Road 96, 2021’s procedural road trip sim, is getting a prequel. Road 96: Mile 0 takes place a little bit before the politically tumultuous times of the first game, putting you in the shoes of a pair of teenage protagonists from opposite sides of the tracks. You’ll play Zoe and Kaito—characters from the original Road 96 and Lost in Harmony (opens in new tab), another of the developer’s games, respectively—as they roam the “luxurious condominium” of White Sands, where Kaito’s parents work and where Zoe fits right in.
Mile 0 promises to detail the events that led Zoe to flee her home and embark on the first game’s road trip over the course of “a story about conflict and difference of opinion between two friends”. In a departure from the original, though, it’ll also harken back to Kaito’s home game of Lost in Harmony with psychedelic musical interludes that see you weaving and dodging your way down curvy, neon-lit melodic roadways.
The first Road 96 was an involving story of teens on the run from an oppressive authoritarian regime, hitchhiking across the fictional nation of Petria on a journey that varied heavily depending on the choices you made, and which used elements of procedural generation to differentiate playthroughs even further. When Rachel Watts checked out its Steam Next Fest demo for PCG back in 2021, she praised it for hitting “the sweet spot in road trip stories where it feels wonderful to be traveling and meeting people, but you also have to manage the tension of trying to survive”.
Hopefully, Mile 0 will hit those same highs, and I get some pretty big Life Is Strange vibes from the way the game’s trailers and descriptions have gone so far. “These teens are dreamers and they are going to learn where they belong,” reads the blurb on Steam, “Will they remain friends?” I suspect the answer is ‘no’ and I also suspect I am going to be very sad about it.