Broken Roads Review – Moral philosophy in the post-apocalypse

Reviewed April 11, 2024 on PC


Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X|S


April 10, 2024


Versus Evil


Drop Bear Bytes

Broken Roads is an unabashedly Aussie post-apocalyptic RPG developed by Drop Bear Bytes. In the game, you’ll make moral choices galore as you decide how far you will go in order to protect yourself and others when the world has gone to Hell. With some great writing and aesthetics, the world of Broken Roads is one that is easy to get immersed in, however, its underwhelming combat, multitude of loading screens and general bugginess hold it back from its high ambitions.

It is several decades after a catastrophic nuclear war put an end to civilisation as we know it. You play as a mercenary in Western Australia who is propelled on an epic quest to survive and rebuild your community after an external threat. Throughout your trials, you have the opportunity to shape your character and the world around you depending on your moral leaning.

The morality aspect is a very core element of Broken Roads’ setting. Loading screens don’t feature game tips, but quotes from famous philosophers such as Emmanuel Kant, Niccolo Machiavelli and Simone de Beauvoir. When you create your character, you are faced with many moral choices where each response corresponds with one of four main philosophical leanings: Humanist, Utilitarian, Machiavellian and Nihilist. Which point of that moral compass you lean towards through the choices made throughout the game has both narrative and gameplay implications, shaping how characters react to you, passive combat abilities and how the story develops.

“…philosophical frameworks didn’t just boil down to simplistic terms such as “good” or “evil”.”

I found this system to be a refreshing alternative to dull binary moral choice systems, such as the Mass Effect trilogy‘s “Paragon vs Renegade” dichotomy. The moral compass provided much-needed complexity to the decisions, while still framing them in existing philosophical frameworks that didn’t just boil down to simplistic terms such as “good” or “evil”. The game tracks every major choice in your pause menu as well and shows your position on the compass as part of the UI, making it easy to track how your character is progressing.

The writing in Broken Roads is generally excellent, feeling incredibly authentically Australian, even with the unfortunately small amount of voice acting present. One particularly fun feature is an in-game glossary of Australian slang and noongar (indigenous words). While most Aussie gamers probably won’t need to look up too much, it went a long way to emphasise the game’s Aussie identity. There is a lot of dialogue in this game, to the extent that it can be somewhat intimidatingly wordy and could maybe have stood to be a bit more concise at times. This is particularly apparent with some quests when crucial information regarding a character’s location or a specific objective can be buried in the dialogue, and not repeated when you go back to the NPC for clarification or adequately recorded in your in-game quest log.

There are certainly a large number of side quests to keep track of as well, ranging from mundane “obtain x number of drop bear pelts” type errands to more involved missions involving breaking someone out of prison or defending a town from raiders. These were nice little distractions that were often worth the investment. However, the fetch quests could be a chore due to needing to endure the large number of loading screens involved. Frequent and repetitive loading screens separate every move in and out of a room, building, or location; I may well have learned more about classical philosophy sitting through these loading screens than I did at university.

Broken Roads also emphasises player freedom to a substantial degree, which fans of the CRPGs from which the game draws inspiration will definitely appreciate. While the game’s opening hours are fairly on-rails, the game eventually opens up and gives you a large portion of the Outback to explore at your leisure. Players have a multitude of skills in which to invest, from combat skills such as Melee and Shooting, to more utilitarian abilities such as Biology and Tinker. While you are free to build your character as a combat powerhouse, the game is quite flexible in regards to offering non-combat methods of resolution to most quests, up to and including making all random encounters in the world map avoidable. Re-speccing your character is also easy and free, which allows plenty of opportunities to experiment with different builds.

It is appreciated that the combat is mostly skippable, because it’s certainly not the game’s strong suit. It’s a party-based affair where you control both your character and up to 4 allies against a team of foes. This often feels somewhat unbalanced as even early random encounters feature enemy teams that outnumber your group and who each have more health than any of your units, with this disparity only evening out once you find enough pieces of (rather expensive and hard to come-by) HP-increasing armour.

You have a variety of options, such as attacking them with your weapon, intimidating them into fleeing or using a variety of magical powers at your disposal. However, the actual environments in which you fight are generally devoid of much to provide interesting tactical options, such as cover or hazards, which leads to most fights not feeling all that memorable or interesting.

Managing your allies’ equipment is also made annoying by the inability to edit your allies’ inventory in the hub area where the main shop is. This made it challenging to compare the shop’s inventory to your allies’ weapons and armour without trudging out of town to assemble your mates and check their gear before waltzing back into town to buy what you need, and then leave town again to equip it.

If Broken Roads’ admirable level of complexity comes at a cost, it is that the game is, at least at the time of writing, quite buggy. This is regarding the PC version that I played, at any rate. My progress was halted by a game-breaking bug a decent amount into the game, where objectives for the main quest didn’t trigger properly and I was unable to progress further. The game’s general vagueness regarding quest objectives didn’t help in this regard, but eventually, it became apparent that something hadn’t occurred correctly and my playthrough became stuck. It is certainly a shame considering how much I was getting into the game, and players should be mindful in case something similar happens to them.




  • Authentically Australian writing and slang
  • Moral compass morality system is compellingly complex
  • Plenty of player freedom with character builds and options for accomplishing objectives


  • Quest objectives can often be a bit vague and buried within mountains of dialogue
  • Annoying UI limitations regarding equipment management
  • Combat is fairly simplistic and often feels unbalanced
  • Game-breaking bugs are present, at least on the PC version

Broken Roads is a game that I wish I liked more. The authentic Aussie identity which shines through its dialogue, voice acting, and art is a joy to behold, and its exploration of morality through the application of classical moral frameworks in a post-apocalyptic setting is a terrific idea that brings a unique spin to played-out moral choice systems. Unfortunately, underwhelming combat and loading screen-laden fetch quests definitely hold it back, and the presence of game-breaking bugs make it only a tentative recommendation as long as you keep those aspects in mind.