Music and Gameplay Merge in Road 96: Mile 0

Creative Director Yoan Fenise Talks About the Music for Road 96: Mile 0

Few things are more important to the success of a game than sound and music. Great sound design and excellent music are key to immersion and storytelling. In the case of Road 96: Mile 0, music in part inspired the game’s level design and mechanics. We spoke to DigixArt’s creative director Yoan Fenise about the intimate relationship between music, sound, and gameplay in Road 96: Mile 0.

Road 96: Mile 0 is a prequel to Road 96. Although it’s still a narrative-driven action-adventure game, Mile 0’s gameplay is unique. It moves the narrative along with intense, visually psychedelic races. Fenise said “Those sequences are showing what reality cannot show in terms of emotions, feelings, doubts. Then we looked for a musical tone that would best fit that emotion. Suddenly we have a match, and from there we contact the bands, famous or not.” Some of the musical artists include The Offspring, The Midnight, and less-known figures like Arslan Elbar, Alexis Laugier, and JC Charlier or Kalax.

Collaborative Artistry

Picking the music involved collaboration between the development team and the musicians. “We try a lot of different tracks. The whole team suggests some, and we see which ones give us goosebumps. Then we ask for an original song, that could even have lyrics like the beautiful one from The Midnight. This is the kind of perfect collaboration between two art forms,” Fenise said.

That back-and-forth extended to the game’s exciting race sections. Fenise said “Once we have the song, we can start to work on the level; sometimes with some back
and forth to edit parts if gameplay-wise it does not fit, identifying moments where we can let the player to breathe, and some others we want to be more powerful and climatic. It’s like telling a mini story in each ride.”

Music and Flow of Emotion

Road 96: Mile 0 is permeated by music. The sound of synthesizers underscores a lot of the game. “Road 96’s world is colored with 80’s and 90’s synths. I’m a big fan of retro wave; it is both synthetic and emotional, with strong melodies, a bit cheesy but I really like that. For more dramatic moments we bring in some orchestral layers in the way Daft Punk did in Tron, one of my all-time favorite OSTs. Juno arpeggiator paired with a strings rising staccato is a hell of a match.”

Outside of the races, the game’s music is a combination of original tracks and those from an outside library. Fenise said “For original tracks, we worked with Alexis Laugier for example, an amazing artist from our city. We also picked some tracks in a music bank AudioNetwork which has amazing hidden gems.”

Musical Caricatures

Road 96: Mile 0 takes place in a fictional place called Petria, where the State and politicians are omnipresent. The music includes sly references to history and politics. One of the game’s goals is to nudge the player into thinking about the destructive nature of oppressive regimes. Fenise said “The world of Petria borrows many sad events from the real world, but we try to mix many of them so as to not finger point at a specific regime. We may miss some subtlety here and there, but maybe it wakes up some minds and make players more curious of what happens in some regimes.”

At its heart, though, Mile 0 is the story of Zoe and Kaito. Music is used to highlight the characters’ emotions, and also their thoughts. “The tracks are more dedicated to depict specific moments in Zoe and Kaito’s mind rather than just having one musical color for each character. We focus on less characters in Mile 0, so each of them deserved more variety, a rainbow of emotions.”

Road 96: Mile 0 is a unique, thoughtful, and engaging game. It has a fresh approach to narrative, and characters that are believable and interesting. Fenise and his team have done a stellar job at using music and sound, and their efforts are absolutely worth checking out.

**Special Thanks to Yoan Fenise***