Liv hits the road again in this prequel to the original hitchhiking hit from Digixart!
Release Date: April 4, 2023
Installment in the Series: 2
Time to Complete: 3 to 6 hours
In January, Digixart announced that they would release a new game in the Road 96 universe and I was beyond excited! I immediately knew I would purchase this game even though I knew almost nothing about it. A few months later, they announced that the game would be releasing in April! This might be my favorite title released in 2023 thus far.
Road 96 Mile 0 is the prequel to Road 96, which is a choice-based narrative driven game about teenagers fleeing a politically torn country. Your choices impact whether you succeed at leaving the country undetected. Poor choices result in not procuring enough resources for survival which can lead to a character’s death. Dialogue choices impact which characters and chapters appear in the game. With multiple outcomes available, Road 96 encourages the player to replay the game to see the alternative outcomes. If this sounds appealing to you, let’s dive into my review of Road 96 Mile 0!
"Games that allow the player to shape the characters and situations is something I find very compelling."
I hate spoilers of any kind, so don’t worry this review will be spoiler free! It’s important to me that everyone experiences a new game without someone tainting the plot too much to influence someone else’s opinion. One of the main NPC characters from Road 96 is a playable character in Road 96 Mile 0. This game switches between Zoe and a brand-new character, Kaito, both of whom have been raised in two different situations. Zoe’s family lives in the elite neighborhood in the country of Petria, but she befriends Kaito who is among the bottom rung of society. Their social classes forbid them from being friends, so they hang out in secret. Zoe begins to question whether Petria is really the great country she always thought it was as Kaito tries to teach her that not everything is always what it seems. Based on your interactions with each other, the character’s view of the world changes. You can influence whether Zoe believes Kaito or chooses to stick to her beliefs. This will lock the player out of certain actions in the later game scenarios. I love this feature because the player truly shapes how the characters develop throughout the game. Games that allow the player to shape the characters and situations is something I find very compelling.
Road 96 Mile 0 is a semi-open world game which allows the player to freely explore a level. This is similar to the previous iteration of the game as well. There are cassette tapes, spray cans, and stickers the player can find throughout each level while exploring. You may revisit locations before continuing on with the story which is different from the previous game. This helps the player find all of the collectibles! While exploring, you can interact with a handful of NPCs. By talking to others, the player learns more about the political climate in Petria. Each NPC has a unique personality. The exploration and interactivity is fairly similar to Road 96, but the revamped mini games are where Road 96 Mile 0 truly excels!
Mini games in Road 96 were a nice insertion to allow the player to take a break from the heavy themes of the game. In this game, mini games are interwoven into the heavy topics which is quite different than before. Each chapter in Road 96 Mile 0 contains a rhythm game where you play as the two playable characters while collecting orbs as you skateboard or roller skate through a music video. At the end of the song the player receives a score based on orbs collected and successful quick time events (QTEs) completed. The player has the option to replay the song for a better score or continue along with the story. As you progress with the story, the songs become more advanced as the game incorporates more game mechanics such as jumping or crouching to obtain orbs. I love these mini games and still play them to try and get the best score! There is a leaderboard for each song, so you can see where you rank in the world. I am nowhere near the top and I don’t know how people get such high scores! You don’t need to be the best to have fun playing interactive music videos.
Creating direct sequels with choice-based games is difficult. The Walking Dead series by TellTale games was often criticized for choices not mattering. As a fan of The Walking Dead video games, I understand the criticisms it received. For the story to continue in each game, the choices needed to converge to fit the next story line. However, this problem does not occur within Road 96 Mile 0. Your choices matter! If you’re someone who loves games with multiple outcomes, consider playing Road 96 Mile 0! I would love to see more of Road 96 in the future but wouldn’t want to undermine the player’s choices at the end of the game. Maybe more spin-off games will come in the future!
Road 96 Mile 0 is available now on PS4|PS5, Xbox One|S|X, Switch and PC
About the author:
Liv is the co-host of the Between 2 Gamers podcast with her friend Frewy. When she's not gaming, she's watching sports!