Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What Started Out as the Console Post Turned Into Another Kentucky Route Zero Post

I worked on a console post today, but it was boring. So I scrapped a bit of work and started thinking about what was really interesting me, and I came back again to Kentucky Route Zero.

I guess what fascinates me most is this: everyone puts the kitchen sink into their games. Almost every big release now is completely over the top in terms of environmental stimulation. Loud and bright and full of action.

Movies are like that, too. The most difficult part of getting Eli 11.5 to watch some classic old film comedies with me is that they're paced so differently than movies are today. There's just so much more going on in contemporary features that "old" movies seem positively funereal in comparison. Everything today is faster.

Kentucky Route Zero is not like that. It's a reductionist environment where everything has been stripped from the setting except what is absolutely essential. You might think that would make the game feel sparse, but in a strange twist, it doesn't.

Actually, it feels lush.

Let me explain that. There is so much discipline in terms of constructing individual scenes that every sound has meaning. It's easy to focus on what's happening because I'm not overloaded by a dozen things happening at once. To me, games acquire a kind of singular depth when they are properly focused, and KRZ is focused  to a stunning degree.

Like I said earlier today, this is absolutely a game to play in the dark with headphones on. It needs to be experienced when you are free of other distractions. Then you'll understand what I'm talking about.

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