When life is tough, sometimes it can be hard to stick with the status quo. This arduous existence leads to unusual thoughts and rebellious ideas. Consequently, no longer are you viewed as a no one. Instead, you are a thorn in the side of the establishment. This is the core idealism of Road 96. It’s a bizarre and often melancholy title that takes you on a life-changing journey.
Developed by DigixArt and published by Ravenscourt and Koch media, this is an indie adventure game. It takes you on a wonderful journey of discovery across a tough and unforgiving landscape. You see the world through the eyes of children who are disheartened by the tyrannical government. Therefore, there is a sense of danger, magic, and enlightenment on this incredible trip across the country.
Road 96 teaches us that choices matter!
I love a game that enables you to make game-changing decisions. Fortunately, Road 96 uses this mechanism at its core. You are free to interact with whomever you meet. Furthermore, you pick your mode of transport, decide whether, to be honest, or not, and shape your end goals. In short, your choices matter, as they dictate the experience you’ll have.
The action is in a fictional nation called Petria, where the people are controlled by a tyrannical and overbearing official. His political term is up for re-election and this forms a key component of the plot. As you hitchhike, walk, or steal vehicles to get closer to the border, your priorities change. Do you focus on escaping the country and saving your life? Alternatively, do you stay and help fight the dictator that has ruined your life?
Many regrettable decisions.
The nation of Petria is full of wacky and interesting characters. Some of these people form key relationships for every protagonist you control. These strange individuals manipulate and control you with fear, violence, wit, and love. You must decide which characters to befriend and which to run from.
It was a roller-coaster of a ride that is filled with instantly regrettable decisions. You know that your choices matter, but this hits home when a gun is pointed in your face. Subsequently, maybe stealing wads of cash and that car wasn’t a great life choice?
Now, you may worry that I’m dropping spoilers. However, fear not, as each road trip is procedurally generated. Therefore, my many experiences will certainly be unique and different from yours. What’s more, interactions can impart new skills. These abilities further influence your choices and alter the course of the game. I adored the randomness of the plot and the never knowing what would happen.
Road 96 has undertones of Americana.
The delightful blend of exuberant locations, sprawling countries, and backwater restaurants were distinctly Americana in design. This was a clever approach as it taps into the desire to travel across the vast American states. Alongside this, the characters emit vibes of desperation and sorrow, and this adds to the melancholy atmosphere. Though each location was small, the world never felt tiny or understated. I cherished the small insight into each unique area and this kept the action interesting throughout.
The audio was also key in setting the scene. With an array of songs to listen to and some excellent acting, the game is a joy to experience. Furthermore, the environmental sounds were fantastic. I loved the different weather fronts and the drama that they added.
An odd use of point and click mechanics.
I found it very strange that Road 96 heavily leans on point and click mechanics. Yes, you are free to wander as you wish. But, every interaction requires you to move a cursor with the right analogue stick. Now, it worked, but it was a little clumsy and broke up the immersive plot. Other than this, the controls are simple to master.
Thanks to the procedurally generated road trips, the strange NPCs, and unique settings, there is longevity and replay value. With many opportunities to influence every protagonist, the action never becomes stale.
Road 96: a beautifully weird title.
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Road 96 as much as I did. I thought it would be slower and more disconnected. Instead, I experienced a rewarding and deep title where my choices mattered. Furthermore, it brilliantly juxtaposes its melancholy nature with danger and humour. Subsequently, I loved it and I recommend you buy it here! Will you run for the border and save yourself, or will you try to influence a better future?