Road 96: Mile 0 Review

Road 96: Mile 0 is a story-driven rhythm game played through the perspective of two characters. It also serves as a prequel to Road 96, which picks up right where this game ends.

I didn’t play Road 96, so Mile 0 is my entry point into this franchise, but being a newcomer to the story allows me to see how well this title can stand on its own without the help of its predecessor.

Our protagonist is Zoe, the daughter of an important oil minister in the town of White Sands, and our deuteragonist is her best friend, Kaito, an immigrant from Colton City.

The game is divided between two segments: stylized music sections, which are meant to give a better glimpse into the character’s feelings, and exploration sections, which let you wander around White Sands and talk to all of its residents.

Road 96: Mile 0
Publisher: DigiXart
Developer: DigiXart, Ravenscourt
Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Microsoft Windows (reviewed)
Release Date: April 4th, 2023
Players: 1 
Price: Not announced yet

The game starts with Kaito dreaming about his deceased friend, which he believes contracted cancer because of Colton City’s increasing levels of pollution. The only glimpse we get of Colton City is during a musical section, and it looks like it belongs in a Fallout game.

However, those sections are heavily stylized and we don’t know how reliable of a narrator Kaito actually is. Our first musical section starts with a simple beat that eventually turns into a really fun rendition of Bella Ciao, ending with Zoe blasting a trumpet into Kaito’s eardrums.

The game’s music sections start out really well, but take a dip in quality near the end of the first act. Music is completely subjective, and you may love the songs I disliked, but the soundtrack feels front-loaded.

The soundtrack starts with songs by The Offspring and The Midnight, but eventually trickles down to songs made by local artists, which feel boring when compared to the first half of the playlist. That said, Arslan Elbar is a name I kept seeing pop up in the tracks I enjoyed, so props to his music for standing out near songs made by established artists.

The musical segments are visually striking, but lacking in terms of gameplay, in fact, calling Road 96: Mile 0 a rhythm game is a stretch. It’s more like an infinite runner that happens to have a song playing in the background, since it doesn’t feel like you are doing anything on beat.

The exploration sections usually feature some activity to keep things fresh, be it playing connect four with Zoe or a newspaper delivery rail shooter section, it’s nothing groundbreaking, but they do help with diversity.

The fictional country of Petria is about to undergo an election, which may end with Tyrak in power for ten years. Tyrak is essentially a dictator, you can find his face in every surface that a poster can be glued to, he believes in hardcore surveillance and an oppressive regime.

The town of White Sands also places a distinction between workers and citizens, the citizens are never seen struggling, and take up positions of police officers, security guards, reporters and anything else that may further Tyrak’s reach, while the immigrants do all of the menial jobs, and get treated with disdain by everyone else.

Playing Road 96: Mile 0 was a really frustrating experience, because the game’s tone and plot are constantly at odds with each other. Kaito and Zoe pull pranks, steal batteries, dive into dumpsters, and vandalize posters, but the narrative never holds them accountable regardless of how much the player rebels. This also ties into an issue I have with the game’s pacing, I played through a five-hour story, but I feel like nothing significant happened until I was about 80% done.

Kaito and Zoe steal secret government files that would reveal the government was behind a massive terrorist attack, which was pinned on a group called the Black Brigade. Kaito convinces Zoe to run away from the country with him, but instead takes the files and attempts to exchange them with the Black Brigade for IDs so him and his parents can cross the border. This sounds huge, but it all happens like one hour before the game ends, with very few significant events before. The game meanders around for so long that it forgets a story needs to happen.

The main characters are pretty stereotypical versions of teenagers written by adults, the game constantly goes from wanting you to think that they are complex and have complicated emotions to them cracking jokes about interior design while stealing government files.

The weight of Kaito’s parents possibly facing life in jail due to their involvement with the Black Brigade almost feels like an afterthought. The game doesn’t really take a moment to reflect on what just happened, even when Kaito’s home is ransacked by the police, his parents are almost arrested, and he gets knocked out by a police officer.

Kaito and Zoe’s relationship is sweet, but Kaito’s dialogue never comes across as authentic. I can’t really pinpoint if it’s his voice actor or the script at fault, but this leads to the character never feeling sincere.

The character in general goes from mopey to overly enthusiastic at the drop of a hat. The game needs him to be sad for story reasons, but at the same time doesn’t want him to be annoying, so he ends up switching every other scene.

Both Kaito and Zoe can be played in different ways, Zoe can either sympathize with Kaito’s goals of leaving the country, or she can dismiss his stories about Colton City and choose to stay home, while Kaito can choose between doubting the Black Brigade or becoming a revolutionary.

These opinions are influenced by dialogue choices and actions, like either vandalizing or fixing posters found throughout the game. My playthrough had Zoe believing Kaito as much as possible, and Kaito doubting the Black Brigade as much as he could.

The choice to play Kaito like this is nonsensical, by the way. Kaito and his family are treated like second-class citizens, and the people of White Sand make a point to treat the workers as badly as possible. Kaito is also sure that the government is behind the terrorist attacks, so he at least knows that the Black Brigade is innocent.

Thankfully, your choices don’t really seem to matter, because the ending that I got was very uncharacteristic for how I played both Kaito and Zoe.

I’ll keep it vague because I don’t want to spoil the ending, but my conclusion didn’t feel satisfying at all, and as far as I know, Kaito doesn’t show up later in the timeline, which makes the ending I got even worse.

As a prequel, Road 96: Mile 0 manages to stand on its own, but it can’t do anything interesting because a whole story is supposed to take place after it. Road 96: Mile 0 manages to fall for every trap that a story-driven game can fall.

The way I played both characters felt completely irrelevant to the story, the plot meandered for 80% of the game before going anywhere. Also, you can clearly see where the real choices are placed amidst the unimportant ones.

Zoe’s story has to be kept open because it needs to happen on another game, which could at least lead to Kaito getting a satisfactory ending, but the one I got was somehow even more open than Zoe’s, despite the fact that he never shows up again.

There are seemingly no chapter selection options after beating the game, so anyone who wants to see the other endings better be prepared for pretty much a full playthrough every time.

Road 96: Mile 0 just felt like a waste of time, I got attached to these characters only to be left without a conclusion. There may be something in here for fans of Road 96, but I can’t say I would recommend it on its own.

Road 96: Mile 0 was reviewed on Microsoft Windows using a game code provided by DigiXart, You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Road 96: Mile 0 is available now for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/ S and Microsoft Windows (through Steam).

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The Verdict: 5.5

The Good

  • Zoe and Kaito have a really fun dynamic, despite the story issues
  • The exploration segments always have a different activity to keep things fresh

The Bad

  • It feels like the game meanders for too long, and then has to move the plot in a hurry
  • The musical levels decay in quality after chapter one
  • I don't feel like my choices mattered in relation to the game's ending
  • Lack of accessibility when it comes to multiple playthroughs


Fan of Skeletons, Plays too many Video-Games, MMO Addict, Soulslike and Character Action enthusiast.

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