Game Reviews: These Bonds Can Conquer Even Death

To discover the truth, a single mother and her spirited teen daughter take to the road. Two young brothers set off on a lethal journey to save their bedridden father. And passionate, longtime partners try to rid a New England town of a devastating supernatural scourge.

Open Roads, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake and Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden take on the emotional depths of family life in ways that shred the heartstrings — mostly without slipping into bathos. The narrative effect is the same as in other skillfully created media: You’re filled with emotion. Sometimes, you even tear up a little. But you feel good about it.

Open Roads

The American studio Open Roads Team relies on the point-and-click adventure genre to muse upon the sometimes tenuous bond between Opal (Keri Russell) and her daughter Tess (Kaitlyn Dever). It’s 2003, and you play as Tess, grimly packing up to move out with mom after Tess’s grandmother Helen passes away.

This five-hour interactive drama with humorous touches is cuts above a Lifetime movie. Long-held family secrets are uncovered by finding dusty letters, yellowed newspaper clippings and a child’s artwork. Teenage Tess does all of the sleuthing; Opal interprets dialogue, offers subjective, parental perspective and provides biographic history. The two are stunned to discover Helen’s passionate letters in addition to hints about bootlegging and a jewelry heist. What was going on in this family?

In any case, they can no longer afford Helen’s maternal dwelling, partially because of Opal’s misfortunes. She has dealt with her share of layabouts, deadbeats and heartbreakers. While Tess is adventurous, independent and full of youth’s vim, Opal is more guarded after a recent divorce from a dreamer who left to become a professional gambler (and who doesn’t provide alimony, either).

Clicking through the branching dialogue, you learn that Tess still loves her father, who appears via text messages on a silver clamshell cellphone. But she doesn’t know everything about him. In fact, what’s kept from each character — hidden embarrassments and prideful lies — is the greatest pull of the plot.

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