This is a continuation of my first KRZ post, found here. Playing the second and third acts of KRZ completely changed my opinion of the game, but at the same time did not. It’s hard to describe- I really liked the strange parts of the game, the parts in the mysterious realm of the Zero and in certain parts of the main world. However, there seemed to be a certain blend of real and unreal that put me on edge, and I don’t really know why.
For some reason, I just couldn’t really get behind the fact that it was set in the real world, even though it was clearly an alternate version. So many strange things were happening, but no one was at all phased by them, and this somehow bothered me. I don’t want to say anything for certain, since so many people loved this game- and I did as well!- so just assume that everything from here on out is my opinion.
I think my biggest problem with the game was the lack of a cohesive atmosphere. You have this normal guy with a pretty normal job looking for a pretty normal address, but when things get weird, he just isn’t phased at all. Maybe I’m just expecting him to fall under certain cliches, but I think that some cliches are there for a reason- if you set a story in a strange version of the very world we live in (unless, perhaps, Kentucky is not the same as Kentucky, USA?) and not even one person recognizes that it’s strange, then everything just feels strange in the wrong way. It’s like in an absurd comedy (think Arrested Development), there has to be a ‘straight man’ character (think Michael Bluth- note that the term has nothing to do with his sexuality or gender) who recognizes the absurdity of the situation. In KRZ, there isn’t really anything like that.
Maybe it’s just that I have trouble relating to any of the characters. Maybe I just want one of them to be a fish out of water, like me- to at least acknowledge that the crazy world they’re living in is, in fact, crazy. To be honest, when the characters were discovering magnificent places like the Hall of the Mountain King or absurd places like the Bureau (Bear Floor anyone?), their cool indifference didn’t seem strange to me; it was only when they were in locations on Earth, in the state of Kentucky, in a place that you could theoretically find on a map (obviously it’s a fictional area, but in the setting of the game it’s a real place) where their refusal to acknowledge the absurdity of their discoveries (like Julian the giant eagle, or Conway’s glowing skeletal leg) threw me off.
Once again, it’s all my opinion. However, I believe that the game simply does not have a cohesive atmosphere which, if my experience with the game is anything to go off of, is at least as important as the plot.