Road 96: Mile 0 is the prequel to developer Digixart’s hit 2021 narrative adventure game Road 96 and a spiritual sequel to the developer’s first game, Lost in Harmony. Road 96: Mile 0, while not having many incredible elements, succeeded in entertaining me with the few that it has.
The game’s story takes place before Road 96‘s major events and explains the story before it. It follows Zoe, a character from Road 96, and Kaito, a character from Lost in Harmony. The former is the daughter of an oil minister, while the latter is a son of a groundskeeper. Despite their different backgrounds, the pair are very much best friends and spend much of their days together tackling teenage issues and drama. However, as players progress through the game, they start to learn more about the town of White Sands by unraveling some political mysteries. The budding friendship between Zoe and Kaito is tested as it eventually exposes her to the truths about her father and country.
Players will be faced with several choices that will decide the outcome of Zoe and Kaito’s stories and their relationship. Though I will note that while decisions in the game are expressed well and make sense in line with the player’s ideology, they still aren’t all that impactful in the grand scheme of things, which isn’t a surprise because as a prequel, the outcome is already mostly known.
As a prequel, Road 96: Mil 0 doesn’t do a good enough job of explaining to new players what is happening or the details about its world, so new players will just have to play through the game to find out who is who and what is going on right from the start. What makes this worse is that the game, being extremely short at about 5 hours, unfortunately, doesn’t get the chance to flesh out all its narrative beats, leading to a rushed ending and concluding right at a critical point in the story. It’s not all bad, however, as playing through the game was still mostly an enjoyable experience mainly due to the antics of the dynamic duo, their often quirky dialogue, and the excellent voice acting that properly breathes life into the characters.
During gameplay, players will control Zoe and explore White Sands which serves as the game’s overworld with several segments by talking to NPCs, finding items, and interacting with objects. While doing so, a story event will eventually trigger, which prompts one of many “Rides.” These are bizarre yet fun skating levels affected by Zoe and Kaito’s subconscious that has them avoiding obstacles, performing tricks, and picking up bonus point items, with players usually switching between the two halfway in the level. These levels all have their own unique song, be it licensed or original, and are all scored with grades on how well you performed and how many times you died during them.
Thankfully, unlike many similar games, the levels aren’t frustrating to play through as they provide lots of checkpoints and are relatively short, so players will be more likely to replay all ten of them multiple times to get the best scores possible. Outside these levels, players can also play several zany but fun minigames between narrative moments in the pair’s hideout, all of which are just for fun and include nail hammering, spray painting, and more. Aside from that, players can also explore the city to find a slew of collectibles. These include stickers and spray paint used to decorate the pair’s hideout, as well as cassette tapes of songs in the game’s soundtrack.
In terms of visuals, Road 96: Mile 0 sports a unique aesthetic and crisp visuals with detailed, cartoony 3D models and an excellent art direction. It also runs quite well on PS5, as I ran into no graphical or performance issues throughout the game. Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight the game’s fantastic soundtrack, featuring lots of high-octane and melodic tracks, making grinding out levels for high scores much more enjoyable.
Overall, Road 96: Mile 0 is a game that, while featuring some great elements and features, fails to flesh them out enough to make the game truly great. However, despite this, it still offers players an enjoyable experience through some well-crafted features and fun gameplay. If you’re a Road 96 fan or just someone looking for an enjoyable experience, then you might want to pick up the game to experience what it has to offer.
Road 96: Mile 0 is available now on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam.
Road 96: Mile 0
While featuring some great elements and features, Road 96: Mile 0 fails to flesh them out enough to make the game truly great. However, despite this, it still offers players an enjoyable experience.
Abdul Saad is a seasoned anime and manga critic, art lover, and professional journalist. When he’s not covering the medium’s latest news, he’s giving his candid opinions on the season’s most unique titles or exploring the niche side of the industry. He has also played and reviewed more games than he could ever count.