happy Holiday to all of the RPS crew – you continue to entertain and provoke. And also best wishes to all the RPS commenters who do their fair share of entertaining and provoking as well. Long may it continue…

  24. Premium User Badge

    Yachmenev says:

    A great experience but really not a great game. “Push forward to continue this showcase”. A bit suprised to see RPS name this Game of the Year.

    But opinions I guess. And it’s been fun to follow the way to this. :)

    • John Walker says:

      As much as your almost arguing “this is not a game” and therefore should be executed, not replied to, I really have to ask if you really felt you lacked agency to that degree? The way you respond makes changes, even if those changes are only in the moment you’re saying them. That’s huge, and affecting. Let alone the freedom to explore the map, find hidden details, and progress at your own pace. By your argument, no first-person shooters are games. Which is why your argument is silly!

      • Bull0 says:

        Yet people regularly talk about modern shooters lacking player agency and stretching the limit of what qualifies as a game. Moaning that the game forces you to kill particular people to proceed, etc.

      • Premium User Badge

        Yachmenev says:

        Well yes, I did really feel that much lack of agency. Of all games I’ve played this year, KR0 was the one I felt that the game could just as well have played itself. I didn’t feel agency in the dialogues, and the map exploration was to basic to do anything for me. KR0 for me was “press X to continue”. As such it was very very good. But I don’t prefer interactive experiences like that.

        I play very few FPS games btw. :) But I play many adventure games, and it’s because of that I care enough to comment about KR0. I hoped for much more. It’s a great experience, but I get sad when adventure game developers instead of reinventing the gameplay of the genre decides to skip it. Of the two last entries in your calendar, I do hope that Gone Home will have a much bigger influence on the genre.

        And I do think that your list overall was a very good one. Interesting choices, with well written arguments about why they were selected. You just have to deal with that some (like me) might not agree about EVERYTHING you say. :)

      • horsemedic says:

        > The way you respond makes changes, even if those changes are only in the moment you’re saying them

        This is nonsense. I can “make changes in the moment I’m saying them” by shouting things at the screen while playing NES Double Dragon. That doesn’t mean I have agency.

        Like the OP, I felt I was being led through some very pretty set pieces in KRZ. Sometimes in a wonderful manner like the run through the woods. Sometimes tediously like when I had to limp across the screen so I could click the button to call the elevator so I could click the button to get in the elevator so I could click the text to move the elevator five or six times in a row.

        I’ll have no problem calling it a game. I think it’s a game with brilliant visuals, sound design and dialog, a rambling and inaccessible plot and no agency or gameplay to speak of.

    • Person of Interest says:

      Except the game is not just a showcase. You make your own dialog trees, to the extent that you shape the personality of the characters. You pick the order in which you explore the scenes. You can skip entire scenes. Choices you make in Episode 1 can dramatically change events in Episode 2. It’s worth replaying: without spoiling things too much, there’s an optional Act in Episode 1 that, depending on whether you see it, you get a different opening Act in Episode 2. And I’m sure there are more secrets to discover.

      KRZ has *more* player agency than any adventure game I can think of. It’s a world away from Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery.

      • Premium User Badge

        drewski says:

        As I’ve noted previously in the thread, I’m yet to play it, but I’d be curious as to whether there is genuine agency or just the veneer of agency ie. does it change the game, or just the provide the illusion of change?

        The most obvious example of this illusion is still a bit spoilery to mention so I won’t.

        • Person of Interest says:

          That all depends on how you define “real” change. Keep in mind that this is an adventure game, and none of the marketing, or even the reviews that I’ve seen, talk much about the branching detouring storyline. If you measure a game’s changiness by how many hours of gameplay your actions can lock you out of, or the number of alternate endings, KRZ will come up short. There’s no constant reminder that “your actions have consequences” like in The Walking Dead (of which I’ve only played part of the first episode), because in KRZ they probably don’t, at least not in that sense. And it’s not like Bioware’s explicit paragon/renegade or light/dark dialog choices, which I think are distracting.

          I would say KRZ mostly gives the illusion of change, but in the best way: you perceive the game differently based on the dialog picks you make or the detours you take. It rewards you for exploring by introducing you to new characters, or filling in existing characters’ backstories. It gives you variety on repeated plays.

          • Premium User Badge

            drewski says:

            It’s interesting that you bring up The Walking Dead, because that’s the game I was avoiding mentioning. So I’ll try not to spoil it too much, but if you’re wanting a blank mental state, don’t read the rest of this.

            Basically, TWD lies when it says your actions have consequences. Or at least exaggerates. Your actions do, but nothing really changes. You still get to.the same destination in basically the same order…some of the people you travel with change, but the substitute characters play the same role. It’s very much the illusion of agency.

