When I was in my early 20's, I was fairly pretentious. And like many pretentious early 20 year olds, my favorite director was David Lynch. I'd have long LONG conversations about what Lost Highway or Mulholland Drive meant. But here's the thing, now that I'm 40 I'm pretty sure that even David Lynch wasn't sure what they meant. I mean, I still have my theories. And I'm sure he has his. But his movies weren't meant to have traditional plots and conflicts. They were meant to illicit a feeling. And finding the meaning in his films is akin to finding meaning a dream. Sure, you can find symbolism in them. But you can find symbolism in ANYTHING if you try hard enough.
A couple weeks ago I had fifteen minutes to kill before a haircut, so I stopped into Best Buy next door. I found a copy of Kentucky Route Zero sitting on the shelf for $35. Now, I know that the game was no longer available online in physical form, and that copies were going for $50+ on eBay, so it seemed like a good purchase. I wasn't really sure at the time if I was planning to play it or just hang on to it and keep it sealed for a while.
But after finishing Three Houses I've been a bit unsure of what to play next. And while I knew very little about Kentucky Route Zero, it was calling out to me for some reason. When I fired it up and played through the first chapter I was immediately reminded of the work of David Lynch. There's a story, but it's disjointed. The dialogue is weird. And here's the other thing - this game creeps me the F out even though there's nothing overtly scary happening. Kentucky Route Zero is all tone and atmosphere. And it's chilling me to the core.
So here's my dream journal...
I'm a truck driver trying to make a delivery but I can't find the address on my map. I stop at a gas station and ask the attendant for directions and he tells me I need to get to Route Zero but he doesn't know where that is. I can ask his friend Weaver, but I need to turn the power breaker on to get his computer up and running first. (Typical adventure game stuff).
I go in the basement and there's three people playing a board game in the dark. I shut the flashlight off and they disappear. I get the breaker on and find Weaver's address. Off I go.
I bring a TV to Weaver's house. She lives on a farm. There's a grave yard there. The TV doesn't work. There's people in the distance playing guitar. There's an old barn behind the farm that creeps me out and I don't know why. She sends me off to find Route Zero.
Weaver's directions bring me to a mine where I find someone named Shannon. Sometimes I'm me. Sometimes I'm Shannon. We do experiments on the mine's echoes. There's a cave-in and I injure my leg. We take a cart further into the mine until we find our way out.
Shannon is Weaver's cousin. We go back to her farm but Weaver's gone. Shannon fixes the TV. There's an old barn behind the farm that creeps me out and I don't know why.
I had too much to dream last night.
First I was Emily - a young girl in a museum with her friends. We were at an exhibit of a woman who had done all these huge pieces of art made out of technology. We listened to bits of tape that she had recorded over 15 years and spliced together. At one point, she and two friends were in a cave. They were hiding. They were scared. They said that men were angry, and coming back for them. Then she was driving down Route Zero, looking for a mailbox to mail the cassette tape back... somewhere.
Then I was an older woman, Lula. I received a rejection notice from some kind of design school. Architecture I think. I'm working a desk job. I have to approve or deny proposals to repurpose old buildings into new businesses.
Suddenly I'm "myself." Me and Sheila are out this archives building looking for directions. We meet with Lula. She sends us to a chapel to find some old records. We listen to a sermon. I black out. We need to find a doctor. My leg hurts.
We find that the doctor's house is gone. The whole neighborhood is gone. It's now a huge factory filled with tents and campers and a house boat. I get the feeling that this is some kind of community of people down on their luck, forced to live in this factory "town." We go out in the rain and meet Ezra who tells us the doctor is in the forest. He can take us there.
That's when a giant bird picks us up.
We wonder the forest forever. There's people singing in the woods in the distance. We find the doctor's house. Sheila and Ezra watch TV. The doctor puts me under. 5-4-3-2-1... I drift off. I don't remember anything else after that.