Road 96, a video game by DigixArt
Developed by the small Montpellier studio DigixArt, the video game Road 96, which lets you choose your own path through multiple narrative strands, was awarded several prizes at the 2022 Pégases awards.
From Ubisoft to the creation of DigixArt
Yoan Fanise, head of the DigixArt studio, first made his mark at Ubisoft, where he notably led the development of Valiant Hearts: The Great War, a historical video game released in 2014 to critical acclaim. Eager to work independently, he then set up the small Montpellier-based studio DigixArt. Following an initial game for mobile platforms (Lost in Harmony, 2014), the studio created its first narrative game, once again on the theme of the First World War: 11-11 Memories Retold (2018). Road 96, their most ambitious project to date, will mark a real turning point for them, both in terms of scale and critical reception.
A very political road trip
Road 96 is a 3D adventure video game that uses the technique of procedural generation, allowing elements to be combined randomly to create a new narrative experience. Set in the fictional dictatorship of Petria, the Montpellier studio's game allows us to play as different teenagers who try to leave the country by hitch-hiking. Without confining itself to a precise genre, Road 96 combines registers and offers the player the chance to write their own story, including a large component of chance. Through events that can sometimes seem banal, the game allows you to discover the singular political destiny of Petria.
Reshuffling the cards of the narrative
To create the sprawling system of narrative strands at the heart of Road 96's gameplay, Yoan Fanise admits to having been inspired by the procedural card game Reigns (2016). Applied to this road-trip in the middle of the desert, the process makes it possible to recreate the uncertainty inherent in the long and dangerous journeys undertaken by migrants in search of a different destiny. Along this journey of nearly 2,000 kilometres, different means of transport and different recurring figures offer a territorial and narrative trajectory that is different each time. An opportunity to learn more, in fragments, about the different protagonists and the history of Petria.
A view of the modern world
By offering an accessible experience, which returns to the fundamentals of the narrative video games of the 1980s, Road 96 also offers an in-depth reflection on our current society, and on the increasingly widening gap between politicians and citizens. It is precisely because it tackles these themes in a subtle way, from seemingly insignificant events, that the game has been acclaimed by critics and has received a number of awards. At the 2022 Pégases awards, organised by the Académie des Arts et Techniques du Jeu Vidéo, the title won the prize for best independent video game, narrative excellence and best accessibility.