Open Country

Let me just say at the outset that Open Country is perhaps one of the roughest games I’ve played on a console in a long while.

Although general movement both for your character and the camera are smooth and responsive, things like jumping, sprinting, and falling from survivable heights feel low-rent. Especially the falling animation — your character sort of hangs in midair for an awkward split second before the game realizes you are falling and seemingly calculates the distance so it knows the appropriate amount of fall animation needed before transitioning to the landing animation. It looks bonkers, to say the least.

There is also a compressed, pixelated graphical effect that makes all the foliage seem like it was run through a fuzzy filter, as if the fur physics from Biomutant were just smeared all over the place. It kind of looks like it is constantly pouring rain, but just over the tops of the vegetation. This effect is incredibly pronounced while moving — so, like, most of the time.

And don’t even get me started on the draw distance; flowers pop in and out of existence only feet in front of your character. Sometimes this doesn’t even require the character to be in motion; simply moving the camera is enough to cause an extinction-level event for the game’s flora.

Open Country

Of course, I fully anticipated this to be a bit rough around the edges. I mean, the original MSRP was $19.99 (red flag #1), and then I came to find out on launch day that the price was reduced to $14.99 (red flag #2) and had launch-day discounts on Steam and the PlayStation Store with extra in-game cosmetics (red flag numero tres).

The thing is, I am still having a good time with Open Country, despite its rough presentation. The survival stat meters drain at a reasonable rate, and the crafting system is serviceable, with a decent amount of upgrading. There is a leveling system, which makes some aspects of the game easier down the road. The animals and NPC models are all rather cartoonish, but that only adds to the charm in my book. And for all of you acreage freaks out there, the map is big enough that you can easily get lost, if not for your trusty compass and a proper detailed map. There are things to find and sights to behold.

It’s admittedly weird to find crates full of cloth in a dilapidated cabin. You’re telling me that, even though the cabin is completely falling apart, its occupants found time to neatly box up some cloth before abandoning the area?

All that said, when you consider the price of entry, Open Country is a no brainer. Especially for fans of Cabela-style hunting games (though the hunting mechanics are more arcadey than realistic here), or fans of survival games in general. Maybe you’ll only get four or five hours of kicks here, laughing at some of the ramshackle design choices, chuckling about how some of the games systems interact, and plotting to murder the lodgekeeper Gary. But even then, with a $15 price tag, that’s a better value than a two-hour movie — especially if that movie is A Quite Place Part II, which requires a whole ‘nother set of survival skills to make it through.

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