Open Roads Review (Xbox Series X)

Come on, I know you’re curious too.

Released: March 28, 2024
Available on: Xbox/Steam/Consoles
Genre: Walking Sim
Developer: Open Roads Team
Publisher: Annapurna Interactive

Open Roads is, as the title suggests, a road trip story. Though, I would say it’s not a typical road trip. We get into the head of a young teen named Theresa, or Tess as she’s usually called, going through a tough spot in her life. Not only did her Grandma recently die, but she and her mother, Opal, had to power through an estate sale. That would already hit hard, but it hits harder after learning Tess and her mom, Opal, moved in to help take care of her Grandma during the last few years of her life. The game opens as Tess is packing up her room before they have to move out in a week. This, as you soon learn, is due to them not being able to afford the mortgage. They have no idea what they’ll do or where they’ll go once the week is up, but they just have to deal with one thing at a time. Packing up Tess’ room acts as an intro, giving you a chance to learn a bit about Tess, her family, what just happened, and a little future drama before the story starts up proper.

After packing up, or just skipping it (which I don’t recommend), Tess is called down to the basement by Opal right as she’s walking out of her room. After looking at a painting her sister (Tess’ Aunt) August, made they reflect on their situation and decide to just look to see what’s left after the estate sale, reminisce about the past, and worry about the future. August soon calls not knowing a simple wish for them to find a book for her would jump start the whole plot of this game. After some more snooping, the search leads them to the attic. This ends up in a secret compartment mysteriously opening up, revealing a mysterious hidden suitcase, and within that suitcase contained a mysterious, hidden postcard alongside items from a family summer home Tess didn’t know about (and I would be so mad if I found out my family had a summer home and we could have gone to it this whole time). This postcard, while short and sweet, implies that Tess’ Grandma possibly had a secret relationship with a guy she was going to run away with. And this seems to be even more backed up when they totally don’t open up her Grandma’s diary, read an entry, and find another postcard implying Grandma was talking to this mysterious guy before the Grandpa died.

Not wanting to have this juicy secret slip through her fingers now that she knows about it, Tess manages to convince Opal to find out the truth. Who is this mystery man that Grandma was seemingly having an affair with and was going to run away after the Grandpa’s death? Was there truly things about her that not even her own daughter knew about? Not to mention the plane tickets you find in the prologue, which you learn Tess bought secretly and eventually has to tell her mother, and some things that you can tell are simmering under the surface where you’re waiting till the moment it boils over. Some future tension along with some good ‘ole family drama and snooping. They can just pack up when they get back. Surely, they can pack up the rest on the (I’m guessing) few days they’ll have left when they get back.

When I went into Open Roads, I was not expecting to find the story interesting and to be so invested. I guess it’s the snoop and drama lover in me, but I was very interested in uncovering the secret their Grandma kept to the grave. I was crafting my theory as I went along and I guess I’m one of those people that was not expecting what the truth ended up being. I also did want to learn about their family and the drama between them all. I especially was looking forward to how Tess would bring up the plane tickets and how Opal would react. I also did enjoy the relationship Tess and Opal had. Though, I will say that I wished there was more. I can totally see not going further with the main mystery, as they realistically hit a dead end that you can assume doesn’t have some hidden connecting line somewhere, but I wanted to see more on what happened afterwards. A lot of these loose ends I wanted to see are actually spoilers, but one that isn’t is that I wanted to see how Tess’ visit to her dad’s went.

I think it also helped that I can relate to this situation. I didn’t have the same exact situation happen to me, but it’s similar enough. I was going to go into my whole situation and draw parallels between my life and Tess’, but I feel a bit self conscious and anxious doing that. Plus, I’m sure nobody wants to hear it anyway.

This is going to be the only spoilers I’ll mention, but I just have to complain about Opal. Opal is so frustrating when you’re at the summer home and you’re learning about Opal and August’s childhood. Their dad (Tess’ Grandpa) died when Opal was a teen and August was a child and it becomes clear how hard it hit August. You get to hear a lot about how August was before their dad died and Opal just acts like she has no idea or, even worse, she doesn’t care. There’s an easy to find item that gives you a clear reason and Opal just shrugs it off (after telling us the backstory behind it) and when Tess rightly criticizes her, Opal defends herself by saying she “had her own problems” and she “could’ve used more help too”. I was so mad at Opal. Yes, Opal was dealing with the death of her dad too, but her little sister was clearly crying out for help and Opal ignored her (and possibly ignored her for boys). August was even being bullied and Opal doesn’t bat an eye. Saying you had your own problems and had no help yourself is not a good argument.

Also, it doesn’t help that I found other items where we heard how August used to be like and Opal going “I don’t know why she changed after that summer”. Like, you can’t think of anything at all? Any major event? Like the event that was the reason your family never visited the summer home again? Really?

Not to mention when she complains a lot about August not helping when it’s just not the way Opal wanted. You learn (from an item you can find and through a story cutscene) that August did offer to help, but Opal was the one that told her no.

