Spoiler warning for the entirety of Kentucky Route Zero. If you haven’t played yet, or don’t want anything in the game spoiled for you, turn back now.

Kentucky Route Zero is one of those games where I spent a lot of my first playthrough feeling disoriented. I couldn’t fully decipher my feelings until after I talked through the experience with my roommate. The first thing that struck me from our conversation was, due to the game’s somewhat chaotic presentation of plot, character, and theme, we had very different readings of it. I come from a literary background, whereas she opted to study theater instead. When we started talking about how the game presents dialogue, which is very reminiscent of a script, its design prompted a discussion that made us realize we fundamentally disagreed on the definition of what makes a “play” a “play.”

For me, that type of conversation is standard procedure when I play a game I really love — I dive into YouTube looking for interviews with the creators; I scour the internet for blog posts and Reddit forums to see what other players got out of it; I play the soundtrack on a loop, just to remember the emotional beats that were so well crafted they brought me to tears.

While this research usually helps me gain a more complete, holistic understanding of a game I enjoy, any further exploration into the world of Kentucky Route Zero only complicated things. The more I tried to find others whose experiences playing the game were similar to my own, the more I seemed to come across players who had different readings entirely, like the Eggplant Podcast’s conversations about the game’s nods to architecture and the caving movement of the ’70s and ’80s.

In my initial confusion, I was searching for the one thing Kentucky Route Zero was trying to tell me. The reason I was having so much trouble though, was because the game is not using one character with one story to make one point, but instead presents us with dozens of characters with dozens of stories and no one correct way to think about any of them.

What makes Kentucky Route Zero a classic? screenshot

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Source: Destructoid What makes Kentucky Route Zero a classic?