REVIEW – There have been many instances of a game becoming a franchise with a second title, but it’s not a sequel but a prequel. Road 96 Mile 0 has gone down this path. Still, the point is that we can escape from a decidedly unlivable country because a better life awaits us elsewhere (not to mention the appreciation, better pay, better society, etc.).
The prequel to Road 96. Play Zoe and Kaito where it all started. Challenge your beliefs!
Zoe and Kaito make an unlikely but significantly excellent pair. Zoe is the daughter of the Oil Minister of Petria, while Kaito is the son of workers in one of the lower tenths of society. The former lives near Tyrak (the letter T could be replaced by O, Y by R, R by B, A by Á and K by N…), the head of the country, at the top of society, isolated from the suffering reality, while Kaito lives in a dusty, murky, and hopeless basement. The two of them still keep on good terms at their secret base, where they play games, listen to music, and plan a trip. Zoe, of course, is a character from Road 96, while Kaito is the protagonist from Lost in Harmony. (The developer, Digixart, refers to its older games.) Our story begins with Kaito suddenly having to leave, and shortly afterward, the journey starts, during which many decisions are to be made that affect the plot. Still, in the process, there will be significant questions about how their friendship will hold up (if it can). And the gameplay can be broken down into two distinctly separate sections. One is based on exploration, the other on music (specifically, music-running). Meanwhile, the two characters try to piece together the true face of Petria, with a bit of trauma (Zoe), and are tasked with creating a better life (Kaito).
Going back to the train of thought regarding the music, it turns into rhythmic gameplay based on the melody of the music (for example, we have seen something similar in Bit.Trip before), and as the characters’ feelings and thoughts unfold throughout these, the storytelling becomes unusual but engaging. As we move forward in the story, the two characters will not relate to each other as they used to. Zoe has only ever seen Petria as an excellent place to be (maybe she should come down from her ivory tower). In contrast, Kaito sees the resistance (Black Brigades) as the one that should concentrate on trying to overthrow the government’s (state party?) rule at every opportunity. However, with Zoe, you can see what Petria’s past was like. At the same time, Kaito can be dissuaded from the brigades, but whoever wants the opposite direction (Zoe insists on dictatorship, and Kaito finds himself in the resistance) can be accommodated. It all depends on how the two protagonists are positioned at critical moments in the plot.
Road 96 was excellent because it was worth going everywhere, turning over every stone, and discovering everything and everyone in Petria. You could say there was more depth to it. That’s not quite the same for Road 96 Mile 0 because interaction with the world will still be necessary, but it happens in a somewhat more down-to-earth form this time. Suppose there is a propaganda poster. Do we tear it down? Do we tag it? Do we fix it? That, and rummaging through the bin, is part of the gameplay. Not just once, we’re afraid to add. It makes the experience tedious and repetitive, and the music segment can improve this somewhat, and there will be some familiar songs from the 1990s.
(The question is when the song licensing rights expire because it is almost invariably a problem. ) These sections have a real challenge, and it’s a joy to see and experience. Still, it should also be remembered that the game has a unique sense of humor, cleverly combining storytelling and character development (it’s not just flat, unchanging characters; if it had that in the game, it wouldn’t be worth a dime). And, of course, let’s not forget that the game doesn’t have just one ending this time either, so replayability is a vital element. The studio has also taken some ideas from Road to Harmony, so the result is slightly different from the base game, but that doesn’t mean the result is forgettable.
Get out of that s__thole
Road 96 Mile 0 could have scored an eight out of ten if it hadn’t involved too much searching through the trash and interacting with posters. These were tiresome and slowly became annoying. For this reason, patience is recommended, but apart from that, it would be difficult to find too many negatives. It, therefore, deserves a score of seven-and-a-half out of seven. OK, it is not outstanding, but it is a primarily enjoyable creation that is fit for purpose, and we don’t have to go that far even to transpose some aspects to the real world. It’s scary, but it’s also exciting.
+ Skillful storytelling
+ The contrast behind the background of the two characters
+ The musical half of the gameplay
– Maybe they overdid the research in the trash cans
– …and the posters too
– This is still short
Release: April 4, 2023.