Kentucky Route Zero Act IV Is “Almost Done”

Oh, happy day! Act IV of Kentucky Route Zero [official site] is “almost done”, say developers Cardboard Computer. They have a picture of a wee boat and everything. It’s a lovely boat. It’s not that we believed Act IV wouldn’t come, as apparently some had started to mutter after more than a year between acts, it’s just grand to hear from it again and know we’re not too far from playing. Even with only two of five planned acts out, KRZ was our game of 2013.

“Act IV is almost done!” the devs tweeted yesterday. “Excited to share it soon.” That’s it. That’s all I know. Is that not enough? Do you want, oh, the full-size version of that boat pic too? That really is it, though.

“It’s a bummer that our process is at odds with some expectations about how long this should be taking,” they said amidst a string of tweets back in August following grumbles. “But we’re not changing our process.” Good, of course not.

Cardboard Computer gave a fascinating presentation at last year’s Mild Rumpus, deconstructing scenes to show off quite how they make everything so beautiful. Loads of flat polygonal shapes, seemed to be the answer, like paper cut-outs. The whole scene would collapse and explode outwards as they turned the camera even a touch. I wish we had it on video. Also, I bought a fedora for a dog.

Look, it’s early and I just got down from a morning atop a hill and I’m slightly dazed, so I’ll turn you over to that Advent calendar entry and Wot Adam Thought of Act III to explain quite why Kentucky Route Zero is so great.

Here, this picture of a petrol station is another Act IV shot, snapped in August:


  1. Mandrake42 says:

    This is such good news. Only one more episode and I can finally play through. I bought the whole season ages ago, but after episode one, I decided I wanted to experience it as a whole. Its nice to know that happy future is one step closer to reality :)

    • dethtoll says:

      Every time a new episode comes out, I play through the whole thing again, and it’s just magical every time.

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        Harlander says:

        I don’t replay games a lot, but damn if that doesn’t sound like a good idea in this case.

      • Weremoo says:

        I’m glad I’m not the only one that does this! As sucky as the long gap between episodes is, it means when I re-play them, the beauty of the whole thing hits me anew!

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      Arnvidr says:

      I did the same, but with the long period between episodes, it’s feasible to actually play through it all each time. If I start doing that when this is out, it’ll only be two times through though, so might as well wait at this point.

  2. dethtoll says:

    [hyperventilation begins]

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    Grizzly says:

    It’s certainly not too late to love this now :D

    • Monggerel says:

      They are not saints, but they have kept their appointment.

  4. Sinjun says:

    I love this game but I really don’t understand why it takes them a small eternity to make each Act. They must not have made much money from it and only work on it very sparingly.

    • anevilyak says:

      I suspect some of it is actually them simply being so obsessive about attention to detail. Many, many parts of the game are extremely carefully constructed references to famous plays and literature, both in terms of dialogue and scenery, and if you really want to nail that kind of thing perfectly, it’s potentially very time consuming, bearing in mind they’re only two people.

    • dethtoll says:

      That’s my thinking, and it’s a huge shame.

    • klops says:

      Well, unlike 99,9% of games, the writing and atmosphere and everything is very good. I’d suppose that creating good stuff usually takes longer than creating generic shit. They could be rewriting and reworking the game a lot.

      I dunno know, though. Your reasoning doesn’t sound bad either.

  5. gbrading says:

    Great news, I’m very ready for more Kentucky Route Zero. Act III was really something, in fact the whole game is really something.

  6. klops says:


  7. typographie says:

    Why on earth would you force us to look at the full-size, 4096×4096 boat pic in one of those pop-up windows, even when middle-clicking? I’m using a 1080p display, as most probably are, and I had to find the image link in the site’s source code to actually see it at a size I could navigate.

    • HothMonster says:

      Which member of castle shotgun comes to your house and forces you to click on links for “full-size boat pics”? Do they force you physically, with a threat of violence or some other method? Is this a service they provide for free or do I have to pay for it?

    • silentdan says:

      The people who like this game seem to really like it. I wish I knew what they were getting from it, because when I finally forced myself to complete Act I, my reaction was, “Oh, thank god that’s FINALLY over,” and an immediate uninstall. I can’t remember being so deeply disappointed by something so critically well-received since reading Great Expectations (warning: do NOT read Great Expectations; it’s awful.)

      I really wanted to like this game, or at least some aspect of it, but the writing is so dull that I have to force my eyes to focus on each word, so desperate am I to skim & skip, and I can’t describe the art more charitably than “forgivable.” I’m really not trying to be curmudgeonly about this, it’s just that I’m an avid gamer, and it’s really, really rare for me to find no redeeming qualities in a game that’s widely loved. I find more to like in CoD games than I found in KR0, and I *hate* CoD games.

      I read Adam’s WoT about Act III, and gained no new information. I didn’t follow what he was writing. I don’t know what meaning his sentences were meant to convey. “Meandering around an obvious truth while sticking to conversational backroads” flies over my head so high and fast that I can hear it whistle.

      Is this a theater thing? Do you need to enjoy going to plays to get KR0? I don’t care for plays any more than I care for Dickens, so if it’s that, then I should probably just walk away, but I’m just so damned curious to know what people are responding to, that I’ll probably force myself through another few hours of tedium in the hopes of catching a glimpse.

