Roots of Pacha is a farming life simulator developed by Soda Den and published by Crytivo. Set in the Stone Age, you play as part of the Pacha, a clan who worships the Pacha tree and have been guided to new lands right before an earthquake. Your goal in the game is to contribute to the tribe and make this new land their home. However, not all is peaceful, as there are two other clans in the region that are at odds with each other, and the Pacha might need to play mediator between them if they want any hope of peace.
Let’s just get this out of the way first and foremost: This is very derivative of Stardew Valley, which in turn was based on Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons. You’ll be farming, fishing, mining, and bonding with people, and you're even able to get married. Now, that is not a bad thing, but it is something to note, and there are differences that set it apart. However, I will be making comparisons to Stardew Valley, which I don’t want to do, but it's just too similar in a lot of aspects that it's inescapable.
Let's start off with the graphics. The pixel art in the game is really nice, and the character portraits are so detailed that it’s actually jarring to see whenever I talk to someone. There are also some really good character designs, and the world itself is great. However, I did have problems with the overall world design, and considering that some locations were way bigger than they needed to be. It feels like it would take an entire in-game day just to get from one side of an area to another, and getting to places like the caves feels like a chore rather than a quick trip.
Onto the daily chores and activities you can spend your time doing. Every day, the first thing you should do is tend to your farm. Farming is farming, there’s nothing special that hasn't been seen before except for its irrigation system, where you must have a good layout in mind and must plan accordingly, else you have to reorganise your farm from scratch. Fishing, however, is much more different than I was expecting. Simply hover your mouse over the fish you want, and slowly follow the fish around. The longer you hover over the fish, the more likely you can catch it. However, if you startle the fish, you need to quickly move your mouse away. I do like the minigame, it’s certainly less frustrating, but I feel like there’s no satisfaction in catching the fish. Still, some people might like this easier difficulty and I am certainly not complaining.
It isn’t all work though. You can go around your little village and befriend everyone you can interact with, and even marry if you have a high enough bond with them. The little stories you can experience are simple but nice to see, and allows you to get to know the people better. However, I did prefer to befriend animals than other people. You use a flute to play a quick rhythm mini-game, and the better you do, the more friendship points you earn. Do it enough, and you can take the animal home. I really liked that there were different tunes for each type and there are quite a few animals around the land with their own spots so once you find them, you can come back to them easily.
There is much more to do outside of the village. There is a cave in the forest that has these little armadillo-like creatures that task you with getting through it while appeasing the animal god. There is no combat in the game, as far as I can tell, so instead new areas are unlocked by smashing rocks and solving puzzles. These puzzles are pretty fun to do, from figuring out which offerings that need to be given to a light puzzle that allows you to turn into an owl. They’re great, but I did find smashing rocks to progress a little strange. At the very least, the caves have a lot of good ore to mine, although I do advise upgrading to an actual hammer to make it less tedious to go through.
At the end of each day, you’ll see your clan’s prosperity grow and earn contribution points for providing food, materials, or items for the tribe. Contribution points are just money used to purchase new buildings, items, equipment, or cosmetics. You can’t lose prosperity points, however, but I felt encouraged to keep contributing as you’ll get to milestones faster as it’ll unlock things like lighting and laundry. It’s slow going, but it feels like you’re contributing to something bigger. It’s nice. I am a little annoyed though that you need to end the day in bed to save. A quick temporary save feature would’ve been nice to have when I needed to step away, but I didn't want to sacrifice the day to do it.
There are overarching goals to go after in the form of prophecies. They’re like bundles in Stardew Valley (sorry). These prophecies entail doing things such as befriending the villagers, harvesting crops, and having buildings built. These prophecies are a little vague, however, and without a guide you won’t know exactly how to complete them. It’s slightly annoying, but you’ll likely unlock them naturally just by playing the game, trying to do everything in it.
Onto my gripes with Roots of Pacha, and they are rather minor in the grand scheme of things. The pacing is a little off, especially in the early parts of the game. New areas were unlocked a little too soon when I was still getting used to the lay of the land. I hadn’t even fully explored the Forest before that and they were already introducing new characters that I needed to bond with. While I can see why, it wouldn’t be better if they delayed those new areas by having them on different months. Get to know one before introducing another. It’s minor, but I still felt like it was too soon. Co-op also has some questionable game design choices. While seeds and contribution points are shared, some tools aren’t. Some quests require everyone to be there to accept, but some are first come, first serve. Playing multiplayer can be a lot more frustrating than it would be playing alone, which shouldn’t be the case.
If you want to play a farming/life sim, well, Stardew Valley is currently cheaper than Roots of Pacha. However, if you’ve already played a farming/life sim but want something old but new, Roots of Pacha is sure to satisfy. It’s a refreshing take on the genre, has some really good ideas and quality-of-life features like being able to go back a few steps to reverse actions, and it’s satisfying to see the Pacha clan grow from just a couple of huts into a thriving village. With Stardew Valley, I feel like I’m pulled to do everything. In Roots of Pacha, I feel like I can do what I want at my own pace. The only problem I can see is the odd pacing and multiplayer. Other than those issues, this will be a time sink if you have the dedication.
Roots of Pacha (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
Roots of Pacha is a refreshing take on the farming/life sim genre, with great ideas and features. However, there are little annoyances that might turn off some.