Road 96 – ITNetwork

It seems that interactive dramas often have more narrative branches than they actually contain. While games like Heavy Rain can take you on completely different tracks, they start at a specific place by making decisions at key points that change your route. With 148,263 story permutations, Road 96 promises to make every trip unique. Offering a staggering number of possibilities, will this procedurally generated, choose your own adventure, be able to sustain a cohesive story, and make every journey along the highway clear?

Located in Petria, a country under totalitarian control, you play like more teenagers trying to reach Road 96. Due to the oppressive attitudes of the government, young people are fleeing, trying to cross the border and gain some kind of freedom. Although an intriguing premise, the heart of this game lies in the characters you meet during each unique journey.

With seven main characters whose stories span several games, Road 96 is an innovative narrative-driven game like no other. The non-linear, narrative approach is perfectly implemented, feeding the story with dripping, gradually building a deep, emotional and warming adventure. While your path is procedurally generated, the sequences are carefully designed to create three-dimensional, relative characters. Whether you crossed paths during the robbery or boarded the same bus, each meeting develops their personality by creating an intricately connected narrative that is the pinnacle of the media.

The segments are full of discussion-based discussions that not only shape your avatar, but also affect the world around you and future episodes. With political issues at the forefront, you can encourage those you come across to rebel against a tyrannical president, vote for change, or fight to keep him in power; adding weight to decisions, taking into account the consequences of each option. Impressively, the characters will reference your previous races, helping Petria feel like a living, breathing world. As a result, the level of investment increases en masse as you begin to learn and care for each person.

Hitchhiking to your destination varies in length depending on your route, research and choices. Although each area is fairly linear, some environments allow you to interact with NPCs to discuss their views on government issues or participate in mini-games. More than most other interactive dramas, Road 96 offers a large selection of gameplay. Intuitively, the algorithm selects the scenes that complement each other, creating the appropriate tempo for each trip. From playing the creepy game Connect 4 to intense shooting as you run down the highway, making every moment memorable.

Episodes can end abruptly or deviate en masse depending on your decisions. Whether you die or survive, each trip feels unique because of the multitude of possibilities. You can check the menu at any time to see the progress you’ve made in each character’s story. Marked as a percentage, this gives you an incentive to repeat and learn how stories develop and affect each other.

DigixArt opted for an artistic style that bears a resemblance to Telltale Games and Firewatch. The areas are well designed and feel like they are part of a larger world. Unfortunately, it’s a little rough around the edges with low-resolution textures and unusual elements that appear, interrupting the immersion. However, the performance is what really betrays Road 96. Throughout, the number of shots remains inconsistent. While that doesn’t detract from expertly crafted storytelling, it makes the game seem sluggish from moment to moment. We came across one serious mistake that prevented us from continuing our story. Because of that, we had to delete the game data, losing all progress. Although we were frustrated, we were eager to set off again immediately, thanks to the amazing world at hand.

Music and film play a big role in the game. With full-dot references, it’s clear to see the love and admiration for art in Road 96. This is further enhanced by its lavish soundtrack that captures the feel of a mid-90s film. Whether it is a melancholic or synthetic wave, each song adds atmosphere to scenes that drip with authenticity due to stellar acting.

Road 96 is a bold step forward in the world of narrative-based video games. The structure of the clip style perfectly intertwines a diverse cast, creating an incredible journey through the authoritarian world. Although there are performance issues, this experience is like no other and necessary for fans of story-based games.

Good:

• An intriguing story
• Interesting cast
• Well conducted mini games

Bad:

• Decrease in frame rate
• Low resolution textures
• Pop-ups

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Source: ITNetwork by www.itnetwork.rs.

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