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OPEN ROADS
Platform: PC
60

Open Roads Review

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Walking simulators were a huge deal, once upon a time. Ten years ago, the concept of being spoon-fed a story, while examining knickknacks, was novel and intriguing. Walking sims provided a great contrast to the more traditional games and were like taking a mini vacation. Gone Home was one pivotal walking simulator that packed a punch way back in 2013, with the help of misdirection, secret rooms, and a great setting. The developers of that game are also behind Open Roads, another walking simulator that features a mother-daughter road trip to uncover the past. While Open Roads has great voice acting, thanks to a few Hollywood stars, the exploration, presentation, and mystery aspects are underwhelming.

Open Roads

Tess is a 16-year-old who just lost her grandmother. Tess and her mother, Opal, had been living in her grandmother’s home while taking care of her. Unfortunately, the home is being repossessed and the two will have to find somewhere else to live. While packing up their stuff, Tess stumbles across her grandmother’s diary. It indicates that her grandmother might have been in a secret relationship when Opal was young. The diary also mentions the family’s summer house in Michigan, which nobody has visited in years, and it could be a potential home for them. Tess eventually convinces Opal that they might be able to find out more at the summer house and they set off on a road trip together.

Open Roads is a compressed walking simulator, with only a few small areas to explore, including the grandmother’s home, a tiny motel room, and the quaint but dilapidated summer house. The game uses warm pastel colors to provide a friendly, summery atmosphere. Players control Tess in the first-person view and can open drawers, rotate objects, and inspect posters. While Tess and her mother explore together, Opal is not actually present in these game spaces. This is weird, but not quite as weird as you might imagine. When they converse, both pop up as 2D cartoon characters. Neither has word-for-word lip-syncing and their short animations repeat, like when one laughs. The conversations utilize a bland shot-reverse shot camera technique, so there is no cinematic benefit or emotional flair. While mixing 2D and 3D has been used in story games before, like in As Dusk Falls, the cartoon style is jarring and the conversations needed more detail.

Open Roads

Each location has the typical assortment of bric-a-brac to pick up and examine. Since the adventure is set in 2003, some might find it neat to rummage through a few retro items. However, many objects are actually irrelevant to the story, like generic washing powder, canned food, and fictional board-game boxes. But since there is the occasional piece of dialogue paired with these random objects, players are encouraged to grab everything if they want to hear the entire story. Some objects are clearly important, like photographs, and these have a prompt that allows Tess to begin another cartoon conversation with her mother. But the conversations interrupt the exploration flow and almost become a nuisance, despite the ability to skip dialogue.

Fortunately the mother-daughter bond is strong and contributes nicely to the light adventure. The two occasionally make jokes at each other’s expense. Kaitlyn Dever (Last Man Standing, Justified) and Keri Russell (Felicity, The Americans) bring excellent performances to both characters, and the dialogue is usually well-written. Part of the story revolves around exposing Opal’s old memories, and Tess can react with inconsequential dialogue choices, like picking a name for Opal’s old van. There are good moments of tension between the two as well; Opal’s ex-husband (and Tess’s father) is a sore spot and they are both withholding secrets related to him that will eventually be exposed.

Outside the mother-daughter interaction is the central mystery relating to the grandmother and her secret romance. This is enough to drive the story early and keep players guessing, as Tess finds letters in the summer house that describe future plans and worries. But when the end comes, it arrives without a powerful resolution, and the game might have benefited from additional scenes or heavier emotion. Tess and Opal react flippantly and parts of the secret romance do not make sense or are not interesting. Although some players will find the mystery satisfactory, it did not seem worth the runaround in the end.

Open Roads

Open Roads will only take two hours to complete and there is no compelling reason to replay it. While Tess and Opal are good characters, aided by fantastic voice acting, this alone is not enough to recommend playing it. The mystery surrounding the grandmother provides just enough intrigue, although it ends in a disappointing way. With a visual package that includes discordant cartoon characters in boring conversation animations, the story-telling does less with more. If you still love walking simulators, then Open Roads might captivate, just don’t expect this summer house to become a home.

Our ratings for Open Roads on PC out of 100 (Ratings FAQ)
Presentation
75
The 3D environments are reasonably detailed, with warm pastel colors. 2D cartoon characters look okay in isolation but seem out of place and have repeating animations. The voice work is excellent.
Gameplay
30
In typical walking sim fashion, you explore and examine items. Interaction is pretty sparse and many objects are irrelevant.
Single Player
60
While the initial setup is fine, and the mother-daughter bond is good, the conversation style does not add value and the mystery fails to pay off.
Multiplayer
NR
N/A
Performance
(Show PC Specs)
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600
GPU: ASUS 6700 XT DUAL OC 12GB
RAM: 16GB DDR4
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
PC Specs

90
No performance issues and areas load quickly.
Overall
60
While some walking sims have evolved, Open Roads is stuck in the past. Its two good characters cannot offset the bland interactivity and mystery that is as flat as the game's 2D conversations.
Comments
Open Roads
Open Roads box art Platform:
PC
Our Review of Open Roads
60%
Adequate
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
Open Roads is ranked #1710 out of 1980 total reviewed games. It is ranked #26 out of 34 games reviewed in 2024.
1710. Open Roads
1711. Close to the Sun
PC
Screenshots

Open Roads
10 images added 51 days ago
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