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OPEN ROADS Review for PlayStation 5

Published by Annapurna Interactive, “Open Roads” is the latest of their releases that’s full of rich story. Originally developed by Fullbright Games, due to the team having issues with the founder Steve Gaynor’s behavior, the team removed themselves from Steve and the Fullbright name and now this game is just developed by “The Open Roads Team.” While the founder is out of the picture, this is still the same talented team behind indie classics such as “Gone Home” and “Tacoma.” Even without Steve, the team has proved with “Open Roads” is still an incredibly engaging narrative, even if the gameplay is still an afterthought.

Venturing into this interactive narrative, you assume the role of Tess Devine (voiced by Kaitlyn Dever), who is thrusted into an emotional upheaval with assisting her mother, Opal (voiced by Keri Russell). The arduous task of packing up their cherished family home, recently sold, is steeped in familial history and once the abode of Tess’ departed grandmother, holds profound significance. Tess and Opal, bound by shared memories and a sense of duty, navigate through the remnants of their past, each item carrying a story of its own. In the attic, amidst the relics of bygone days, a hidden compartment unveils itself, revealing a trove of curiosities and, notably, a solitary key. This unexpected discovery sparks an impromptu odyssey as Tess and Opal embark on a journey northward, driven by an insatiable curiosity to unravel the enigmatic legacy of their family’s summer retreat.

OPEN ROADS Review for PlayStation 5

The overall presentation is quite interesting. Graphically, an upgrade to the likes of “Gone Home” but still very simplistic. The two lead characters are hand-drawn animated, but not fully, almost like a still image or a piece of concept art moving in a few directions. It’s certainly a bit more animated than the usual interactive novel. The designs, while simple, have a very pleasant look to them, of maybe an animated cartoon of the late 90’s or early 2000’s. The game actually takes place in 2003, and boy did it do a good job of making me feel old. It does a great job of portraying the time period with how phones and TVs looked at the time. It’s crazy to think how different life was actually like back then.

While the gameplay more or less just consists of you walking around and picking up items to look at or to read, the real bread and butter is its story and performances from the two leads. Would I have liked the animation to be more fleshed out, yes of course, but the cost-cutting they did I believe to have been in the wise areas to do so. The actors perform so well, you are quickly engaged in the storyline that at least for me, I forgave that the character’s mouths didn’t move to the words. Aside from being a bit of a walking-sim, you are also given multiple options with voice prompts during conversations. While this isn’t anything new, it helps you stay engaged with the story, which sadly felt like it ended too soon. The entire game could be beaten in just a few hours, while I suppose that’s not a bad thing, I do enjoy games that don’t overstay their welcome and leave a strong impression, I just was engaged with these characters and wanted to spend a bit more time with them. While these types of games aren’t for everyone, if any of this sounds at all appealing to you, I highly recommend giving “Open Roads” a go.

8/10

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Related: Nick Navarro Reviews

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Gaming since I was given an original Nintendo as a kid. I love great storytelling and unique ingenuity. When both collide in a single game, I'm a happy gamer. Twitter/IG @NickNavarro87