Open Roads has been described as "an interactive movie mystery thriller", one that plays out in the form of a deeply personal roadtrip. Of course, this particular roadtrip happens to be the creation of the devs behind the fantastic Gone Home, so it feels as though a good old mystery filled with plenty of thrills is exactly what we're gonna get, given past form. Ooooh, we do love a good mystery thriller. Two words there that absolutely get us all riled up.

So it's a shame then, that this experience has such surprisingly straightforward mysteries, and such a shocking lack of any kind of thrills whatsoever. Yep, Open Roads, we're actually a little shocked to report, has turned out to be a strangely bland experience, even as it grapples with emotional subject matter and a narrative setup that should have us blowing snot all over our TV screens.

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The overall core setup here will be very familiar to fans of Gone Home. You play the role of Tess, a 16 year old who's off on a road trip with her mum, Opal. This is a trip which will see them discover hidden truths about their shared past, as well as giving Tess an opportunity to strike out, assert herself and begin to become her own person. As expected, the game covers its fair share of emotional subject matter, death and loss, the importance of discovering our true identities, our bonds with our parents, and a bunch of other stuff which, honestly, if we're gonna sit here and detail any of the major plot points, well, there's not gonna be very much left of this two-hour tale for you discover yourself.

We're not gonna go too much into the narrative here, then, and really the narrative itself isn't particularly bad in any particular sense, it covers all the expected bases and gives us a gentle bit it mystery? OK, there is a bit of a mystery...but it doesn't really feel like a very compelling one. The main issue that we've had is the letdown in how this story unfolds (tempting us with number stations and Ouija boards but never following up in a way that grabs us), in the total lack of engaging mechanics - busywork like clicking on every single bit of the scenery or moving a very obvious object to bridge a gap is all you've got.

The story hasn't got the expected depth or the grit to feel particularly absorbing either, basically, it all feels a bit too stylised and obvious. Everyone is just a bit too hipster and accidentally good and cool at stuff (where are all the ugly and completely untalented people in these stories?), to really make us feel a proper personal connection.

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We also have to dock points for a system of investigation that requires you call mom over every time you find anything of note. This repetition is then further exacerbated by a Scooby-Doo-inspired art style that has characters not moving their mouths during conversations. A stylistic choice? Mate, it was a bad one if you want us to feel like we're fully engaging with these characters.

Now, it does feel as though we're being fairly harsh so far, so let's focus on the good things, eh. The acting is superb for one thing, of course it is, they've got top-notch talent in the form of Keri Russell and Kaitlyn Dever, and they knock it out of the park because that's how they roll. There are one or two moments as well, cheeky little asides from Tess during conversations mostly, that gave our inner rebellious streaks a chuckle, but Jeezo, are we allowed to say it all just feels very, very low impact and low stakes?

Like, surprisingly so. Alongside the fact that it ends so abruptly, we were sort of left sitting in shock at our screens. Is that it? Not that we're marking it down for being short, but where's the sustenance here? Where's the mystery and/or thrills? Why aren't we coming away from this without feeling as though we've learned or considered anything new or of note?

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Also, the actual Open Road aspect of things, it's given us the desire for an epic trip with that moniker, it's giving the vibe that we'll be doing a lot of moving around and spending time in the car between locations. You know, really digging in for some big old chats. And although this game does manage to give us more places to explore than expected, the whole car journey element is very underplayed. There's no sense of any great amount of time having elapsed, which hurts the potential to engage us properly on an emotional level.

In the end, this should feel like a very personal and emotional game, and it should affect every player that approaches it differently. It's got the in-built relatability of being a story about the things that happen to us all in the course of our lives, the painful memories, the forgotten stuff brought to the surface, the shifts in perspective that occur between parent and child as they grow alongside and apart from one another at the same time. And that's beautiful and sad and inevitable, we all know it, these are the things that make us who we are, and they are dealt with delicately here. But did we learn anything new, were we inspired or moved or compelled or engrossed? Not this time.

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On a final note, and in relation to performance, we mostly played Open Roads on PC for this review, and we experienced some light stuttering and pauses in places, so not a clean slate in this regard either. We can also confirm that these same issues do appear to be present in the Xbox Series X version too.


Open Roads, in theory, should be another Gone Home-style success story. However, what we've actually got here feels strangely by the numbers, surprisingly short and very light on actual drama, mystery or thrills that genuinely compel. At around two hours long you won't need a lot of compelling to see it through, mind you, but overall this just feels like retreading the same sort of ground with much less of an effect. There's superb acting and it all looks great, but the narrative just isn't doing it for us this time, sadly.