Road 96: Mile 0 | Interview with creative director, Yoan Fanise

by on April 6, 2023

Road 96: Mile 0, the prequel to the much-loved narrative adventure Road 96, is out now. It’s a fantastic follow-up that not only helps to flesh out the world and give us a background to Zoe and other key characters, it tells an equally compelling story about fascism and the lengths people will go to to fight for change. To celebrate the release, we were fortunate enough to interview Yoan Fanise, the creative director of Road 96: Mile 0. We asked about the reasons for focusing on a prequel, the brand new musical rhythm minigames, its incredible soundtrack, and more.

Was it an easy choice to return to the character of Zoe for the prequel?

We discovered that many fans really resonated with Zoe in Road 96. Her charisma and personality seems to have struck a chord with players and we knew she had become a fan favorite. It made sense for us to explore in more detail the reasons Zoe left her luxurious life. It was one of the big mysteries of Road 96 and we wanted to give players more background on her life. 

Why did you choose to focus on the events before rather than after?

In Road 96 we put our characters on the road, and many players asked us where they come and what their life was like in the past. We realised there was an appetite for how our characters got to where they were, rather than where they were heading. Sometimes the past intrigues us more than the future.

What was the thought process in adding the musical/rhythm sections to Road 96: Mile 0?

Although we included minigames, we wanted to include a novel way of depicting the strong emotions and dilemmas of Zoe and Kaito. Each ride is unique and the design team did a wonderful job in bringing out the interiority of Zoe and Kaito in these quirky and fun musical moments in the game. We also wanted to add a layer of replayability for players who like a challenge, hence the scoring aspects we implemented.

How did you go about compiling the soundtrack to the game?

Similar to Road 96, we wanted to find music which complemented the characters, moments and settings of the game. We tried many placeholder tracks, but The Offspring and The Midnight, for example, were a perfect match for us because their sound taps into that 90s nostalgic mood the game invokes. It also mesmerizing for me because I grew up with this music, and we’ve seen many curious comments asking us about the musical choices we implemented. It’s great that music from my time is resonating with younger players!

Do you have any particular favourite moments from the game at all?

There is one ending in a particular (the saddest one) that always gets me emotional. Even if I replay it, it always touches something deep in my memories.

Did you find any inspirations from other titles when making Road 96: Mile 0?

In terms of thematic inspiration, I’d say the Korean movie “Parasite” from Bong Joon Ha. I love how it starts as a delightful and very funny story that transitions into something extremely serious towards the end. In terms of gameplay, I’d say “Sayonara” was a major reference due to its masterclass in animation and musical symbiosis!

Would you consider making any more games in the series? I would love to see more from John!

We’re always considering these sorts of things, but the team at the studio are foremostly focused on innovation first. There are always stories to tell in the Road 96 universe, but the way those stories are presented to our audience is crucial. This is the reason we added new gameplay elements in Mile 0.

The balance between humour and emotional moments is carefully balanced. Was this something important to you and the team?

This was a crucial element for us at DigixArt. We love diving into serious subjects, but it’s equally as important for us to add elements of humor and fun. There is no culture in the world that is unfamiliar with humor and it helps us to communicate many things (including serious topics) in an informal and human way that is relatable to all. This is what we aimed to achieve and we hope players find this balance enjoyable.

If you enjoyed our interview, you can play Road 96: Mile 0 right now on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

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