Road 96 is described as a “unique, 90s inspired road trip narratively driven adventure”, citing the inspiration of Tarentino and the Cohen Brothers, Digixart askes the question “How far will you go for freedom?”.
Road 96 sets you up with a tried and tested narrative of hitchhiking across the nation of Petria, crossing the border and escaping the oppressive nation, easier said than done when you don’t have thousands of miles to cover, civil unrest and some of the craziest cast around to deal with!.
Road 96 is most similar to titles like the Telltale adventure games, you’ll make choices and say things to people which change outcomes only the developers have made it a little more engaging with some survival aspects along with QTE sections and “dice roll” elements which can have huge effects on your tale.
Just because the end goal is to get yourself over the border while interacting with the cast doesn’t mean that’s always going to happen, this is what drew me towards the title initially, it’s an adventure where you can fail so it feels more involved with the risk, love the concept and it created a level of tension and weight with my actions.
Throughout your tale you can meet several of crazy cast that support the narrative, all of whom have different motives and scenarios that you can interject with as much or as little as you like, for example my first run-through started with on the side car of 2 bikers who wanted to stop an assassination plot and it involved me having to weave with them in and out of traffic to catch up to another character I had the misfortune of running into further into my adventure.
Once your time with that story segment you get the choice to stay on with them and learn more or go your own way opening the narrative up further and meeting new characters, permitting you have the energy which is used making choices like these but can be redeemed with events such as sleeping or finding food to eat, again morality comes into play as you can steal food or solve puzzles to get access to funds or collectables which are strewn around the world.
The game tackles a lot of subjects from mental health to government and does it in a way that Tarentino would be proud, heck there is some downright strange here that would even make a certain Mr Lynch blush, what I really enjoyed was just how endearing the characters were, even the more dangerous unhinged ones screamed at me to be discovered further.
So the story and dialogue is very hard to knock, the gameplay loop is also fantastic and you can unlock extra abilities throughout each playthrough than can drastically change your next one which is fantastic, sadly we have to talk about the Switch performance of the game and this is where it gets a little sour.
Graphically it borders along being acceptable for a PlayStation 1 throw back and just being outright bad, the scenery is quite barren at the best of times but items will pop in and textures can be quite blurred and unpleasant, sadly the characters are also affected as several times I noticed the character models not only animating strangely but also mouths stopped moving on them if I had stepped back a little bit, saying that they weren’t exactly in sync when I was near to start with.
The performance here is sadly just as rough, longish loading times are married with wildly inconsistent frame rates and even stuttering and brief crashes means that while the game narrative is strong, Switch is likely the worst way to experience it to the point it’s almost off putting.
I love Road 96 but I hate how it is on Nintendo Switch, hopefully a patch can smooth some of the rough edges as there is a genuine fun narrative and gameplay experience to be had here, while not the worst quirky adventure I’ve endured on the console the performance is going to be what sticks more than some of the better segments of the game.
A stellar experience dragged down more than it should with some of the roughest performance issues on the console.
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Straight from the streets of SouthTown, all Dunks Powah'd and ready to Bust A Wolf. Catch me on Twitch/YouTube.