Road 96 works for one simple reason: you never know what will happen. It captures the excitement and tension rippling of the classic road movie, sliding between moods, uncovering the mystery of what awaits you in the next corner. It’s about leaving the comforts of home to kneel before strangers you won’t be used to dealing with and dealing with situations you’ve never seen before. One minute. And I can’t remember the last time I played such a compelling narrative game.
To see why, let’s take a look at the beginning. I am a teenager trying to flee Petria, a country ruled by an oppressive dictator named Tyrak. I was hundreds of kilometers from my destination, a secure checkpoint in the middle of the mountains, where I hoped to cross illegally. Driving a stolen car, then hitchhiking, then taking a bus, I was in a vast landscape of red dust, empty alleys and the occasional bars, gas stations or motels. If there are cities here, they are not history, just roads and rest areas in between.
Road 96 Review
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There’s no guarantee that I’ll reach the border and cross, – I could be caught or killed, and that’s it. But success or failure, I embarked on another teenage journey, on a different road to the border, and had a different set of experiences. Then, another and another, each trip brought the timeline closer to an election that was to spark explosions across the country.
A ride lasts about an hour, if it goes that far, and usually includes five or six scenes where important events occur. Each of these scenes features encounters with one (or two) of the eight main NPCs, as well as various bitpart players, with the scene order partially randomized from people you’ve never seen before. In short, you don’t know who you’ll meet next, or what they’ll do, or how they’ll relate to you in their lives.
These characters are an eclectic group – a young hacker, another fugitive, a truck driver, a policeman, a taxi driver, a TV personality and a duo of goofy thieves – personality policies, motivations and tendencies are gradually revealed to everyone. encountered, which catches you off guard from time to time (unless you suspect they might be trying to kill you). My early favorites include John the Bear Trucker and Alex the Little Genie, whose ’90s exaggerated stereotypes (Yo, hometown girl!) would make Tim Westwood blush. Partly because they are fun to be around, but partly because they feel less caricatured than some others, most notably self-centered broadcaster Sonya, who presents a way somewhat obnoxiously silly to garner much sympathy when she finally reveals her complicated inner self. But in reality, it’s the range of personality that matters, keeping you motivated as it goes from sad to grim to farcical.
Indeed, what makes the storytelling special in 96th Street is not the ‘writing’ but the structure of the story. To clarify, this is a story-forming experience of a series of flying independent protagonists who then, through their eyes and a series of chance encounters, explore the paths of eight other characters, then connect all these stories within a larger political context. It even overlaps its streams, as the characters relate to each other or refer to your previous successes or failures. And so, as you progress, the plot slowly recedes, shifting from focusing on a single unnamed teenager to the community around them, and then on the fate of the national struggle. It’s an intoxicating achievement.
What’s doubly impressive is that inside that scaffolding, I always felt I could change the turn of events, even though the sequence of each scene was largely fixed. Usually, the little things, like using the game from a first-person perspective, really remind me a bit of Cyberpunk 2077. Even when you’re sitting in a conversation, the reminders of the similarities. effects are still around and you can spot them. If you’re in someone’s car, look for clues about their intentions or some food you might have in the backseat. You’ll need it, as your stamina depletes between each scene, and if you collapse from exhaustion, you’re done. The interface teaches you to work with a scavenger eye.
In some cases you can also activate larger effects. Obviously you choose your mode of transportation at the end of the stretch, choosing to walk, hitchhike, take a bus or taxi (if you have cash), or fly a car, helping to identify who and what will happen next. But there are also certain dialogue choices, especially political ones, that can change the arc of other characters or your immediate future. Speaking and being radical, I was thrown out of a car that picked me up, and with my poor health, walking was enough to finish me off.
Or maybe I won’t go any further. Much of 96th Street carries with it the possibility that things could go one way or the other, and this is testament to the incessant smoke and mirrors that I left behind without knowing whether I was can force a different outcome. So there’s a breathtakingly improvised tempo throughout – aided by a soundtrack tailored for each character – with the only downtime coming from natural pauses between encounters. , before you return something.
Not just something. So many things. I don’t mean much, but the sudden emergence of all sorts of minigames, jobs, and puzzles in 96th Street is another of its delicacies, as is their utterly simple execution. Whether it’s killing the song Ciao Bella on a trombone with another teenage girl Zoe, or taking on the role of a bartender, here are quick ways to develop character, practice etiquette initiation and bonding rituals, or simply to relieve the stress of traveling. This is where the real road trip happens, in those times when you’re hanging out with someone you barely know, laughing at something stupid, getting into a scratch, or wondering if they have intends to shoot you in the air.
All this is then opposed to the quest to cross one’s own borders, where only the darkest of uncertainties remains. Until you get there, you don’t even know how you’re going to cross it, and one bad act or hasty decision in the heat of the moment can put your journey to a sorely end just before you reach the destination. Cruel, maybe, but yet another clever piece of storytelling design, making you think about your current charge through adventures along the way, before throwing them into a bio-horror genre.
Here, however, 96th Street loses some of its consistency, precisely because it didn’t feel very claustrophobic before this point. With how the dictatorship is so central to the story, it remains ambiguous how bad things are in Petria and why the teenagers in particular are desperate to escape. Its politics are outlined in broad strokes, even at the end, and most of the game doesn’t feel so dangerous, especially when other characters have taught you certain skills. Certain random encounters with the police can create the necessary additional threat.
But that would take a lot of games that have done a lot, and rightly so. After eight trips, I reached the end and Road 96 mesmerized me through dozens of scenes. Don’t repeat it, I might add. It’s a rarity these days – a game that’s not only very well executed, but surprises until the last minute. It’s been a journey.
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- mini-games are simple and playful
- Great music
- Refers Political Propaganda