Road 96: Mile 0 | Tried – A world within reach of everything

Road 96: Mile 0 | Tried – A world within reach of everything

Road 96

The journey, according to some, is worth living despite what it really offers. It doesn't matter who you live it with, why and how come you leave without looking around, it's just a path, the same one that anyone takes to free their mind. Sometimes they are experiences, on other occasions unexpected special encounters, the birth of new loves and, above all, the beginning of something that goes far beyond the stars and the stars. Road 96, developed by the French team DigixArt , was a video game that spoke not only of a stage that starts from a remote place dominated by obscurantism and the arrogance of an ignoble dictatorship, but it is the journey that tells what is there along the path and what is actually worth living and knowing together with someone.

It can be anyone, because life is like this: unpredictable and mocking, and one has no qualms about telling oneself in a hilarious and wild way. And those who live wildly, wearing the same crumpled shoes, need nothing more than a road to follow. “Of all the poets and madmen we met on the street I kept a face or a name, a tear and a few laughs”, sing the Modena City Ramblers, a popular Italian band from the homonymous city in Emilia-Romagna. Eddie Vedder, at the same time, strummed the guitar intoning "Society", which appeared in the film Into the Wild, inspired by the story of Christopher Johnson McCandless, known under the pseudonym Alexander Supertramp, an American traveler famous for a self-portrait leaning against an abandoned hippie pickup truck .

Leaving for the unknown, not looking back and thinking of nothing else is the combination that makes every kind of experience in the world unique. On foot, on horseback, on a boat, on rollers or on a skate, the important thing is that you start with the awareness that, in addition to a universe made up of hopes and new acquaintances, there is someone, maybe just that self impossible to find in a single place . Road 96, however, spoke of a very different situation than just a journey to find oneself in the midst of a self-righteous society. It spoke of a ruthless dictatorship dominated by corrupt tabloids and by a large swath of the population completely dominated by the power of a single man who rules Petria decisively and ruthlessly, a country that might remind some of the desert areas of Nevada and the gas stations of the California, which lives totally at the mercy of contempt and fear, controlled by a sneaky and calculating power.

Some young people stay and others flee towards the border, hoping to find beyond it a new life that can give them some peace of mind. Someone makes it, someone else doesn't: it's not life, but it's the ruthlessness of Petria, of a world so that anyone who grasps the weight of the journey in the heart of those who flee their home, embracing the unknown, defeat and love, conquest and peace. The main reference, reinforced by a context that speaks to the heart of today's reality, was proposed by Yoan Fanise in a decisive and significant way, in an inspiration that goes beyond the journey, embracing a life story that passes through the choices of those who lives and faces the bad weather.

The world is stormy, full of dangers, littered with sharp blades ready to shred and vibrate in the wind. We lived it in the eyes of the anonymous protagonists of the Road 96 experience, and I lived it in the last few days with Zoe and Kaito, her best friend. My new journey, in fact, led me to participate in a private event dedicated to the press which showed the highly anticipated Road 96: Mile 0 , a prequel to the chapter published in 2021, a work intended to talk about the previous events of the plot being told in the past by Yoan Fanise.As I mentioned before, life is made up of special and unexpected encounters, and what I experienced together with the creator of Valiant Hearts and 11-11: Memories Retold can certainly be among them. Whatever the reason you travel, as Alex Garland wrote in "The Last Beach", you do it to find a part of yourself. Why look for Heaven, on certain occasions, just look inside. You can commit a misstep, because it is inevitable, but that attempt remains impassive.

It is the same committed by Zoe in Road 96 to escape from a life that did not belong to her. There is the past, however, and one cannot escape from it. Road 96: Mile 0, in fact, is that kaleidoscope necessary to better understand one of the most iconic figures of the work developed by DigixArt. Every story has a beginning, especially if it's not obvious at all.

“One morning I woke up” …

According to the Italian language dictionary, awareness is the ability to intuit, perceive, recognize and name reality. In the case of Road 96: Mile 0 the sentiment can only be different from the classic shirts of constraint and pretentiousness, typical characteristics of any form of dictatorship. It is 1996 in White Sands, the ultra-modern capital of Petria, a place dominated by statues of President Tyrak, who dominates the country with an iron fist with impunity, convincing people that there is nothing more important than a government than him. It is necessary, someone says. It's the right choice, says someone else. It can save us from corruption, says those who depend directly on the President and his desires, and omits the brutalities committed by the latter, including the countless disappearances of people who have tried to escape from Petria, with the hope of a better future away from his obscurantism .

The story, in fact, focuses on the period prior to the summer of Zoe's journey and of the various protagonists played by the player who tried to escape towards the border. The prelude of the demo, which quickly talks about the disaster that occurred in '86, focuses on Zoe Muller and Kaito, a boy skilled with the skate who delivers newspapers to scrape together something for his parents, poor inhabitants of the capital who, unlike the protagonist, live in misery in a place inhabited by disreputable people. Zoe Muller is instead the daughter of the Minister of Oil, a rich tycoon who lives in the most high-ranking district of the city, protected by a glass ampoule that does not allow him to see what is beyond his nose and the same certainties of him . A meeting of this kind, especially in a similar context, would embarrass anyone.

