Review – Road 96
Road 96 is the latest indie game from Digixart. It is a stunningly beautiful interactive game that will transport those who grew up in the 1990s back to the summer of 1996. The gorgeous art-styled cartoony graphics of Road 96 captivates players from the get-go and truly lend to bringing the 90s back to life. There are hints of the likes of Firewatch throughout the game which will attract those who enjoyed playing games in the genre. Road 96 is one of those games that will get players hooked from the moment the game is first fired up.
There was a moment of hesitation when Road 96 was first fired upon the Xbox Series X console but any hesitation or concerns were quickly pushed out of my mind and Road 96 had me hooked. One of the best things about playing indie games from developers like Digixart is the fact that players know that the game will be well thought out in terms of the storyline, graphics, soundtrack, and characters development; this all leads to a game that will have players hooked and wanting more. Road 96’s story unfolds through short story segments which tells the story of a major character. The storytellers from Digixart expand beyond just having a single main character by introducing Stan, Mitch, Alex, Jarod, Sonya, Zoe, Fanny, and John. This is where the depth of Road 96 shines with Digixarts introducing support characters who have an individual progression arc that can range anywhere from 0-100% in completion. Throughout the player’s playthrough of Road 96, the main playable character will come across these characters on their journey to the border which always leaves the players wondering what is going to happen on the journey.
The main storyline of Road 96 will have players taking on the role of an unnamed teenager whose ultimate aim is to hitchhike their way to the border. Why is the border the end goal in Road 96? The country of Petria, in which players reside, is ruled by a tyrannical leader and elections are coming up soon. Players will learn as the game progresses that not everyone in Petria is a supporter of Tyrak, the president, with most characters appearing to have given up on hoping for a change of regime. Playing as a missing teen offers an interesting perspective for which Road 96 able to slowly build up its overarching narrative within the storyline. Digixart has cleverly designed a story in Road 96 that doesn’t let players know about the above-mentioned details about Tyrak until players have sunk some time into the game. This is one thing that keeps players hooked on playing the game because it leaves players wanting to know more and to see how it all unfolds.
The soundtrack of Road 96 will immediately transport players back to the heydays of the 1990s with the usage of synth-heavy tracks, 80s retro vibe music, orchestral themes and far more being used to build the sound landscape of Road 96. The developers from Digixart have purposely used music and atmospheric sounds together to craft its narrative alongside Road 96 storyline. Players will quickly cotton on to the usage of music when playing and players are suddenly confronted with a countdown that might appear on the right-hand side of the screen and the music gets incredibly tense as you try to escape someone during a story segment. Further to the amazing soundtrack, Road 96 has some amazing voice acting with some excellent usage of accents, tones, and great voice work throughout.
Road 96’s gameplay has the player walking around in first-person view exploring their environment. These environments can be locations such as trailer parks, petrol stations, motels, the desert roadside, and more. One of the more enjoyable things about exploring the world of Road 96 is that players will come across interactable options that more often than not involve picking up items or speaking to other characters. Again, this is where the creative talent from Digixart shines with speaking to other characters being one of the most valuable parts of Road 96’s gameplay as it will reveal a lot more about the game’s story and world for players to gain an understanding of what’s unfolding before them. Each story segment features a major character and the segment may feature some mini-games or other interactable content to get through before it reaches the crux. You can then either progress further into the game or would have concluded and then leads players to the next part of Road 96’s storyline.
Road 96 is a credit to the team at Digixart; They have managed to create a quirky, adventure-filled game by creating story segments that will make players laugh, tense up, and prompt players to think deeply by making players think about life itself. Digixart has made Road 96 to be an addictive game with players left wanting to play more as characters seek not only freedom from Petria but for a deeper truth to emerge about story events within the game. In short, Road 96 is gripping, deep, and well thought out with characters remembering the actions that players may have chosen when playing as a different playable teenager, it’s quite hard-hitting to see in-game when a player’s actions have consequences; it is a sign of a game that doesn’t hold back on driving home the point strongly that actions will always have consequences.
Road 96 is a game that can be played in front of the family but is best left for those 15 and upwards to play as some of the themes within Road 96 may not be the most appropriate for those 10 and under. The only disappointment with Road 96 is the length of the game with the first run-through of the game taking 10 hours. This will leave players wanting more and feeling as if there is still so much more to explore in the world of Petria, though that is where being able to start a new game and make different choices helps to feel that need to explore Road 96.
10 – Masterpiece – This game is a must play for anyone who plays games. A day one purchase is worth every cent.
Road 96 Code for review was provided by game developers and was reviewed on an Xbox Series X and is available on Xbox One.
The thoughts of this title are ours and ours alone.