Review Road 96 is one of the best indie games of the year, but it’s not worth playing on the Nintendo Switch

The splashy screen update and low-pitched textures of the Switch 96 version of the acclaimed Road eat the joy of gaming from an interesting game.


Date of issue: 16.8.2021
Studio: DigixArt
Publisher: DigixArt, Plug In Digital
Available: Nintendo Switch (tested) & PC (Windows)
Players: 1
Age limit: 16
Game played for review: 20 hours


Let’s live the summer of 1996. The state of Petria, reminiscent of totalitarianism and resembling the United States, is on the eve of the presidential election. A believer in hard discipline, Tyrak does not shy away from using hard means. Nor are those young people in favor of the more sympathetic opponent, Florres, who are transit behind bars after being caught in protests or trying to escape.

Concerned about their own future, a group of teenagers decide to strive Road 96:n in the story across the country’s northern border towards freedom. The sequence of events drawn by the algorithm confuses the story with a bit of a new kind each time it is played through, which in itself makes Road 96 one of the most interesting indie titles of the year. However, the whole could have been more filed in terms of game enjoyment.

The player controls one teenager crossing the border at a time, whose successes and failures are reflected not only in the preconditions of the next teenager but also in the looming end of the last episode. The procedurally advancing roadtrip consists of several pre-written events and encounters, the random order of which has an effect on the plot. In terms of story focus and dialogue choices, Road 96 could be compared to Telltale, for example The Walking Deadin or Life is Strangen games like. However, the difference with the latter appears in the complete randomness of events. This makes Road 96 a unique experience where it is impossible to see everything in one, if not another, pass.

Road 96

Crossing a closely guarded border is not straightforward, but all the more nuanced. Depending on your financial situation, part of the trip can be folded by taxi or bus. If the coins are low, the player can also resort to, for example, hitchhiking or just walking a mile at a time. However, if the character cools down to go without food and sleep, the escape route may end before it has properly begun. The energy meter can be considered good by refueling enough and sleeping. In turn, money can be earned, for example, from oncoming characters, either by honest means or by stealing. In addition, the player can facilitate their journey with abilities available from the characters, ranging from teasing to hacking.

The surroundings of Road 96 consist of small open areas ranging from a roadside restaurant and caravan-filled camp to rocky terrain. In terms of graphics, the county of the game is somewhat reminiscent of a couple of years ago Firewatchia. Unfortunately, the textures in the Switch version have had to be kept fairly low to ensure gameplay, which eats up a bit of an atmosphere from some otherwise well-implemented milieu. However, there is no major criticism in the field design itself, in addition to which the soundtrack that fits in the spirit of the 90s and the well-written characters keep the interest elevated.

Road 96

Along the story, the player’s paths intersect with several characters, each with their own story to tell. Due to the randomness of the events, the player may find himself at any time from somewhere. On one occasion, for example, criminal duo Stan and Mitch may end up on an ongoing robbery gig, after which they will be driven by truck driver John to accompany celebrity presenter Sonya to a party for a better crowd. Sometimes, in a bad case, the trip can also end up in the wounds of a police officer looking for teenagers on the run, which can require painful decisions from the player.

The time and place of the encounters, as well as the amount of occurrence of a particular character during the pass-through, can vary greatly depending on, among other things, the vehicle with which the player chooses which part of the journey to fold. This also brings a certain kind of new feel to already familiar encounters, even if there happen to be more plays behind. Also, the story of each character is not possible within the framework of a single walk-through, which encourages you to crash into the adventure on multiple occasions.

Road 96

Almost every word choice and action made during the pass-through has an effect on how the player manages to eventually flirt himself across the border. The conversations with the characters seemed to be mainly driving the player in their own direction due to the choice of dialogue. However, the differing responses in a few scenes did not really change the situation for any reason, even if the option chosen for a particular comment was completely different from what was said from the previous game. At times, the dialogue snippet I chose was also not more in line with the response from the character, and the consequences were a little darkened as the situation changed elsewhere. Although the words and deeds chosen changed the course of events for most of the playing time, the cause-and-effect relationship did not seem to go as expected at every reply.

Of course, I think the interaction between the player and the characters could also have been strengthened with even a partial vision and my own voice show, as the satisfaction of the black silhouette in the top corner and the silence of the dialogue choices made Was this then the intention of the developers.

Road 96

The evaluated version of the Switch proved to be pounding in places for a screen update that seemed to drip from time to time at very low readings. Given the low textures, one would have imagined that the gaming experience would remain even more or less stable with Switch. With Joy-Con, the play could have been more meaningful as well, as navigating on the control path felt pretty stiff for most of the playing time. Since hitchhiking caused contradictory feelings on the Switch, I also decided to test a demo downloadable from the PC version of the game, which felt almost like a different game in terms of screen refresh – not to mention textures and mouse control, of course.

The Road 96 rating threw through the mind during the run from edge to side, as the Switch’s performance didn’t serve an otherwise otherwise functional and entertaining whole. However, under the fall of the screen update and the jerky controls, there is an immersive getaway that you would like to enjoy to the fullest – if only the power of the console would not be met so abruptly.

Thus, PC gamers heading for an escape trip can easily sprinkle at least one more star on the work. Although the game costs only about 20 euros, it is good for those considering the console version to weigh their purchase decision based on the demo found in the Switch store.

ROAD 96

Rating: 2/5

“‘Convincing with its story and atmosphere, the Road 96 splashes while playing on the Switch.'”


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