Polygon Feature – Kentucky Route Zero

Around this time in 2013, Kentucky Route Zero debuted with its first act. As of this week, its fifth and final act is here.

Regardless of the time over which Acts II, III, IV and V were released, the game has managed to hold its audience’s attention. It’s also been continually refueled by the creativity and personal touches of the team behind it, Cardboard Computer. I’m proud to help share their story in my latest feature for Polygon.

Right around the 7-year anniversary of Act I, I spent an evening chatting with Jake Elliott (writer & programmer), Tamas Kemenczy (artist & programmer), and Ben Babbitt (musician and sound designer) about their history together on the project and their unique approach to making it. They shared with me a plethora of personal anecdotes, technical challenges, creative successes, and insights into wrapping up production on a game like Kentucky Route Zero.

The team’s approach to experimentation – affording themselves a chance to make better decisions when they felt most relevant – is something I found rather inspiring. Any independent artist knows what it’s like to struggle with limited resources, whether that be time, money, collaborators, or some mix of all of the above. Cardboard Computer struck a healthy balance to keeping themselves in-check along the way, and I hope any artist out there – gamer, fan, or neither – can discover something useful from their experience.

In the wake of Kentucky Route Zero‘s grand finale, it has earned immense critical praise – already considered a mixed-media masterpiece by many. Although the presence of a new console generation is looming large over 2020, I think it’s safe to say we’ll continue to hearing about this soulful gem until further notice.

Special thanks to Matt Leone at Polygon for his support & assistance with editing & laying out this feature. Read the full story here.

Kentucky Route Zero is now available as both a “PC Edition” and a “TV Edition” (for consoles). Visit the game’s website to learn more.

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