Trophy Talk: Kentucky Route Zero Flips the Script for Narrative Adventure Trophies

Trophy Talk: Kentucky Route Zero Flips the Script for Narrative Adventure Trophies

As shown by the recent Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals, trophies in the narrative adventure genre are often either one of two extremes: extremely easy or convoluted and tedious. Telltale Games’ earlier output represents the former, while Supermassive Games represents the latter. Kentucky Route Zero doesn’t fall into either category, though, and has a refreshing approach more of its genre peers should borrow.

Kentucky Route Zero’s trophy list might initially appear tedious, as they all seem highly specific. The descriptions themselves are also short and don’t always exactly hint at when they might be achievable. Vague trophies in this genre can be annoying because it sometimes just takes one missed line of dialogue to force a reload or, at worse, new run altogether. 

Kentucky Route Zero does have some specific trophies and some that seem impossible without a guide, but the chapter select and fairly condensed runtime for most episodes makes jumping back in rather simple. This is what many games in the genre miss since some either have big, chunky chapters that can take hours like New Tales From the Borderlands, while others like Afterparty can lack chapter select altogether.

Kentucky Route Zero also has a way to speed through dialogue, which is an oversight that very few of its peers in the genre have and makes trophy runs much more tolerable. In essence, Kentucky Route Zero has trophies that could be bothersome, but it has safeguards in place to ward off the worst parts of trophy hunting in narrative adventure games. Even the one trophy in Act 1 that has a rippling effect in a later chapter doesn’t require players to play the whole game again. This is vastly different from games like Disco Elysium or The Quarry.

Trophy Talk: Kentucky Route Zero Flips the Script for Narrative Adventure Trophies

This approach doesn’t mean Kentucky Route Zero has a boring list, either. Many of the trophies encourage players to explore and dig into its odd world and are better for it. This surrealistic universe has many strange interactions that are completely optional and, without any sort of incentive, many players wouldn’t think to do anything but run along the critical path.

For example, the two trophies in the bureau in Act 2 get players to experience a decent joke and, well, witness a random organ performance in a big office. It’s out of place, but that fits with Kentucky Route Zero’s whole aesthetic. The “Happy Tuesday” trophy even requires that players play a lot of Act 4 on a real Tuesday (if players don’t trick the game by messing with the system’s clock). 

These silly trophies show that games in the narrative adventure space can have goofy trophy lists that aren’t too laborious or too easy. Many of these types of games have Platinums that often require multiple runs with slow dialogue or are too straightforward to be anything interesting. There has to be a middle ground, and it looks like it’s right there on the Zero.

Disclaimer: This Kentucky Route Zero feature is based on a PS5 copy provided by the publisher. Reviewed on version 1.000.100.