[PlayStation 5] Road 96 Review
Procedurally generated narrative experience Road 96 by DigixArt and Ravenscourt tells of teens trying to flee the authoritarian regime of their country, with their actions having a potential impact on things. Check our Road 96 review!
Procedurally generated narrative experience Road 96 by DigixArt and Ravenscourt tells of teens trying to flee the authoritarian regime of their country, with their actions having a potential impact on things. The story of the game takes place in the country of Petria in 1996, ten years after a failed assassination attempt on president Tyrak. Because of manipulation, fraud, and propaganda, Tyrak has been able to stay as the ruler for all those years. The country is now on the verge of new elections as Senator Flores is on the rise in the polls, with the Black Brigades causing trouble to disrupt Tyrak’s schemes, as well as teens that are going missing across the country! Your story will unravel through the eyes of the teens who are trying to reach Road 96 to flee the country. Along the way, you’ll get to meet many interesting people, including a cop, a member of the Black Brigades, thieves, and even a serial killer!
Each chapter of the game will begin from a location across the country as you take control of one of the missing teens. They will have varying health levels and a certain amount of money as their hitchhiking adventure starts. The game is played from a first-person perspective, so the left and right analog sticks will be for walking and for controlling the camera, respectively. The L2 button will allow you to zoom while you look at things, while the R2 button will be used to run or to attack in cases where you access objects that allow you to shoot. Most of the time, your interactions will take place with the X button, which is used to inspect and pick up objects or to select dialog choices.
In each section of a chapter, you’ll have to talk with people or interact with certain objects to advance the story and eventually reach the point where you can choose between walking, hitchhiking, going by car, or taking a bus. With the story being heavily based on your actions, you’ll have to be careful what you choose to do or say, as this will have an impact further in the game and could even influence how the turnout of the election. At the end of each chapter, you’ll even get a glimpse of what things will look like in the elections with the choices you’ve made so far.
Road 96 features some nice visuals that perfectly fit the game’s mood. Without being as detailed as some next-gen games can be, it still features colorful environments and enough details to have you searching for things like a password on someone’s desk. There’s also a focus on finding cassettes throughout the game for songs that you can playback, and each and every track – and the general soundtrack – offers great options.
It’s been a while since I had played a narrative game, so I was pretty happy to pick this one up. It didn’t take long for me to get hooked on the atmosphere and the tension in the country as you try to escape from it without getting caught. Where things really shine for me is how the stories of the recurring characters are all linked together at one point or another, sometimes because of the choices you’ve made from previous runs with other teens. With everything evolving this way, it makes for some excellent narrative that is easily comparable to the best of what we got to see during Telltale Game’s golden era.
There is one thing that I found a bit annoying in the game, and it’s the dialog choices you get. Sometimes the people you are talking to aren’t simply standing in place, and the dialog choices that appear on the screen move with them. This led to a few times where I wanted to select an option but ended up picking another one because the character had moved before I pressed the X button. Not a major issue, but still worth pointing out.
As for the trophies, given the game’s nature, you’ll need multiple playthroughs to complete all objectives. There are some trophies that will unlock automatically as you progress through the story, but some are definitely optional, and missing them will require another run. I ran into a very unexpected story twist that cut a teen’s journey short in a brutal way, so there’s certainly a variety of ways how each of your runs will unravel and what endings you’ll reach.
Road 96 is an excellent narrative game that’s definitely worth playing. The main story is great, the recurring characters are very fun to interact with, and since the game is procedurally generated, you can expect each and every run to be unique, so you’ll end up playing doing runs just for the fun of it as you discover new things to experience.
This Road 96 review is based on a PlayStation copy provided by Ravenscourt.