  25. BTAxis says:

    Huh. For some reason I always thought advent calendars were supposed to go up to 25.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Can only speak for the UK, but most advent calendars I had when little only when to 24. It makes for a nice 6×4 or 4×6 grid to put chocolates behind

  26. LionsPhil says:

    In this screenshot, look at the guy in front of the light blue shaft in front of the car. Now follow that line up to the moon, which means it can’t be a foreground tree. The heck? Did the car get neatly bisected by a particularly potent ray of moonlight? (You can also see the horizon line through it.)

    • Armante says:

      Ain’t it cool? :)

      • LionsPhil says:

        Is the point of it to be running through an M. C. Escher drawing, then?

        Because otherwise it just looks sloppy.

        • Premium User Badge

          Oozo says:

          Actually, it’s the same principle as Magritte’s “The Blank Check”, but in motion. It’s splendid.

          Edit: That’s as good a moment as any to once again mention Magnus Hildebrandt’s articles on the games: http://superlevel.de/spiele/indie-spiele/kentucky-fried-zero-english-edition/

          http://superlevel.de/spiele/indie-spiele/kentucky-fried-zero-act-2-english-edition/

          Those analyses go a long way to show how seamlessly the game integrates references and influences from history, architecture, theater, design, painting, and so on. KRZ is really a splendid proof of what can be gained by having developers that come from different fields than those that are often considered the “classical” training grounds for game developers.

          • guygodbois00 says:

            Thank you for this post. I was going bananas thinking where did I saw that before. And the links in your edit are also great.

          • plsgodontvisitheforums_ says:

            Wow! I had no idea the references in there were so literal. I had a great time playing it but it so obviously has much more going on that I wasn’t quite getting to. Which is fine I guess, but a little more background definitely helps enjoying it a little longer.

          • Premium User Badge

            caff says:

            Thanks Oozo for that link – fascinating!

          • magnus.h says:

            Thanks for the plug, Oozo.

            Obviously, I’m quite happy to see Kentucky Route Zero as Game of the Year.
            I could not agree more with the choice, for I can not remember ever having played a game with that much smarts and that much soul. It may not have gotten quite as much attention this year, but I’m rather certain that in years to come Kentucky Route Zero will be regarded as a milestone in the evolution of computer games to a serious form of expression.

            Well done, lads. (CC as well as RPS)

            cheers
            Magnus Hildebrandt

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          I found it rather clever. I used to love those impossible shapes and optical illusions they had at the science museum. Bravo to impossibly bisected cars

    • SpiceTheCat says:

      In chapter 1, you see the car in front of an apparently inhabited house. On closer inspection, the house is long abandoned and you see the car is gone, or maybe wasn’t there. See, story-telling, context. The artwork is quite deliberate.

      Armante is right.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        Have I missed the Bargains Much Cheapness sale price for the steam season pass on this? I think it was up the other day

  27. Premium User Badge

    AngelTear says:

    Can we give a JOTY (Journalist of the Year) award to Sir Alec of Meer? I mean, I love everyone at RPS, from John and Nathan to the occasional and never-present-enough Cara, and everyone in between, and everyone’s average quality of writing is just so damn high, but Alec’s words, especially in the last couple of months, maybe precisely because of what he is going through, have felt inspired, inspiring, insightful, touching, passionate, soulful and meaningful beyond anything I was expecting, even from this quality website.

    Thank you, Alec, your words have often been worth reading in themselves as much or more than the games you were writing about.

    • Stardreamer says:

      Such a lovely (and accurate) sentiment deserves to be instantly seconded.

      “So say we all!” :)

    • guygodbois00 says:

      I share this sentiment entirely. Mr Meer(kat) for the president!

    • Lucid Spleen says:

      Hear, hear in response to AngelTear,
      Three cheers and beer for Mr Meer.

    • Synesthesia says:

      Hear, hear!

    • SuicideKing says:

      True. Sir, You Are Being Liked.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Thanks, AngelTear et al. I can’t promise stuff like that will be my norm (few games encourage it, after all), but it is lovely to hear that my recent, unplanned tendency for self-bloodletting isn’t entirely without benefit.

      • Exciall says:

        my neighbor’s sister-in-law makes $84/hour on the computer. She has been laid off for 8 months but last month her income was $19916 just working on the computer for a few hours. have a peek at this site,,,,,,,,, http://www.Bay95.com

  28. DickSocrates says:

    The game of the year is the first 2 parts of an eventual 5 parter?

    As great as KRZ may be, it shouldn’t have been considered as it isn’t anywhere near finished. What happens if parts 3-5 are rubbish? Bizarre.

