I recently played the preview build of Road 96 by developer and publisher Digixart and was pleasantly surprised by the possibilities this multi-choice adventure had to offer. You play as the driver and hitchhiker in the authoritative land of Petria, attempting to make your way across the border to freedom. Each run is randomly generated from the character you play and the order of passengers or drivers you encounter.
The gameplay in Road 96 consists of multiple dialogue options and a decent amount of moral dilemmas with each character you encounter. The game encourages you to play through several runs, with each varying widely from one another. In addition, characters you meet can form new dialogues to set you on a course vastly different from the one you experienced previously.
Additionally, each run begins by asking you a couple of questions to shape your character and your potential skills. Skills can be used to give you additional dialogue options when speaking with NPCs. These skills are specific to different personality types, so it would seem that it would benefit you to keep in character to best uncover and utilize new paths.
Runs can end very quickly if you play your cards wrong, but some of the skills you built up to look like they may play a larger part in the full release. NPCs are also displayed before and after each run showing you the percentage of dialogue you’ve unlocked with them. It’s hard to tell at this point how often these characters may appear or if they reappear during a single run, but there seems to be a lot to explore.
I haven’t encountered some characters on the main menu, which left me wondering how deep this adventure goes with the multiple paths. While Road 96 does say literally every run will be different, some of the changes might be small enough to meet those criteria without being too wildly different once you do enough runs.
The themes are highly influenced by various political events. How your player responds to them makes a significant deviation through the plot. On the surface, some of these allegories seem to be a little on the nose, but after a couple of runs, I could see how there may be more nuances brought to the themes than the little shown in this preview.
Additionally, anyone concerned with a singular political perspective can look forward to playing a character supporting a different ideology than another. Therefore, the initial questions that set up your character may also play into your character’s political motivations.
I was surprised to see little mini-games sprinkled in each playthrough. They were simple but offered a nice change of pace through the adventure. In addition, other interactive sections add a bit of variety to the gameplay with the inclusion of minor survival elements that may play a larger role in the full game.
Road 96 looks to provide some diverse and entertaining gameplay with a potential amount of replayability when it hits the highway this summer on PC-via Steam and Nintendo Switch.
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