In addition to giving a brief but fundamental smattering of the protagonists, the brutal cross-section dedicated to the two protagonists speaks decisively of what is happening at the within the country, with a substantial difference between poor and rich which is starting to become important above all for young people, who are beginning to take an interest in the world and the possibilities of life elsewhere. Such a thing, however, goes against the ideas of the current regime, which focuses on patriotism and a radical form of autarky and absolute power, in which few can exercise their ideas and be truly free. Even though I tried three sections of the game, which I talk about below, I still caught every subliminal message of the experience and the narrative power of a game that, in addition to embracing a more mature and complete approach, o ffs a better view of the product .

A visual that I perceived in a direct and profound way, and that brought my mind to my past experience with Road 96. In fact, I feared that this prequel, failing to maintain the same narrative level, it would have lost its iconic and enthralling atmosphere. Although it was only a small taste, I admit that I pre-tasted each section carefully, capturing every facet. I have deepened, precisely, the friendship between Zoe and Kaito, two young people who find themselves living in a country that is aging and does not offer opportunities to teenagers and the new generations. By studying and interfacing with the world, they learn to love, to listen to different music and to approach life with greater intensity, discovering ideas they never thought they would embrace.

Anyone, as a young person, has become aware of this to the point of changing his certainties about the world, having doubts about everything around him, especially about society. If in Road 96 we were certain that only a journey could solve every anxieties of the protagonists, in Road 96: Mile 0 there seems to be another type of approach, structured with even greater intensity and care.

Measured and engaging in propose a brief but fresh framework, it can only be explored in another place to dissect and deepen it to the fullest. Getting to know Zoe and Kaito better allowed me to visit their place of the heart where they take refuge to escape Petria's society and her hypocrisy. Although they have created a space where feeling free is not a fault, their dialogues in these first two and a half hours of the game focus on the city, the escape and the speeches of freedom carried on by Kaito, sure he can leave without looking back.

The Zoe that everyone knew in Road 96 in this prequel does not look the same, as she is frightened by the unknown that could suddenly make its way, ready to make its unbearable appearance and ruin the life plans that they seem written to her now. I can't say much else about it, except that the narrative depth, considering the premises, seems superior to its predecessor.

Among the streets of a city that never sleeps

White Sands, the most important town of Petria, it is the representation of the power of President Tyrak. There are squares with the flags of his party, graffiti depicting him triumphant and statues that soar into the sky caressing the clouds, as if to demonstrate that not even birds are really free to flutter where they want. Just like Road 96, this new chapter applies a first-person view where you can move your character anywhere you want, interacting with objects and talking to people, looking up with the right wheel on the pad to select the indicated answer. Every action, just like in the past, will correspond to a consequence, which will inevitably affect morality, indicated by a bar at the top at the side of the screen.

Afterwards, I explored the three available areas, each connected to the refuge, and within them I came across characters and missions that inevitably reminded me of the previous chapter. For example, I opened a window and stole batteries, playing heavy metal music, replacing a tape. Due to this event, to escape the Blue Overalls, the game turned into a three-dimensional adventure in which I avoided obstacles by moving around with Zoe's roller skates and Kaito's skateboard, trying to get to the goal as quickly as possible to ensure a positive evaluation . Although I tried, it wasn't easy, as you need to be quick and lightning fast. Each area offers an exploration of a simple approach that needs to be explored better in the future, so as to better understand each side of the game structure. What I experienced, considering the two hours in his company, confirm greater care with regard to the play structure, better and designed precisely to make the experience fluid. The rhythm, better condensed, passes from exploratory, narrative and actual gameplay parts quickly, never boring.

Although it is only a small portion of DigixArt's new work, I am satisfied with what I have tried, and I can't wait to discover more of its sides. Furthermore, in the main menu it is possible to check the progress made and the various routes, thus allowing the player to replay the sequences on board the skateboard or on the rollers. The production, as previously mentioned, highlights the relationship between Zoe and Kaito, building around them a considerable depth in terms of interpersonal relationship, also strengthened by the dialogues during the excited moments, especially during these races on steep and dangerous tracks , capable of endangering his inability to stand on a skate.

It all went quickly, perhaps too much, and I would have liked to spend more time in the company of the two boys just to better understand the playful depth and its many alternatives. Certainly, the game structure appears decidedly improved compared to the past, especially in the light of the game design, which is improved and multifaceted, adjusted to also offer itself to new players in addition to the classic enthusiasts. In this sense, the work does not give up its genre, embracing it and perfecting that winning narrative side that made its predecessor famous.

What to expect from Road 96: Mile 0?

I admit it, having had the opportunity to preview Road 96: Mile 0 was wonderful and unexpected, but I should have expected it. For some years now, Yoan Fanise has proven to be an excellent creator and game designer, managing to amalgamate his ideas and the themes he intends to tell with intelligence and tact. Such a result is complex to achieve, especially if I reflect on the many works published by the French developer in the last eight years, and each of them has always had great success.

Road 96: Mile 0, in fact, is envisions as a work that intends to tell the particularities of life in every way, speaking to the hearts of the players about freedom, love and acceptance. A noble purpose, a purpose that we notice in Zoe and Kaito in their ups and downs, both projected to discover all of them the human sides they don't know yet and visiting places of their minds that are still completely unexplored. Sometimes a trip is enough, on other occasions a sudden escape who knows where and often, however, it is necessary to think and understand how to improve, not looking back but only ahead, ready to truly experience significant adventures. A new journey begins .

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