Open Roads Review – A trip to remember

Reviewed March 28, 2024 on PC


PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X|S


March 28, 2024


Annapurna Interactive


The Open Roads Team

It can often be difficult to make characters feel instantly real and relatable. Sometimes it takes hours of gameplay to begin to emotionally connect with a character, so it’s always impressive when a game manages to do it in less than two. Published by Annapurna and from much of the team who brought us Gone Home, Open Roads is a road trip game following mother and daughter duo, Tess and Opal, as they follow a path of mystery starting in the attic of their house.

Our protagonists are moving out of their family home, where they have been living to take care of Tess’ maternal grandmother in her older years. Unfortunately, the house is being sold out from under them, and they need to collect their things and get ready to move before the sale is finalised. It’s a difficult time for the two of them, but despite this, it’s easy to see that they both get along and respect each other quite a bit.

It’s refreshing to see a relationship between a mother and daughter depicted as the main crux of a video game, and it’s something Open Roads handles very well. The voice actresses for Tess and Opal (Kaitlyn Dever and Keri Russell, respectively) have very good chemistry and their conversations feel incredibly authentic. The game also establishes what kind of person Tess is almost instantly, by opening the narrative with you working to pack away the last of her belongings before the pair get ready to move.

There’s a lot of personality to be found in the objects in each location of the game. Environments are shown in lovingly rendered and high-detail 3D and explored in a first-person perspective with lots of things that can be picked up and interacted with. There are heaps of cute things to find in Tess’ room, favourite mugs, pens, and even empty bags of chips in the bin. It establishes the world, the setting, and the character almost instantly. I was very excited to learn that the teen is running her own web design business, and even has an old-school tech manual in her drawer that looks exactly like something I remember floating around in my parent’s office when I was younger.

One of the key interactions that Tess can have with her mother is through finding items that she thinks might interest her. In the beginning, it’s mementos of her grandmother that weren’t sold in the recent estate sale. You can call Opal over whenever you find something like this, and she will tell Tess about the significance of the object if it has any, unless it is something she isn’t willing to share. Opal is not just used as a lore dump opportunity, which I love. There are plenty of times when it is best not to even ask her about something, because it might be insensitive or too personal, and she can sometimes be cagey with answers about things she isn’t ready to talk about.

“The real crux of the experience is the relationship between the two characters”

Interactions between the two characters play out in beautiful 2D animated scenes. The animations are very fluid and show a lot of character, but the number of them is quite limited and they are recycled often. This didn’t bother me all that much, because I could tell that the animations would have taken a lot of time and they are always used in moments that feel appropriate. I do wish that the characters also had generic mouth flaps while dialogue was playing though, as often when the animation finished they would go completely still apart from their blinking and it was a little unsettling. The art style is wonderful though, and seeing the 2D characters on top of 3D environments creates a very interesting image that I haven’t seen elsewhere and found myself really drawn to.

The story is instantly engaging as well, while the duo is looking through what was left in their house after the estate sale, Tess finds a collection of mysterious notes and a key that they can only assume leads to the abandoned family summer home. Whether because she is feeling nostalgic, or because she doesn’t want to commit to looking for a new home just yet, Opal agrees to take Tess on a road trip to go find what that key opens and the story only gets more interesting from there. While there are a lot of mysteries that the two are following the trail of, the real crux of the experience is the relationship between the two characters and how the things they are learning both put a strain on, and eventually strengthen, their connection. Both the writing and voice acting do an amazing job of bringing these characters to life and I found them both instantly endearing.

While the story is very interesting, I do think there were a few threads that went unexplored. At times I expected there to be a bit more information coming, only to find that the game was already over. I don’t necessarily think that it needed to be a long game, but ending after only 90 minutes, I did think it might benefit from an extra half hour. The game ended with a pretty big revelation, and I was looking forward to hearing more about how the ramifications of it might affect the main characters, but it ended before I felt any of that resolved.




  • Engaging story
  • Well written and acted characters
  • Distinct artstyle


  • Lack of animation on characters can be jarring
  • Ending comes abruptly

Open Roads is a very well-executed story about the relationship between a grieving mother and daughter. Both characters are incredibly likable and there is so much chemistry between the voice actors that it’s easy to relate to and care about both of them. While it’s a short experience and one that could benefit from further expansion and animation, Open Roads still has a lot to offer. It’s just a shame it finishes a little earlier than expected because the narrative is strong enough to carry beyond its credits.