Road 96 (PS5) Review | thrust square

Road 96 (PS5) Review |  thrust square
Road 96 (PS5) Review | thrust square 1

At the height of an intense US presidential election, Road 96 is as much about escape as it is about discovery. Procedurally generated scenarios dictate your goal of leaving the country by crossing its northern border, but the characters you meet along the way make those journeys fruitful. While the repetition is starting to creep in, Road 96 is a political ride worth taking.

The setup is as follows: teenagers from all over the country are trying to escape through the northern border, and you will be playing with as many of them throughout your game. With a life meter to manage and only a few dollars to your name, you must hitchhike there. The people who pick you up are consistent every run, and this is where the game tells its deepest stories. You’ll meet a cop struggling to maintain a relationship with her adopted son, two bandits chasing a proposed killer and then that apparent killer. There are many more faces to the story, but they all feed into the political battle at the heart of the title.

Dialogue options are your main mode of interaction, with other mini-games forming fun distractions along the way. Through cunning, knowledge, and some perks unlocked through progression, you’ll learn more about the characters and improve your chances of surviving the journey to the frontier. It may seem basic, but Road 96 remains interesting most of the time.

It’s in the back half that you’ll notice one or two repeated cutscenes and repetitive scenarios. There isn’t much gameplay, so you’ll quickly identify when you need to repeat an interaction. However, they try to further the subplots, and they make it worthwhile.

Aside from a small amount of pop-up texture, a very strong visual style makes Road 96 a delight to the eye. Eye-catching character art spells out facial features, while environments and background views look beautiful. With a great soundtrack to boot, the game has an incredibly strong style. When the characters you meet along the way are just as impactful in their conversations and their political and social beliefs, Road 96 manages to weave multiple stories through the lives of teenagers who just want to get away.

Road 96 (PS5) Review | thrust square 1

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