Kentucky Route Zero!

[Sits down on a stump next to a moonlit campfire, pulls out a banjo and plucks a few strings, flings banjo into a thistle of nearby cacti when he remembers he doesn’t know how to play the banjo.]

Oooooooooooooo, Kentucky Route Zero / comin’ into town / Kentucky Route Zero / probably won’t make you frown / Kentucky Route Zero / Kickstarted before Double Fine / Kentucky Route Zero / I want to make you mine / Ooooooo, Kentucky Route Zeroooooooooo / [34 second off-tune, cactus-thorn-perforated banjo solo] / magical realist with a sci-fi twist / yeah!

(There’s a gorgeous trailer of this hyper-promising exploration adventure after the break. And maybe more country songs!)

KENTUCKY ROUTE ZEROOOOO– OK, fine, no more songs. I’ll leave that to the game’s very own robotic country singer, Junebug, who’s only one of “dozens of strange characters” main character Conway will encounter during his exploration-focused adventure down a secret highway in Kentucky. After a successful pre-Double-Fine Kickstarter in 2011 and a long period of radio silence, Cardboard Computer’s finally getting its show on the road. Here are the details:

“Kentucky Route Zero is a magical realist adventure game about a secret highway in the caves beneath Kentucky and the mysterious folks who travel it. The game is developed by Cardboard Computer (Jake Elliott and Tamas Kemenczy). The soundtrack features an original electronic score by Ben Babbitt along with a suite of old hymns  and bluegrass standards recorded by The Bedquilt Ramblers.”

It’ll be releasing in five chapters, the first of which is headed our way in December. As for how exactly it’ll play, I’m not entirely sure at this point. So far, all CC has said is that Kentucky Route Zero is “slow-paced, focusing on exploring new environments and talking with new people.” Which sounds pretty promising, especially when followed by words like “In another [section], Conway and his companions explore a Civil War era battleship that ran ashore in an underground river hundreds of years ago and is now populated entirely by cats.”

So it sounds quite silly in an ethereal, oddly captivating way and looks stunning. Meanwhile, the general structure’s reminding me a bit of Ron Gilbert’s The Cave, which definitely isn’t a bad thing in my book. Plus, it hails from the same folks who created the wonderfully surreal duo of Ruins and A House In California, among others. Right then, Kentucky Route Zero, you’ve got my attention. Please, please, please, please be as good as you’ve got the potential to be.


  1. Squirrelfanatic says:

    “So it sounds quite silly in an ethereal, oddly captivating way and looks stunning.” Hopefully it won’t be too silly. Can’t really tell… much from the trailer, but the atmosphere seems to support a more matter-of-fact story. Also about the looks. There isn’t much to see, so I am not sure if it’s not a bit early to say that it looks stunning.

  2. Chandos says:

    Your song played to the tune of “working on the railroad” in my head. It sounded nice actually.

    • beema says:

      Not sure where you got that tune from. Followed more the tune of “Skip to my lou” if anything

  3. Didden says:

    Looks lovely. On the list.

  4. Ouranid says:

    Hate to be that person, but I actually preferred the original style of art, it fed my nostalgia nicely. Or perhaps I was just accustomed to it, in the vein of “Mmmm, delicious vodka… Ugh! Water!”

    • Auspex says:

      I agree, after seeing the first trailer a year ago(?) I was really interested in this but it doesn’t looks so distinctive now which is a bit of a shame.

  5. spathi says:

    The graphics make me think of Another World..

    • Wulf says:

      Yep. I’m getting a very distinct Another World/Knytt Stories vibe from this. And those are two games which are in my all-time favourites, along with the likes of To the Moon. Because I have good taste, damn it all.

      I just hope it can be as evocative, strange, thrilling, and fulfilling as either.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    Now this sounds interesting, especially coming from the Ruins guys.

  7. Universal Hamster says:

    Bagger 288!

  8. Mr.Radar says:

    Thanks for putting this game on my radar. I’m getting serious Another World/Out of This World vibes from that trailer.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Yes. Yes, thanks! Still not a fan of episodic games, but I guess that helps me be patient until the last episode comes out and you can get all of them at once.

  9. somnolentsurfer says:

    So on the “this whole Kickstarter thing’s going to go sour when someone doesn’t produce or delays badly” issue, their Kickstarter page says it’ll be out in Fall 2011.

    Edit: Having watched the trailer, though, it looks lovely.

  10. The Random One says:


    I remember the name Cardboard Computer being associated with something I liked, but neither of their earlier games mentioned here rings a bell. The concept’s pretty great on its own though.

  11. Synesthesia says:

    wow, didnt expect it to look so good.

  12. Brise Bonbons says:

    I am not usually a fan of Magical Realism in literature, but for whatever reason it makes me giddy in the context of a PC adventure game. Maybe sheer novelty.

    Either way, while this is the first I’ve heard about this game, it’s immediately shot up my list of “most anticipated”. I’m not sure I care much how it’s going to play, as the mixture of art, music, and (for gaming) totally unique setting should easily be enough reason for me to pick it up.

    Also, hurray for the Chicago indie scene!

  13. jackthename says:

    My name is Jack Elliott and when I see a name like Jake Elliott I begin to get very paranoid…

  14. RagingLion says:

    Hot damn.

    This is exactly the kind of game I really want to play. The feel and atmosphere seems amazing. Loved that slow panning with the people in the entrance to the cave – they’re pixelly and yet life-like.

    • Armante says:

      This, exactly this. The light on the wall that fills in, and then the slow spin into 3d. Magic, right there.

      Amazing how something so simple can promise so much.

  15. Kadayi says:

    Graphics remind me of the old Mr X comic series tbh. Which is no bad thing.

  16. Freud says:

    It looks fantastic, but it’s hard to get an idea about the gameplay.

  17. JBantha says:

    I feel so bad for not kickstart this when I had the chance. I wasn’t very into this then.

  18. Armante says:

    Interesting kickstarter campaign btw. No matter how much money you sent their way, you didn’t actually get a copy of the game..

    So they really were looking for funds to make it, so everyone could just buy a copy afterwards. Huh.

    • jakeelliott says:

      Just a correction — everyone who supported the game on Kickstarter gets a download code for Act I, and everyone who supported at $40+ gets download codes for all five acts (we’ve been in contact with the supporters via a private newsletter throughout development, so they know this already). When we did the Kickstarter, we weren’t really ready to get specific how/where the game would be released or how much it would cost, so we didn’t want to treat it like a pre-order system. I know that not offering a “pre-order” option isn’t a very popular approach now, but two years ago the dust was still settling on the very idea of crowdfunding a videogame, so we were experimenting!

      • Armante says:

        Interesting – and good to know :)

        It really seems to be the standard now to offer the game in digital download, then tiers of game + extras (soundtrack, behind the scenes, artwork), then physical rewards and so on.

        Congrats on getting funded, and I am looking forward to how this turns out. I enjoyed Ruins, and this intrigues me :)

  19. SkittleDiddler says:

    Will there be incest and clan wars?

  20. stele says:

    One minor gripe: anti-aliasing. They should look it up.

    But: Where do I throw my money?