Broken Roads Review Roundup: Ambitious Aussie RPG Off To A Bumpy Start

Broken Roads Review Roundup: Ambitious Aussie RPG Off To A Bumpy Start

Broken Roads review embargo broke overnight, and Drop Bear Bytes’ venture into the outback post-apocalyptic style appears to have had a bit of a bumpy start.  Based on reviews, a number of game-breaking bugs and some more tedious fetch quests have let down what reviewers have otherwise praised as a unique take on the post-apocalyptic setting with great voice acting and gorgeous visual direction.

Broken Roads sits at a ‘Mixed or Average’ score of 58 on Metacritic from nineteen certified critic reviews, with a number of positive reviews but a larger portion of mid-to-low range scores. It’s a rough day when an indie game from a promising, especially local Australian, studio doesn’t come flying out the gate to universal praise. This is doubly true of one that based on previews seemed to be a solid entry into the cRPG genre.

The classic Fallout-inspired RPG was set to release late last year before being delayed into 2024 to account for the sheer scope of the title, with branching dialogue and a Moral Compass system to push players to make the tough (and not always ‘right’) choices. 

Players are just getting their hands on Broken Roads today, so we’re likely to see a new range of user reviews trickle in as more people get around the title, and as last-minute and post-launch patches seek to remedy some of the issues experienced during the review window. Our own review will come in due time, but for now let’s take a look at what critics from here in Australia and around the world have to say about Broken Roads.

The Aussies

broken roads
Image: Drop Bear Bytes

GamesHub scored the game 4 out of 5 stars, noting a number of bugs and long loading times, which did dampen the overall experience. However, they said, “Beyond this, I was stunned by my time with Broken Roads. Deft, deep storytelling can be found in every facet of the game, with its choice-based narrative feeling very well told. The consequences of your actions can be devastating, but even when the game delivers its final epilogue, you know that the choices you made were your own.”

Press Start gave an unscored review due to a range of game-breaking technical issues as well as a number of patches during the review period to remedy issues leading to an unclear state of the game’s stability at launch. In the review, they said, “Broken Roads attempts to put an Australian spin on the classic Fallout formula. Unfortunately it succeeds just as much at aping vibes from the modern iterations of those games, as just like each of them, it’s also releasing in a dramatically buggy state. At this stage, I can’t in good faith recommend a purchase of the game at launch.” Despite this, they praised the Moral Compass system for its take on differing choices and their impact on player alignment as the game progresses as a “wonderfully clever system.”

Well Played gave it a 5/10, saying, “Broken Roads is a gorgeous Aussie world undone by incurious writing, ambitious but poorly implemented ideas, and unstable performance issues.”

Stevivor scored the game a 7.5, saying, “Broken Roads feels as much like a love letter to Australia as it is to the old school RPG.” They praised the game’s artistic direction, but found it difficult to form a connection to the characters, noting that sometimes silence was the path of least resistance in some encounters to avoid the death of characters or other negative consequences, but led to less exposition on the characters and world.

The rest of the world

Broken Roads
Image: Drop Bear Bytes

IGN scored it 4/10, saying, “Broken Roads is an ambitious RPG that can’t meet the expectations it sets for itself. It asks you to invest in an intricate morality system only to not end up making good use of it, giving you choices that don’t lead to much. A lot of this could be forgiven if the story held up, but there really isn’t much of a story to begin with, despite the philosophical angle Broken Roads tries very hard to get across. Couple this disappointing journey’s interesting but poorly executed ideas with pointless and often busted combat, and Broken Roads lives up to its name in all the wrong ways.”

PC Gamer gave it a 64/100, and said, “I like a lot about Broken Roads. I like its style. I like its tone. I like its attempt to do something different with morality in RPGs. It’s clearly a game made with vision and affection, and aspires to be more than a Fallout knockoff. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact that it often feels half-finished. Mechanically, it fails to give many systems the room they need to breathe, its questing is beset by bugs, and the story rushes to a climax that doesn’t really satisfy.”

Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s unscored review said, “In the moment, Broken Roads offers up creativity in spades, but the bigger picture story – combined with weak combat and a dry take on moral choice – never coalesces into anything especially entertaining.”

GamesRadar gave it 2.5 stars out of 5, saying, “Broken Roads provides a strong draw with its Aussie take on the post-apocalypse and the philosophical strands running through its open-ended role-playing. Rather than leading to an interesting destination, however, these roads really are somewhat broken, with systems that don’t feel properly integrated, bizarre leaps of logic and even bugs that lead you into dead ends.”

Broken Roads
Image: Drop Bear Bytes

TheGamer gave it a more positive 4 stars, and said, “Broken Roads is an ode to the cRPGs of old, but it’s also a step forward for the genre, showing that the ‘90s approach still has a place today. The turn-based combat is punchy and responsive, the art style is gorgeous, and the roleplaying capabilities brought about by its revolutionary morality system lift Broken Roads out of the shadows of its inspirations and into its own spotlight.”

RPGFan awarded the game 76/100, saying, “Overall, the ways Broken Roads challenged me were fascinating and frustrating, sometimes simultaneously. It definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, though I suspect some will adore it. If you’re the reflective type, it’s sure to get the gears turning. If nothing else, it’s much cheaper than taking Philosophy 101 at a university.”

PCGamesN gave a much less positive review, scoring the game 4/10. In their review, they said, “Despite the promise of its setting and philosophically informed morality system, Broken Roads fails to set itself apart from or come remotely close to matching the many post-apocalyptic games it’s inspired by.”

Eurogamer gave it 2 stars out of 5, saying, “Broken Roads neglects its best ideas, padding out its runtime with fetch quests that leave you asking “why am I here?” for all the wrong reasons.”

So there you have it, a pretty mixed bag of critic appraisals for Broken Roads. It’s clear there’s a lot of promise in the game from a visual and narrative perspective, with some very clever game design in the moral compass system. However, based on the general consensus it looks like this gets bogged down in technical troubles and fetch quests, both perhaps side effects of a massive scope for an ambitious project.

Whether Broken Roads can get back on its feet from a bug perspective with launch patches in order to provide an enjoyable romp through the post-apocalyptic outback for punters playing at home, or whether it’ll suffer similar challenges to those faced by critics is anyone’s guess this early into launch – but here’s hoping.

Image: Drop Bear Bytes

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