    • plugav says:

      My theory is: nothing happens, parts 1 and 2 will still have been brilliant.

    • Stardreamer says:

      Don’t be so conservative in your thinking. Look again at the level of emotionally charged writing each of the RPS Hivemind have given it, and ask yourself “If the game is doing this to people with only its first and second chapters, why shouldn’t it be recognised as game of the year?”

      Also, there is precedent: Minecraft wasn’t finished when it got included in recognition of the landscape-altering (ho ho) shockwaves it had sent throughout the gaming industry.

    • Angel Dust says:

      Even if they are rubbish they won’t make the first two parts NOT the best thing I have played all year.

    • John Walker says:

      Once again, the first two chapters of KRZ was our favourite gaming experience of 2013. If the rest are shit, that’d be a shame, but it doesn’t change that previous sentence.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      It’s ok – to draw an analogy, seasons X and Y of your favourite TV show being shit shouldn’t change the way you felt about seasons A, B and C.

  29. Laurentius says:

    No argue from me although I kinda missed this and only recently picked and started playing Ep1, it’s looking pretty strong.
    I miss Gunpoint and FEZ not making on the list.
    Oh, and I worry about Jim’s game too, it will have hard time catching attention even among RPS crew, althouogh being kickstarter project, it seems will not fare well against 2013 trend of games, no litterary writng like KRZ, no emotional impact of Brothers, no social commentary or mundane of ordinery life of Papers, Plaese or Gone Home, not a soothing sights of Proteus. Just you against Robots Landlords you can’t talk to…it will have hard time not to fade away.

    • Premium User Badge

      AngelTear says:

      I was actually a bit surprised, several months ago, when I learned of Sir; considering the kind of games RPS likes. I mean, they did choose Skyrim for 2011 GOTY, but they also spend most of the year endorsing smaller games with a focus on narrative and innovation, and somehow Sir feels strangely traditional.

      I mean, the setting is genius, and it’s surely very atmospheric and cured, but, despite all that, it just looks like another sandbox, something like a single player DayZ.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      I think including Sir in the advent calendar now, or in the future, might just be a bit gauche.

      @Angeltear: “Sir feels strangely traditional… it just looks like another sandbox, something like a single player DayZ.”

      Seems traditions settle in quick these days!

      Regardless, there’s no reason to worry about Sir. Our robots are dong just fine.

      • BreadBitten says:

        So how DO your robots dong? Do they let it hang like in Thunder Gun Express, or do they just act like one?

      • Premium User Badge

        AngelTear says:

        I should probably have chosen my words better. It’s not that it’s traditional that baffled me, more that it’s a pure gameplay sandbox. I was (and still am) attracted to RPS mostly for its attention to all those things Laurentius mentioned (Literary writing, emotional impact, Proteus-like experience etc) and that Sir seems to lack.

        I still can’t get over Skyrim (Pure Free Roaming Sandboxy Gameplay) being GOTY, so there’s that. I’m just not a fan of the sandbox genre I guess.

        • Jim Rossignol says:

          Writing, story etc – these are things that particular RPS writers concentrate on. But I have never done. My interest in games is in systems, particularly sandbox or multiplayer systems. It makes sense, therefore, that I should make a game along those lines. Hell, read my words in this vert piece and you’ll notice that it’s highly unusual for me to invest quite so much in this kind of game.

          But perhaps the most important thing to note is that the RPS writers generally have a wider “taste” that readers want them to. It’s easier to say John is all about emotions and puzzles, when he actually really enjoys bloodthirtsy FPS games when they’re done right. The same is true for all of us, which is why this list is pretty diverse, and why we’re just as like to make Skyrim GOTY as we are KRZ.

          • Bull0 says:

            I think summing it up as “X people are most interested in “literarry writing” and emotional impact” is missing the point. It’s just that at the moment, that’s an area that’s growing a lot, in an accessible way, so it warrants lots of attention. I guess people have interpreted this focus to mean that writing is the single most important factor in a game’s design. It isn’t, but when your game mechanics are “put the blue portal here and the orange portal there and go through, then do that again a whole lot”, or “move forward while watching and listening”, you’d better give it a good story if you want it to work.

            Glad to hear Sir is doing well, I still haven’t played it, FOR SHAME.

  30. Premium User Badge

    daphne says:

    As the premier KRZ spammer of these festivities, allow me to say…

    FUCK YEAH

    Thank you, RPS. Not for validating my own tastes, but for doing justice to a profound, profound game.

  31. dethtoll says:

    I am so glad you guys picked this. I was legitimately honestly worried you wouldn’t. To see it not only on the list at all but to have it named GOTY reaffirms my faith in this blog.

