Friday 20 April 2018

Gaming Reviews: Kentucky Route Zero

Ben Keenan

Kentucky Route Zero, PC, Mac, Linux: €18, kentuckyroutezero.com

Released in five separate acts, the third being the most recent, Kentucky Route Zero is part point-and-click adventure game, part stage play and part poem. Beautiful to look at and listen to, the gameplay is quite simple.

It's an adventure game, but there are no absurd puzzles requiring you to struggle to combine disparate objects in your inventory. Instead, you slip on some headphones and explore a world unlike anything you've ever seen before, evoking Waiting for Godot and David Lynch, with haunting soundscapes of emotive electronica and soulful bluegrass.

Beyond mere cleverness, the developers have something to say about alienation and debt. It can be as grim as it sounds, but it's also often funny and warm.

5 STARS

Republique

iPad, iPhone: Episode one, €2.69; episode two, €4.49, App Store

The iPad presents an interesting dilemma that République attempts to solve. How do you make a rich, immersive game that takes advantage of the powerful processors and big, beautiful screen, while not sacrificing playability? Most 3D games are abysmal on iOS thanks to the absence of physical controls, but this does something new.

You jump from camera to camera and direct the protagonist rather than controlling her, which turns out to be an elegant solution in a stealth-heavy game. The episodic structure also seems to be a worthwhile design decision.

It's early days yet, and the story is still building credibility, but the performance capture and voice-acting are excellent, and the environments look good enough for a console game. For that reason, playing on an iPhone doesn't feel quite good enough.

4 STARS

First published in INSIDER Magazine, exclusive to Thursday's Irish Independent
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