LifeIsXbox’s Road 96: Mile 0 review | Road 96 was a title many people recommended me to play, because they knew my videogame preferences and how this would be something I’d really enjoy, but somehow I kept postponing the playthrough, even when it hit Xbox Game Pass. But when a review opportunity came up to cover Mile 0, the prequel, I wanted to go in with as much info as possible so I could understand all the intended foreshadowing that would be sure to be present in the game.
I wasn’t prepared for the shift in gameplay, however. While both games are narrative adventures, with Road 96 even having multiple branching choices that have an impact on various outcomes, Mile 0 adds some rhythmic skating gameplay to the mix. And if you know me, you’ll remember how much I love rhythm games or games that use music to elevate the title to the next level.
I should have known by checking DigixArt’s previous titles though, as they also made Lost in Harmony, another rhythm game that tells an emotional story, and it’s even the prequel to this game because Kaito plays a major role and they even manage to put the blame on his friend’s death to cancer on what happens in Mile 0. It’s lovely to see them building their own universe around these games!
But let’s grab our wheels and hit the road, we’ve got a review to write!
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on Twitter!
What we Liked!
- Rhythm gameplay | Telling the story through exaggerated musical levels is a stroke of brilliance, something DigixArt is continuing from their Lost in Harmony title which mainly used classical music (license-free!) to accomplish that goal. You’ll grind rails, jump over obstacles and try to accumulate as big a score as possible while collecting all the diamond-shaped icons on your path. It’s fun, but takes some trial and error to get right. The main game keeps to realistic situations, but the musical rides are more like fever-dreams of said scenarios, which giant bodyguards chasing you around and the titanic dictator trying to squash you like a bug.
- Minigames | I like how both Road 96 and Mile 0 include some minigames like pong or four-in-a-row to give you something else to do and break the tension of the heavy topics the narrative covers.
- The Offspring | I wasn’t the biggest fan of the musical selection but I think that’s because the game set itself up to fail by debuting with their best ones. The second ride in the game happens to The Offspring’s No Brakes and my mind was BLOWN, because I had no idea this was in the game and Americana, the album where this song is on, is one of my all-time favourite CD’s. I was ecstatic about this and immediately told all my friends about it, but sadly it was the only licensed popular song in the game and it had now created some expectations.
- Zoe | We get to play as Zoe, which was the most interesting character from the original game and we learn why she even wants to leave her country in the first place. With her father being the minister of oil, she can have anything she wishes for, except freedom.
- The foreshadowing | Choosing to play Road 96 before diving into Mile 0 proved to be a wise decision. The latter game is filled with subtle references and nods that reward players who are familiar with the events of Road 96. Spotting the cameo appearance of Jarod, the taxi-driver-turned-hitman, or encountering early appearances of significant characters adds a sense of satisfaction and cleverness to the overall experience. Road 96 takes off right where Mile 0 leaves you, but you still get to decide the outcome a little by making some choices along the way.
- Walking Around | A big part of the game is still the narrative adventure aspect of it, and you’ll get to walk around Petria’s White Sands in first person, to discover how big a gap there is between the upper and lower-class citizens and exactly why everyone hates the dictator running the place. You get to learn a lot about the country’s past that was still a mystery in the previous title and playing them back to back definitely made me more motivated to find all the little secrets.
- Visual Design | The visual experience in Road 96 Mile 0 showcases a noticeable contrast between the narrative exploration and the mesmerizing, almost hallucinatory musical levels. While the aesthetics in the narrative exploration aspect play it safe and lack innovation, the musical levels truly shine with their creative and imaginative designs. The level designers demonstrate a remarkable sense of taste in crafting these captivating musical sequences. However, it is unfortunate that the same level of attention to detail is not reflected in the close-up visuals of the characters, particularly Kaito,
- The story | Unlike the story in Road 96, Mile 0 is more linear and predictable. You play a Zoe (from the first game, but before she left on her road trip) and Kaito (for whom this is the sequel to his own game: Lost in Harmony). Both teens come from a different background but they are equally unhappy with the world they’re living in. I could relate to both of them, but by the end they had trouble understanding each other and that was frustrating to me as I was trying to keep them as best friends throughout. It felt like my choices did not have the desired outcome and at the same time, it felt risk-free versus the possible death if your characters in Road 96. I could appreciate all the back-story, but without having played Road 96 before this, I feel like I would have appreciated the narrative even less.
- Collecting | Similar to Road 96, collectibles in this game come in the form of tapes. However, unlike its predecessor, there is no indication of which tapes have been missed, and they are scattered randomly throughout the game world. This necessitates rummaging through trash cans and relying on luck to find them. Additionally, stickers and spray cans can also be collected, but the absence of a chapter select feature after completing the game can be frustrating, as it makes missable collectibles a source of annoyance rather than enjoyment
- Vandalism | Next to your storyline choices, you get to express yourself through vandalizing posters, or doing the opposite and fixing them when they are crooked. You can leave trash on the floor, or you can leave graffiti on empty walls to share your discontent, but in the end, it’s just a minor push towards one end of the motivation meter for each character, and it started feeling like busy work really fast.
What we Disliked
- Replayability | Much like Road 96 before it, Mile 0 has different endings depending on your choices, but the branching is much more moderate here. The problem I had with the replayability is how it forces you to start over from scratch for the main campaign, which can be annoying if you’re only going for some final collectable achievements. And while you can replay the rides (musical levels) from the main menu, it doesn’t cut out the cinematics or the story choice moments, which can become a drag after a few failed attempts where you’re just trying to improve your score.
- Accuracy | Achieving an S+ rank on all songs in order to obtain the final achievement in Road 96 Mile 0 requires more than just quick reflexes. Memorizing the levels becomes essential, as relying solely on reactive speed won’t be sufficient. Despite being on skates, the character’s movement speed feels relatively sluggish, necessitating careful planning and anticipation to navigate sharp curves and internalise the timing of jumps. However, I must admit that certain sections felt excessively challenging and, in my opinion, even unfair
- Bugs | One major drawback I encountered in the final ride of Road 96 Mile 0 was a persistent bug where the character would continuously auto-jump after reaching a specific point. Despite attempting to resolve the issue by restarting the console, the problem persisted, forcing me to rely on the “Skip scene” option after multiple failed attempts. Regrettably, this occurrence significantly dampened my overall experience, leaving me with a less-than-satisfying conclusion. Although I appreciated the ability to replay the song from the main menu without any problems, the lingering disappointment remained.
How long to beat the story | 5 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | ~6 hours if you get everything on the first run, otherwise 10-12 hours.
You’ll love this game if you like these | Road 96, Lost in Harmony, Beacon Pines
Road 96: Mile 0 takes a bold detour, blending rhythm gameplay and smart storytelling, but it left me with mixed emotions.
I’m happy to have gotten more insights in the backstory, but it only ended up answering questions I didn’t really need answers to.
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Robby lives and breathes video games. When he’s not playing them, he’s talking about them on social media or convincing other people to pick up a controller themselves. He’s online so often, he could practically list the internet as his legal domicile. Belgian games-industry know-it-all.