Hit The Road Again | Road 96: Mile 0 Review

Road 96 is a road trip driven game that eclipses a political environment while telling fascinating character driven stories. The procedural environment lets you explore the story in very unique ways while creating tense moments. The new game, Road 96: Mile 0, borrows from this character driven formula, but tones things down a little bit to tell a backstory of one of the most important characters.

Mile 0 has an interesting twist that had me doubting it from the initial announcement. Between levels, sometimes mid level, your character will enter a music segment of the game. This segment works like an endless runner game where you have to move left and right, jump, and duck obstacles as they come up. Along the way you collect points, and at the end of the segment you are ranked based on how well you did.

Road 96: Mile 0 
Developed By: DigixArt
Platforms: PlayStation | Xbox | PC | Switch
Genre: Story Driven
Release Date: April 4th, 2023

At first I was thinking I’m not a fan of these types of games so I was disappointed to hear about it, but I gave it a shot anyway. And I’m glad I did! These moments are beautifully crafted and absolutely perfect for the purpose they serve. They are built dynamically with music, and the beats and rhythm align magically. The art design, audio, and simple flow of the segments makes for a beautiful sequence.

The best thing about the music moments is they explore the inner mind of the character you’re playing. So if you are running from an enemy it will make them seem like a monster, or if the character is just in a love daze then the segment will be crafted more elegantly. Along the way some inner thoughts pop up and you can choose how the character is thinking, which can make the segment more, or less, intense. It truly feels like you are racing around in their teenage heads.

The core idea of Road 96 is still there for a majority of the game. You get to control a character, explore the world, and make point and click style decisions while you talk and explore everything. Sadly it seems the procedural style exploration was left out, but that allows this game to tell a more linear storyline. With that in mind there is still the concept of deciding your own fate, so you can pick up on clues and expand the story by exploring more of the world before advancing.

What is extremely neat is all the ties to the core game show up everywhere. Some characters carry the same weight such as Sonya, but most are distanced from you and carry on in their own stories. In the core game, Jarrod always brought with him a very tense environment, so seeing him pop up a few times and perfectly in character really empowered that even more (for those who don’t remember, he was the Taxi driver who “potentially” murdered people).

It’s truly hard to say if Mile 0 is a good starting off point or not, though. Without playing the core game I wouldn’t have picked up on these clues as easily, but by playing the core game first it made these clues all the more important. It definitely adds depth to an already elaborate world, but at the same time it allows you to jump into the head of a core character and see how she ended up in the situation she is in by the core game.

The actual story mechanics seem strengthened since the first game even though it’s a shorter experience. Every character interaction is well thought out, and hidden story elements exist at every turn.

The two main characters share this goofy awkward relationship that can change dynamically depending on how you choose to progress it. These subtle little changes really make the story experience worth playing over and over again. Your decision making of course strengthens relationships, but it also makes you lean one way or another overall with character decisions and actions.

One thing I wish was strengthened in both the core game and Mile 0 is the idea of good vs evil. In many instances one character is very outright played as a villain, or decisions are obviously “bad.” I would like there to be more situations where your decision making could swing either way, or be questionable in your attempt to do the right thing. However Road 96 has always been a politically heavy leaning title, and it doesn’t shy away from that here at all. The battle of the sides is strong in the small town, and you get to see propaganda in full play. It’s an absolutely perfect game to play for this reason.

Overall, Mile 0 is absolutely stunning in everything it does. You have to go in with the right mindset. This isn’t a full new release in the franchise, it’s a shorter story that explores the background of some key characters and how they end up in the final game. With this in mind Mile 0 hit everything I wanted, and somehow it even strengthened the concepts of the original game. This short experience shows that the team developing Road 96 have learned a great deal since the original title and wherever they go from here is going to be amazing.


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