The gameplay here is what you’d expect from a walking sims. Throughout the game you’ll be exploring a couple of locations varying in size. As you’re exploring, you’ll also be able to open up drawers and cabinets and pick up items that give you a prompt. Some of these items, and the view interactive spots, can be quite hidden so keep a keen eye out as you can miss them. You can twirl items you picked up around, read it if it has any text, and do some interaction in the form of flipping it and opening it if it’s something like a book. At first, it just starts with you packing up the various items in Tess’ room and then it evolves to being able to call out to Opal to have a conversation about it. These conversations often do give you more information on their family and the relationship between each other and their other family members. There are, of course, story cutscenes where the characters talk as well and dialogue choices every so often.

To give you some guidance, you do get tasks so you know what you need to do to continue to the next scene. These aren’t that hard, just finding an item, figuring out how to get to a certain area, or doing something. I do want to mention that I do like how the To-Do list was implemented. It acts like Tess’ journal and you get to read what you need to do through her voice. The personalized feel actually made me want to read them rather than quickly clicking to close it.

Of course, there isn’t a game without some negatives or annoyances and Open Roads isn’t any different. This game does seem to have a lock-on for items that you can pick up, but sometimes it can be quite obnoxiously strong. Weirdly enough, I only found it obnoxious on the larger items where you don’t need the game to snap you to since it has a big enough interaction box in contrast to the smaller items where it’s just on you. There were also a handful of times where the game turned me around when I picked up small items. This was especially annoying when you turn back around to pick up the next item you haven’t looked at yet and it turns you around again. I do wonder if this is due to the strong lock-on as I only remember it happening towards items that doesn’t have the option to trigger a conversation. I did also find Tess to walk and turn around a bit slow, but I only noticed when I had to walk around the outside of the summer home and at the last location.

The dialogue choices also felt mainly meaningless. Tess is very much a character that is already established as she has her own thoughts, feelings, and future planned. So, when a choice comes up that would change how her character would be, the game goes with it for one line before it switches to what the writers already had in mind. To use an example that isn’t much of a spoiler, there’s an early one with a cat picture painted by August where you get to choose if Tess liked it or not. I honestly liked the painting and chose the choice that reflected that, but to much of my dismay the characters went to make fun of it multiple times. The more important ones covered it by having Tess be someone that just says what her mother wants her to hear, but I still didn’t like that approach. Why give me a choice when I didn’t have the choice in the first place? There were only a few that I felt were a bit meaningful.

Talking about dialogue, do not pause when you’re in the middle of a cutscene. Specifically, when the characters are talking. I had to leave the game and pause twice while the characters were talking and both times the dialogue lines did bug out. The first time, it skipped the line I was on and the second, it did the same thing but played the voice line for both the line I was on and the line it skipped to at the same time. I’m not sure if this has been patched yet, but I do hope it gets patched.

This also is a small nitpick, but there was no way their summer home was untouched over the 30 years no one from Tess’ family went there. I don’t believe that no one didn’t drive down the road that leads to the summer home, like to go on a hike, didn’t find the summer home, and didn’t go inside since the front door was unlocked. Also there’s two present items and I was disappointed you don’t get the option to open them. There’s no way Tess wasn’t like “Hey Mom, let’s open these” and convince Opal after some convincing.

Lastly, this might sound weird coming from someone that loves playing visual novels, but I did find it distracting how the character portraits didn’t move their mouths alongside the dialogue. I think this is due to the few seconds of animation that happens when the characters change their pose includes animating their mouths like they had a talking cycle. So when I saw it didn’t extend for the whole line, it distracted me as I was expecting it to. I most likely wouldn’t have minded if the mouths weren’t animated (also, I don’t count changing the mouth to match the character’s expression). I did less distracted by it as the game went on, but I was still a bit annoyed by it. Also, I did notice a couple times where the pose/expression the character portraits had did not reflect what was being said.

If there was one aspect of the game that got me to play it, it was the visuals. I did like how the two characters were drawn as well as the few environments and items that screenshots and the trailer showed. Though, for some reason, I wasn’t expecting to be walking around in a 3D environment. Surprisingly enough, I never felt like the character portraits, Tess’ hands, or the various objects that were drawn when you pick them up looked out of place. It certainly helps that all the 3D assets are stylized slightly, to where it both registers as a place that can be real and a background someone drew. I did also like the voice acting here. They did a pretty good job and, while I did get annoyed with them sometimes, I didn’t mind listening to the main two voice actors for the whole game.


It’s all good going into a game you know you would like and coming out liking it; but it’s even better when you go into the game not expecting to like it, got invested, and coming out liking it. Open Roads really played into my love for snooping and hearing about drama as I did want to find out the mystery of who Grandma Helen’s secret postcard correspondence is. It also helped that I did enjoy the relationship between Tess and Opal, liked finding out about their family history, and was waiting to see when the simmering tension was going to boil over. Sadly, there were more negatives than even I thought there were, which did affect my enjoyment of Open Roads a bit. All in all, I’d say check out Open Roads if you think you’ll be invested in Tess’ family and the mystery this game presents.

Though, I definitely understand being hesitant due to the game’s price and knowing it’s a 3 hour game if you look at and do everything. Especially when you’re unsure whether or not you’ll like it. I know I wouldn’t have played if it wasn’t on Game Pass.


♡ ♡ ♡ A witch that goes for anything that peaks her interest no matter the genre. Currently obsessed with the Persona series and trying to make a dent in my backlog. ♡ ♡ ♡

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