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16 Apr 2022

REVIEW: Road 96 on PlayStation 5

Review by Jon Donnis
You know what gamers have been clamouring for? A political game! Yay. (Said no one ever.)

Road 96 has you playing as a teenage trying to cross the border in the summer of 1996, playing in a similar way to the Telltale Games, adventure/point and click narrative driven adventure that is told from a first-person perspective etc, you need to basically take a journey, a road trip, as you make the journey you encounter various characters along the way, each character has a set of problems you need to follow their story, you have a completion percentage, so repeat plays will allow you to experience all parts of their story to reach 100%.

The game takes play in Petria, (which you are trying to escape) an authoritarian regime on the brink of real political change, and decisions you make will affect the outcome of the game, and with your ultimate aim to reach the border, your decisions will affect how or if you get there.

There are seven main characters to encounter, and the "events" that take place might just be a simple conversation, to breaking in to a building or searching a hotel for terrorists. The game itself is short, but by completing events you will unlock abilities which you can then use in new playthroughs by choosing "New Game +" should you decide to start again. So that might be new dialog choices, or things you can interact with. It does help the replayability factor, which is a necessity because the game is so short.

The first event that you find in the first episode is to help a stranded cop, they have lost a relative in the war, speak to them, and then decide how you will proceed, will you hitchhike but risk getting into a car of a stranger, whose motives you do not know, but will save you money, will you get on a bus, which costs a lot, but gives you the safety that hitchhiking does not? Whichever you choose, your choice will decide what you see next, who you will meet, what skills and abilities you might develop, as you get closer to the border. For example, the lockpick skill. Skills become permanent, so on your next playthrough, you might be able to use that lockpick skill to get inside a truck that is going to the border.

Think of the game as a short tree but with a lot of branches, and each time you play, you can access more of the branches.

The Good
The game plays well, it is easy to control, and if you are a fan of the Telltale style games, then you should find enjoyment in this.

The Bad
The voice acting is pretty naff in parts, and the political aspects of the game, are clearly coming from a left-wing perspective. Basically, Left Wing Good, Right Wing Bad. Do we really need this in video games, and considering the disaster Presidency of LEFT-WING authoritarians in Canada and the US right now, the game seems to be yet more propaganda, to get people to think a certain way, instead of just letting people see both sides in a fair manner, and then making their own minds up.

As a basic Telltale style game, it is decent enough, the political aspects are a bit hit and miss, and the voice acting is poor.
If you are a lefty liberal type, you will probably enjoy the game more than if you are an independent or more right wing.

I score Road 96 a 6/10

Out now on PS5

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