      This is truly baffling for me.

      • Zorkwiz says:

        Wow, I guess I need to read Great Expectations now! :)

        I loved Acts 1 and 2, and have been saving 3, thinking I’d be able to play them all at once eventually. Since it is taking so long between episodes, I may break that and play 1-4 again.

        I think the staging of the scenes, the mysterious setting, and the music, are the three things that really resonate with me. I lovedthe little vinettes of text adventure sprinkled into the driving sequences of Act 1 as well. There’s something soothing and calming about the game, but it also has very interesting aesthetics and gives you something to think about.

        It probably does help to have an appreciation for theater and/or arthouse film, since it borrows so much from those, but I just really appreciated the little touches of the multilayered backgrounds shifting across the screen as I moved and especially the music toward the end of Act 2. This game, and the mini-episodes in between, do such a great job creating a world and a mood, that is at the same time pleasant and disturbing. I love games that try to do something different. Though I understand many people prefer a challenge, or a fun diversion, I’d rather get lost in something weird and special that I don’t quite understand.

        • silentdan says:

          Thanks for the thoughtful response. I’m not sure I’m any closer to “getting it” but it has been three years since I played through Act I, so I’ll give it another go, and hope that the arthouse references I’m missing aren’t too critical to appreciating the game.

          I couldn’t live with myself if I influenced you to read Great Expectations, though. I never forgave the English teacher who assigned it.

          • Zorkwiz says:

            I’d suggest trying to get through to the end of Act 2 if you can. It was a lot more cohesive than Act 1 I felt, and started feeling more like a story than an experiment.

          • Flit says:

            I hardly caught any references knowingly – I’m a bit of a rube – yet the game was absolutely fabulous for me. It filled me with high emotion, calming and enchanting. Sure, some of it was really boring, but I never felt like giving up. Sorry I can’t my finger on exactly why.

            Also – for what it’s worth, all this chat about references just now led me to find a neat analysis that breaks them all down (spoilers, of course):

            , and

          • Flit says:

            I hardly caught any references knowingly – I’m a bit of a rube – yet the game was absolutely fabulous for me. It filled me with high emotion, calming and enchanting. Sure, some of it was really boring, but I never felt like giving up. Sorry I can’t my finger on exactly why.

            Also – for what it’s worth, all this chat about references just now led me to find a neat analysis that breaks them all down (spoilers, of course):

            link to
            link to
            link to

      • Buggery says:

        Sounds like it’s just not for you, really. It’s got an unusual and refreshing (for video games) story and dialogue with a whopping great load of visual experimentation and some interesting set pieces.

        Like, I’m convinced that Grim Fandango has the best story of any game ever, but if you don’t like adventure games then that’s probably not going to mean a lot and you might end up hating it. Different strokes for different folks.

        Not liking plays and literature is a bit sad though. An acquired taste perhaps?

      • Geebs says:

        It’s a Marmite game, I think. If it helps, I got nothing out of KR0 apart from a sense that my time had been deliberately wasted.

        If you didn’t like the first part, I really can’t recommend persevering. All of the characters you meet continue in that tiresome oh-look-I’m-so-kooky-and-random vein that would make them unbearable to share a lift with.

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        alison says:

        I have to admit, reading the comments here is the first time i have heard the game has any deliberate references to theater. I don’t know what they’re talking about – i haven’t seen any jazz hands. I guess i am a philistine. But i still love the game. I love walking sims and i love America. This game is a lo-fi road trip sim that is a love letter to all the weird and wonderful things about America. Gutter punks and red necks and art students and a guy in a car. Getting lost in the night. Radio static. Rock’n’roll. Whatever high-brow references are going on there are completely over my head, but i like it because i like wandering around aimlessly and talking to people who i will never see again. I can see why people looking for more of a “game game” might not enjoy it, though.

      • mikey2312 says:

        You know, I love theatre, especially musical theatre and I think KR0 is a pretentious waste of time. In many cases, all they do is just give you multiple options on something to say, and the responding character just says the same thing no matter what. It almost strikes me as laziness — if you ask one question, they give an answer that makes sense but if you ask a different one, they give the same answer which then makes no sense. And since it makes no sense, it must be surreal! At first, the story looks like it’s going to be a ghost story (and the mood is done very well), but by the end of Act III, it moves towards some sort of corporate dystopian theme which is a really bad direction. I think the sycophants have been duped into thinking that they’re looking at real art when actually the developers just didn’t want to write in too many conversation paths.

    • silentdan says:

      Uh, sorry, my rant was supposed to be top-level, not a reply.

  8. caff says:

    Such a wonderful game. I love the glacial speed of development. It’s a piece of art, and good art isn’t rushed.

  9. KillahMate says:

    I’d really love if, once all the chapter releases are done and KR0 is ‘complete’, they found some way to cohesively integrate the mini episodes into the game proper. Set them up as ‘DVD extras’ accessible from the menu, if nothing else, though I’m sure Cardboard Computer could come up with something far more elegant.

  10. TheSplund says:

    Er,ok – I kinda thought that the story had finished! it had a completeness about it that I was happy with. Still, it was a joy and I may well get the latest installment