Road 96 Review: Hitchiking in all its glory

  • Chris
  • 0 Comment
  • December 16, 2021

Aaaah, fresh air, the shining rays of a lazy sun and a light breeze…The road ahead sure is beautiful and long…before you encounter all the drama.

Road 96 takes you on a mystical journey across the authoritarian nation of Petria, and it’s you who decides how to play: the choices you make have an impact, truly affecting your adventure, the characters you meet and even the landscape. The game offers procedurally generated environments, so no two playthroughs will feel the same. So run free and try your best to escape the regime.

" A beautiful told story with you in the driver seat "

Zoe - One of the characters you meet along the way

From the moment you press the play chapter button on the old CRT-TV main menu, you get this feeling of excitement, knowing what you are about to experience is going to be magical…and the game does not disappoint.
In the very 1st act you are transported into the beautifully designed world of Petria, playing as a teen trying to travel to the border to escape the Government. Even though this game features a low poly art style, which some of you may or may not like, there is something refreshing and relaxing about going down the beautiful settings along the open road trying to escape the authoritarian nation.

Road 96 offers the player a unique experience with its ‘choice matter’ dialogue, a feature always present throughout the whole game. It’s up to you which side to choose in the upcoming election that will shape the future of Petria: you can vote for a faction, rebel, or simply disassociate yourself with the whole Government. The choice truly feels in your hands, and will affect your playthrough: the nice thing about this is that every chapter is then unique, and you can see the impact of your actions on the world around you and how it influences you relating with the other characters. Focusing on the characters for example, when you will meet them and the type of conversation you will have with them all depend on the choices you made along the way up to that point. I feel like there is something mystic about a game that leaves you the ability and the freedom to change with your choices the whole dynamic of it.

But what about the characters, you say? You will fall in love with what the developers went for in this game if you’re anything like me: they put a lot of thought into the character defining characteristics and into their stories, and it really shows. There is a total of 7 characters that you’ll meet along the way: you will gradually unfold their deep backstory, and I feel the choice of not throwing it all to you at once is perfect to keep the feeling of being in a real journey. The game will require multiple trips to the border of Petria to determine what is everyone’s own personal story, because they all have one, stemmed from tragedy or love. Trust me, you will just want to know more and more. I really could feel the emotions the characters were putting across, may it be the raw anger caused by the Government or the sad emotion caused by a tragedy, there is definitely so much depth here you will get lost in the story

"Characters that truly earn a place in your heart"

Multiple dynamic characters.

So how does it play? Well, that is a good question to ask: Road 96 feels more like an award-winning interactive novel than your “average” adventure game. By that I mean that the game has mainly nice stops on the trip along the way designed for you to interact with the environment or the cast of characters, but even when those stops don’t focus on interaction, you never feel like you are just “out there”: even on those occasions you are greeted with constant dialogue choices by side characters and awesome narration throughout. You may actually forget you are playing a video game, like it happened to me. Do not get me wrong, while the story is the main focus of this game, sometimes I have seen myself getting lost in the surreal and beautiful environment while on one of my many stops along the way. You may not have a lot of interaction on these, but you will surely enjoy every last minute of it.

Your journey to the border is only enhanced by the outstanding backing music, that you can also collect as little cassettes on you travels. The soundtrack is awesome and fits the vibe of the game so well, a proof that the developers definitely got the whole art and sound direction right. You can not only tell, but also perceive while you play, that they went to great lengths to make sure you could feel this game emotionally exporting you to a whole new place: this game gives you an escape to a surreal tranquil world, which I sometimes feel like we all need.

  • Simply Euphoric

    " Road 96 is an emotional rollercoaster with a beautifully crafted story and multiple loveable characters. Couple this with the outstanding low poly art style and chill music backdrop: this game screams chill, atmospheric and surreal. "

    A must play of the year!

    • Gameplay
    • Narrative
    • Art Direction
    • Sound Direction
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