Broken Roads: The Aussie Post-Apocalyptic RPG Is on the Horizon

I’ve had my eyes on Broken Roads ever since I first heard whispers of its existence back in 2020, and it’s been living in my mind ‘rent-free’ ever since. “Have you heard about Broken Roads?” has been a regularly mentioned phrase in Twitch streams, Discord calls, and convention halls, and that was especially the case at PAX 2023, with developer Drop Bear Bytes being a major drawcard for indie game lovers.

So, what exactly is Broken Roads? Broken Roads is an isometric class and skill point structured role-playing game set in post-apocalyptic Australia. It features turn-based combat and presents players with weighty decisions blurring the lines between right and wrong with its approach to morality. Beyond its gameplay elements, Broken Roads may very well be one of the most faithful depictions of Australia ever seen in gaming.

Broken Roads – Official Gamescom Trailer

Where the bloody hell are the Broken Roads? Taking place in the year 2130, Broken Roads is set in the wheatbelt region of Western Australia. This area partially encircles the state’s capital, Perth, and extends deep into central Australia, covering vast expanses of farmland. However, Its old asphalt roads, red dirt plains, and rusty windmills will be familiar to many players all across the country.

While the Steam demo for the game has been available for a little longer, the PAX demo offered access to a wider range of classes, each of which showcased different introductory stories, early decisions, and skills. The available classes included Hired Gun (also featured in the Steam demo), Surveyor, Barter Crew, and Jackaroo.

The class selection screen as seen in the steam demo

With Leanne Taylor-Giles, the game’s narrative director at my side, I delved into the Jackaroo story. There, I found myself wrestling with a stubborn sheep stuck in a fence and fending off attacking bandits, all while navigating the intricate decisions within the game’s Moral Compass.

Defending a cattle station as a Jackaroo – at PAX Aus 2023!

At the very beginning of your playthrough, you take a brief quiz that determines where you fall on the Moral Compass—whether that’s Utilitarianism, Nihilism, Machiavellianism, or Humanism—and assigns character traits accordingly. Leanne explained that initially landing within a certain area on the moral compass doesn’t mean you’re locked into one way of thinking, as the decisions you make can shift your character’s leaning as you play.

The world of Broken Roads will continually challenge you to make difficult decisions, and even the most Humanist players may find themselves behaving in a Nihilistic manner. Also, every side character in the game has their own moral compass, influencing how they react to your behaviour.

Every choice matters.

It’s evident that Broken Roads draws inspiration from iconic works like Baldur’s Gate 2 and the Fallout franchise, which the development team has openly acknowledged. In many ways, Broken Roads serves as a love letter to the resurging genre of isometric RPGs. In my opinion, players who dipped their toes into isometric RPGs for the first time by way of the explosively popular Baldur’s Gate 3 will find themselves right at home in the world of Broken Roads.

Heading into town in the Hired Gun class introduction

One of my favourite aspects of the setting of Broken Roads is the fact that it is so unapologetically Australian that the team is well aware some of the writing may leave non-Australian players scratching their heads. To bridge these gaps in slang knowledge, players can hover over certain words highlighted in red during gameplay to view a helpful definition. There’s nothing quite like hovering over ‘piss-off’ to receive a useful translation!

Broken Roads launches in just 7 days on the 14th of November and you should definitely add it to your steam wishlist so you can be alerted the second it drops. Along with a PC release, you’ll also be able to snag Broken Roads for Xbox Series S|X and Nintendo Switch. I know I’ll be there the moment it releases, and I hope to see you on the Broken Roads. 

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