[ExI] Games Are Reimagining the Road Trip for a Modern Era

John Grigg possiblepaths2050 at gmail.com
Fri Jun 11 14:31:38 UTC 2021

*"Road 96* promises the thrill of the open road and the unexpected. Maybe
freedom. Maybe death. Plenty in between. The walking, driving, and
hitchhiking adventure from French studio DigixArt, coming later this year,
taps into the spirit of classic road movies, from *Easy Rider* to *Thelma
and Louise*, where encounters with the outside world are strange,
life-changing, and potentially fatal.

“The road trip structure was the perfect canvas for us to feel the random
nature of traveling on your own,” says Yoan Fanise, *Road 96’s* creative
director. “When you travel as a backpacker you don’t know who you're going
to meet, what’s going to happen, good or bad. That’s the essence of a road
trip, and of life.”

This confrontation with the unknown is just one way that games are proving
to be ideal hosts for the road trip genre. What unites road movies and
novels, serious or comic, is how they bring the social background into
focus, shining a light on cultural tensions and marginalization, all while
their characters reconnect with each other, and themselves. A recent crop
of road games are doing all this in a way that feels especially pertinent
to our times.

*Road 96* isn’t just about adventure. Set in a dystopian land that blends
’90s Arizona with Soviet totalitarianism, you play a teenager fleeing to
the border, by any means available. Fanise explains that the political
aspects of the game have only become more relevant during development. “We
started writing this story three years ago,” he says, “mostly inspired by
1989 iron curtain history and the struggles of countries like Venezuela or
North Korea. But recently we were shocked by the similarity of real events
that happened in ‘modern democracies’ such as the USA.

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