Broken Roads Review (PC)

A decent isometric RPG which lacks finesse.

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Broken Roads is an ambitious take on how civilization will adapt to calamities induced by mankind’s nonchalance in using weapons of mass destruction. In the present scenario, when international conflicts are on the rise and natural calamities are also becoming increasingly common, it is horrifying to imagine the future of our civilization. However, regardless of the cause, the dawn of post-modernism will see people resorting to anachronistic means to ensure survival; something captured amazingly in the title.

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Broken Roads is now available for Windows, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.

Broken Roads - Official Gamescom Trailer

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Many titles have covered the subject of a post-apocalyptic world, and the subject is, by no means, unheard of. However, during my playthrough of Broken Roads, developed by Drop Bear Bytes, I was pleasantly surprised but also considerably underwhelmed.

Set in a dystopian shade of Australia, the game puts you in the boots of a protagonist who joins a group of survivors called ‘Scouts’; the group’s binding force is their vested interest to survive the harsh, lawless world. Despite some portrayals that seem devoid of enough nuance and heart, the game has its moments. But does it have enough to make its place in the highly competitive Isometric RPG genre?

Barren wastelands, a lawless bunch, and a 360-degree moral compass

You are constantly exploring the Australian Wilderness in Broken Roads with your mates.
You are constantly exploring the Australian Wilderness in Broken Roads with your mates.

The game’s narrative begins with the intro cinematic, which keeps things vague and foggy. It just states that the world was destroyed in a war, and there is no order but chaos all around. You choose a backstory for your character and receive stat boosts accordingly when you further allocate upgrade points to shape your character abilities.

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The game’s most novel offering is its moral compass based on four axes: Utilitarianism, Nihilism, Machiavellianism, and Humanism. Explaining these will be beyond the scope of this review, but the game helps the player understand it.

After introducing the above mechanic, the game proposes a few hypothetical situations and gives four alternatives to assess your philosophical inclination. A golden arc called your ‘World View’ is then formed, and you can only engage in dialogue and make choices within your World View. Moreover, your position on your moral compass changes with each decision.

The moral compass is a unique mechanic in the game.
The moral compass is a unique mechanic in the game.

During the gameplay, your character is accompanied by AI party members who are voiced characters. The members can share resources and perks specific to their philosophical leaning when they engage in the game’s turn-based combat alongside you. The combat itself left me underwhelmed because, for someone unversed in Isometric turn-based RPG combat, it is incredibly unintuitive, and the player is expected to know a lot of mechanics beforehand.

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All you need to survive is hard yakka and a stubby

The game's inventory system is very plain and basic.
The game’s inventory system is very plain and basic.

When one launches Broken Roads, they are welcomed with a classical guitar-based soundtrack on the game’s menus. The game’s soundtrack, overall, is a mixed bag, being apt at one instant and incredibly dull at the other.

On the other hand, the sound design and sound effects are both above average. I found the voice acting by various voiced characters decent, but the narration felt subpar. While the game emphasizes using vernacular, it seems spot on in the voice acting but falls flat during the narration.

The character customization felt lazy and uninspired for an RPG. Mainly because other titles in the genre have set the bar so high. The game only allowed me to choose from four template models. I never felt that my player looked how I wanted it to. I recently reviewed a productivity tool with more in-depth customization options for my avatar. 

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Is Broken Roads good?

I looked at the loading screen more than the cutscenes due to a lack of the latter.
I looked at the loading screen more than the cutscenes due to a lack of the latter.

The game’s art style seemed apt considering its setting, world, and the game, and while the game won’t make you forget reality, the graphical fidelity is good enough to immerse you. The game team was also very stingy with cutscenes, and I spent more time looking at the loading screen than cutscenes. The UI isn’t snappy; you will wonder how to open a chest or reach where you should.

In summary, while Broken Roads seems to get many things right, it doesn’t shine in any particular area apart from its moral compass mechanic. It feels like it was inspired by some fantastic titles that rocked the industry, but the game lacks a good enough differentiation to make one pick it instead of other titles. It also feels unpolished and lacks substance. But you might want to try it if you are an Isometric RPG enthusiast.

Broken Roads — 7/10

7 out of 10

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Written by Sparsh Jaimini

Articles Published: 403

Sparsh Jaimini Sharma is a video games enthusiast and a Games Writer. A true white-blooded Madridsta. He is often seen grinding away at EAFC 24's Ultimate team and learning to code when he is not writing. A Batman fan and Arkham Games connoisseur. He is the quintessential DC aficionado.