Road 96: Mile 0 is a prequel to Road 96 – which is helpful if you have not played the first (or even knew it existed, like me!). What’s not helpful however is the vast amount of craziness that you’re about to encounter, although thankfully this is a good thing as Mile 0 does a pretty good job of keeping you interested.
Set before Road 96, where several different teens are essentially fleeing to the border in many different ways, Mile 0 is more limited and follows two friends (one who is in Road 96). The plot is not limited though really, as branching dialogue trees and mini-game action events take you on a journey. Plot points talk about family members and societal unfairness, and then mini-games turn into a bit of a house flip simulator as you’ll decorate your home base, and do a lot of skating.
That’s right, skating. The core ‘gameplay’ element of Mile 0 is sweeping music-game, Thumper-style rhythm action moments. I wasn’t expecting this, and it works. Environments and worlds are formulated based on the mindset of the character at that point in time, but at the core, you are zipping through, ducking, jumping, and avoiding obstacles generally by switching lanes. It did make me feel a bit more like I’m playing an enhanced version of Temple Run than the aforementioned Thumper, but it was frequently enjoyable.
These skating moments break out for key moments, which can be a bit of a jolt vs. what you are doing with the character dialogue. Each choice you make drives a small meter in different directions, as it is linked to each of the main characters. This linking of conversation to decision to action (by way of the meter moving) adds a sense of weight towards each choice you make, and wondering if it’s the right one (there’s no real ‘good’ or ‘bad’ choice to make) but it does leave you a bit wondering if you’re going in the right direction.
Which I suppose is the point really, and the challenges that the characters are having to face in their lives. Are they going in the right direction? Sure, you can spruce up your house a bit, and do some cool skating and dodging about but are you really happy? Existential overload! The jolting between the two worlds of decision-making and music-action skating becomes ever more severe, a bit like if you crossed Life is Strange with Beat Saber. It’s a bit of a wake-up! Still, it doesn’t stop Road 96: Mile 0 being an interesting story with some fun elements to it, particularly (I imagine) if you have played the first game.