    I’m probably that game’s biggest cheerleader ever. But a very, very big part of that has to do with my personal experiences growing up.

    I grew up about 8 miles north of Cincinnati (which is right on the border with Kentucky.). That might not seem like much now, but 20 years ago the difference was palpable. You could stand on the hillside by the old church and look down into the orange and green dots that made up Cincinnati proper — but where we were was almost pitch black. It’s all built up now. Half the woods are gone, new houses in their place. But you can still find that kind of atmosphere, you just have to drive a little farther. There are parts of Kentucky and Ohio that looked and still exactly as presented in Kentucky Route Zero (minus the giant eagles of course.) And that’s what makes it so amazing — sure, it’s a very stylized art style, but it’s captured perfectly the atmosphere and overall weirdness of this part of America, something that gets lost when you get too close to the ashtrays we call cities.

    I can’t really talk about Kentucky Route Zero in terms of gameplay. I can only talk about growing up in the 80s and 90s when everything wasn’t so built up. About how when I was really little I lived up in Michigan and we used to drive down here to visit my grandparents and it was a completely different world, where the street had no lights and people turned off their porchlights before going to bed at 9pm, and darkness seemed to swallow up everything, even sound. About how summers in rural southern Ohio and Kentucky were otherworldly. About going down to Coney Island Amusement Park in Cincinnati’s California neighborhood, down by the river, passing all the houses where nobody lived on the first floor, and wandering around Moonlite Gardens before taking a ride on the Ferris Wheel. About staying up ’til two in the morning playing strange, obscure text adventure games in the late 1990s with bizarre imagery and British humor. About getting lost in the woods one night at the end of summer and having to use the moonlight to find my way back into the backyard. About trips to the lake while fumigating the house, and stormclouds gathering as we drove home. About looking out on the backyard through the window in the upstairs hall closet. About being seven and bewildered. About being twelve and lonely. About being fifteen and lost.

    This game is beautiful, and it should be on everyone’s GOTY list even if they don’t like or don’t play video games.

    The two episodes extant plus Limits and Demonstrations and The Entertainment have pretty much seared themselves in my memory alongside The Last Of Us, and the both of them have more than made up for the sour taste of Bioshock Infinite.

    BSI was, in all honesty, a terrible game on every level — and I say this as someone who liked BS1 and loved BS2.

    • Culby says:

      As someone who grew up in Northwest Ohio, and spent a few summers near Bowling Green, KY, this hit close to home. Thanks for writing it.

  32. Person of Interest says:

    There’s an eye-opening article ( http://superlevel.de/spiele/indie-spiele/kentucky-fried-zero-english-edition/ ) filled with research that connects KRZ’s character names, story themes, and scenes / sets to their real-life counterparts. I had no idea KRZ was so allegorical, which makes the game that much more special.

    The game (and above-linked article) had such an impact on me that I’m actively learning about KRZ’s inspirations, so I can better appreciate the game. I watched a documentary called Harlan County USA, about a coal miner strike in the 1970′s (trailer: http://youtu.be/iCiVMngILEI ). I’m finally reading The Grapes of Wrath. I’ve even got a book from the library about set design. KRZ has enriched my life like no other game has.

    The free “intermission” games are just as magical.

    • hilltop says:

      Thanks for the link. Looking forward to delving into this a little.

    • magnus.h says:

      wow, thanks. It is very cool to see I have inspired someone to go back and read some of the source material.

      Btw, if you haven’t seen, I also wrote an article on the second episode. On the downside, for that you would have to read french philosophy.
      http://superlevel.de/spiele/indie-spiele/kentucky-fried-zero-act-2-english-edition/

      cheers
      Magnus

      • Person of Interest says:

        Wonderful, thanks! I had not seen the second article (edit: and somehow missed Oozo’s comment above).

        Do you have a blog or by-line I can search for to read more of your stuff, or a Twitter handle to follow so I can find out if/when you write an article on the upcoming episodes?

        Edit: I’m also mystified how you make all these connections. Are you some kind of scholarly wizard?

        • magnus.h says:

          no, sorry. I’ve got none of that.
          I know we are quite bad at communicating the English version, but given that almost all other Superlevel content is exclusively in German, it would make little sense to have an extra feed for English content.
          Maybe the powers that be here would like to include it in their Sunday Papers next time, maybe?
          Something extra special about The Entertainment is in the pipes for January.

          One the other thing, while I would like to consider myself über-smart, in reality I’ve just asked the developers plus Kentucky Route Zeros themes fit my personal interests quite naturally.

          • hilltop says:

            Will be keeping an eye on your output in January. Many thanks for your efforts.

