Road 96 (PS5) review: Is it worth playing?

96 way From DigixArt about the plight of teenagers trying to escape a totalitarian state by crossing a border. It clearly has more than accurate connections to current events. The world is divided. Multiple refugee crises, political turmoil, war, displacement, crime and disease are rampant. So, just as we’ve seen in music, literature, film, and art, it makes sense that the game studio would try to comment on at least some of these issues. Unfortunately, it ends up feeling more like a baby’s first revolution than a poignant commentary on any particular topic.

a little runaway

Route 96 3 review

Throughout the story, you play as an unidentified teenager trying to escape from the fictional nation of Petria. The president, Tyrek, is becoming increasingly authoritarian in his policies, and people are fleeing the country in response. The only thing is, I didn’t really know why.

Route 96 takes a somewhat juvenile approach to its suspension. She discovers that the Petria government has definitely overstepped its bounds and Tyrek is a bad guy. However, other than pointing out that these teens have a turbulent past and are homeless, there are few indications of what you’re getting away with other than a generally bad vibe. There is no ethnic cleansing or religious persecution, and people seem to be free to travel other than to cross borders, and food and money are plentiful enough that people leave them to be snatched away.

For the most part, you just have to trust that bad things happen. The secondary narrative relates to a failed revolution attempt that occurred ten years before the match. Towards the end of the game, more concrete evidence emerges that Petria is not the best place to live, but it does seem somewhat contrived and pointless.

I would have liked to see Route 96 a little less ambiguous in its suspension. It usually takes a lot to force someone to flee their country, and very little of that is taken up here. I had a decent time playing Road 96, but playing a character without a background in a game is basically political commentary that makes everything fall flat.

linear linear

road review 96 2

The game builds its narrative in a new way. Unlike other adventure games, every gameplay in Route 96 is procedurally generated. One of the weaknesses of the adventure genre is that no matter how good the game is, the story unfolds in a linear fashion, resulting in poor replayability.

In theory, this is a great idea. You can enjoy the story many times without knowing how it goes. However, in practice, it looks more like a proof of work. There are seven main characters in the game, and the goal is largely centered around filling their story counters. Each trip to the border will give you a few encounters with them, then rinse and repeat until Election Day comes around.

You won’t hear 100% of every character’s story in a single game, which again makes playing in the game awkward. You might miss a scene or two from a character, but to get to it, you have to sit through hours of repetitive material to get there. There are some mini games and puzzles in some of the sections that make it fun distraction, but there are a limited number of them.

The game is further stifled by the fact that your choices only lead to three conclusions. Each decision contributes to a meter by three metres: revolution, vote, or indifference. Your anonymous character has very little agency, and is driven by the actions and thoughts of the seven main characters.

Route 96 Review: Final Verdict

Road 96 feels like an odd mix of experimental and conservative game design. A procedurally generated combo is a good one and I would love to see it used again. However, the overall plot is political without being substantial. It’s a story that is likely best served by following a linear structure with player characters who had rich background stories that connected them strongly to the struggle going on in Petria.

Adventure game lovers will have a great time with Road 96. The cast is very interesting, and it has enough twists and turns to make an entertaining play. It’s definitely one of a kind, and I hope DigixArt will continue to experiment with the genre.

7.0Bronze Truhbe
  • An interesting approach to this genre.
  • The NPCs are mostly lovable.
  • Don’t go far enough with her comment.
  • The empty slate player character doesn’t connect you to the story.
  • The action-packed narrative makes it frustrating to see all of the story without repeating much of the game.