Traveling alone, with friends or family? Those road trips that go on for long hours or days are always full of laughs and unforgettable memories, often amid less important decision-making. Road 96 is full of them, sometimes complicated decisions that affect the future of our adventurous teen. Road 96 manages to mix politics with a strong narrative that blends with a procedurally generated road trip.
In Road 96, the player plays the role of several teenagers who have been separated from their parents in an attempt to cross the borders of Petria, a nation ruled by President Tyrak, and thus escape the control of this “villain”. These characters don’t have any specific personality traits but the player will have the importance of choosing their decisions. Decisions such as vandalizing the posters of one of the presidential candidates or supporting the group of revolutionaries will have a bearing on the outcome of the story. Yes, it’s times of change (or not) in Petria, or in other words, elections time.
During this road trip, we can hear tales of a group of revolutionaries called the Black Brigades, who are said to have caused several riots with several deaths in the mix, where the main point was the explosion from the top of a mountain that caused an avalanche.
But what is the connection of these teenagers in the progression of the lines of text? Despite not having any kind of connection between them, they know key characters that develop and connect in fascinating ways. As the story is told, Road 96 starts to be a little bit of the player’s own story as we definitely have a hand in the outcome of the chapters. I must confess that the character that most impressed me was Zoe, a mysterious girl but with a kind heart who tries to help every teen character she meets on her journey. However, we have characters from all angles, Sonya Sanchez the narcissistic GNN reporter, John the trucker with a dark past and in love with a voice in a radio, Alex a little great genius, among others.
Each character gives access to an ability that opens up opportunities between adventures. For example, Sonya’s Lucky Star opens up the possibility of rummaging through the trash whereas Alex gives us the ability to hack doors or safe lock doors.
Each chapter has a subchapter characterized by song names, that features a specific Teen progression that culminates in the arrival on the edge of Petria. After completing the previous chapter a menu is displayed where the player can choose 1 of 3 Teenagers. But what’s really interesting is to see how each Teenager’s baggage crosses the chapter boundary, both in terms of connecting with key characters and the molding that the country makes to the player’s decisions.
Road 96 stands out for its super interesting storytelling, the fresh atmosphere throughout the game, the minigames. and the memorable characters + connections between them.
This could be the story of one of us.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game for PC, provided by Jesús Fabre]