When Digixart and Ravenscourt announced they were doing a follow-up to Road 96, we were instantly excited to play it. After all, the studio behind games like Lost in Harmony and 11-11 Memories Retold previously delighted us with Road 96 – a somewhat Life Is Strange-like road trip adventure. The game is out for all major systems, and we tested the PlayStation version to see if Road 96: Mile 0 lives up the previous game.
As you’d expect from the title, Mile 0 isn’t a direct sequel, and is structured more along the lines of giving players a backstory for the two main characters of the first game. While both games share characters, a similar tone and a focus on politics and social issues, Road 96: Mile 0 lacks some of the gameplay elements of the original.
The story of Mile 0 follows two teenagers, Zoe and Kaito, who are diametrically opposed but good friends. Zoe is the daughter of a government minister, while Kaito lives in the poorest part of the city and struggles to survive under the oppressive government. As the player takes control of their decisions, these unlikely friends become caught up in a narrative that ultimately sets the scene for the events in Road 96. And while that sounds logical enough, it also feels a bit restrictive, and knowing where you’ll end up implies there’s less narrative freedom than there was before.
While the narrative tries to focus on a potential conflict between the two characters, the lack of wiggle room makes for more of an emphasis on a political message – which because of a lack of subtlety is less thought-provoking in Mile 0. The game uses on-screen symbols to indicate which way each character leans politically, and you can affect this by making decisions that shift the balance of those scales. It’s a rather clinical way of doing this though – like you’re moving a bunch of sliders back and forth, and it would have been nice to have more of a sense that you’re taking a chance on a response.
Mile 0 is a linear game, with a clear direction that drives the story forward. And while players can choose where to go, the decisions that significantly impact the course of the story are far and few between. Surprisingly enough there are multiple paths to explore, but the amount of replay value feels more limited than it did in the first game. With about five hours of gameplay, however, returning fans will certainly enjoy diving into the backstory of Zoe and Kaito – though they probably would have been happy to explore it as a DLC adventure as well. Maybe not as impactful as Road 96, but essential for those who enjoyed it nonetheless.