Dial this number, and it will take you to far away places. MINOR SPOILER ALERT.
The game — really more of an interactive phone line — is the latest extension of the brilliant Kentucky Route Zero series, a serenely bizarre (or perhaps bizarrely serene) theatrical adventure game. This is an extension of that universe, and a weird one at that. You can dial the number via a free game or in real life. The result is the same either way.
An automated guide from the Bureau of Lost Tourism answers, and the resulting experience is… like nothing else. The guide, voiced by Will Oldham, speaks in a tone that crackles like a soothing fireplace. Based on what you select, he’ll talk at length about things both mundane and stomach-churningly strange. I don’t want to spoil any details, but even if it seems to get boring, wait it out.
There’s such a rich, confident depth to this world, whether in the main series adventure game-y episodes or crazy extensions like this or the equally off-beat The Entertainment. Even in its dullest moments, the call creates an incomparable feeling. A tone. A vibe that shivers up and down your spine, skitters like spider that’s found its way down your shirt. But it’s all so relaxed, like a walk in some terrifying woods led by a man who’s walked them a thousand times before. Nothing phases him.
Oh, and when you get the chance, tell him you’re holding a snake. Trust me: just do it. That part is super entertaining, even if you have no idea what Kentucky Route Zero is. Truth be told, this game will likely beguile even people who’ve played through all three episodes that have been released so far, but that’s kinda the appeal of its world. Each instalment is like being lost in a hazy, inscrutable dream. You don’t immediately get all of it, but in the moment that’s just fine. And then you chew on it later, for days or weeks or months.
I can’t think of another game series that strikes this tone in this way — nor one that’s so self-assured in doing it. So pick up the phone, real or virtual, and have a weird experience. There are worse ways to spend 30 minutes or so, and if you don’t like it, well, it’s definitely not for everybody. No big deal. It’s your call to make.