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Open Roads Review

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The humble road trip – a place where journeys and revelations are revealed, crimes are discovered and people get to find their true purpose in life. That said, my personal road trip experience involves getting stuck on the M1, taking out a mortgage to buy eggs and chips in a service station, and shouting at the sat nav. 

So it’s the fantasy and dreams of the perfect road trip that is attractive. Open Roads delves into that nicely, centering on a mother and her teenage daughter who go on the road to discovery, revelations are incoming. Let’s drive. 

Open Roads review 1
Open Roads is a short road trip worth enjoying

The story is the key element of Open Roads, the driving force of your playthrough. It’s a short tale, one that can be taken in across a single sitting, over a couple of hours. And I do think that what has been put together is very good, although it does feel a little rushed and I’ve left Open Roads wishing for more. But let’s start from the beginning. 

Set in the early 2000’s, you play the part of Tess, a sixteen-year-old girl who at the start of the game is packing up her room in her grandmother’s house due to her having just passed away. We meet her mother, Opal, who runs the local theatre group. She is struggling with money issues and is possibly homeless after the death of her mother. The father has run away to Vegas after a divorce and Tess blames her mother partly. Yet as they unpack the house they discover a secret key and a mystery to the grandmother’s past that takes them on the road to Opal’s summer family home. Here secrets are found that lead them further into the past…

There’s a great piece of storytelling in Open Roads, one that had me hooked from beginning to end. But it’s a short story and there’s a chance that some might find the plot to be too basic at times. Personally, I think the writing is very clever, subtle at times. The characters themselves are superbly layered, interesting, complete with a domestic drama about a mother and daughter that I found very endearing. 

Open Roads review 2
Ooooo, a key…

The gameplay is very simple and Open Roads is easy to play. In the first instance, it’s all about exploration and examining objects. Straight away your task is to pack up your room for the move. So we have Tess picking up objects, working through the first person, sometimes commenting on them, adding in bits of the story, like when we discover a birthday card with writing in it. 

Other times you will find yourself exploring the world a bit more, trying to find ways into buildings, tuning into radio stations or sending texts to your best friend on an old-school phone. There are choices in how you respond on a dialogue tree, but there isn’t really any good or bad ending, just slightly different responses. It’s a nice relaxing experience and if you want to gather up the full 1000 Gamerscore on offer in Open Roads, you’ll discover some nice surprises too. 

Open Road’s visuals come with an animated quality, like a cartoon, which works nicely in the cut scenes. However, in what feels like a strange choice, there is no animation of the mouth moving with dialogue. It doesn’t really matter but does initially seem strange. What isn’t strange are the locations – these are interesting and there is lots of stuff to find and examine. Fans of the early 2000’s will happen across a ton of things from that period. The game is fully voiced by Keri Russell (The Diplomat) and Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart) and they do a brilliant job with the material, giving it nuance and heart which is so important for this piece of work. 

Open Roads review 3
Tess has got some good stuff

There is not too much gameplay attached to Open Roads, and the tale delivered is very short, with the story itself being more of a domestic drama than an epic adventure. But there is something very relaxing and extremely emotive about the journey you’ll go on with Opal and Tess. A game about the importance of family, heritage, secrets and lies, Open Roads is like peeking in on the life of others, just for a brief moment before looking away. 

Come to Open Roads as a ‘Sunday game’, with a big cup of tea and a ginger biscuit on hand, and you’ll leave extremely impressed.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Great story
  • Relaxing gameplay
  • Visuals are impressive
  • Voice over work
Cons:
  • Very short
  • Not much in terms of gameplay
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Annapurna Interactive
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch
  • Release date and price - 28 March 2024 | £16.74
Gareth Brierley
Gareth Brierleyhttp://www.garethbrierley.co.uk
I am an actor and a writer. I act quite a bit on stage, a little bit on tv and never on tuesdays. I have had some of my writing published and have written for TV and stage. I have been playing games since they begun and don't seem to be getting any better.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Great story</li> <li>Relaxing gameplay</li> <li>Visuals are impressive</li> <li>Voice over work</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Very short</li> <li>Not much in terms of gameplay</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Annapurna Interactive</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch <li>Release date and price - 28 March 2024 | £16.74</li> </ul>Open Roads Review
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