Open Roads review

by on March 27, 2024
Release Date

March 28, 2024


Back in January I got to watch a presentation of Open Roads from the development team, and as I mentioned in the preview, it reminded me of all the great things that came from the flourish of great narrative-driven walking sims from a time when we couldn’t go a month without seeing a new one pop up. Therefore, I won’t tread on old ground and go on about why I love them so much. Instead, I’ll talk about why Open Roads is such a sweet yet powerful story about family and relationships.

As Tess, you’re clearing out your room of the family home before moving out. Open roads starts out with you picking up old letters, posters, erasers, and all kinds of things while procrastinating in your room, but you start to gather a picture of who this 16-year old girl is, and why you’re not exactly rushing to get all packed up. Along with Opal, your mother, you start to find out more about the family, including your late grandmother and your father, now separated from mum.

While exploring the house, certain items trigger a cutscene where you talk with your mother in a hand-drawn art style. It’s beautifully animated, acting as a nice parallel to the photorealistic setting you explore. Upon stumbling upon a box hidden behind the wall in the attic, you uncover a summer house that your mum used to stay at with her parents. Certain plot points present themselves which I won’t spoil here, but it brings up a lot of things Opal has tried to hide, or rather keep to herself because facing these things is tougher than bottling them up.

What follows is a road trip that sees you exploring different locations all tethered together by the story of Opal’s parentage. Every area is detailed so well, with plenty of interaction wherever you are. One of the earlier locations sees you travel to the summer house, and you uncover a fleeting yet passionate romance your mother had when she was around your age. Topics of conversations pop up and you can react in certain ways, giving you different dialogue options depending on how you feel. This helps to build the relationship between Tess and Opal, making every new interaction something you look forward to.

The acting from Keri Russell and Kaitlyn Dever is spectacular. Opal has such a warmth about her, and the hidden sadness inside is portrayed delicately whenever it begins to bubble to the surface. As for Tess, she seems like a typical teenager, but you start to understand how the toll of her parent’s situation has affected her. Both have such a deep love and admiration for one another, making for some emotional chats the further you get. The story is wonderfully written, but it is their connection and the way it is explored that made me fall for Open Roads.

One of my favourite things to do in Open Roads was sit in the car and enjoy the music. It sounds pretty basic, but you should have seen my face when The Knife’s ‘Heartbeats’ started playing. You can also chat with your mother in these enclosed situations and get to know more about each other, and for the most part they’re pretty relaxed. You can also fiddle in the glove compartment, text on your phone, or look out the window and enjoy the scenery. While Tess is that typical teenager, she’s always empathetic and kind, and she loves her mother very much, but she also loves her father, and it can muddy the waters of the entire family dynamic.

Open Roads covers a wide range of emotions, but for me, it was about the importance of both having parents to look up to and being a good one, too. It brought tears to my eyes a few times, as I know what separation can do to children. Kids are resilient, sure, but they’re also in need of your love and care, and one thing it does so well is address the sensitivities in the breakdown of a marriage. There’s also a lot of humour as well, finding a perfect balance of joy and pain, with some honest writing that helps to make the relationship authentic.

The journey is just as important as the destination in Open Roads. While the story can get rather deep, it’s a mystery that always manages to keep you hooked, but it’s also important to explore everywhere and read everything, whether it’s the back of a photo, or a detailed letter. A lot of love has been put into it and you can tell from the personal touches scattered all over the place. Annapurna has an excellent track record of publishing great titles, and this one is no different.


Gorgeous art styles
Beautifully acted
Well-written story


Might be a little slow for some

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Open Roads offer a window into being a parent and growing up. It's emotional, insightful, and beautifully designed with an engaging story.