Road 96: Mile 0 Review
The procedural narrative-driven adventure, Road 96 was a special game. Its innovative approach to storytelling meant that you gradually piece together the narrative through subsequent playthroughs. Due to how DigixArt drip feeds its tales, you want to experience another trek through Petria to learn about its diverse cast. While political themes remain in the prequel, a host of changes give Mile 0 its own identity. Will the game manage to improve on its trails to the border or does it lose what made its predecessor unique?
Rather than stepping into the boots of an unnamed hitchhiker, you follow Zoe and Kaito. Although friends, they both feel differently about the political landscape due to their backgrounds and personal experience. Despite that, they are still close and maintain a strong friendship which is evident throughout. Zoe comes from a wealthy family and has no reason to question the government, however, Kaito’s life is full of unjust hardship which spawns an anarchist viewpoint. At first, this may seem like a tale of two sides, but the lines blur and the game’s narrative becomes more complex as it progresses.
A Change in Direction
A divisive design decision with Mile 0 is the removal of the procedural narrative ethos. While this does strip away part of the franchise’s identity, it allows the developers to hone in on particular people and tell a deliberate tale. Previously, your encounters with the cast were from a characterless avatar, whereas now you control big personalities. This adds further weight to the choices you make and the path you venture down.
The construction of the story is masterful. It gives fans of the original further insight into the world but is also self-contained for newcomers. Iconic characters drift in and out of the plot which gives snapshots of their life prior to the events of Road 96. Being able to see where Zoe came from and how she morphed into the person we came to love, is fascinating. Interestingly, the second protagonist, Kaito, is from DigixArt’s Lost in Harmony. His emotional story is key to Zoe’s transformation and gameplay elements from his title merge in Mile 0.
Choices still form a large chunk of the gameplay. You will regularly select dialogue options and decide which location you want to visit next. Key decisions will alter your views on the government and the Black Brigade with this being tracked on a meter at the top of the screen. It’s a simple but effective way to monitor the outcome of your actions. This leads to certain options being unavailable to select at later stages, due to them going against your previous actions, which gives the incentive to replay the campaign.
Go With the Flow
Musical, rhythm-based moments intersperse scenes and offer a metaphorical sequence of events. The combination of the song, the cinematography and the art direction is exquisite. DigixArt uses these opportunities to develop the narrative to give an insight into the character’s views on the world. It’s a clever, unobtrusive method that gives context to abstract gameplay sequences. You will skate through a course and collect a number of items on your ride through a winding path. Throughout the course are objects for you to hurdle and hazards for you to duck, as one wrong move will have you re-do a small section. In addition, button prompts also appear which adds an element of unpredictability to these addictive segments. As you get a rank after each musical number, it encourages you to have another ride and improve on your previous run.
White Sands offers a range of diverse experiences that makes this one of the most gameplay-rich narrative-driven games. Each scene has something new to do: at times, you’ll spray paint a wall and then you’ll solve small puzzles. While these are often simple tasks with basic mechanics, they add variety to the title and will keep you hooked throughout the 4 to 5-hour run time.
Turn it up!
Visually, the game follows the same style as its predecessor, however, the rough edges have had a polish. The world is full of character and the vivid color palette creates an intoxicating atmosphere. The voice acting is believable and draws you into their trials and tribulations. The music throughout is a highlight of the game. Each track captures a point in time to communicate the character’s thoughts. The combination of these elements elevates the presentation over the original to create a fascinating trip through White Sands.
Road 96: Mile 0 is a wonderful snapshot of a world that many fell in love with. While the game steps away from its procedural roots, it does so to offer a fresh experience. The new gameplay aspects are a joy and the storytelling is stellar which makes DigixArt’s latest release a must for fans of narrative-driven games.
*** A PlayStation 5 code provided by the publisher for review***
- Great Story
- Musical Segments Are Cool
- Lots More Gameplay Than the Original
- Very Short
- Procedural Hook Has Gone
- Basic Mechanics in Gameplay Segments