March 26, 2020

This game is quintessentially working-class American in a way that I struggle to really put into
words. Its folk-tale presentation underscores very real and very powerful themes and feelings
about living life day-to-day in places that the rest of the world forgot or wants to forget.

Throughout the game, you see people of all stripes living their lives, trying to fulfill their goals and
sometimes even succeeding! Other people are unable to escape their failures, living in forgotten
side paths of the Zero that are only disturbed when the people that you follow come across them.

In the broadest strokes, this game's in the vein of Telltale's - an updated take on the adventure
game genre, stripping it down to the barest pretense of gameplay and focusing on dialogue and
aesthetics. Much like Telltale's games, your choices rarely matter - what matters is how the
choices you make illustrate your interpretations of the characters.

In this aspect, KRZ outclasses Telltale games to a degree that's almost embarassing - the
presentation has incredible aesthetics, the dialogue is consistently human and charming, and
choices are done in an incredibly compelling way that the developers fearlessly continue to shift
around as the game goes on. Sometimes you're an image of a wheel, bumbling around a map of
Kentucky and exploring the backroads. Other times, you're picking both sides of a dialogue tree.
Other times, you're punching numbers into a hotline that feels like it's from another world - I
listened to twelve minutes of organ music because the man on the other end was asking me if I
had heard anything similar myself.

It's hard to extricate discussion of the game itself from discussion of its now-infamous
development. With Act I releasing in 2013, and Act V releasing just this January, it first came out
when I was in middle school and finished when I was in college. My feelings about this are
twofold - for one, now that it's finally out and complete, it's effectively a non-issue. You can play
through every act in one sitting, if you please - they're about one to three hours long, it's more
than doable. But on the other hand, why would you? The pacing is slow, meandering, and
relaxed. The developers made a game that goes at its own pace and it reflected in the creation
of the work itself. I gave each act a week between play sessions, and Act V a month, and I
honestly think it's better off for it.

The final act, especially, hit hard in these trying times. The third act has a sequence that I don't
want to risk spoiling in any way, and was truly magical. The Entertainment is one of my favorite
works of media in general. The first act's rambling through the back roads felt just like my own
explorations of Iowa's dirt roads with a buddy.The fourth act has lines peppered throughout and a
final few scenes that will haunt me for days. The second act has an absolutely incredible and
stark metaphor for the working class that will stick with me for weeks.

I think that this game isn't for everybody, but, and I mean this in the most non-patriotic way
possible, if you're an American you owe it to yourself to at least give it a shot. It's powerful stuff,
and you might not entirely expect what you'll get - for the better.