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Thursday, April 18, 2024

You can play a demo of the ‘Aussie Fallout’ CRPG Broken Roads on Steam

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I was a bit disappointed the sequels to Dragon Age: Origins never built on the idea of its, well, origins—playable prologues that were completely different based on whether you chose to be a City Elf, Dwarven Commoner, Mage, or whatever. That torch has been picked up by Drop Bear Bytes, the studio making Broken Roads. When it’s done, the CRPG where you play a wasteland wanderer in post-apocalyptic Australia will have multiple origins to choose from, and you can play one of them in the demo on Steam right now.

You can play the Hired Gun, a mercenary who joins a crew of scouts for an escort job taking you across a slice of Western Australia. While exploring several locations you’ll be given opportunities to get to grips with Broken Roads’ turn-based combat (including a tutorial where you shoot up mannequins who were honestly asking for it), as well as its morality system.

That morality system rates your choices based on four axes: humanist, nihilist, utilitarian, and machiavellian. As the “golden arc” representing your philosophical leaning shifts, you unlock moral traits, not all of which are available in the demo. Alienate people by acting like a nihilist, for instance, and you might gain the Lone Wolf trait—giving you an initiative bonus when nobody’s nearby, but reducing the effect of being “Inspired”.

“For demo purposes,” the developers note, “all moral choices will be visible. In the full game however, some of these will be hidden based on how you roleplay your character—though there will be a settings option to unlock all these for those who prefer to play that way. Your companions and other key characters each have their own hidden moral leaning, and will react to your statements, choices and general attitude based on their own world view.”

Broken Roads is an intriguing proposition, one I hope scratches the same itch as the old school Fallout games and the Wasteland sequels. At the same time, I’m glad to see it’s more than just a retro nostalgia piece, with both its morality system and the origins feeling like more modern ideas. 

When it’s done, Broken Roads will let you choose from origins including Surveyor (a wilderness explorer and expert tracker), Barter Crew (a fast-talking haggler who can chuck improvised weapons), and Jackaroo (a practical-minded hunter and mechanic, good with animals and tools), as well as the Hired Gun. I can’t wait to give more of them a shot when it comes out later this year. In the meantime, you can wishlist Broken Roads on Steam as well as trying out the demo, and keep up with its progress via the Drop Bear Bytes dev blog.

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