  33. pilouuuu says:

    I have to say that Nathan words touched me maybe even more than KRZ! Being 36 I understand how you feel because I also feel like I had better days, but I also feel hope for the future. And the choice of KRZ as Game of the Year makes me hopeful about the future of gaming.

    First of all it’s great that a narrative heavy game made it to the top this year. The atmosphere of the game is amazing and it is so evocative, which is something I feel games can do better than most media.

    I also can’t help but talk about Bioshock Infinite. I am glad it didn’t make it here. Not because of hate, but because of disappointment. It could have been so much more. It could have been a masterpiece. But some fundamental flaws made it an above average FPS. While the narrative in Kentucky Route Zero is amazing, the narrative in BSI is as mess. It has some plot holes, some meaninless stuff which is supposed to be deep. While the first Bioshock made you feel in a real place, BSI seemed like an amusement park. It was especially disappointing after the E3 demos were so promising. I think the most off-putting thing that destroys suspension of disbelief in Bioshock Infinite is lack of citizens fleeing to their houses whenever you fight. It’s the lack of attention to those details and focus on the average combat that made it the biggest disappointment of 2013.

    But Kentucky Route Zero keeps me cheerful and hopeful for the future of games and I wish 2014 games decide to take this route.

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      Ah, the old “it could have been so much more”. This is the tell-tale sign of poor criticism: judging things for what they are not, instead of for what they are.
      I don’t mean no personal disrespect; I know very well that humans don’t intuitively work that way. But it’s essentially dishonest – you’re comparing things to some more or less unclear vision in your head, and not looking at what is it they are actually doing and how successful they are at it.
      Just throwing that out there. It’s rather clear that BSI on some level matters. There has to be a reason why it has appeared in pretty much every single comment section of all the calendar entries.

      • pilouuuu says:

        Do you think it’s unfair to say Bioshock Infinite is a big disappointment? I surely had a much better game in my mind, which if I had the fortune to make I definitely would. But the thing is the expectations about BSI were created by the massive hype, but not only that, by its amazing previous games and by amazing early demos which showed a far more believable world and interesting gameplay. I hope in some parallel universe it is all the game it should have been.

        I think Bioshock Infinite was a beautiful game which didn’t achieve its potential. And that’s a bit sad. I don’t my criticism is bad for pointing that out. It could have been so much more, but even if it was a stand alone game and not part of a franchise it would still be severely flawed. Thankfully we have Kentucky Route Zero, The Stanley Parable, Gone Home and The Walking Dead to hint how much more interesting games can be.

        • Premium User Badge

          drewski says:

          I think it’s pretty unfair to say it’s a big disappointment, but probably not unfair to say you were disappointed by it.

          • hilltop says:

            It is hard to take that comment seriously. Would you elaborate on how it is wrong to say it is a big disappointment but right to say you were disappointed? Unless your point is something as banal as stressing the subjectivity of an opinion.

      • Geebs says:

        Bits of BInfinite were bad, other bits were good. Are you saying that imagining the bad bits replaced by good bits is somehow intellectually bankrupt?

        • Premium User Badge

          basilisk says:

          Not really. It’s the subtle difference between “I think this bit didn’t work and probably should have been left out” and “I thought they would do more of these bits, and instead they gave me those bits”. The important thing is what it is, and not what it is not.

          • hilltop says:

            It seems as though you’re tilting at windmills.

            The initial comment could easily have been interpreted in the vein you outline (pointing out bits that should have been left out or would have made the game more cohesive if altered) but you are portraying it as a wistful lament to some vague notion of what the game could have been. I’m sure that does happen on occasion and in a general sense it is worth keeping in mind. It just doesn’t seem to be at play here.

      • The Random One says:

        Binf is not disappointing because it didn’t live up to the vision in my head, it’s disappointing because it didn’t live up to the vision it set up for itself. It kept doing bait-and-switches of heady themes it seemed ready to discuss and never did, or did in a simplistic or outright wrong way. It tried to merge old-style gameplay and modern gameplay and in the process weakened them both.

        • Geebs says:

          Exactly. It’s even disappointing that the reason it’s called “Infinite” is a stupid reason.

          (I loved the first Bioshock and think that it is as clever as everyone initially thought it was and much cleverer than the backlash made it out to be. Oh, and actually a decent sandbox shooter, which Infinite was not.)

  34. Inglourious Badger says:

    And for the second year running the goatee is a game I haven’t even played! Brilliant. I don’t remember there being much chatter about this at the time but perhaps I kept skipping over any for fear of spoilers. Twas merely in the “oh, I’ll have to check that out at some point” game purchasing categorisations for me. I’ll skip the above writings to avoid ruining anything but point taken, its game of the year. I need to play it and will do so as soon as safely home from inconvenient family visitations.

