‘Open Roads’ evokes a different kind of nostalgia

Tess, left, and Opal ride in a car in “Open Roads”. The road trip adventure game features the voices of Caitlin Dever, who plays Tess, and Keri Russell, who plays Opal. (Annapurna Interactive)

When gamers talk about nostalgia, sprite-heavy graphics, chiptune music, and giant square televisions often come to mind, but for the developers of “Open Roads,” it meant crafting a world from their collective past. . They recreate their memories and put them into a video game.

The project is a mother-daughter adventure road trip, starring Keri Russell as mother Opal and Kaitlyn Dever as daughter Tess. This happened two decades ago in 2003. The era becomes clear as players explore the world from the girl’s first-person perspective. They see a cream-colored iMac sitting on the desk. A giant CRT television rests on top of a dresser. Even today everyone reads newspapers.

Tess's room in Open Roads
Tess’s room in “Open Roads” with the big CRT comes straight from 2003. Television and papasan in the corner. (Annapurna Interactive)

In a hands-on demo, the developers showed off the early parts of the campaign, which takes place in a house that is about to be sold. It’s full of family drama when Opal and her daughter are forced to leave the place after they sell it. The introduction provides players with a way to explore the environment and its intricately designed setting.

The house seems alive with childhood writings hidden in the walls of furniture and cupboards from different eras. One of the developers said it was done by one of his children. Wandering around, players will notice that the music also suits the era.

As players around the world follow Tess, she learns more about the condition. Opal does not get along with her sister and Grandma Helen has a hidden past that holds some significance later. This establishes the rhythm of the story and mysteries that are explored later.

Opal jokes with Tess in Open Roads
One of the most interesting elements about “Open Roads” is that Opal is Tess’s constant companion and provides insight into what she discovers. (Annapurna Interactive)

“Open Roads” has a different vibe, with a slower pace than other adventure games. It looks like an experience that rewards players for exploration and immersion in narrative details. One of the most notable elements is that although the campaign takes place in first-person, there are also moments when the camera switches to third-person and players see Tess and Opal.

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