Cardboard Computer Is An Indie Game Developer You Should Definitely, Absolutely, 100% Be Paying Attention To

Like your games like a summer walk through the park? Check out Kentucky Route Zero.

Like your games like a summer walk through the park? Check out Kentucky Route Zero.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you probably know all about the recently explosive marriage of game developers and crowd funding. On websites such as Kickstarter, there are hundreds of projects duking it out to get your money. Many crash and burn pretty spectacularly, but every now and then a project comes along that blows its competition out of the water. Kentucky Route Zero by Jake Elliot’s Cardboard Computer did exactly that.


Oddly captivating from the get-go, the first installment of this magical realism game plunks you into a mysterious underground highway. Kentucky Route Zero is a ‘bluegrass adventure game’ about a furniture delivery man named Conway. He gets pretty turned around in Kentucky, and finds a lot more than he expected to on his journey. Less concerned with grandiose puzzle solving and more involved with story-telling, Kentucky Route Zero’s beauty is in the details. Littered with quirky characters and slick scene art, Jake Elliot has delivered a game that is definitely about a journey, not a destination.


In fact, Cardboard Computer’s games tend to trend this way. At first blush, they seem to excel at making stunning web games, but it’s quite clear that there’s a lot more character to this developer. Ruins, a game released in late 2011, is about a dog’s surprisingly sad adventure in rabbit-chasing. The beauty of Ruins is in the result; it’s a game that returns a vastly different experience to each unique player.

Like Ruins, A House In California is also deceptively simple. You’re thrust into the dark night to fix a lamp post and end up going on a poetic, surprisingly logical, journey through space. At the end of the game, you’re left with a great feeling of self-reflection that tops off an already excellent experience.

Jake Elliot’s design style definitely follows in the footsteps of creative talents like Jenova Chen, and it’s pretty clear that he’s ready to corner the ‘atmospheric adventure’ market. If you’ve enjoyed games like Journey or Limbo, then Kentucky Route Zero is probably right up your alley.

Hopefully this is a sign of things to come. Kentucky Route Zero is justly deserving of its finalist position in the Independent Game Festival, and if this game is any indication of what Jake Elliot can achieve with a little cash and a lot of support, then I expect to see monumentous things from Cardboard Computer in the future.

About the author

HC Billings

HC Billings is an excellent gamer, acceptable writer, and laughable parkourist.