Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Game Review: 'Open Roads'

 A bittersweet dose of flip phone-era nostalgia, "Open Roads" is an introspective story of discovery that blossoms along a mother-daughter road trip.

The latest adventure from Annapurna Interactive, masters of subtle design and known for the likes of "Stray," "Florence" and "What Remains of Edith Finch," maintains the studio's high standard of intriguing writing with compelling gameplay hooks.

You guide Tess, a burned out teenager, as she tags along with her mother, Opal, on road trip that unlocks uncomfortable truths and discomforting memories among multiple generations. You start by packing up the room of a home you're leaving, then pass time behind the wheels, sometimes intentionally annoying your mother. 

Along the way, dialogue trees let you craft your own version of Tess, rendering her guarded, confrontational, conniving or some ever-changing combination thereof. Your choices don't seem to affect the narrative, but instead shed different lights on plot points that unfold.

A gorgeous and understated travelogue that boils over with astute observations and muted emotional epiphanies, the game is a short, powerful tale that begs to be re-experienced. This is one road trip that is truly about the journey rather than the destination.

Publisher provided review code.

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