Broken Roads Preview - It's about time we get an RPG set in the Outback
Broken Roads is an upcoming post-apocalyptic CRPG, only this time set in the good old Australian Outback. Given that was the case, as an Australian myself, I was more-or-less already sold on giving it a go once the game launches next month. I actually hadn't looked much deeper into the game itself, at least not until I was able to check out the full build at PAX Aus.
Developed by a newly-founded Australian studio Drop Bear Bytes, Broken Roads offers a handful of different origin options to choose from when starting your adventure. After checking these out briefly, I picked Jackaroo, and I was then guided through to get past where the demo content ends.
I was told by the game director, Craig Ritchie, that it’s like the older Fallout games. Although I haven't played these myself, this inspiration is evident in the isometric gameplay viewpoint, the traditional turn-based design with movement and action points, as well as only moving by highlighting a point and clicking. I got a slight taste of the game's combat in a first encounter, but I apparently wasn’t aggressive enough when confronting potential sheep thieves.
A key mechanic in the game is an alignment wheel system known as the Moral Compass, which reminded me a bit of a political alignment chart. It starts out with a quiz to set me towards certain attributes such as humanitarian or machiavellian. Rather than being a strict categorization, your character develops a range that can cross over the quadrants and determines the kind of responses you can make in dialogue.
Eventually, all the origins you can pick from come together, with some joining my group once we dealt with the aftermath of losing their town. The newly-formed party set out to find a safer place to stay, and perhaps get some answers.
There is some voice acting in the game, though Ritchie stated as an indie studio, they don’t have the budget for full voiceovers. The cutscenes I saw — besides the intro — were motion comic-esque with text displayed to the left. I really like this look, as it definitely has that top-down style but the rust on the tin roofs and other details really looked like classic Australian art.
It’s nice to get a game set in Australia that isn’t just a sports game and is also actually developed by an Australian dev team. I can really feel this in not just the visual style, but also in the writing and dialogue, which apparently needs a glossary to highlight our slang. CRPGs are getting their time to shine again, and I’m looking forward to starting as many pub brawls as I can when Broken Roads releases this year on November 14 for Xbox and PC, with Switch and PlayStation releases to follow.