    Teleglitch was goatee for me, even though I haven’t passed level 5 yet. Great to see it in the close runners.

    This is why I love RPS. Love you guys! Merry Christmas everybody!

  35. Revolving Ocelot says:

    Secretly, I wanted Ride to Hell: Retribution to take the top spot.

  36. Grovester says:

    I love this game. Really, really love it. *SPOILERS*, of sorts.

    The way the music starts up.

    The walk through the impossible forest.

    The way the camera pans to the TV.

    The way you can choose how you want to be; doesn’t seem to have much impact on the game itself, but it just feels right to be respectful, and confused.

    The additional games, Limits and Demonstrations and The Entertainment, especially the ending of the latter, which gives me the creeps.

    The bears!

    Man, it’s a fucking great game. Play it at night, when you’re a little tired, with the lights off.

    But it’s not complete.

    • GameCat says:

      SPOILERS

      I would add one moment where you controll Shannon for first time and Conway is refered as “stranger”.
      Then she pick up the phone and you must choose what to say, but the trick part is that you can’t hear what’s the other person talking about. http://jawnesny.pl/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/kentucky4.jpg

      Or moment where you enter museum and you see your characters through security camera, but all this is just only conversation of that museum workers, they’re just remembering some strangers who were recorded on videotape some time ago.

      • Grovester says:

        MORE SPOILERS (if you can call them that, as they don’t really make sense unless you’ve played it).

        The Eagle.

        The disappearing people.

        The music, again; the way it creeps in as part of the landscape.

        The only annoying bit was on Route Zero itself, which I found a bit irritating, but got through with a bit of paper and a pencil whilst lying in bed one evening.

  37. Kadayi says:

    ‘My stakes here, thank God, are not saving the galaxy, or whether an NPC will help, or whether I’ll get the optimum cutscene. My stakes are my self-respect.’

    Couldn’t of put it better. I been extolling KRZ praises for quite some time. The very fact that it’s not about saving the world or surviving a zombie apocalypse Versus simply navigating across a fictional and ever evocative landscape and weaving your own narrative experience is what makes it such as delight. The way the writing and imagery leaves things unsaid and unexplained excites the imagination as to what has transpired brings to mind Italo Calvinos ‘If on a winter’s night a traveler’ in how it teases.

    It should also be said that it’s well worth downloading the slightly supplemental ‘Limits and demonstrations’ and ‘The entertainment’ from http://kentuckyroutezero.com/ as well.

  38. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Playing this game feels like dreaming for me. After I finished each episode I got a deep feeling of waking up, of returning to reality. I eagerly anticipate the rest of the game.

  39. Premium User Badge

    Yachmenev says:

    I’m a bit suprised to see so many being positive about this selection. I’m in a minority, which makes the reading very interesting. Job well done@RPS then I guess. :)

    The problem I have with this game being selected as GOTY, is that it seems to be for reasons that doesn’t have much to do with it being a game. While something like Gone Home could never be anything but a game, this feels like one long intro sequence. You press a button, and the game move forwards, and that’s about it when it comes to your role. It’s never about which button you press, it’s always that button and no other.

    It’s a magnificent little creation in it’s own, and it does deserves attention. It just feels like that it’s in the wrong place here. I’m a huge fan of adventure games, always been, but I did not enjoy this one, because it didn’t feel that my input was needed at all while “playing it, while The Wolf Among Us always asked me questions about what I thought and wanted, and Gone Home left me to explore the house my way.

    • Premium User Badge

      daphne says:

      I am of the completely opposite opinion — KRZ could only exist as a game, and not a book, a play, or a film (the influences of which KRZ carries within itself). This is increasingly becoming my criterion for GOTY selection — melding so many influences together while not sacrificing its identity as a game. I thought the exact same thing of Hotline Miami last year — although the influences were of course different.

    • Premium User Badge

      Unknown says:

      KRZ asks you to make a lot of choices, but they’re all about the incidental details of the story, not the main plotline. That’s what makes it so special.

      • Premium User Badge

        clever nickname says:

        I would say that KRZ has you make a lot of choices, it’s just that the choices are about your interpretation of the story instead of your impact on the story. The experience of playing KRZ has just as much gameplay as any other choices-based game, it’s just that more of the gameplay is offloaded into your head instead of being in the mechanical systems of the game.

  40. Premium User Badge

    caff says:

    This choice is why I love Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

    KRZ is a superb game, and as Adam says, you don’t need to see the whole thing to appreciate what it is, and where it’s going. It ‘s a haunting game that sticks in your mind. I wouldn’t have paid it much attention if it weren’t for RPS.

