The great outdoors are truly alluring. Getting away from the grind of it all, taking in the fresh air, walking around aimlessly while looking for leaves that are shockingly rare. Okay, that last one is more specific to Open Country, but you take my meaning. The game comes out today and I’ve put a fair amount of time into it, so I figured I’d share my impressions, but the question stands: is Open Country worth it?
Open Country starts with an annoyingly cloying opening where the main character narrates their growing displeasure with life in the big city. So they pack up and head to a small town. It feels like pandering — mostly because it is pandering. For whatever reason, their first destination is a bar that’s closed down. The bar’s owner ends up hiring them to go do random shit outside because reasons. It’s an awful setup and the animations during dialogue sequences would have looked bad 15 years ago. There’s a fair amount of dialogue, too, which thankfully isn’t quite as painful as the animations, although that’s a rather low bar.
The game gives you quests to go out into its open maps to achieve goals. You’ll usually be hunting animals. The hunting itself is honestly all right. You have to pay attention to the amount of noise you make, lest you frighten the woodland creatures around you. Open Country gives you a rifle early on and you can get more ammo by buying it at the bar. You make your way to each region by traveling there in your RV, which you can’t drive in-game, so you’ll be hoofing it when on the maps themselves. In theory, this game has a lot to offer, as there’s crafting, large areas, and a fair amount to do.
Of course, we can’t have nice things, so the other things are what drag Open Country into a deep mire. You have survival bars to monitor, such as sleep, hunger, and thirst. If they get too low, it becomes a problem. You get thirsty way too fast, for one. And your canteen can only hold three uses, so you’ll need to refill it. It’s less of a big deal due to how easily you can do so. Food and sleep, however, are more problematic. You’ll need to build a camp or hit up the RV to sleep, but sleeping also depletes your hunger and thirst levels. This really didn’t need to be a survival game, as your character is absolutely not surviving in the wilderness. You can leave via RV at any time.
But you’ll need to actually build your camps with materials. Finding those materials is a slog, as some of them are insanely rare and borderline impossible to spot. You just have to wander while looking at the ground to find them. You’d think finding leaves would be simple, as there are trees everywhere. But, no, finding leaves is a giant pain in the ass. Your inventory also gets filled up quickly, so you can’t hoard items.
You can only sleep at camps or at the RV, and your goals will frequently take you very, very far from the RV. This means that you’ll be spending a ton of time just walking to and from places for no good reason. You can run, too, but your character only has the stamina to do so for like two seconds. It’s ridiculous. You’ll need to buy skills to increase this, but this outdoorsman character of yours still can’t even outrun Harry Mason from Silent Hill.
The map in Open Country is kind of hard to use and isn’t all that useful. It wants you to get around using a compass, which is fine, but getting around isn’t enjoyable. The outdoor areas would look nice if the draw distance wasn’t so short, but you’ll be seeing a ton of pop-in. I’m sure some people will find things to enjoy about the game, but I found it to be endlessly tedious and not at all enjoyable, on top of being horribly dated and filled with subpar mechanics. As such, I don’t think it’s worth picking up.