Open Roads Review | Xbox Series X

This not just your average road trip anymore and the plot keeps getting thicker.

By R3GR3T, Posted 31 Mar 2024

It’s funny how a road trip can sometimes bring out the things we want to keep hidden, or maybe even teach us more about ourselves but we never really get to see it from a different perspective. The Open Roads Team wanted to show the world what a truly life-changing road trip can do if you throw every possible twist into the mix with their first release. However, not much is known about this seemingly mysterious group, aside from that their first release was published by Annapurna Interactive. For those who don’t know, this is the same publisher behind the games like Stray and Neon White.

Open Roads, Review, Screenshots, Indie, Walking Simulator, Story-driven, NoobFeed

Now, while we don’t know much about the Open Roads Team’s history, they’re most likely a recently founded studio and they had plans to make an impact with their first release, Open Roads on 22 February. However, it’s not quite what you’d expect since it is technically a very story-driven walking sim but it’s sometimes the simpler stories and even simpler forms of gameplay that can also have the most impact on an audience. All you need to do is keep a keen eye open and have a little patience as the story unfolds.

As mentioned before, Open Roads is a walking sim but there are a few extra things added that add to the story. You take on the role of Tess, your everyday teenage girl with the usual problems and a strong interest in Cryptozoology but she’s also in the middle of packing up her late grandmother’s house with her mom, Opal. Things go as expected with her deciding what to pack and getting into a reminiscing session with her mother over some of the items left in the house and this eventually leads to the mother of all rabbit holes. It turns out Tess’ grandmother wasn’t quite as honest as she seemed and some of her secrets are now coming to light.

It started in her house but this little mystery has Tess and Opal embark on a massive cross-country road trip to uncover the history behind her grandmother and possibly, her entire family. However, Tess and Opal never had the best relationship to begin with but this road trip might be just what they need to build what they never had while having to rely on each other and learn more about each other as well. So, buckle up and get ready, it’s going to be a rough ride in this story-driven mystery but you might just learn a thing or two about yourself.

Open Roads, Review, Screenshots, Indie, Walking Simulator, Story-driven, NoobFeed

Unfortunately, nobody likes walking sims in this day and age because they rely quite heavily on the story and tend to focus more on simplicity instead of strings of mechanics to keep you interested. So, first and foremost, this is more focused on the story but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. We all need a break from the madness and a little change of pace to enjoy something a bit more mundane, but it’s not your parents telling the story before bedtime now, you’ll still be controlling the story in a way.

So, Open Roads will have you exploring several abandoned houses, ruins, and much more as you uncover the secret history of Tess’ family but nobody said this would be easy. You’ll have free roam to explore as much as you like but you’ll also need to find the right objects or do the right things to progress the story a little bit more. However, a lot of the other objects you’ll find and pick up will also spark a conversation between Tess and Opal, allowing you to learn more about them and their personal history. Again, this doesn’t seem all that important but that extra background helps piece things together and adds a lot more depth to the story.

Aside from a little breaking, possible theft, and much more, you’ll also be given a little choice in certain conversations. Now, you’ll usually be given several options to choose from but it also looks like your choices can affect how Opal sees Tess and their relationship as a whole. Unfortunately, it does mean that being a brat with your choices can affect other things going forward and you might dig yourself a rather deep hole. For the most part, it’s a good idea to be honest with your choices and enjoy the ride, literally.

Open Roads, Review, Screenshots, Indie, Walking Simulator, Story-driven, NoobFeed

Sadly, walking sims don’t carry a lot of content that we can share and nobody likes spoilers but they do have their special place in our libraries. The good ones are the ones that tend to stick with us, not just for the relaxed gameplay but mostly for their stories, and Open Roads more than fits the criteria in this regard. You might be in for quite a touching story as a mother and daughter reconnect and rebuild a bond they never really had, but you’ll also get to see just how it all happens because of a road trip that takes you all over the country.

On the visual side of life, Open Roads has a very unique approach to design and art style by using a mix of detailed texturing for the world itself but 80’s cartoon-like animation for conversations between Tess and Opal. However, the texturing and the character animation contrast can come off as a bit odd but it works well when you take a closer look at it as they also separate themselves from each other. Bringing them together adds some appeal for those who like the nostalgia of the 80s when you look at the world design and characters but there’s also some great intrigue for others due to how different but interesting the contrast is.

As can be expected with any walking sim, it needs some great music and possibly voice acting to pull everything together or the whole thing falls apart. Open Roads does have some great somber background music to match the many different locations you’ll be visiting, but the voice acting feels a bit off. It’s not to say that it’s bad, but there are inconsistencies that make the voice acting feel a bit… Unnatural. There are these odd pauses or hitches that aren’t as subtle as they should be and this can make things feel tediously slow, too slow even for this genre.


Overall, Open Roads is a brilliant change of pace for those who want just a story and a little mystery after some intense gaming. However, this might not appeal to everybody due to how slowly the story progresses, giving you only the smallest pieces to run with. If you can look past that and the minor issues with the voice acting, you’re definitely in for a treat with how this story unfolds and getting to see how Tess and Opal build a new bond.

Jay Claassen (@R3GR3T_3NVY)
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Open Roads


Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Publisher(s): Annapurna Interactive
Developer(s): Open Roads Team, Fullbright
Genres: Adventure
Themes: Walking Simulator, Exploration, Interactive Fiction
Release Date: 2024-02-22

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