Road 96 – Review

Our Rating: 8/10

Road 96 isn’t just another pixel-art dungeon game. Road 96 isn’t like the other indie pixel art roguelike (or lite) games. Digixart came up with an intriguing story that makes use of the best of procedural generation, rather than limiting the game’s possibilities, it expands them. In this comprehensive review of Road 96, learn how Digixart did it.

The story is in Petria, a fictional country under an authoritarian regime. You play as a teen trying to flee the country, just like so many others. To do so, follow a path to Road 96, which leads to the border. An extensive and high wall demarcates this border. The cherry on top is that Petria is about to hold a presidential election, which has everyone and everything in high spirits. So, it’s no surprise that there are parallels between today’s countries.

The border

Because the distance between you and the end of the route is so great, expect to run into a few obstacles along the way. You can, for example, play games in the backseat of a car one minute, hitch a ride with crazy bikers the next, or even fall into the backseat of a macabre taxi driver. These many characters will put you in the position of having to choose whether to encourage people to vote responsibly, rebel, or simply leave.

Each of these choices contributes to your journey’s conclusion. Whether or not you succeed in escaping, you will be able to see the consequences of your actions on election day. And once you reach the end, you’ll be transported back to the beginning, where you’ll assume the role of another adolescent who will take a different path to the border. But don’t be put off by the fact that the skills and advancements gained in each incursion are carried over to the next, as the game’s roguelite footprint is what sets it apart.

The roguelite dynamic could get strange in a narrative game, but the game is exceptionally well written. Discovering the same characters at various moments does not, on the opposite, make the experience monotonous. As you prepare for when you approach the frontier, the procedural generation of interactions makes the dynamics unique and challenging.

Eight Characters

With that in mind, it’s worth noting that Road 96 has eight characters with whom you’ll interact throughout the incursions. Zoe is a teen on the run from her father, a powerful politician in this authoritarian regime. John, on the other hand, is a grumpy trucker. Alex, on the other hand, is a child prodigy in the field of technology.

Stan and Mitch are extreme dirt bikers. Fanny, on the other hand, is the police mother of a sympathetic family. Jarod is a mysterious taxi driver who wants to make amends for past wrongdoings. Finally, Sonya is the anchor of a local dictatorship-supporting newspaper.

But take it easy at this point, because you won’t have the opportunity to meet them all in one trip. Getting to know each of them will allow you to learn more about their backstories, mysteries, and rewards, which will aid or hinder your crossing.

Final Thoughts

Simple conversations and dialogue choices, as well as fun minigames, are used to engage the audience with these characters. So having your fingers sharp and your mind prepared to deal with stressful situations is beneficial at times. After all, we’re talking about a dictatorship, right? It’s possible to die or be arrested on Route 96. So, in these minigames, be very cautious with your choices and performance.

I’ve sabotaged a dictator’s rally, played the trumpet on top of a trailer at a camp, and robbed a roadside restaurant. I was apprehended by border guards, crossed under a truck, and aided the insurgency. All of this is wrapped up in a delectable soundtrack and a delectable aesthetic, and it’s still playable on PCs with low-end specs.

Road 96 comes up against a media that has a history of avoiding certain topics. That would be a significant achievement for this lovely and moving game. But, beyond that, Road 96 is a brilliant film that tells private stories of people in public situations. Its system combines procedural generation’s randomness with a well-written narrative. As a result, each game will be distinct from the others. To put it another way, rather than repeating the well-worn walking simulator formulas of narrative games, Road 96 goes above and beyond to provide a far more comprehensive experience.

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