“Today we’re announcing that Broken Roads will offer pacifist playthroughs for certain character builds,” developer Drop Bear Bytes announced in its latest dev blog (opens in new tab), “meaning the game can be completed without combat or killing anyone—if you make the appropriate choices along the way, that is.”
Broken Roads is a CRPG set in post-apocalyptic Australia. Isolated from the rest of the world, the locals don’t know exactly what brought on the end times, referring to the mystery event with charmingly Australian frankness as “World War Shit”. It’s a hardscrabble setting where survival isn’t guaranteed, with a bit of Mad Max in its DNA and a turn-based combat system. Which makes it interesting that Drop Bear Bytes decided to allow players the option to solve problems nonviolently all the way through. It won’t be a matter of simply ticking the “pacifist playthrough” box, however.
“To complete the game as a pacifist, you’re going to have to really think about your decisions,” the blog continues, “the reactions of your companions to your choices, the interests of the people and factions you’re encountering and—of course—the kinds of quest resolutions you decide to pursue. For instance, you probably shouldn’t go accepting a mercenary hit job or running around pissing everyone off and expect there won’t be violent repercussions.”
I spoke to Drop Bear Bytes recently for an interview you’ll be able to read in an upcoming issue of our print magazine. Game director Craig Ritchie explained Broken Roads is following the example of the original Fallout, where it’s possible, with the right stats, to beeline from the tutorial to the finale, talk the villain into giving up, and finish it right there. “They got it right in Fallout,” he said. “It did require a little bit of an exploit in knowing exactly where to go, but that’s one of the most inspirational games behind this game.”
Though Disco Elysium was less of an influence than you might assume—the Estonian RPG was released five days after a demo of Broken Roads was first shown at PAX Australia—the fact Disco Elysium was successful despite the absence of combat did make them want to increase the amount of nonviolent options. Ritchie explains their thinking as, “Let’s not just have an ‘exploit’ pacifist path. Let’s actually try and design more peaceful resolutions than you might find in Pillars of Eternity or Tyranny or something like that.”
Like Fallout, Broken Roads will apparently give players all kinds of different ways to approach each problem, says narrative director Leanne Taylor-Giles. “You can solve it with violence, you can solve it with dialogue, or if you are over here, and you’re like, ‘I wonder if I take this item the entire way across the world, if that’s gonna have an impact?’ It does.”
“And sometimes you can just bribe people as well,” adds Ritchie. “If you’ve got enough money.”
Broken Roads is currently in development. You can find out more on the official website (opens in new tab), and its Steam page (opens in new tab).