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Open Roads Preview: Annapurna’s Next Game is a Must for Life is Strange and Edith Finch Fans

Open Roads screenshot
Image: Annapurna Interactive

Annapurna Interactive’s next game, Open Roads, is just over a month away and, after getting a behind-the-scenes glimpse at its opening chapter, it has become one of our most anticipated games of the year.

Combining beautiful artwork, narrative-driven gameplay, exploration and a family mystery that spans generations, there’s an awful lot to look forward to here. If you’re a fan of Life is Strange, What Remains of Edith Finch and other games of their ilk, you need to get Open Roads on your wishlist, pronto.

Open Roads tells the story of sixteen-year-old Tess and her mother, Opal. As they’re clearing out their house, they come across a cache of mysterious old notes tucked away in the attic. These aren’t just any old notes, either: they point towards a deep-rooted family mystery. And while the pair could simply forget all about it and move on with their day, they of course don’t. Where’s the fun in that? Instead, the notes they’ve uncovered lead to an epic road trip, taking them to abandoned properties where they’ll uncover more of their family’s dusty, forgotten history.

Open Roads preview
Image: Annapurna Interactive

A mother-daughter road trip

We’ve had eyes on the first twenty minutes of Open Roads, which saw Tess and Opal sorting through their belongings. While we didn’t quite get to the meat of the game – the actual road trip – we did see enough to understand just how Open Roads is going to play out, who its characters are and what sort of gameplay we can expect from this delicious, story-driven title.

Like Life is Strange and its ilk, Open Roads is brimming with items that can be picked up and inspected. You’re playing as Tess, but her mom Opal is never far away. While Tess will comment on things she looks at, you can also ask for Opal’s opinion on most items you pick up. It’s an interesting mechanic, allowing for a deeper understanding of the world around you from two very different perspectives. One thing that Tess thinks is utter junk, for example, might have profound meaning for her mom.

Open Roads preview
Image: Annapurna Interactive

As you chat about an object, you’ll also get different options, leading to branching narratives. Play through Open Roads more than once, then, and you might learn different things each time. We’re very much looking forward to seeing how this plays out as Tess and Opal set out on the road together, with so many things to discover laid out on the horizon for them.

Open Roads is “a great game for nosey people”

As executive producer Amy Fincher put it so nicely, Open Roads is “a great game for nosey people”. We weren’t in control, but we thoroughly enjoyed seeing items get picked up, learning more about them. The opening of the game allowed us to see Tess’ bedroom, filled with trinkets you’d expect to find in a typical teenage girl’s room. We also got a glimpse of the kitchen, attic and some other areas of the house. Set in 2003, there’s a great deal of nostalgia to be found in just about everything.

Creating the perfect 2000’s vibe is something the development team has put a lot of thought and effort into. If you’re of the right age, you’ll get a kick out of essentially taking a trip back in time. We instantly noticed Tess’ bubble-shaped translucent iMac in her bedroom, for example. Chunky Nokia mobile phones are all the rage and SMS text messages are limited to 160 characters so u nd 2 cram in as mny wrds as posble.

Open Roads preview
Image: Annapurna Interactive

Of course, there’s a lot more to Open Roads that we didn’t get to see, but we’re assured that there’ll be plenty more nostalgic treats. Everything down to the furnishings in Opal and Tess’ house have been carefully considered, with the development team drawing on their own family’s homes for inspiration. A desk chair was ripped directly from someone’s childhood home, for example. And a rather cursed-looking painting of a dog just so happens to be a team member’s actual pet. It’s clear the Open Roads Team is very proud of what they’ve created here, and so they should be. We absolutely can’t wait to dive into more of the world.

A beautiful, unique art style

With so many things to interact with in Open Roads, it feels like a realistic art style is necessary. And so, while you’re exploring from a first-person perspective, you’ll get to enjoy seeing your environments in a three-dimensional, realistic style. Items that you can interact with are recreated with plenty of detail, and pawing them over is a joy.

But what’s perhaps even more of a joy is the gorgeous two-dimensional, hand-drawn art style that depicts the characters here. See Opal and Tess in conversation, for example, and they’ll be in beautiful, colourful 2D. It’s a style that reminds us of 90s Saturday morning cartoons. Each character we’ve seen so far absolutely oozes personality – although that’s also bolstered by the excellent voice work on display here: Keri Russell and Kaitlyn Dever (who has just been cast as Abby in HBO’s TV adaptation of The Last Of Us) take on the two main characters.

Open Roads preview
Image: Annapurna Interactive

The juxtaposition of 2D and 3D art elements works surprisingly well. Almost every scene – that we’ve seen so far, at least – of Open Roads is stunning. And while we’ve only seen the inside of Tess and Opal’s house, it’s been so wonderfully recreated that it’s left us excited for what awaits: the titular open roads, of course, and the other houses and locales that the mother-daughter pair are going to find themselves in.

One thing’s for sure: our short preview of Open Roads has left us hungry for more. If you’re a fan of narrative adventures, we’re pretty confident in saying that this should be a must-play. An alluring storyline, beautiful art, excellent voice acting and realistic environments teeming with nostalgia to nose through? It’s pretty much everything we want from the genre, honestly.

Open Roads is launching on 22nd February. It’s coming to PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC. If you’re an Xbox Game Pass subscriber, it’ll be playable on day one.
Editor in chief // Kim's been into video games since playing Dizzy on her brother's Commodore 64 as a nipper. She'll give just about anything a go, but she's got a particular soft spot for indie adventures. If she's not gaming, she'll be building Lego, reading a thriller, watching something spooky or... asleep. She does love to sleep.