    For those of you missing your next episode fix, check out the other “downloads” on the Cardboard Computer website.

    • Ex Lion Tamer says:

      Although I do hope no one gets the wrong idea from Adam and thinks they can stop partway through, say, Ulysses – they’ll miss one of the best endings of anything ever.

      (And the inspiration for one hell of a Kate Bush song.)

  41. PopeRatzo says:

    Next year, the RPS Game of the Year will be a cardboard box decorated in crayon and a bit of string.

    Funded by Kickstarter.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      If that cardboard box makes me cry and want to become incredibly introspective, then that will be fine. Also everybody loves crayons

      • dE says:

        That’s the beauty of it, it’s metacommentary on Kickstarter. If you pledged, you’ll certainly feel those tears streaming down your face at the sheer sight of the end result. Not sure they’ll be tears of joy, that’ll depend on just how meta you like your games to be.

      • PopeRatzo says:

        Games that make you cry and be introspective are the future of gaming.

        The First World is a magical place, no?

        • hilltop says:

          You have a strange attitude.

          Yes, games that are particularly moving are highly valued. And yes, it is pure good fortune to be able to indulge in these things. A lot to be grateful for.

  42. LaKriz says:

    Merry Christmas to the RPS staff and all the readers.

  43. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    I haven’t played it but this seems a smart choice for GOTY from everything I’ve heard.

    I’m just waiting for more of the game to be complete before I dive in. A part of me still prefers the usual way of games being made in full then released, but hey ho (look at the reindeers go). Something to look forward to I guess.

    • Advanced Assault Hippo says:

      Also, I agree with RPS about not including Bioshock Infinite.

      A soul-less, dull, aimless slog through pretty scenery. No thanks.

  44. Suopis says:

    I just love reading these masterfully crafted words. Really wanted to see Cara’s angle on this too.

    Been waiting for this game to be finished, but now I must succumb.

    Best of wishes to the RPS staff. Have a joyful Christmas!

  45. Patches the Hyena says:

    A merry Christmas to all the contributors of RPS and the commenters (the nice ones, you know)!

    I think Tomb Raider could’ve sneaked in there, but overall it’s a very solid list which shows how healthy the indie scene is, at least considering quality not revenue, despite bundles bringing down prices.

  46. gnomes says:

    Barely a game, this choice continues RPS’ pretentious love of barely playable independent releases. Bioshock Infinite may be a flawed game but standing Infinite with all it’s art, complexity and actual gameplay up against an overly wordy notgame that could have been made in 1995 is like having your very good high school football team play the Patriots.

    Kentucky Route Zero as game of the year is just trying too hard to be cool.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      It’s ok. You’ll be ok.

    • pilouuuu says:

      Funny, because I considered Bioshock Infinite incredibly pretentious and it tried so hard to be cool (well, it succeeded in many senses). The thing with Bioshock is that it became some sort of convoluted mess which didn’t know what it wanted to be.

    • dE says:

      The anger some people feel, because their game wasn’t crowned best… I don’t understand it. Wait, no One Finger Death Punch on the list? RPS YOU SELLOUTS, YOU ADSPACE REVENUE GOBBLING MONSTERS OF INDIE DESTRUCTION.
      In an unrelated sidenote, my personal GOTY wasn’t even from this year. It was Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective. Which is incidently available for a single dollar, if you have got an ipad.

      • Grygus says:

        My game of the year was a version of Total War: Rome II that only exists in my head.

    • MrStones says:

      There is no reason my favourite book or album of this year couldn’t have been written in 1995, should I discount them for not including the word “twerking” or having any dubstep? Or are my personal choices tainted by their omission and just me trying too hard to be cool?

    • BreadBitten says:

      Maybe it’s not “actual gameplay” that dictates what makes a game special these days? Maybe a game can makes you feel something different than what the mechanics of a game with “actual gameplay” makes you feel, but is able to convey that feeling better? Have you considered these parameters?

    • Armante says:

      Considering the huge number of indie games selected by RPS, and their track record for the year in games and gaming commentary, for you to be surprised by this selection rather makes me wonder how long you’ve been reading RPS, and perhaps you would be happier with another gaming site?

      The writers explained (very eloquently) why they chose it, and why in their opinion it deserves to be GotY 2013. If you didn’t read it, understand it, or merely disagreed, that’s fine. But calling them on ‘trying to be too hard to be cool’ is a mistatement. I somehow doubt RPS and its writers give a damn about being cool.

  47. DickSocrates says:

    Remember when the Nobel Prize Commission gave Obama the peace prize before he’d done anything at all as President?

