Road 96: Mile 0 is the prequel to the hit Road 96 by DixiArt which hit PlayStation in April 2022. Road 96: Mile 0 is out on PlayStation, Xbox and PC from 4th April.
A disappointing lack of kicks on Route 96
When Road 96 was released last year, I reviewed it, and you can find it here. I was eager to play the prequel and see how the story started. Heading back to Petria seemed like a no-brainer, and it excited me.
Road 96: Mile 0 is a first-person adventure that places you in the heart of an area called White Sands in Petria. During the game, you alternate between 2 friends, Zoe and Kaito. If Kaito seems familiar to you, you may remember him from Lost In Harmony, another DixiArt title. For those who have already played Road 96, you will be familiar with Zoe, who is one of the main characters in the game.
Zoe comes from a wealthy family, with her dad working for the government. It is a contrasting lifestyle to that of Kaito who lives with his parents in the poorer areas of Petria.
It is a similar style of gameplay to that of a telltale game, but with fewer narrative options. When talking with Zoe as an example, there are two options for dialogue. All too often these are tied into the morality system, making you doubt the political system or be in favour of it.
President Tyrak and Senator Florres have created a political fight that has divided the area. Your actions have a say in some aspects of the election through a morality-style system that adjusts based on your actions in the game. For instance, tearing down a poster in favour of President Tyrak will make it more likely that people will vote for Florres and vice versa. Kaito strongly opposes Tyrak, while Zoe is torn as her dad works for the government but does not like Tyrak. Whilst predominantly a first-person title Road 96: Mile 0 uses 3rd person for its riding sections.
To proceed through the game’s different chapters, I had to complete a mini-game. A scoring system determined by precision and collecting tokens. Sometimes you will also discover narrative options and shortcuts. There is an option to skip the majority of this if you are stuck to avoid getting stalled in the story progression. Whilst these games did break up the game, they didn’t feel right and at times felt like they were used to filling in for the story. Depending on the character, Zoe would use her rollerskates and Kaito would use a skateboard. It was a simple case of avoiding obstacles and completing quick-time events. There were trophies/achievements locked behind scoring A+ / S+ on these sections, but thankfully they didn’t play any part in the main story.
Road 96: Mile 0 touches on an important subject, Zoe witnessed a terrorist attack as a child. She still struggles to talk about it even with her closest friend, Kaito. There are options to push Zoe into talking about it, but these can lead to negative consequences.
The World Around You
Some of the characters from the original – Alex, Sony, and Adam – made a nice appearance and the taxi driver was visible in a “blink and miss it” moment. Disappointingly, Sam and Mitch were only mentioned in a radio report was disappointing, especially since they were my favourite characters from the original.
An area where Zoe and Kaito are having a light-hearted conversation can quickly turn into politics, news or even weather warnings. There is a real lack of time between these events, and they end up being jumbled together. Whilst the original Road 96 had several story aspects, these were handled in a way that made sense.
Graphics & Audio
Dixiart has once again provided a perfect palette for the game. The art style is fantastic and when you switch to a riding event there is an obvious change with bright lights. The audio in its mini-games is great, it is a shame that outside of it doesn’t live up to expectations.
Bella Ciao can be heard being played by Zoe at the beginning of the game, this is a nice touch to the original where Zoe plays the same song around a campfire. The other audio comes from the GNN news and the speaker system when you are caught tearing posters down.
Road 96: Mile 0 is around the 4-hour mark. In order to complete, you will need to collect all of the audiotapes and set S+ ranking on your scores. Even with those you are still looking at less than a 6-hour game. Simply put, it didn’t offer me any reason for a second playthrough
Road 96: Mile 0 left me underwhelmed. It failed to capture the charm and humour that was present in the original. The dialogue options just pushed the morality and never truly felt like real conversations. The skating mini-game, whilst providing some of the better graphics, just felt like content filler. Despite frequently hitting the top ranking, I had no incentive to replay. It had its moments with the characters from the original, but I fear that new players will not understand the references. It is for this reason that Road 96: Mile 0 is awarded the Thumb Culture Silver Award
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.