Two years after initial release and we're now three out of five acts in. Does the game finally deliver enough bang for the buck?
About a year ago I wrote a review of the first two acts of Cardboard Computer‘s Kentucky Route Zero. It didn’t do very well, and I gave it a 2 out of 5 score. My main gripe with the game was that it felt like very low value for money. It was not a bad game, but it simply ended way too soon. Has this changed with the release of the third act?
Act III follows closely in the footsteps of the first two acts: The story is still intriguing, the atmosphere great and the graphics, music and art style nicely binds everything together. Unlike acts one and two, though, the third act is not without bugs. After loading a saved game, I hit a point where it was impossible to progress, forcing me to start playing Act III again from the beginning. Later, an animation got stuck and the only solution was to restart from my latest save. I also ended up playing through most of Act III twice because I accidentally hit the “restart” instead of the “load” option in the main menu, and there’s no confirmation prompt to make sure you really wanted to restart, thus losing all your current progress. Replay value is a great, but not like that. Also, Kentucky Route Zero lacks Steam Cloud support, meaning that if you play a bit on one computer, you will not be able to continue were you left off if you move to another computer. Not a critical missing feature, but it would be a very nice one to have.
Does Act III add enough gameplay to justify its price? Well, my total playtime is now at five and a half hours, but that includes a lot of extra time spent because of the bugs and the accidental restart mentioned above. Kentucky Route Zero currently sells for $24.99 on Steam. That’s not AAA pricing, but it’s still a lot for a game that’s just over half finished1. The game is 2 years old soon - only shy of a couple of days - and there are still two acts missing. What are developers up to? They recently patched Kentucky Route Zero for game pad support. I’m not sure if game pad support was something that was added because of popular demand, but personally I think the developers should focus on finishing the damn game.
Of course, it’s Cardboard Computer’s right to decide how to price their game and how they spend their time, but I still don’t feel that I can recommend Kentucky Route Zero in its current state at that price. When all the five acts are released, then you should get it - given that they are all of the same quality as the first three acts. But as of right now you should keep your cool, sit back, and wait for all the acts to be released before you spend your hard earned money.
Note, however, that this goes against popular opinion. I posted my original review of Acts I & II on Steam, and the majority of people who rated the review did not find it helpful. What “helpful” means in this case is a bit blurry, but the helpful/not helpful buttons on Steam reviews seems to be used as agree/disagree buttons instead. Also, 90% of the Kentucky Route Zero reviews on Steam recommend the game, giving the game a “Very Positive” review rating.
What you want to do with your money is entirely up to you. All I’m saying is that I can’t recommend Kentucky Route Zero until all the acts are released.
Let’s not get started on Steam Early Access. ↩︎