Published on April 11th, 2023 | by Chris O'Connor
Road 96: Mile 0 PC Review
Summary: Taking place before the events of Road 96 but with a change of gameplay... this might not be what you were expecting.
I really enjoyed Road 96, it was an interesting game with different characters and felt open and as if there were lots of choices to make. Road 96: Mile 0 feels restrictive and at times flat out annoying… but there are still some interesting story elements.
If you’ve played Road 96 you will find some familiar characters here… what you might not find so familiar is the gameplay. I’m just going to get straight to it… it seems the developers took the notion of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” and figured they’d take what worked and try and mangle it into something it isn’t. The main reason for this is the new skating/blading game segments. Essentially, between some “regular” game segments you will be transported to a surreal landscape that ranges from a simple long stretch road to what would seem to be heavily inspired by the film clip for Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd. At first they appear to be rhythm games… the familiar long path stretching out with bright icons indicating when to act… but alas, they are simply long stretches of button mashing and they are far too frequent and I quickly developed a hatred for them. There is mild relief in that if you fail a section often enough it will ask you if you want to skip to the next checkpoint (unfortunately there can be multiple checkpoints per segment).
To contrast that… there are some nice little “mini games”. There’s a fun bit of connect four… there are a few familiar points at which you will need to work out little puzzles to achieve a goal. But whilst these seemed far more common in the first game (and I thought quite fun), here they are used extremely rarely and seem to have been swapped for the aforementioned skating segments.
The main story is also slimmed down to just two people, Zoe and Kaito whom you will switch between as you progress (not at your choice but when the game wants you to swap between the characters). There are some other familiar faces that you will come across, which is nice, but this is ultimately the story of Zoe and Kaito and those two characters are a little black and white. As you progress you can perform actions, make choices that will move you closer to simply following the propaganda or to deciding to resist the messages stuck up everywhere. This choices element is part of what made the first game fun… the sense that your choices really mattered… unfortunately here it feels too much like you are on rails and simply ticking boxes.
I was also quite underwhelmed with the audio. If you turn your head from a character that is speaking to you… their voice can sometimes end up sounding muffled/muddied. I don’t know whether this is simply an issue with sound mixing, not understanding how to simulate listening to someone while you are no longer facing them directly or what… but it is quite unpleasant. Some voices just have that muddy quality from the get go but I do wonder if this is again a filter being applied that just sounds awful and rather than perhaps simply quietening the voice the further from center it is… adds some strange muffler.
So after all that… is it worth it? Well it is a decent price and no doubt will go on special from time to time. If you were hoping for more of the first games dynamics and fun… you may well be disappointed here, but if you simply want to know a bit more about some of the characters from before the events in Road 96… then it could be worth grabbing a copy. At the very least I’d suggest waiting for a sale because even at the low price… there are just too many elements of the game that are disappointing. A halfhearted recommendation at best I’m afraid.