Open Roads – Open Roads review – Such a brief and bland journey

Initially developed by Fullbright (Gone Home, Tacoma) before internal problems led to the studio's departure, the road followed by Open Roads was not easy. Finally finished by a team soberly named “Open Roads Team” under the leadership of Annapurna Interactive, the game arrived at its destination by releasing on March 28. Let's see it together.

Secrets to discover

One beautiful fall day, Tess Devine helps her mother Opal empty the house they shared with Helen, her recently deceased grandmother. About to be deported, mother and daughter discover old letters that shed light on a relationship with a mysterious man from Helen's past. At the instigation of Tess, determined to unravel the mystery, they begin a journey into the past which will lead them to visit old family properties, in search of a trace of this mysterious man. A journey that will bring back old memories and reveal secrets that will allow the two women to get closer.

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Expressway

Hey Mom!

Hey Mom!

Open Roads is a narrative adventure game developed by former members of Fullbright, a studio to which we already owe Gone Home And Tacoma. Regulars of the genre then. The adventure that unfolds before our eyes is therefore not surprising in its form. We control Tess in first person view and most of the game will consist of interacting with the different elements of the game's settings. Most of these elements will only be purely decorative, elements that we will be able to observe from every angle . Others will be composed of texts which will bring the regulatory touch of consistency to the game universe. Finally, some will allow us to initiate a discussion with Opal and advance the plot of the game. Like many games of the genre , the result is a very linear adventure which, as long as you don't take the trouble to explore what the game wants you to explore, will end very quickly. But even if you poke around a little, the adventure will only take you between 3 and 4 hours.

Marked route

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It is obviously difficult to revolutionize a genre as defined as the walking simulator. Most fans of the genre will accept a gameplay classic in the service of a good story. Thus, it is through letters exchanged between Helen and an unknown man that the story of the game takes shape. Who was this man, what was the nature of his relationship with Opal's mother, what was he running from and why are all questions that will arise during the game. And this in itself is the first problem of the game: he asks it is up to the player to accept the idea of ​​this seemingly secret relationship being told to him in letters displayed for all to see. The story of Open Roads itself struggles to be interesting, despite its promising beginnings. It will revolve around family secrets and the things we hide from our children. A point that we find both in Helen's mysterious relationship and in the secrets surrounding her parents' divorce that Tess discovers along the way. Unfortunately, these subjects are generally only skimmed over and the game struggles to give depth to its characters, notably lacking consistency in the transitions between dialogues. It's strange to finish one that was stormy and not find traces of it in the next one.

The technique

The game hinges heavily on the dynamic of the duo formed by Tess and Opal, and Open Roads had to ensure level dubbing. So it's Kaitlyn Dever (Abby in season 2 of the series The Last of Us) and Keri Russell (the Felicity series) who lend their voices to the characters. With success, since the duo works well, in moments of mutual understanding as well as in moments when little barbs are exchanged between mother and daughter. And fortunately they deliver on the sound side, because the visual part will be more divisive. The game indeed chooses a rather particular mix of graphic styles. The places we visit or the backgrounds that pass by during our car trips opt for a fairly realistic 3D rendering. The objects that populate the world appear “real” and we start picking them up to observe them more closely. The characters, conversely, are represented in 2D. These are hand-drawn portraits that are only poorly animated. This difference in rendering induces a strange shift which may be displeasing. On the translation side, it will be VO only for dubbing, with French subtitling. The texts have been translated, despite a few small omissions which will, I imagine, be corrected in the future. patch.

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House Flipper?

House Flipper?

Opal by car

Opal by car

It is quite paradoxical to have in a game a world whose composition seems so credible that it invites discovery and to use it to tell a story which will only touch on the themes it addresses. Because the story that we are told is too short and superficial to really elicit a response from the player. This mother-daughter road trip will therefore not be a must this year.

Test carried out by Grim on PC using a copy provided by the publisher

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