    I’m sure eps 1 and 2 are fantabulous, personally I’m waiting until all 5 eps are out before I play any of it, because I cannot stand episodic content in any form, including TV shows. I’m absolutely not disputing the quality of KRZ so far. From what I’ve seen, it looks right up my street, I hope the full thing continues to be amazing. But this decision is plain unintelligent. 3, 4, and 5 could be rubbish. Even if just 5 is rubbish, it changes the whole thing. Every new creation impacts all past creations, to paraphrase T.S. Eliot. It is IMPOSSIBLE to review KRZ until all 5 parts are out. I’ve seen too many TV shows, read too many books to accept an opinion on anything until the final part of the final part has been seen. I’ve hated books until the last chapter only to suddenly get it and think they’re great. I’ve loved movies until the final third and came away disappointed. And to take 2 parts of 5 and come to a conclusion is perhaps even more nuts than if just one part had come out. What fraction of a whole is too little before declaring something great? This is just like walking out of a stand up gig at the inteval and writing a negative review because you didn’t stick around for the pay off for the first half. As some tit at some newspaper recently did at a Stewart Lee gig.

    The only thing giving an unfinished game GOTY achieves is to make RPS look like a coterie of contrary knobs.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      The Nobel Peace Prize is for foreign policy idealists. Obama winning wasn’t surprising because it reflects this sense that the world can be made a better place through good intentions and moral authority; if it were a realist (in the technical sense) foreign policy prize, you’d see people like Deng and Nixon winning it.

      Then again, if this Iran thing holds Obama could have earned it (with Rohani, maybe).

      • pepperfez says:

        It would be a far better world where Luol Deng won the Nobel Peace Prize instead of (noted bleeding-heart idealist) Henry Kissinger.

        • Premium User Badge

          Gap Gen says:

          And yet Kissinger won it for ending a war that should probably not have started in the first place, rather than his work to impose a foreign-policy-realist peace on the world (including the rapprochement with China).

        • Kaeoschassis says:

          Would it? People who do genuinely good things for genuinely good reasons aren’t in it for a medal and a speech.

    • NathanH says:

      I broadly agree with this, although perhaps not with the strength of the criticism of RPS’s decision. After all, the alternative is counting the year of release for an episodic game as the year of release (or cancellation) of the final episode, and this isn’t particularly satisfying either.

      But the broad sentiment that one’s appreciation of the first part of something, particularly something narrative, is dependent upon the next parts of that something, this I can fully agree with. As an extreme example, if the next episode is dedicated to mocking the RPS writers for their reasons for the liking the first two episodes, it seems likely that the RPS writers will not look as favourably on the first episodes as they are right now.

    • PopeRatzo says:

      The only thing giving an unfinished game GOTY achieves is to make RPS look like a coterie of contrary knobs.

      I think you’re catching on to the whole point.

      A Coterie of Contrary Knobs is a great title for a novel, BTW.

    • hilltop says:

      I think if you play the available episodes you would not disagree with the choice.

      For what it is worth, this really does not seem to be hindered by the episodic release schedule in the way that I feel the Walking Dead series or Wolf Among Us does. The experience of playing is just very different and the bundling of the content into an episode remains satisfying. Do as you please but I recommend trying it over this holiday season.

      I appreciate your point re: disliking episodic content, even in television shows. But I would compare this to a poetry collection. I regularly binge-watch shows I enjoy and much prefer it to weekly drips. But I don’t think anyone (or many people, anyway) prefer to plough through a collection of poetry in full rather than go through it piece-meal.

  48. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    Interested to see the list of games that missed the cut. Certainly Rayman Lemons was a favourite for me, and while Bioshock might not have been Goatee, it was a good game.

  49. Premium User Badge

    Clavus says:

    Having played through KRZ just recently, I guess this is a sound choice, although it wouldn’t be my own. It’s a very intellectual experience. I missed out on a lot of the references and don’t find it that entertaining in general because of it (except for the bears. That was great). It’s still an enjoyable experience, the art and sound were very well done, but it’s hard to make sense of everything. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood when playing it, but no sense mulling about that now.

  50. El Mariachi says:

    Why are we going with KRZ as the acronym instead of KR0? You don’t say “BFT” after all.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Because sequel designation versus name

    • NathanH says:

      The game seems to be called Kentucky Route Zero rather than Kentucky Route 0, so the popular abbreviation would seem to be sensible.

    • The Random One says:

      I like to call it KY0, but I don’t think anyone would know what I’m talking about.

      • dethtoll says:

        I would, but that’s ‘cuz I practically live in this state! (Well, Cincinnati — close enough!)